Community gardens can help foster a sense of community in a productive and healthy way. Creating a garden can be an excellent way for neighbors, coworkers, church members, colleagues, and other community-led organizations to bond.
In addition to fostering relationships among community members, community gardens have many positive benefits. Community gardens add a much-needed and relaxing green space, and neighborhoods with community gardens often have lower rates of crime. The benefits of gardening also encourage better physical, mental, emotional health benefits. In order to run successfully, a community garden requires a few steps:
To get started, figure out who wants to get involved and who is willing to be committed. From there, establish organization and support. Discuss goals, develop structure and organize a management system.
Envision your ideal garden.
Discuss the details of what you envision your community garden to look like. What will you grow? Where will the garden be located? What will members be responsible for? Will members have their own plots or will members have a hand in the entire garden?
Get down to business.
Now that you have organization and goals set up, seek out funding for the costs of gardening supplies, tools, water bills, trash pickup, etc. Possible sources of funding could come from membership dues, fundraising, or sponsorship. Certain organizations offer grants or supplies to help fund community gardens. Look at the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program, Environmental Education Grants, and the America in Bloom Fund for such opportunities.
Find a garden plot.
Now that you have the organization of your community garden down, focus on securing a site. While many neighborhoods and cities offer sites for residents and community members to use, you may have to look for land to rent or buy. Find an area that receives ample sunlight and fresh air each day. Look for areas free of obstacles, and traffic. Most importantly, look for a site with common ground for its members for easy accessibility and with direct access to water.
Protect your garden.
With all the hard work you’ve put into your garden, make sure to protect it. Erect a sturdy and stable fence with a locked enclosure to help protect your garden. Other important items include a lockable shed for tools, gardening supplies, benches, and a schedule board for community messages, as well as a composting area for garden refuse.
Not yet convinced of the benefits of participating in a community garden? You will be convinced once you get to reap the benefits of healthy, locally-grown produce. Check out these vegetable garden growing tips for more information.
These steps can help your community garden start off successfully, but remember that regular communication between community members and regularly responsibility for what you grow are key steps to ensuring a long-lasting and successful community garden.