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Community gardening dig in!


You’d like to start a Community Garden, are there Others? Building a community garden requires a group of people to get it growing. The purpose of the first meeting is to determine if there is enough interest in your community neighborhood for a Community Garden. While a few gardens have been successfully started by one or two people, most have drawn on the energy of up to a dozen people to get them going.

Things to think about before looking for other gardeners • Talk to other active Community Gardeners, they enjoy sharing their experiences and expertise and will give you a good idea what to expect • Do you have a potential location in mind for the garden AND have you talked to the Outdoor Services Community Liaison Officer from Strathcona County Recreation, Parks and Culture for available locations? • Call 780-467-2211 Please note if the location you have in mind is on Strathcona County land you must ensure it’s a suitable location

Set up a meeting to find other gardeners. Things to think about when setting up the meeting

• Advertise the meeting at least one month in advance

• Advertise the meeting broadly making use of free publications like school newsletters and community calendars • Contact your ward’s Councillor to see if they will include the information in their newsletter

• Phone friends to extend personal invitations to the meeting

• Approach specific groups in the community that might benefit from a garden, for example, seniors groups or apartment dwellers and invite them to the meeting

• Hold the meeting in an accessible, neutral location (eg. Community Centre, Library or County Hall rather than in your home)

Notify the Recreation, Parks and Culture Outdoor Services Community Liaison Officer of your meeting • They will assist with setting up the meeting • They will help identify resources available • They will attend the meeting to provide support


At the meeting •

Keep the agenda simple. Introduce the concept of a community garden and invite a guest speaker from an active community garden to share their experiences. Ask people what their interest is and who the garden would serve.

• Discuss the location of the garden

• Discuss any fees that may apply to the gardeners

• If there is community interest in setting up garden, get a list of names and phone numbers of interested people and brainstorm a “to do” list.

• Assign tasks

• Set the meeting date and location

Basic group and garden guidelines. Once you have determined that there is enough interest in your neighbourhood for a garden and have a committed group to get it started, it’s time to decide how to organize yourselves. Gather gardeners three to four months before you want to start gardening. For example, if you want to break ground in May, you should start meeting by the beginning of February. Keep it simple at first. You may have long-term visions of educational and social events, but in the beginning, focus on developing a clear idea of the garden itself and how it will operate. Remember that some or even many of your gardeners may only be interested in gardening. Your answers to the following questions will have an impact on the site you choose, your basic garden guidelines and your garden design. Once you’ve laid the ground work it’s time to create a “to do” list and ask people to carry out tasks. The list will probably include designing the site, determining what you need to set up the site, developing rules and regulations, recruiting gardeners, looking for funding and community relations.


Things to think about when setting up your Community Garden. 1.

What kind of garden will it be?

❑ Individual garden plots

❑ Communal garden plots

❑ Combination

2.

What size should the garden plots be?

❑ Small – 3 feet x 3 feet

❑ Medium – 5 feet x 10 feet

❑ Large – 10 feet x 20 feet

3.

What type of garden plots?

❑ In-ground

❑ Raised beds

❑ Combination

4.

How many garden plots?

5.

What will we grow there?

❑ Vegetables

❑ Flowers

❑ Annual

❑ Perennial

❑ Native Plants

❑ Herbs

❑ Berry Bushes

❑ Combination

6.

What will the garden be called? _________________________________

7.

All community gardens must be herbicide, pesticide and insecticide free.

❑ Will the garden also be organic?

8.

Is there anyone in the neighbourhood who might object to a garden? If so, how can you gain their support?

9.

Have you notified neighbours whose property is next to the proposed garden either through a letter or a visit to answer to questions or concerns?


10.

What will be the cost for a plot?

11.

What items will you need funds or donations to cover?

❑ Water

❑ Group tools

❑ Storage container

❑ Other

12.

What equipment and supplies will be available for members to use and what will members have to provide themselves?

❑ Tools

❑ Wheelbarrow

❑ Compost

❑ Mulch

❑ Rototiller

13.

How will the group equipment be stored?

❑ Lock-box

❑ Shed

14.

How will water be supplied?

❑ Water tank (requires a base and a overflow water capture system)

❑ Metered water line

❑ Rain barrels

15.

How will garden security be maintained?

❑ Fencing

❑ Neighborhood eyes

❑ Other

16.

How many hours of sunlight does the location get each day?

• Requires minimum six to eight hours of direct sun

17.

When do you want to start planting?

❑ April

❑ May

❑ June

18.

How will group communicate during the season?

❑ Email

❑ On-site message board

❑ Meetings


19.

How will plots be assigned?

❑ First come first served

❑ Lottery system

❑ Waiting list

❑ Live in the neighbourhood

❑ What defines your neighbourhood

20.

Will the gardeners meet regularly? If so, how often and for what purpose?

• Organizational meeting and Season wrap-up meeting only or regular meetings? 21.

How will the meetings be run?

22.

How many “Core” Committee members do you have?

• Should be a minimum of 10 names

23.

How many gardeners do you have confirmed?

• Record names and contact information

❑ Address

❑ Phone numbers

❑ Email address

24. Who will be your Garden Coordinator and what will be their responsibilities?

• This person will need to be your “garden champion”

• Will they be the main contact to handle phone and email inquiries?

• Consider having a knowledgeable gardener work closely with the Coordinator 25.

What responsibilities can other group members take on?

26.

As a group develop “Gardener Expectations”

• Keep them simple

• Include expectations for individual gardens, communal gardens and shared areas such as pathways


You’ve got your group of community gardeners, now what? As the Garden Coordinator

• Determine what role people will play

• Assign leadership roles

• Determine other tasks people can assist with to get the garden ready and confirm their involvement

• Set-up Spring sign-up and Organizational meeting

• Determine fees and explain what they cover

• Set-up a bank account

• Minimum 2 signatures required

• Gardeners sign-up form

• Waiting List with explanation of how it works and reassignment of abandoned plots

• Garden maintenance responsibilities of common garden areas

• Set-up fall season review meeting

Resources. 1.

Community Garden Network of Edmonton and Area

• http://www.edmcommunitygardens.org

2.

Calgary Horticultural Society

• http://www.calhort.org

3.

All New Square Foot Gardening – Mel Bartholomew

4.

Northern Gardener – Jennifer Bennett, 1996. Firefly Books

Source Community Gardens, How to Start a Community Garden by the Calgary Horticultural Society

Community garden  

Brochure on how to start and succeed with a Community garden in Strathcona County.

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