Community Gardens Toolkit: A Resource for Planning your Community Garden


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Community Gardens Toolkit: A Resource for Planning your Community Garden

  1. 1. Community A resource for planning, enhancing and sustaining Gardening your community gardening project ToolkitUniversity of Missouri Extension MP906
  2. 2. Community Gardening toolkit About this guide This guide is intended to be a resource for gardeners, garden organizers, Extension staff and other agency professionals who want to start a new community garden, enhance an existing garden or help community members start and manage their own community garden. For additional resources on this and other topics, visit your local University of Missouri Extension center or MU Extension online at Bill McKelvey MU Extension Associate Healthy Lifestyle Initiative an equal opportunity/ADA institution extension.missouri.eduMU Extension 2 MP906
  3. 3. (contents) What is a community garden? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Characteristics of neighborhood community gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Other types of community gardens, including rural community gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 The history of community gardening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 The benefits of community gardening. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Starting a community garden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Five core beliefs of working in groups. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 From idea to action — Ten steps to success Step 1: Talk with friends and neighbors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Step 2: Hold a meeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Step 3: Find and evaluate garden sites. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Step 4: Identify local resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Step 5: Hold a second meeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Step 6: Draft a lease agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Step 7: Develop a site plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Step 8: Establish gardener guidelines and gardener application. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Gardeners’ Welcome Packet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Step 9: Prepare and develop the site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Step 10: Celebrate your success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Additional information for local agencies interested in starting a community garden, or groups interested in involving an outside organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Additional things to consider while getting started . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Appendix Sample community garden budget . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Sample gardener application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Sample gardener guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Sample lease. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Stories from experience Building community: Benton-Stephens neighborhood, Columbia, Mo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Giving back: Temple Israel, Rogersville, Mo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 School gardening: Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, St. Louis, Mo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Intergenerational gardening: Schuyler County, Mo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16University of Missouri 3 Community Gardening Toolkit
  4. 4. Community Gardening toolkitWhat is a community garden?Introduction A community garden means many things to many experience: BUILDING COMMUNITYpeople. For some, a community garden is a place Benton-StephenS neighBorhood garden,to grow food, flowers and herbs in the company of ColumBia, mo.friends and neighbors. For others, it’s a place to re-connect with nature or get physical exercise. Some Neighborhood leader Kip Kendrick explains thatuse community gardens because they lack adequate starting a community garden in the Benton-Stephensspace at their house or apartment to have a garden. neighborhood laid the foundation for building commu-Others take part in community gardening to build or nity and empowering neighbors to work together. As arevitalize a sense of community among neighbors. newcomer to the neighborhood, Kendrick noticed that Community gardens also take many shapes and the community was very active when confronted with aforms. From a 50-by-50-foot church garden that sup- pressing issue. However, there didn’t seem to be ongo-plies a local food pantry with fresh produce to a vacant ing conversations about the state of the lot divided into plots and gardened by neighbors, Nor was there much effort to mobilize action aroundcommunity gardens reflect the needs and the desires less immediate issues such as distressed properties orof people directly involved in their management and inadequate sidewalks.upkeep. As such, there are many, many ways to orga- By starting a community garden on a vacant piecenize and manage a community garden. of land and by involving as many people as possible, Regardless of why people