Community gardens are a great way to bond with your neighbors and improve your town. When everyone works together to accomplish the same goal, you’ll form lifelong friendships and make your city a better place. Read these 10 tips for starting a community garden so you can lead the effort to create one where you live.
1. Start a Virtual Group
Working together is much easier when there aren’t any communication issues. A virtual group helps with that. Whether you make one on social media or start a website, invite everyone to check it out. They’ll find posts with the latest updates and any other information they need to know so no one feels left out of the process.
2. Form a Budget
New community gardens need a budget. You’ll have to pay for seeds and supplies, money to create a Facebook ad, but how much money will you need? It depends on your group’s gardening vision. Check your personal funds or ask for donations, then plan a starting budget that stretches every dollar. You can always expand that budget as your group grows or gains community sponsors.
3. Start Seeds Inside
Rural or urban gardens can start seeds in indoor pots to ensure their survival. Every plant will get the chance to form a robust root system in a controlled environment. When you rehome them into your community garden, they’ll thrive because they’re ready to go.
4. Reach Out Regularly
After your garden begins, reach out regularly with a newsletter so critical information reaches all of your group members. Even if you make daily online posts, some people aren’t on social media. Send a newsletter through emails or physical copies so no one feels lost as your garden grows.
5. Contact Your City Hall
Community gardens typically exist on vacant lots, which requires contacting your city hall. Inquire about any potential plots to discover if the city already has plans for them or potential buyers. If they grant permission, you could buy or lease it from them after getting any necessary permits.
6. Test Your Soil
Even if you find a gorgeous place for your garden, the soil may not support your plants. Before you grab a shovel, perform a soil test to determine the nutrient content and pH level. A local or state-sponsored testing laboratory should return your results within a few weeks, which will indicate what you need to add or change about your plot to make it a suitable home for a garden.
7. Research Seasonal Plants
Everyone can meet up in your garden throughout the year if you plan for seasonal plants that thrive in your local weather. Some flowers and vegetables love cold climates, while others prefer hot weather. Plan for future seasons so your community garden never has to shut down.
8. Add Creative Decor
Don’t forget to decorate your garden once you decide where to plant everything. People will love sitting on a bench or watching birds jump around in a birdbath. You could even host a painting event where everyone decorates your fence or signs so their personalities add a little creativity to your garden.
9. Schedule Routine Maintenance
Even though you want people to have fun in your community garden, you’ll still have to take care of routine maintenance. Your plants will need standard care like weeding and pest control, which members might shy away from because they aren’t the most entertaining parts of gardening.
Get ahead of arguments about sharing responsibilities by making a maintenance schedule. Everyone can pitch in when it’s their day and avoid feeling like they’re contributing more than other members.
10. Address Your Priorities
Before your garden begins, meet with everyone and address your priorities. Talk about if you want your garden to be completely organic so no one buys chemical-based fertilizers or pesticides. Ask if people want to grow flowers or harvest vegetables for neighbors in need.
Record your priorities and post them where they’ll serve as encouragement and motivation on your group website or in a physical meeting space.
Start a Community Garden Today
These 10 tips make starting a community garden much more manageable. Address your goals, form a budget and streamline your communication so it’s a relaxing and enjoyable experience for everyone who volunteers their time.
Jane is the editor-in-chief of Environment.co. She is passionate about sustainability, gardening and homesteading.