Want to Grow Vegetables But Don’t Have the Space? Try Community Gardening.
Gardening is a rewarding hobby that many find to be a peaceful, solitary effort. But if you’re a beginner, or don’t have the space, you may want to consider community gardening. In Minneapolis alone, there are over 300 community gardens. And if you are interested in gardening but don’t know how to start, growing food as a group will shorten your learning curve. Odds are there will likely be experienced growers in the mix. It’s a wonderful way to connect with people who share your passions and interests.
At Eco Garden Systems, we believe that community gardening come in many forms: gardening with neighbors, family, or friends; kids growing veggies at school; senior centers and community centers starting a gardening program; gardening on military bases; local restaurants offering fresh grown food to patrons from a garden right on the property.
How would you like to get involved in community gardening? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Ask nearby family or friends if they would like to grow food together. If you don’t have the space, perhaps someone else has a spot where you could start a garden and work on it together.
- Connect with others in gardening groups. This can help you learn more about growing vegetables and help you find the right community garden for you. Try Meetup, local garden clubs, Facebook groups, community centers, and your local extension office. Many groups offer classes and advice from master gardeners.
- If you’re ready to dive in, find a local community garden plot by contacting your city hall. You will be more motivated to keep up the garden tasks if the plot is near your home. Many cities around the country convert abandoned city lots into havens for growing fresh food, so if you are in a densely populated area, there should be plenty of options.
- Having trouble finding a community garden plot? With the popularity of community gardening on the rise as more people move into apartments and small homes, plots can fill up and have long waiting lists. And some places don’t have a community gardening program at all. So, start a new community garden! This policy reference guide from Hamline University’s law department is a detailed resource for getting one started just about anywhere in the United States. Here are some basic tips:
- Get involved with your community and local government by expressing your desire for a garden plot. Scope out possible sites and find out what areas are available for use. Don’t worry about the quality of soil; this can be built up over time. Raised garden beds like the Eco Garden Systems Original Garden were created with community gardening in mind. The combination of the Water Reservoir, Air Gap, and Soil Platform means that your plants will reach maturity twice as fast as normal and produce up to 50% more product.
- Get funding: local organizations may offer supplies and grants to get started.
- Once you have secured a location, ask fellow gardening enthusiasts in your community to help design and build the site. If you have already generated interest, this should be easy. It’s best to build separate plots, preferably in raised beds. That way, each member will be responsible for maintaining their own plot. Unfortunately, communal garden beds often fail because the responsibilities end up falling on only the most dedicated.
- Determine rules of the garden. It can be helpful to have a treasurer and secretary to help run the garden. Allow gardeners to grow seedlings at home or buy their own plants so everyone can grow what they enjoy eating. You may also want to set up a watering schedule so that no garden goes dry—an Eco Garden uses 65% less water than traditional gardens!
- Start a compost heap that everyone can use to keep their plot healthy.
- Keep in regular contact through annual meetings and fun activities like cookouts with your harvest. The great thing about community gardening is that you can learn from each other and share your bounty.
Check out our LinkedIn article about community gardening for more great tips. There are so many reasons to grow your own vegetables, and doing it together makes it fun and easy. Now get out there and don’t be afraid to #GardenDifferent.
Tell us: Have you tried community gardening? What was your experience like?