choose to take part in a Kendrick and other neighbors launched a number ofcommunity garden or how a garden is organized, the successful efforts to improve the entire community.activity of gardening with others can be both reward- The group now hosts a monthly “coffee shop” whereing and challenging. Our hope is that this guide will neighbors get together to meet, talk about issues andhelp you manage the challenges that come your way dream about their neighborhood; a partnership isand experience the rewards of community gardening. forming with the local elementary school to build raisedThis guide is intended to be a resource for gardeners, gardening beds on the school’s property; a neighbor-garden organizers, extension staff and other agency hood-wide campaign was started to build a sidewalk toprofessionals who want to start a new community connect the neighborhood to an adjacent park; and thegarden, enhance an existing garden or assist commu- city has expanded its Neighborhood Response Team’snity members with starting and managing their own territory to work with neighbors whose propertiescommunity garden. violate city codes. The neighborhood’s efforts have even caught theCharacteristics of neighborhood attention of city hall. With Kendrick’s help, the city iscommunity gardens offering a neighborhood leadership training course to cultivate more grassroots efforts to build community in This guide provides a framework for organizing other neighborhoods.and managing different types of community gardenswith a primary focus on neighborhood communitygardens, which typically share the following charac- ten share tools, water and compost, along with seedsteristics. and plants. First, neighborhood community gardens are typi- Second, neighborhood community gardens are of-cally located on land that is divided into different ten organized and managed by the gardeners them-plots for individual and family use. The land may selves, have one or more identified leaders responsiblebe borrowed, rented or owned by the gardeners, and for managing the day-to-day activities of the gardengardeners generally prepare, plant, maintain and har- and have some type of a garden committee to sharevest from their own plots. Gardeners and their fam- in the work. Because community gardens come withily, friends and neighbors usually consume produce a host of responsibilities that range from making plotfrom the gardens rather than selling it. Gardeners of- assignments and keeping the grass mowed to resolv- ing conflicts and enforcing the rules, things tend toMU Extension 4 MP906
  5. 5. introduction/historyrun more smoothly when one or more people are in of community gardens that are distinguished in partcharge and gardeners themselves take an active role by their purpose and participants.keeping the garden in shape. Other gardens are distinguished more by their lo- Finally, in addition to occupying vacant neigh- cation and less by their purpose. These gardens mayborhood lots, neighborhood community gardens are combine elements of a neighborhood community gar-sometimes found at churches, social service agencies den with other community garden models. Examplesand other nonprofit organizations, including food include, but are not limited to: public agency gardens,pantries and food banks. These gardens may involve community center gardens, senior gardens, churchboth neighbors from the surrounding area and the gardens, apartment complex/public housing gardensmembers or clients of a particular agency or institu- and prison gardens.tion. They sometimes incorporate educational, job- Rural community gardenstraining and entrepreneurial programming. Although community gardens are often associ-Other types of community gardens ated with urban areas, they exist in many rural areas as well. However, because of the unique characteris- In addition to the typical neighborhood commu- tics of rural places, they often take on different formsnity garden where plots are subdivided and cared for and serve different functions. Research conducted byby individuals or families, community gardens exist Ashley F. Sullivan (1999) from the Center on Hungerin a variety of other forms to serve a number of func- and Poverty at Tufts University identified a number oftions. The examples below represent different typesTypes of community gardens • Youth/school gardens expose young people to garden- pantry, food bank or other location. Produce is grown by ing and nature, give them the opportunity to do some volunteers, food pantry clients, or both and donated to of their own gardening and/or educate them in a variety the food pantry. of subject areas. These gardens are typically associated • Therapy gardens provide horticultural therapy to hos- with a formal or semi-formal program that incorporates pital patients and others. A trained horticulture therapist classroom lessons with hands-on gardening activities. often leads programs and classes. Gardens may be located Gardens may be located on school grounds, at a commu- at hospitals, senior centers, prisons or other places. nity center, in neighborhoods or on other parcels of land. • Demonstration gardens show different types of garden- • Entrepreneurial/job training market gardens are ing methods, plant varieties, composting techniques and typically established by nonprofit organizations or other