Start a garden

Initiating a new community garden can take a lot of work and time. We’ll try to assist you by laying out the general steps needed to get a successful garden off the ground.

If you are interested in talking with someone in person about developing a community garden in the North Bay area, contact the North Bay Community Garden coalition at northbaycgc@gmail.com

The following steps are adapted from the American Community Garden Association’s guidelines
for launching a successful community garden in your neighborhood: http://communitygarden.org/docs/10stepsstart.pdf

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
communication.
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.
4. APPROACH A SPONSOR
Some gardens “self-support” through membership dues, but for many, a sponsor is essential for donations of
tools, 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.

 

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2 Responses to Start a garden

  1. Luke Stephenson says:

    How can I start a garden?

  2. nbcgc says:

    We’re all volunteers and still in production of the site – if you have any points you’d like to share – send them our way at northbaycgc@gmail.com 🙂

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