If you are looking to support charitable initiatives and have a green thumb, creating a community vegetable garden may be ideal for you. Not only can it help produce healthy foods for those in need, it can also serve as an opportunity to teach members of the community about how to care for a home garden of their own. If you are interested in starting a community garden, here are some things to consider.
Finding a Location
The first step to starting a community garden is to pick a suitable location. Community gardens may be located on public property, such as plots owned by the city or county, as well as private property owned by individuals or organizations. If you do not currently own a piece of property that would be suitable for the project, contact local charitable organizations or city officials to inquire about space.
Certain city owned vacant lots within urban or suburban areas may be ideal locations, and may be made available at little or no cost. Similarly, charitable organizations with an appropriate amount of land may allow its use as a garden at no cost, especially if it fits with their other efforts or objectives.
In order to ensure the location will support the requirements for healthy vegetable growth, make sure to choose a location with plenty of direct sunlight, often at least six hours a day.
Prepare the Location
In order to properly prepare the area, any current vegetation will likely need to be removed. This can be done by physically removing larger plants, or smothering smaller weeds and grasses. If smothering is chosen, this can be accomplished with biodegradable cardboard, which may be available for no cost at certain locations that often receive shipments and packages.
Once the existing plants are removed, the soil can be tilled. In order to promote healthier growth, it may be necessary to add organic material to the soil. This can be accomplished through the creation of compost. A compost bin can even be located onsite, allowing for easier access to the material as it is needed. There are many composters available, including an affordable tumbler composter by Yimbly, which can handle the job nicely.
Once the compost is created, it can be tilled directly into the soil that will be used for growing the vegetables, whether this is the current soil in the area or soil brought in to create a solid foundation.
Get the Community Involved
Once the area is prepared, it is time to solicit community participation. This can include looking for plant or seed donations from local businesses, as well as finding volunteers to help plant and tend to the vegetables. In order to support the efforts, it is not uncommon to have community members who are interested in harvesting from the garden to provide volunteer hours to care for the site.
Once the site has begun to produce, and the appropriate number of volunteers have been located, the costs of maintaining the service can be fairly minimal. While certain costs are unavoidable, such as costs associated with watering, the majority of maintenance will require only minimal financial commitments from program leaders or donors.
Not only can a community garden help provide fresh produce to those in need within the community, it can also serve as a way to teach others about gardening, a skill they can take with them into the future.