Do You Love Plants and People? Why Not Start a Community Garden? (French version available)
Gardening indoors or in your yard at home can be a solo activity – but if you love taking care of plants, meeting new people, and improving the environment, then maybe you should start a community garden.
What is a Community Garden?
Community gardens are public spaces set aside for gardening projects, which are accessible to the public and involve multiple people working together to grow flowers, vegetables, or other plants. These gardens help beautify neighbourhoods and parks, and provide the opportunity for local plant lovers to meet other gardeners and learn from each other.
These gardens can be large or small, and are often located in parks, school grounds, building rooftops, and along walking trails. Many cities and towns have one or more community garden spaces. If you are interested in joining a community garden, ask around your local area to see if there is one already operating nearby.
If there isn’t a community garden near you, consider starting one yourself!
Starting a Community Garden
A community garden is a cooperative project, which is true for setting one up in the first place as well as caring for the garden afterwards. There are several steps to setting up a community garden in your neighbourhood or at your school, and you will need help from an adult.
1. Find Other People to Join You
The point of community gardening is to garden with other people, so ask around! Check with your family, friends, school, and neighbourhood to find other people who are interested in joining your community garden group. Depending on the bylaws in your town or the rules at your school, you may need a minimum number of members before you can start the process of setting up a garden.
2. Pick Your Location
Work with your school or neighbourhood representatives to find a suitable space to install your garden. Have an adult help you visit locations, talk to the people at your school or neighbourhood, and contact your local government about any permissions or permits needed to gain access to the space and install soil plots or raised boxes.
3. Design a Plan for Your Garden
Part of any application process with a neighbourhood or school will involve sharing a plan for your garden for review and approval. You will need to include information about the size and arrangement of your garden, what plants will be grown, what the space is like for sunlight and water availability, who the group members are and what tasks each person will take care of, and more. Your local municipal or school representatives will be able to provide you with a full list of the information your plan needs to include.
4. Get to Gardening!
Once you have a garden location, a group of gardeners, and approval from your neighbourhood or school, then it’s time to get started! Work with your group members to dig garden beds, put down soil, plant seeds, and start caring for your soon-to-be-plants. Depending on what you’re growing, whether flowers or vegetables, you will start to see sprouts within a few weeks and after a month or two you will have a beautiful, thriving garden. If you start with baby plants instead of seeds, you will have a gorgeous garden even faster.
A Few Important Points
There are a few important things to keep in mind when planning, starting, and maintaining your community garden.
Gardening takes time, and can be a lot of work – but the effort is definitely worth the reward. This is also another benefit of a community garden, where the work can be split up among multiple people working together to get things done. This also means that everyone gets to have some input into the garden, whether it’s to pick the tasks they want to do or to help decide what plants to grow.
There can also be monetary costs involved, though there are lots of ways for community gardens to support themselves without the members paying for everything. Community gardens don’t usually have to pay for the garden space itself, but often need money to purchase materials. Your garden group can run a fundraiser to raise money, or ask the neighbourhood for donations of items such as gardening tools, soil, and seeds. Many cities and towns also have grants available to help support public projects.
Whether you end up with a large and busy garden, or a small and quiet one, you will have a space to enjoy gardening, meet fellow plant lovers, and contribute to the natural beauty of your neighbourhood!
City of Toronto. “Community Gardens.” https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/parks-gardens-beaches/gardens-and-horticulture/urban-agriculture/community-gardens/
Community Crops. “Community Crops Youth Garden Program.” https://communitycrops.org/gardens/youth-garden-program/
Nourish Project. “8 Things to Know about Community Gardens.” https://nourishproject.ca/8-things-know-about-community-gardens
Plant a Seed Foundation Canada. “School Gardening & Community Garden.” https://seewhatgrows.org/our-causes/community-gardens-seed-preservation/
Wikipedia. “Community gardens.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_gardening