more. Demonstration gardens located at working com- agencies to teach business or job skills to youth or other munity gardens are often open to the general public for groups. They grow and sell the produce they raise. Pro- display and classes. They may be managed and main- ceeds from the sale of garden products are used to pay tained by garden members or a participating gardening the participants for their work. Programs typically rely on group such as extension Master Gardeners, community outside sources of funding to offset costs. members who receive training in home horticulture and • Communal gardens are typically organized and gar- then serve as volunteers to educate the public about gar- dened by a group of people who share in the work and dening. For more on MU Extension’s Master Gardener rewards. Plots are not subdivided for individual or family program, visit use. Produce is distributed among group members. Some- *Adapted in part from: From Neglected Parcels to Commu- times produce is donated to a local food pantry. nity Gardens: A Handbook, Wasatch Community Gardens • Food pantry gardens may be established at a food ( of Missouri 5 Community Gardening Toolkit
  6. 6. Community Gardening toolkitways in which rural community gardens differ from Sullivan identified obstacles to community gar-their urban counterparts. Her research uncovered dif- dening in rural areas as well. Obstacles include a highferent types of rural community gardens along with rate of gardener and volunteer turnover, animosityobstacles to community gardening in rural areas. between “outsiders” and community members, lack Sullivan identified seven different types of rural of gardening skills and lack of gardens in her study. They included the Sullivan also offers recommendations for over-following: coming some of these obstacles: • Traditional neighborhood-type gardens with • Do not assume that the traditional neighbor- individual and family plots; hood community garden model will work in • Gardens that provide demonstration and edu- rural areas. cation to gardeners at neighborhood gardens • During the planning stages, identify obstacles and home gardens; to starting a community garden in a rural area. • Communal gardens tended collectively with the • Identify solutions to the obstacles. produce going to a local food pantry; • Respect the values of the community and incor- • Educational gardens that offer classes to the porate those values into the garden’s design. public; • Be flexible when deciding how to organize a • School gardens that incorporate gardening and garden; incorporate different models into a plan nutrition education; to see which one works best. • Community-assisted home gardens where an • Help gardeners cultivate a sense of ownership experienced gardener mentors novice gardeners for the garden. in their home gardening efforts; • Take time to look at all of the factors that might • Gardens affiliated with an existing agency, hinder participation. apartment complex or church. • Involve local organizations and businesses. The history of community gardening 1890. Community 1918. During World War gardens have been I, the government pro- used in American cit- moted community gar- ies since the 1890s, dens to supplement and with the first gardens expand the domestic appearing in Detroit. food supply. The federal During the initial government embarked phase of community on an unprecedented gardening, a variety effort to incorporate ag- of groups, including ricultural education and social and educational food production into reformers, along with the public school curric- those involved in the ulum through a Bureau civic beautification of Education programmovement, were responsible for promoting community gar- called the United States School Garden Army. According to thedening. Community gardens began as a way to provide land USSGA, several million children enlisted in the program, 50,000and technical assistance to unemployed workers in large cities teachers received curriculum materials and several thousandand to teach civics and good work habits to youth. volunteers helped lead or assist garden projects.1930. During the Great Depression, community gardens provided a means for the unemployed to grow their own food. During thistime, private, state and local agencies provided individuals with garden plots and employment in cooperative gardening. More than23 million households, growing produce valued at $36 million, participated in various garden programs in 1934 alone.MU Extension 6 MP906
  7. 7. introduction/historyChallenges A discussion of starting andmanaging a community gardenwould be incomplete without adiscussion of the challenges en-countered by gardeners and gar-den organizers. Common chal-lenges faced by most communitygarden groups include:Management – Community gar-dens are management intensive.They demand patience, time andthe capacity to work with and or-ganize people and projects. Theyalso typically require systems toenforce rules and resolve conflicts.Maintenance – Community gar- come and go from community adult activity and vandalism isdens are maintenance intensive. gardens for a variety of reasons. carried out by children.Grass will need to be mowed, Because of this, it can be challeng- Gardening skills – Many newequipment will need to be re- ing to maintain a sense