How To Start A Community Garden

Community gardens are a beautiful way to get involved with your local community. They provide fresh produce for the people in the area, create a sense of community, and teach kids about how food is grown. If you’re interested in starting one up yourself, here are some step-by-step instructions on what you should do.

Find Someone Who Has Experience Running a Garden To Guide You 

woman holding a gardening sign

Find out if there is a local community garden you can partner with. Talk to whoever is in charge of a garden nearby- they might have advice for you about what would work best. They will be able to tell you if the soil has enough nutrients, where there are good places to get plants and compost from, and how much time it takes each day to run a successful community garden.

Consider volunteering at a community garden to learn the ropes. This can be beneficial for both of them- you’ll get access to their experience running a community garden, while they will have someone to help them with the work.

Figure Out Where It Would Be Best To Locate Your Garden 

Where will your garden be? A good rule of thumb is to locate it in a place that’s easily accessible for everyone. If you have an idea where the best spot would be, make sure the area has decent soil and enough space for planting.

You could discuss leasing a place from an owner or even the city. Take a look into any grant opportunities or gardening programs that may exist in your area. They may be able to help you reduce the cost of the garden setup.

Hosting a community garden on your own private property is a perfectly fine and economical option if you’re comfortable with sharing your land with others.

Estimate the Costs (Both in Time and Money) Of the Community Garden 

Look at what you will need to invest in the garden. You may be able to get some of the materials from your local hardware store, but other items like fertilizer or a high-quality spade might have to come from specialized gardening stores.

Figure out how much time it would take each day for you and any volunteers to run the garden. This should be a realistic estimate of the time it would take to weed, harvest, and maintain your plants each day.

There are many ways you can take DIY approaches to build your garden if you’re on a tight financial budget. You may also consider raising money for your endeavor through a peer fundraising site.

Make a Gardening Timeline

Since gardening is seasonal, make sure to take the time to map out when each process of the garden build should occur. This includes planting, harvesting, weeding, etc.

On average, it will take a month or two to start a community garden. The more people you have to help you with this process, the faster it will go.

Decide Which Plants You Will Grow 

Decide which plants you will grow. There are a lot of different options, so find out what might work best for your community garden and the residents in it. You could have lettuce, tomatoes, carrots- whatever they need to eat!

Be mindful of your growing zone and the plants that are best suited for your climate. You will also want to consider whether or not you will grow different crops in different seasons.

Find Out What Other Community Members Need From The Garden  

Since this garden is meant for the community, it’s important to survey its members and find out what your neighbors are most interested in growing. It’s also helpful to ask them when they are available, how much gardening space they would like, and what level of gardening proficiency they have.

Invite Others To Join Your Garden

By this point, you’ll have a good idea of what you want to do in your garden, the needs of other community members, how long the garden will take to set up, and where you will host it.

Now it’s time to let everyone else know all of these exciting details! Bring the community together by hosting a party or meeting to discuss your plans. Other people in the area are often eager to help with gardening projects and can provide additional resources that you need for your garden.

Consider hosting a garden party where you can show others the future garden space and share details about the project over drinks and snacks.

Find a Container To Put In Your Garden Bed 

You need something to hold the soil, plants, and compost. A container can be anything from a large bucket or barrel to plastic containers with holes in them or even wooden crates. There are many options for many budgets and styles. Just make sure your containers are large enough to accommodate the plants you will be placed in them.

Build Your Garden Bed

Dig up an area that is about 40 inches wide by 60 inches long for your garden bed. Add organic material like grass clippings, leaves, or shredded paper to the bottom of your bed. Cover this with a layer of compost- you can also mix in some manure if you have any on hand.

You will need at least 16 inches from the top of your soil for plants to grow, so measure and cut two boards accordingly. Put these down next to your garden bed before adding your soil to make sure it’s the right height. Mark off where you want plants by putting a line of twine on each side of the board so you know how deep to plant them and what size they should be.

Add Your Plants

Add your plants to the garden bed. Make sure they are spaced evenly and that you allow for at least 16 inches between each plant so that they have enough room to grow.

Keep track of what you plant by putting a label on each container that lists both the variety and date planted. This will help you keep track and know when to harvest your plants.

Create a Maintenance Schedule

Last but not least, it’s important to create a maintenance schedule. Create an easy-to-follow list of which tasks should be done when and what materials are required for each task. This way, you’ll know exactly where to start if something in the garden needs attention or help.

Summary

bed of plants

Planning your community garden is just as important as starting one! Make sure to plan out all the details and share them with the community that will be using this space.

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