5 Steps to Organizing Your First Community Garden

For many of us this time of year means cold, misery and grocery store vegetables. Fortunately it this time stuck indoors can be used to plan for next year’s garden. A good game plan will almost always guarantee a better yield. This is something that I have not yet mastered but very much work on every year.

If you want to really complicate things in your life (and I jest with this remark) than gather some of your neighbors and if a plot of a land is available or someone has a nice big yard try your hand at a community garden. Now is the time to begin. There are very important things to consider when starting a community garden but I can tell you from experience it builds relationships, confidence in your community and best of all is access to even more great food come spring, summer, fall and even winter if you plan properly.

Recruiting

Though this idea of a community garden is a big part of our movement to Reroot America (www.rerootusa.com) it’s also the desire of many people who are aware of our crooked food systems. You will find that this idea will be met with many enthusiastic hands.

If you have a community email group, community meetings or even a community newsletter use it to recruit. Worst case scenario start small with your best bud in the community and make people aware of this years garden in hopes to garner more support for next years.

We were three strong last year and now we have 12 gardeners just one year later.

Planning

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of at least visiting the site and planning ahead. It will pay dividends. If you don’t consider the sun and shading or shading out plants with other it could cost you mid season when you realize a whole crop is either miniature or dead because of poor planning.

Go to the site and map out where and what it is you want to plant. Consider wild life and how much of it you want to eat. We lost a bunch to deer last year so this year we plan on planting them a little salad bar so they will leave our stuff alone.

Do you want to invest in a fence?

How do you plan to water?

Duties

When it comes time to work be sure that delegation plays a large role in your meetings. There is a lot of work that goes into a community garden but with many hands it can be much easier. The last thing you want is three bitter workers and a clan of moochers that come behind them to fill the salad bowl. In the same vein you won’t keep a sizable group if they don’t feel involved.

This year we plan on delegating beds and sections to our gardeners. They will adopt beds, bushes or even trees that we plan on planting this year. This, we hope, will create a focus on each and every aspect of the garden.
Watering is another big task that should be delegated and perhaps divided out by days of the week and number of members.

Sustainability

Realize the power you have with your vegetable scraps, eggshells and other scraps that member deal with on a day-to-day basis. Have everyone save his or her grass clippings and leaves. This mixture could become next year’s compost.

Catch rain. If at all possible find a cool way to catch rain and it will save your backs and some bucks as well.

Harvest

Just make it clear how, when and who can harvest. Most of the times your members will feel selfish about taking large amounts so talk about quantity and make sure your gardeners are comfortable. That is the most important part. You may find some people just like to grow and not to harvest. That’s fine too.

Remember that aside from the great food you are growing the relationships and conversations you will have with your neighbors are the truly priceless!

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