A harvest for all
There’s nothing like putting your hands into the warm earth and pulling out something you’ve grown yourself. But having a vegetable garden isn’t something that’s possible for everyone. Those who have very small yards – or no yards at all – are unable to enjoy this pleasure, and can’t reap the delicious rewards during the harvest season.
But there is a solution to that problem! Community gardens are large spaces shared by like-minded people for the purpose of growing fresh produce. With the price of food rising each year, it’s a wonderful way to have access to fresh, healthy, affordable vegetables and fruit grown close to home.
There may already be a community garden in your area that has space for one more gardener, but if not, you may need to take the lead and create one for you and the people in your community.
The American Community Gardening Association1 has some great tips for starting your own community garden:
- Get your friends and neighbors on board. A community garden is meant to be used and enjoyed by many, so spread the word and invite anyone you think would be interested to a planning meeting. At the meeting you can form an official committee designed to take charge of the project.
- Find out who can help. Contact local municipal planners and horticultural societies to ask for advice and help as you begin your search for the perfect site. If the land you choose is a public space, you’ll have to work with your local government to determine if you can use it for a community garden. If it’s privately owned, you may be able to arrange to lease the land from the owners. In both cases, you’ll also have to determine if liability insurance will be necessary.
- Find a sponsor. Obviously this isn’t something that can be done without some form of financial support. Your group might be willing to self-fund using membership dues, but it’s also a great idea to find a sponsor who can help provide tools and supplies. You might consider contacting local places of worship, schools, private businesses or parks and recreation departments to see if they are willing to pitch in.
- Get ready for planting. Depending upon the site you choose, there may be a lot of work required to get it ready to plant. Have your committee organize volunteer work crews who can clean and prep the site, and decide on the design and plot arrangement. It’s up to you to determine how the garden will be run and organized, but you’ll need to figure out how large you want the plots to be, and how they will be assigned to interested gardeners. And don’t forget to allow space for tool storage and pathways between each plot!
- Make it family friendly. Teaching children about gardening and where their food comes is so important. Create a special children’s area where they can plant and explore.
- Make sure everyone is on board. When you have a viable plan, put your rules in writing and make sure everyone understands what they are responsible for as gardeners in your community garden.
Once you’ve got everything in order, it’s time to think about what you want in your special plot of land! If you’re new to gardening, make sure you do some research to ensure that whatever you plant will be able to thrive in your climate and in the soil conditions present at your community garden.
If you’re thinking that there’s not much point in growing vegetables in a small plot of land, think again. First of all, you can band together with a few friends and each grow different crops to share. But even if you’re on your own, you’ll still be able to harvest a surprising amount of food in just a 4’ x 4’ plot of land. According to Your Garden Solution2, in the spring that little space will allow you to grow:
- 1 head of cabbage
- 1 head of broccoli
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 4 heads of romaine lettuce
- 4 heads of red lettuce
- 4 heads of buttercrunch bibb lettuce
- 9 sugar snap peas
- 9 bunches of Swiss chard
- 9 bunches of spinach
- 32 carrots (using 2 squares)
- 32 radishes (using 2 squares)
- 18 beets (using 2 squares)
- 16 onions
In late spring/early summer you can replace some of those spent crops with the following delicious veggies:
- 3 vine tomatoes
- 2 cucumber (using one square)
- 3 egg plant
- 18 bush beans (using two squares)
- 1 banana pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 1 hot pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 1 sunflower (or any flower you choose) and
- 2 globe artichoke
If your dreams of eating fresh vegetables you’ve grown and harvested yourself have been sitting on the shelf for way too long because you don’t have enough space for a garden of your own, a community garden might be the answer. And while you’re filling your plate with healthy, delicious produce during the harvest season, you can also feel pride in the fact that you’ve helped others to do the same, and created a stronger and healthier community for you and your family in the process.
Check out this great Youtube video for more information on the amazing benefits of community gardening.
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