Start a 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?

  • Educational
  • Beautification
  • Community building and Socialization
  • Therapy

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.,


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