Monday, February 1, 2010

Community introduction

Community Gardening

a brief primer

What is a Community Garden?

1. A garden where people join together to garden…a shared green space that is planned and maintained by community members for the use and enjoyment of the entire community.
2. In some cases where there are restrictions or a focused population, e.g. prisons, mental health institutions, schools; a community garden may be limited to a focused constituency.
3. Due to our economic crisis in the USA, increasing numbers of people are interested in food gardens. The gardens are large and small; formal and informal; urban, suburban, and rural. They operate on municipal land, land trusts, and private land.”
4. Other?

History of Community Gardening

Benefits of Community Gardening
1. Encourage community development
2. Support youth development
3. Produce healthy, safe food
4. Improve health
5. Create and preserve green spaces
6. Encourage environmental responsibility and sustainability
7. Promotes horticulture
8. Makes a neighborhood safer
9. Food security
10. Other?

Types of community gardens

1. Children and youth gardens
2. School gardens
3. Therapeutic gardens
4. Food gardens and markets, Food Bank Gardens
5. Street gardens (sidewalk, median strips, etc.)
6. Courtyard gardens within apartment complexes
7. Multi purpose

Steps in Organizing

1. Gather a group of interested people and form a planning committee; identify prospective sites
2. Determine who owns the property and acquire access
3. Perform a comprehensive site analysis
4. Determine your budget prior to design
5. Define you goals and start building community support
6. Set a schedule to get the garden started!
7. Other?

Resources (People and Places)

1. Master Gardeners and Master Composters
2. Books and public libraries
3. County Extension Agent
4. Other community gardeners
5. Teachers, school principals, and custodians
6. Websites and the Internet (blogs, etc.)
7. Therapeutic horticulture programs
8. Parks Departments
9. Public Gardens, local nurseries, hardware stores, garden designers
10. Recycling and Sanitation Depts.(compost)

Ecological Conservation Practices
1. Composting
2. Soil improvement
3. Going organic and avoiding use of pesticides
4. Attracting wildlife: birds, butterflies, pollinators
5. Rain water harvesting and irrigation

Possible Activities in the gardens
1. Workshops
2. Events
3. Tours in the garden
4. Mentoring
5. Welcome signs
6. Open hours
7. Newsletters
8. Other?

Current trends and why people want a community garden:
1. Food costs are going up
2. Concern about food safety mounts every day
3. People want to know where there food originates and increasingly want to buy local food
4. Neighborhood  beautification
5. Community building

For further information, see

American Community Gardening Association

Your county's Cooperative Extension Service

The study "Community Gardens and Farmers Markets for Forsyth County" (Wake Forest University Translational Science Institute) can viewed and downloaded from

This primer is written by Ellen Kirby (

It is based on the book COMMUNITY GARDENING, All-Region Guide series of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2008, edited by Elizabeth Peters and Ellen Kirby. Available from and, public libraries and some bookstores

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