Setting up community garden
February 1, 2021 1:01 AM   Subscribe

I seem to have accidentally started a ball rolling on my suburb's Facebook Group on starting a new community garden. I have a spot and a member if parliament who belongs to the group has given instructions on how to acquire that spot, and other well-informed people have given me some tips on contacting other groups for waiting lists so I can collect members. What else do I need to know?

I don't know what I don't know. Tell me your experiences and problem-solving stuff about setting up and maintaining a community garden in your area. I am a complete novice - I visited one once and was charmed. My skills include admin, organisation, graphic design and web design/maintenance. Hit me up with the good, the bad and the ugly. Everything you've got. Location: Gold Coast Australia.
posted by b33j to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There needs to be bylaws... There will be reasonable yearly dues, just to make sure the members are invested, basically, and have clear rules who gets the products if produce or fruit was planted, and what constittues abandonment of the plot (in which case the waiting list person takes over, by paying pro-rated fee).

Here's a template from Washington DC PDR Community Garden Bylaw Guidance, edit away!
posted by kschang at 3:34 AM on February 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I’m a member of a fairly large urban community croft - a few things for you to think about based on that:

* Will it be one big garden taken care of by volunteers, or will everyone get their own individual plot, or a mixture of the two? If the former, who will coordinate it, have the final say on what’s grown where etc?
* If you’re having some individual plots, how big will they be?
* Will equipment (eg. trowels, rakes, watering cans) be provided? If not, will storage be provided for people who have their own? What about bigger things like wheelbarrows?
* Will there be water on site? If so, where? Will you have hoses or watering cans? If it’s only in one corner can you lay pipes and a few taps around the plot so people don’t have to carry it so far?
* How accessible will it be, can you create some raised beds for people who can’t reach the ground? What’s the surface like, could you get across it in a wheelchair/with a walker/with poor balance or coordination?
* Will you have rules about what people can grow and what chemicals can/can’t be used? (eg. all organic; trees OK or nothing higher than bushes etc). Who will decide these rules and is there any penalty for breaking them?
* Can people sell produce they’ve grown in the garden?
* Will there be any charge for participating, if so who will take care of the money and who will decide how it is spent? If not, how will you pay for repairs/improvements?
* Will it be fenced/gated? If so, how will you manage access, if not how will you prevent vandalism?
* Will there be toilets nearby?
* Will you lay out and allocate all the space at once, or do part of it first and then move on to the next section?
* If people are allocated a plot, is there a presumption that they can stay there indefinitely until they want to give it up? (They’ll need to know this if they want to plant things that take a while to mature). What happens when someone still has dibs on a plot but it seems to be neglected? And what happens if someone’s kind of looking after a plot but they go on holiday/get busy just as their crops ripen - can other people harvest them? (This happens a lot at our garden - people are full of enthusiasm in spring but everything reaches maturity in the school summer holidays when they’re away or too busy to come garden).
* Who deals with pest control? (We’ve had wasps nests, rats in the past couple of years).
* What happens when you have too many or not enough people wanting to garden?
* What do you do with garden waste? Learn about composting but know it may not be ready for use for a while and may not provide enough for the whole plot, so can you order compost in, to begin with?
* Who can apply to garden there, will it only be people from a certain geographical area? How/where do you draw that boundary?

FWIW, the place I garden is run by a charity with some paid staff who do what they can to organise the place. The croft as a whole is open access (which has resulted in vandalism - more of the ‘burning stuff’ kind than the ‘stealing vegetables’ kind). There was water in only one corner, which was a pita and involved elaborate tank filling rituals with multiple hoses, but we eventually laid pipes and taps, though water pressure remains an issue. It’s a combination of allocated plots and communal areas, so people who haven’t been lucky enough to get a plot, or don’t want to commit to one, can still garden in the shared spaces - those activities are coordinated by charity staff. It’s all organic though nobody enforces it, it’s all on trust. There’s a shed full of tools with a number-code padlock, which is *amazing* for those of us who live a couple of miles away and travel by bus. We have no toilets, which is annoying, though there are some in a supermarket a 5 minute walk away. We can order huge sacks of compost in and there’s space for them to be stored. We’ve got massive compost bins built of wood for garden waste, which are well used, though I’ve never noticed any compost being successfully produced out of them.

Best of luck! Our croft is a source of real joy to very many people.
posted by penguin pie at 4:17 AM on February 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The American Community Gardening Association has a ton of resources, and could probably connect you to a similar organization in Australia if there is one.
posted by Sublimity at 5:11 AM on February 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great answers here and mixed responses in Facebook Group. I've decided without a core group of locals wanting to make it happen, it's just too hard for me to take on. It really helped to know how complex it was going to be (I.e. answers above) to make this decision and feel okay about it. Thanks all.
posted by b33j at 4:07 PM on February 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

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