The existence and practice of "community gardening" predates recorded history. Wherever a community exists, the possibilities of creating a garden that is accessible to every member of that community are endless. Anywhere where fertile soil is to be found (or created), a community garden can be developed. Many municipalities provide space. Rooftop gardens abound in cities worldwide. The operative word here is COMMUNITY. The world is facing a food crisis. The alarming statistics are available, but go unnoticed; it's time for the wake-up call.
From the "City Farmer News,", a fine online publication that features 'New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'.":
"Convincing people of a threat to the food supply is like convincing people that the climate change is a problem: you can either wait until the crisis hits or react now." Peter Ladner
The adage "Charity begins at home," is a statement of fact. If you are fortunate enough to live in a home with a back yard, start a garden and feed your family. Share your surplus with your next-door neighbors. Better yet, if possible, get your neighbors to share one garden space, everyone contributing to its maintenance. Contribute the surplus to the local food bank. Does the town or city where you live have a community garden? If so, get INVOLVED! If not, WHY NOT?
The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) offers a wealth of information and can be found online at: http://communitygarden.org/
Community gardening benefits everyone. From the ACGA:
- "Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
- Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
- Stimulates Social Interaction
- Encourages Self-Reliance
- Beautifies Neighborhoods
- Produces Nutritious Food
- Reduces Family Food Budgets
- Conserves Resources
- Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
- Reduces Crime
- Preserves Green Space
- Creates income opportunities and economic development
- Reduces city heat from streets and parking lots
- Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections"
- Also from ACGA:
"10 STEPS TO STARTING A COMMUNITY GARDEN
American Community Gardening Association
The following steps are adapted from the American Community Garden Association's guidelines
for launching a successful community garden in your neighborhood.
1. ORGANIZE A MEETING OF INTERESTED PEOPLE
Determine whether a garden is really needed and wanted, what kind it should be (vegetable, flower, both, organic?), whom it will involve and who benefits. Invite neighbors, tenants, community organizations, gardening and horticultural societies, building superintendents (if it is at an apartment building)—in other words, anyone who is likely to be interested.
2. FORM A PLANNING COMMITTEE
This group can be comprised of people who feel committed to the creation of the garden and have the time to devote to it, at least at this initial stage. Choose well-organized persons as garden coordinators Form committees to tackle specific tasks: funding and partnerships, youth activities, construction and
3. IDENTIFY ALL YOUR RESOURCES
Do a community asset assessment. What skills and resources already exist in the community that can aid in the garden’s creation? Contact local municipal planners about possible sites, as well as horticultural societies and other local sources of information and assistance. Look within your community for people with experience in landscaping and gardening. In Toronto contact the Toronto Community Garden Network.
4. APPROACH A SPONSOR
Some gardens "self-support" through membership dues, but for many, a sponsor is essential for donations oftools, seeds or money. Churches, schools, private businesses or parks and recreation departments are all possible supporters. One garden raised money by selling "square inches" at $5 each to hundreds of sponsors.
5. CHOOSE A SITE
Consider the amount of daily sunshine (vegetables need at least six hours a day), availability of water, and soil testing for possible pollutants. Find out who owns the land. Can the gardeners get a lease agreement for at least three years? Will public liability insurance be necessary?
6. PREPARE AND DEVELOP THE SITE
In most cases, the land will need considerable preparation for planting. Organize volunteer work crews to clean it, gather materials and decide on the design and plot arrangement.
7. ORGANIZE THE GARDEN
Members must decide how many plots are available and how they will be assigned. Allow space for storing tools, making compost and don’t forget the pathways between plots! Plant flowers or shrubs around the garden's edges to promote good will with non-gardening neighbors, passersby and municipal authorities.
8. PLAN FOR CHILDREN
Consider creating a special garden just for kids--including them is essential. Children are not as interested in the size of the harvest but rather in the process of gardening. A separate area set aside for them allows them to explore the garden at their own speed.
9. DETERMINE RULES AND PUT THEM IN WRITING
The gardeners themselves devise the best ground rules. We are more willing to comply with rules that we have had a hand in creating. Ground rules help gardeners to know what is expected of them. Think of it as a code of behavior. Some examples of issues that are best dealt with by agreed upon rules are: dues, how will the money be used? . How are plots assigned? Will gardeners share tools, meet regularly, handle basic maintenance?
10. HELP MEMBERS KEEP IN TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER
Good communication ensures a strong community garden with active participation by all. Some ways to do this are: form a telephone tree, create an email list; install a rainproof bulletin board in the garden; have regular celebrations. Community gardens are all about creating and strengthening communities."
Community is a phenomena that begins at home and spreads. The sense, the feeling of being a part of a community is by itself a reason for living.
Thanks again for reading! Pass it on!
Pass me the potatoes.