When you live in an urban area or even in a suburban neighborhood, you might not consider gardens as much more than ornamental. But starting a community garden puts a patch of greenery to work.
There has been a notable rise in interest in community gardens and urban gardening for the past two years. During the pandemic, community gardens became invaluable in producing healthy, accessible food for surrounding families. And in areas considered “food deserts,” community gardens can contribute significantly to better, healthier nutrition for the neighborhood.
Taking Care of a Community Garden
You can’t just look for a patch of land and plant seeds in it. Everyone has to do their part and learn how to get the garden started to look after it. It won’t be easy to grow a garden in the middle of a crowded neighborhood or an urban space, but with the proper preparations, you’ll give it a good start.
Gather a willing group from the community
The first step to any good community garden is to get the locals aboard. These will be the same people who will benefit from the garden, and they’ll get invested in seeing the green space flourish. Talk the idea over with them and find out if any of them have gardening or farming experience. It’ll be a big help to your cause if they do, as they already have an idea of how to get things started.
Pick a spot for your garden.
Consult with the local government for this project. The land you’ll be growing on likely belongs to the public, so you need their approval for it. And if they do, they’ll likely also be able to help you find a suitable patch of land for your garden.
Community gardens can grow local flora, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. So, you’ll need a spot with plenty of sun exposure, good earth for growing, and convenient water sources nearby. It should also be away from constant traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian) and have drainage nearby so excess water can drain away during rainy days.
Collect resources and funding for the garden
Now that you have a team, approval, and a spot for your garden, it’s time to collect your resources. What do you need? You’ll need potting soil, seeds and seedlings, fertilizer, gardening tools, irrigation setup, plot markers, and more—just about everything needed to start the garden.
The garden will need these things and other maintenance items, so you can start organizing some fundraising for your community garden. By now, you might have drummed up some interest in your town. Try to pull in a local sponsor or gather financial support from the community. Start a fundraiser for your community garden, showing everyone the importance of growing one’s food. Or you can even opt to crowdfund your community garden. You can do this through GoFundMe or alternative platforms. Choose one that will make it almost effortless for people in your community to help you.
Gather your tools and start assigning roles
Once you have your funding, tools, and seedlings, it’s time to assign roles to your team. Split up into smaller sub-teams to make it easier to create a rotating schedule of gardeners that tend to your new plot. You can even create groups according to plant types, such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Or you can stick to roles such a planting,
Designate a person to come in and water the plots when necessary, especially during the hottest, driest days. Schedule a time when people come in and remove weeds, add fertilizer, or trim the plants. Make sure that there are people assigned times and days through the weeks and months. And to make a “celebration,” have everyone come in for the first harvests.
Ensure that you outline the garden’s rules.
Make sure to create a list of rules about the roles, tasks, and expectations of everyone who will be working in the garden. The only way the garden can flourish is if everyone does their job to help the plants grow and thrive.
Furthermore, since everyone shared in the funding, the effort, and the work in growing and maintaining the garden, you have to enforce rules about sharing what comes out of the garden. Above all else, all the people who participated in making the garden flourish should get their fair share of its fruits.
Make sure everyone keeps in touch.
Finally, make sure that everyone working on the garden stays in touch with one another. They have to know who handles the money to buy supplies, whose turn to do the weeding or watering, and who they can contact if they can’t do their assigned task for the week. This way, people know who to turn to and who can take over a missed gardening errand.
You can do this by putting everyone in a group chat through a messaging app or having a private Facebook group to post updates. The best part is that with a social media group like that one, members can share photographs of themselves doing the tasks or showing how well the garden is growing, which encourages others to keep up with the great work.
Making a community garden takes time, and the fruits of your labor will take even longer to grow. But with patience, group effort, and the support of the community, you’ll find yourselves reaping all the fantastic benefits that come with a community garden. You get nutritious, naturally-grown food, extra supplies in case of scarcity, a place to beautify the neighborhood, and everyone gains new skills in gardening.