community garden is an area of land that is planted jointly, by a group of people. These gardens can use individual or shared plots, as well as private or public property. Community gardens mainly consist of fruit, vegetables, plants or a combination of these. These community gardens are found throughout the United Kingdom, and, if you have not yet seen one, you certainly will do in the future.
In order to have a successful community garden, you will need people who are interested and willing to help maintain it. You will also need donations, possible membership fees or sponsors. If you have just started thinking about making a community garden, there are several steps to consider, before starting. As you go through these steps, consider how they might fit into your own community.
The Process of Starting a Community Garden
Before we dive right into the details of starting a community garden, it is a good idea to look at how many of these community gardens are in your town or city. This would pose the question: does this town need to have another one? It might be possible that there is already a community garden in your neighbourhood or at least nearby. If not, consider starting your own one.
Conduct a Meeting, and Determine a Committee
It is important to invite members of the community, especially those who are interested in gardening, to discuss community garden ideas. At this meeting, you should search for people who are willing to devote their time to this project and feel dedicated to it. Those who are up to the challenges should form a committee, as there are many responsibilities to address, before planning your garden. Assign members certain duties, such as finding an area of land for the garden and approaching sponsors.
Type of Garden
After finding those people dedicated to creating a community garden, everyone in the committee should sit down and discuss which type of garden they think would be best. Does the community want the garden to consist exclusively of vegetables? Would various flowers look best? Maybe the whole community would enjoy a mixture of both vegetables and flowers? Should the garden be organic? Your committee will definitely have other questions to answer too.
It is not uncommon to see some community gardens having a ‘membership fee’, as it acts as a self-support system. The money collected from membership fees will pay for tools, seeds and other required materials. Sponsors can include churches, schools, parks or private businesses. These sponsors are essential for a donation of tools, seeds, materials or money! You could also have a scheme whereby people will use their own tools and materials.
While searching for land to start a community garden, it is important that the land is flat. Another consideration for your garden is the amount of daily sun that can reach your plots and the accessibility of water and the soil. Have the soil tested for pollutants, before planting any fruit, vegetable or flower in your garden, to ensure that it yields the best crops.
Researching for Grants
Some organisations are willing to and want to back community gardens. These organisations are known to donate materials, much like sponsors do.
Creating Rules for the Community Garden
There should always be some ground rules that every individual must follow. These rules should include maintaining areas, as well as a course of action that will be undertaken, should a member abandon or neglect their patch.
Organising the Garden
You should be able to divide your garden into individual plots. There should also be enough space left on the site, for tool storage, pathways and an area for making compost. Each plot should have the gardener’s name clearly displayed.
Keep Members in Touch
One important aspect concerning a community garden is being able to keep the members communicating.
Even though the primary reason for most people using the garden is to grow their own crops, the main purpose of a community garden is to create and strengthen communities.
Some interesting ways in which to keep everyone up-to-date and communicating include creating an e-mail list, throwing garden parties, constructing a bulletin board in the garden and creating a telephone tree. Deciding to start a community garden comes with a lot of work, well before the garden is even ready to begin. From finding the perfect land, to finding ways to pay for the costs and testing the soil, there is a lot to do, when organising this project. Even so, if it is something that has been in your mind for a while and is of interest to you, then make use of it! You probably have many friends or neighbours who would enjoy this endeavour.
A community garden can bring a lot to any neighbourhood, including a sense of community and higher home values. You will also find that these gardens, even vegetable gardens, bring a lot of beauty and colour to any community space.
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