Welcome to Community Gardening
A community garden means many things to many people. For some, a community garden is a place to grow food, flowers and herbs in the company of friends and neighbors. For others, it is a place to reconnect with nature or get physical exercise. Regardless of why you choose to take part in a community garden, the activity comes with both responsibilities and rewards.
Responsibilities: Successful and vibrant community gardens rely on the dedication of each and every gardener to maintain a plot and contribute to the upkeep and management of the garden as a whole. There are many jobs that need to be done in order to help the garden run smoothly, including: mowing or mulching paths, maintaining tools and equipment, planning events and workshops, stocking and hauling supplies, and building beds. The adage many hands make light work is very appropriate. If everyone pitches in according to individual ability and desire, the garden will prosper and grow.
Rewards: Community gardening has the potential to offer a range of benefits to individuals, families, communities and the environment. Benefits include:
- Food Production – Community gardens allow people to grow high quality fruits and vegetables for themselves, their families and their community.
- Nutrition – Some research indicates that community gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than non-gardening families.
- Exercise – Gardening requires physical activity and helps improve the overall physical health of gardeners.
- Mental Health – Interacting with plants and nature helps reduce stress and increases a gardener’s sense of wellness and belonging.
- Community – Community gardens foster a sense of community identity, ownership and stewardship among gardeners. They provide a place for people of diverse backgrounds to interact and share culture traditions.
- Environment – Gardens help reduce the heat island effect in cities, increase biodiversity, reduce run-off from rain, recycle local organic materials and reduce fossil fuel use from long distance food transportation.
- Learning – People of all ages can acquire and share skills and knowledge related to gardening, cooking, nutrition, health, culture, etc.
- Youth – Community gardens provide a place for youth to explore gardening, nature and community.
- Property Values – Some research indicates the property values around community gardens increase faster than property values in similar areas without gardens.
Above all, community gardens can provide a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment for all.
Success at the Community Garden
- Plan to visit your garden two to three times a week during the growing season. Make a schedule with yourself or other gardeners. Write it in your calendar. Post a colorful reminder on the fridge. Because your garden is not located outside your front door, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there is weeding, watering, staking or harvesting to do.
- Attend scheduled meetings and workdays. This will help you meet other gardeners and become part of your gardening community. You’ll also learn about the various jobs and projects that need to be done to keep your garden in shape.
- Make friends with other gardeners. Experienced gardeners are an invaluable resource at our garden. Pick their brains for gardening tips. Visit their plots to see how they stake their tomatoes or trellis their beans.
- Volunteer for a garden job or committee. Community gardens don’t manage themselves. They require a fair amount of work. By pitching in on a certain job or project, you’ll be supporting the garden as a whole and ensuring that the work is spread among many people.
- Educate yourself. Check out books from the library, attend classes, or utilize internet information. Become a Master Gardener. There is always something to learn about gardening. The more you learn, the more success you will have.
- Know your neighbors. Learn the names and a little about your non-gardening neighbors. Share some extra produce. Take the time to visit with them about how the garden works if they’re not familiar with it.
- Harvest produce on a regular basis. During harvest season, let garden leaders know if you plan to be out of town for more than a few days. Gardeners can harvest for you and donate the food to a local pantry.
- Grow more than you need. Opportunities exist for donating extra produce to charitable organizations.
- Bring your cell phone. Should a problem arise, keep important numbers stored on your phone.
Community Garden Job Descriptions
Community gardens depend on gardeners’ willingness and ability to take responsibility for a number of important tasks. Please review the following job descriptions and contact the garden leaders to let them know how you’d like to help.
Garden Organization Committee
- Organization Coordinator: Identify and recruit new garden leaders. Chair the gardens organizing committee.
- Garden Communications Coordinator: Communicates with gardeners through email, phone calls or mailings about garden news, meetings and events. Maintains garden bulletin board. Coordinate garden meetings/activities. Record all volunteer tasks/hours.
- Garden Maintenance Coordinator: Makes plot assignments, manages the waiting list, responsible for broken or damaged equipment and infrastructure. Manages the Grounds Crew, Composting Crew, and Supply Crew volunteer positions. Assists with garden meetings/activities.
- Program Coordinator: Coordinates regular and special garden events including work parties, neighborhood parties and educational workshops.
- Community Liaison: Coordinates with other related groups (Food Pantry, Plant a Row for the Hungry, Garden Clubs, etc.), organizes visits to and contact with other community gardens and places of interest. Record food pantry donations.
These positions are managed by the Communications Coordinator
- Garden Historians: The keepers of written journal and photos of garden activities for posterity.
- Web Page Team: Provide information for community garden web page
These positions are managed by the Maintenance Coordinator
- Grounds Crew: Maintains the garden’s common areas. Mulch pathways, clears pathways and removes trash.
- Composting Crew: Maintains and oversees the composting and compost bins. Provides gardeners with assistance hauling or handling compost.
- Supply Crew: Actively seeks low and not-cost supplies of common garden materials such as compost, seeds, mulch, etc.
- Gluttons for Punishment: Those willing to fill-in in a pinch, especially during pre-season and post season clean-ups.
These positions are managed by the Program Coordinator
- Horticulture Advisers: Possess gardening experience and a willingness to share it with gardeners. Mentors new gardeners, circulates new gardening resources, and coordinates gardening workshops with the events crew.
- Program Assistant: Helps the Program Coordinator prepare and set up for special garden events and workshops.
These positions are managed by the Community Liaison
- Outreach: Responsible for coordinating with charitable organizations to distribute extra produce.
- Distributors: Responsible for delivering produce to food pantry.