Community gardens are typically non-profit groups set up specifically for the purpose of growing food to help members of the community. They often supply food to organizations that supply meals to homeless people or others who are in need. Some of them are set up through churches and other religious organizations and run by volunteers. Others are groups of individuals who see a need in their community and have gotten together and volunteer their time to help feed others.
Whether large or small, community gardens are become increasingly important in feeding those in need due to the rough economic condition the recession has left many in. If it were not for these volunteers and generous contributors many people would not be able to obtain much needed produce to feed their families with. In recent years the number of these groups have been increasing and stepping in to help with hunger in America.
How can you help and get involved? Every volunteer organization has one problem that will outweigh others, that is enough volunteers. It maybe that you have talents, expertise, or knowledge that you can contribute. Maybe you have an extra two or three hours a week to stop by and pull weeds, water crops, or harvest some vegetables. Believe me no matter how much or little time you have to offer your volunteerism will be gladly accepted and deeply appreciated.
To launch your community garden project, follow these 5 easy steps:
1. Select a community garden site
In this initial phase of community organizing, you will select a growing site that can accommodate a generous portion of land. Before making a final choice, be sure you have had soil samples analyzed to be sure that the soil conditions are compatible for the types of vegetation you wish to plant.
2. Seek Sponsorship
You may wish to explore your financial options by seeking out a sponsor for your community garden. It may be a non-profit organization, philanthropic grant foundation or a religious ministry that will back your project and even acquire or donate the land.
3. Make a list of up-front expenditures
Your working capital must include the necessary elements to get the community garden up and running. Excluding the land costs, you will need fencing, gardening tools, fertilizer, shading canopies, seeds and young plants, trash cans, sheltered storage, locks and gardening accessories to make the cultivation process smooth sailing.
4. Elect a leader
Assemble together all those who have taken an early vested interest in the community garden and elect a designated leader and officers. Someone has to be in charge of the garden recruiting process, how many shares are to be doled out, what the minimum tasks will be to participate in the community garden and if the project will collect any fees. A charter should be drawn up that clearly states the goals and objectives of the new garden, and keeps the officers separated with clearly defined duties.
5. Tenant selection
You must have a written plan of who and how your tenants will be selected. Will they have a fixed term of occupancy and for how long? Will you charge an up-front fee or monthly dues for tenant residency? Will you set forth an advertising budget to grow the garden occupancy? All the variables must be submitted in writing to your tenant list and returned to the community garden supervisor with signatures.
If you don't have the time or energy to start your own community garden, and the existing ones in your city are fully booked, sign up for YardYum and look for available plots in your neighborhood!
Kane Miller from YardYum
Kane has a background in engineering, but now focuses on environmental sustainability. He grew up on a 12-acre hobby farm and was fortunate to have been introduced to organic gardening at a young age.