A community garden is a way to grow delicious, fresh produce and to bring together neighbors and community members. A community garden also requires buy-in from the community, proactive planning, and ongoing maintenance.
Every community is unique, and every garden has different needs and ingredients for success. Here are tips for a successful, sustainable community garden:
1. Plan ahead. Don’t feel like you need to plant all at once. Space plantings so you have a harvest most weeks.
2. Flex those connections. Who in the community can you pull in to share knowledge? In many areas, university extension and master gardeners provide free classes and information on everything you need to know about gardening.
3. Build community. Throw a pot luck or hold a tea time to get to know your fellow gardeners.
4. Identify an invested gardener who will take a degree of ownership in maintaining the garden area and helping fellow gardeners.
5. Establish rules, norms, and expectations for the garden so everyone is aware of what is needed to participate in a successful garden.
6. Be proactive, not reactive. Weeds will grow, and nature won’t always cooperate. Before planting, prep the garden area to minimize weed growth, maintain walking paths, and have a plan to easily water and care for the plants throughout the growing season.
7. Not everything has to be edible. Having a myriad of flowers and plants will bring in beneficial insects and pollinators that increase the overall health of your garden (while also making it pretty).
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.