Tuesday, January 8, 2013

So you want to start a community garden?

The journey to create a community garden can be a long one.  Zoning and finding an available location is often the first step.  Many would advise building a club so that you have a core group of people to help you develop your garden.  That may work, but remember if you have a vision for your garden you need to make sure that it is clear and that everyone is behind it.  Your local zoning and planning department down at city hall can answer any questions you have about a vacant piece of land.  They can tell you who owns it and what access to water it has.  Make friends down at city hall, you will be spending a lot of time talking to these people!

Once you have found a location and gained permission to use it (no small task) you are ready to start forming an association to manage your project.  A key person to enlist would be someone in your Parks and Recreation Department down at city hall!  You may also consider forming a blog or joining a social media site like Facebook in order to get the word out.  Plan a meeting and post information about it on every free posting space available in your neighborhood.  Coffee houses, book stores, feed stores and nurseries may all have a community posting space you can use.  Make your fliers as upbeat and as attractive as possible.  Please remember to provide contact information along with the meeting time and place.

So- you are doing wonderfully!  You have a place, a small group of enthused volunteers, and the support of your local representatives.  Wait, you mean you haven't written to your local elected officials yet?  Well you better get on it!  An endorsement for your project from the local mayor will give the community confidence in you and your group.  This is important as it is likely that you need to start soliciting donations from local businesses to get this garden off the ground.  If you don't have a 501 3 c, and lets face it, its expensive, check with your city and local USDA as they have programs that can help you with funding.

Wow! There has been a lot of ground work up until this point and we haven't even turned over one spade full of soil yet!  Don't worry we will get to that soon.  In the mean time, contact your local Master Gardener Association, their contact listing will be with the local Cooperative Extension Office. 
Talk to you soon!  You are on a fantastic adventure...I promise it will all be worth it!