7 Steps to Start a Community Garden: All You Need to Get Growing

You may already have a successful container garden, or a bumper kitchen herb garden. But if you live in an apartment, you probably don’t have a personal patch of land you can use to grow other types of veggies and fruits — you only have so much room! Luckily, community gardens, gardens supported by a group of committed neighborhood gardeners, are popping up everywhere.

Now, if you don’t have a community garden in your neighborhood, don’t fret. Starting a community garden yourself may not be as difficult as you think. The following tips will help you get a neighborhood garden up and growing in no time.

1. Don’t go it alone: I’m betting that you have an army of greens-loving gardeners who you network with often. Tell your fellow greenies that you want to start a community garden and need their help.

2. Ask your friends what type of garden is wanted. (Should it be a vegetable- and fruit-only garden? Or should their be flowers, too?) Also: Ask around about what local nonprofits and associations may be interested in being part of the budding garden.

3. Now, it’s time to create a garden planning committee comprised of people who are dedicated to organize the garden, and make certain it becomes a success. Make sure the committee members are ready to tackle important issues, such as funding, youth activities, construction, communication, and partnerships. This group of people should also be equipped to find local resources that can fuel the garden’s creation.

4. What is the garden’s structure? How are you going to run this thing, anyhow? Make sure you know before you allow people to sign up to work in the garden. While you don’t need to prepare a long-winded legal document, you should create a document that lists the garden’s rules, and that requires participants to sign and date the doc. Also: Decide if your garden will be an association, nonprofit, or garden club.

5. Next, check your city’s zoning codes and claim some land. And remember: No one set of zoning codes is ever the same — everything varies by city! Some land may reside in areas of the city that are not zoned for gardening. Even if you pick a piece of land that is zoned for gardening, you need to find out if other gardening structures, such as hoop houses, are allowed on the land.

6. Other things to check on include off-street parking, accessibility requirements, and garden-related issues, such irrigation and run-off. After you’ve found your land and have gotten permission to claim that land, make certain you’ve got your interests protected. This will include lease terms, such as rent and the length of the lease, as well as utility and tax information. Also: Consider getting insurance. You never know what can happen, so it’s best to cover all bases.

7. You’re now ready to organize the garden. Organize volunteer crews to prep the land for planting. These volunteers also can help gather gardening materials and settle on a plot arrangement. Once plots are created, ask the community garden’s members how they want to assign each plot.

Related on Organic Authority

Organic Gardening: Think Local, Diversify and Design for Reuse

Community Gardens Growing in New Jersey

8 Awesome Rooftop Gardens from Around the World


“Dear Modern Farmer: How Do I Start Up a Community Garden?,” via Modern Farmer

“10 Steps to Starting a Community Garden,” via Community Garden

Image: Mike Linksavayer