HOW TO START A COMMUNITY GARDEN
Starting a community garden involves several steps including: 1) identifying goals, 2) deciding on the group garden structure, 3) selecting a site, 4) developing the site, 5) and creating a budget. The following section provides some basic questions to help you begin thinking through each of these steps.
Step 1: Identifying Goals of the Garden
What is the primary goal of the garden and who will it serve? For example:
- Your group wants to make use of a vacant lot to grow tasty fuits and vegetables to be shared among the gardeners
- Families that are needing to lower food costs
- Church or businesses growing food for the hungry
- Neighbors wanting a healthy alternative to junk food for their families.
What other goals do you have for the garden?
- Community building and Socialization
Step 2: Identify the Group Garden Structure
- Garden plots/beds serving individual gardeners vs. community plots or a combination of individual and community
- Will there be children's plots?
- How large should plots be?
- How will plots be assigned (by family member, by residency, etc.,)?
Step 3: Site Selection - Picking the BEST Site
- Find land and determine who owns it.
- Consider the location of the land and its proximity to the gardeners
- What was the previous use of the land?
- Is there existing vegetation on the land and can you identify what it is?
- Consider the sun exposure. Make sure the site gets at least 6 hours of sunlight daily
- Consider soil conditions. Do a soil test for nutrients and heavy metals.
- Consider the drainage and slope of the land.
- Consider availability and source for water.
Step 4: Make a Garden Development Plan
- Identify garden type. Will the garden be organic? What will you grow?
- Determine requirements for soil preparation. How will plowing be done?
- What are the watering requirements?
- Is fencing needed to mark plots or to protect plants from animals such as rabits and deer?
- What tools will be needed and will these be shared among gardeners?
- Consider planting flowers or shrubs around the visible perimeter to create a more aesthetically pleasing garden.
Step 5: Create a Budget
- What are your start-up costs - soil preparation, plants, tools, etc.,?
- Account for you on-going, operational costs such as tilling, seeds, fertilizer, mulch, water, etc.,