When it comes to buying food, we don’t always pay attention to where it comes from or how it was grown. But, if we had a community garden, we’d know.
It takes a few dedicated people to start a community garden. Don’t worry if you start one, they will come. Whether in the form of volunteers, the curious, the know-it-alls, four-legged animals, slithery critters, vandals, government agencies (again slithery critters), etc., they will come.
Starting a community garden sounds easy, but it isn’t! You might want to know first some of the hurdles you’ll have to jump over to get the garden off the ground (sorry for the pun). Don’t get me wrong - a community garden is a great idea (as well as rewarding) for connecting with your neighbors. The problem as I see it - cultivating a garden means you will have to cultivate your neighbors first. Just a few ground rules:
- You will need a plot of land - it can be a neighbor’s underused/never used yard (not my suggestion), an empty lot on the block (you must obtain permission from the owner), an empty city lot in the neighborhood (must obtain permission from the City), or empty church lot, or seldom used school lot (getting kids involved almost always gets a “yes” from the school).
- Set up a meeting with the potential volunteers and map out the purpose of the garden, e.g. what type of garden: flowers and shrubs, vegetables, fruit, natural wild habitat, etc.
- Make sure information is communicated accurately – no surprises; e.g. let people know that there is a major time commitment to start a garden – it won’t happen overnight.
- How work will be shared and who the garden will serve (will the garden be for “residents only” or will that which is grown be distributed to the homeless, shelters, schools, etc.).
- Where initial and other funding will come from.
- List of what needs to be done and who will do what.
- Whether the garden will be organic only.
- How rules will be enforced.
- If the group should incorporate and consider buying the garden site.
I know it’s a lot to think about. But think about this – growing your own will enable you to provide your family with healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables; you’ll connect with your community; you’ll preserve a “green” space in your neighborhood; you’ll get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air, and you’ll get comfortable getting dirty.
Talk to the church, school, and businesses in your area that have available land. A community garden won’t crop up overnight but it can happen and you can make it happen. It takes one to invite one.