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Starting a Community Garden? 3 Things You Need to Know

| 3/19/2018 9:47:00 AM

If you’ve long wondered about the impact a community garden could have in your town or city, now is the time to find out. According to the National Gardening Association, the number of Americans growing their own food increased by 17% between 2008 and 2014, and community gardens saw a 200% increase in participation during the same period. Americans are taking up gardening at a growing rate, and much of that added participation comes in the form of younger gardeners passionate about knowing where their food comes from.

The presence of community gardens has also proven to directly increase participants’ fruit and vegetable consumption, especially in rural areas. Before you get started, make sure you know the answers to these three questions to set your project up for success.

produce in basket
Photo by Pixabay/jill111

1. How Interested Is Your Community?

Depending on where you live, you might already be involved with a dedicated, city-wide community gardening organization, or you could be pioneering the first community garden your area has ever seen. As you reach out to your community to gauge interest and commitment levels, be open and welcoming to different perspectives. You’ll need an enormous amount of help between thinking about a community garden and harvesting your first heirloom tomato, so be prepared to lead in a welcoming, inclusive way.

If your area already has an established community garden organization, your process will be much easier. Residents will be more familiar with the concept of communal gardening, and you might have access to an established process as well as assistance starting, funding, and publicizing your garden if you start your garden as a chapter within a larger organization. However, if you’re completely on your own, take advantage of numerous online resources like the American Community Gardening Association to help you along the way. 

2. Where Will Your Garden Be Located?

This is a simple question, but depending on how much help you have, answering it could be very time-consuming. If you’re working within a larger organization, you may receive financial assistance as well as help choosing and negotiating use of a lot. Working on your own, you’ll need to leverage connections in the community and reach out to property owners and businesses to help you select, pay for, and insure a plot of land for future use. Buying or leasing are both viable options, depending on your garden’s financial assets. Here are a few important factors to keep in mind as you evaluate the viability of a space:

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