Organic gardening is growing in popularity as more people recognize some of the key benefits, which include:
- Health benefits from eating safe, wholesome foods free of toxins.
- More nutrients from the foods they eat
- The simple joy of spending time outdoors and connecting to the Earth through gardening
Gardening can be a pleasurable solo activity but it takes on a whole new dimension when approached as a community effort. A community garden brings together neighbors to help put together a garden, grow and tend to the vegetables and plants, and ultimately enjoy the (often literal) fruits of their labor together. It’s a fantastic way to bring a community together on a regular basis and share the workload to produce exceptional results. A community garden is also a great way to involve children in the neighborhood, who can often help with many gardening tasks and learn a lot in the process.
It’s a great way to pull everyone out of their homes, away from the television sets, the games of Pottermore and Call of Duty, and get them outside, breathing fresh air and soaking up some nature.
The single biggest requirement for a community garden is a shared space in which to plant. To be successful, it needs to be centrally located and suitable for cultivation. If the neighborhood does not have a convenient shared space, than one or more residents may be willing to utilize a portion of their own property for the effort. However, certain attention to legal and liability issues needs to be considered in this case.
Assuming you do have the space secured, then it’s time to get growing! Any community garden effort must start with some planning, which is best done early in the year before it’s time to start planting. Consider your budget and get early commitments from participants beforehand. With any gardening project, it’s best to start small in scope for the first year and then grow as interest in the project expands in the following years. And once everyone catches sight (and taste) of the amazing foods growing in your neighborhood garden, you can expect that interest to grow quickly.
When planning, try to get clear commitments from everyone involved. It helps to set up weekly shifts for families to take care of the basic tasks, such as fertilizing, weeding and pruning and to rotate those tasks accordingly. Bear in mind that scheduling can get tough during certain times of the growing season, such as school breaks and summer vacations.
You’ll also want to determine your budget. If the neighborhood association can cover costs, this can alleviate a lot of the issues. But even in these cases, it’s often a good idea to ask for small donations from each of the participants, even as low as $10 or $20 per family. These donations, while small, help lock in commitment for the entire season.
A great time to bring everyone together is at the harvest. Try to plan the planting of most of the items in your community garden so that they’re ready for harvest at the same time. This can lead to a major event where everyone comes together on a weekend or two to harvest all the fruits and vegetables from the garden and then prepare them together for a neighborhood feast. Together, everyone can enjoy the delicious results and celebrate a summer of working together on their organic garden.