of commu- and some returning gardenerspaired, and plant debris will need nity and consistency at gardens. don’t know a lot about be composted, among other Theft and vandalism – Theft and Gardeners who lack gardeningthings. vandalism are commonplace at skills and have poor gardeningParticipation – From year to year, many community gardens. As a experiences may be more likely togardeners and garden leaders general rule, theft is the result of give up. 1970.The rebirth of community gar- dening in the 1970s was a response to urban abandonment, rising inflation, environmental concerns and a desire to build neighborly connections. City- wide organizations assisted people with acquiring land, constructing gardens and developing educational programming. Local residents, fac- ing a myriad of urban problems, used gardens to rebuild neighborhoods and expand green spaces. Although common themes of food production, income generation, recreation, edu- cation and beautification still provid-1940. The Victory Garden campaign ed a strong rationale for gardening, aduring World War II encouraged people new focus was placed on rebuildingto grow food for personal consumption, social networks and the infrastructurerecreation and to improve morale. After of blighted urban communities.the war, only a few gardening programsremained, and it was these remainingprograms that gave rise to the rebirthof community gardening in the 1970s.University of Missouri 7 Community Gardening Toolkit
  8. 8. Community Gardening toolkitLeadership skills – Many gardeners may not have experience: GIVING BACKthe skills to take a leadership role at their respectivegarden. temple iSrael, rogerSville, mo. Since 2006, Joel Waxman and a group of dedicatedServices and supplies – Plowing, tilling and the de- volunteers have grown vegetables at a community gardenlivery of compost and mulch can be challenging ser- at Temple Israel to donate to the Ozarks Food Harvest.vices for gardeners to arrange for themselves. The group, comprised of Master Gardeners, members ofWater – Most gardens need some way to irrigate various congregations and other community members,fruits and vegetables during the summer. Finding has pooled its time, expertise and, above all, commitmenta source of water can be challenging. Also, because to increasing access to fresh vegetables. The group hasmost community gardens are located on borrowed donated thousands of pounds of garden-grown food toland, installing a water hydrant may not be feasible those struggling to make ends meet.or cost effective. The 4,000-square-foot garden holds an impressive arraySite permanency – Most community gardens are lo- of vegetables. “Over the last three years, we’ve learnedcated on borrowed land. This limits the amount of in- what works best,” Joel said. Eggplant, potatoes, winterfrastructure that can be added to a particular site. It squash, okra, yardlong beans and sweet potatoes growmay also create an atmosphere of instability among well in the southwest Missouri climate and soils. For mulch,gardeners since the garden could be lost at any mo- the gardeners use shredded paper, leaves and hay. Forment. watering, the group uses soaker hoses. Joel is always interested in spreading the word about the Temple Israel garden. Recently, two other congregations in the area expressed interest in starting their own gardens. Joel and his group intend to do whatever they can to help them get started. The benefits of community gardeningTODAY. Although most community gar- and having access to nature helpden programs before the 1970s were gen- reduce stress and increase gar-erally considered temporary solutions to deners’ sense of wellness and be-food shortages, economic depression and longing. (Malakoff, 1995)civic crises, most advocates today claim • Community. Community gar-that community gardens have perma- dens foster a sense of communitynent, long-term functions that provide a identity, ownership and stew-number of benefits to individuals, familiesand communities. Those benefits include, ardship. They provide a place forbut are not limited to, the following: people of diverse backgrounds to interact and share cultural tradi- • Food production and access. Com- tions. munity gardens enable people without • Environment. Gardens help re- suitable land of their own to grow high- • Youth. Gardens provide a safe place for duce the heat-island effect in cities, in- quality fruits and vegetables for them- youth to explore gardening, nature and crease biodiversity, reduce rain runoff, selves, their families and their communi- community through formal program- recycle local organic materials and re- ties, possibly in places that lack grocery ming or informal participation. duce fossil fuel use from food transport. stores or other fresh food outlets. • Income. Produce may be sold or used to • Education. All ages can acquire and • Nutrition. Some research indicates that offset food purchases from the grocery share knowledge related to gardening, community gardeners eat more fruits store. cooking, nutrition and health. Some and vegetables (Bremer et al., 2003). • Crime prevention. Gardens can help re- gardens have programs that provide • Exercise. Gardening requires physical duce crime. training in horticulture, business man- activity and helps improve overall physi- • Property values. Some research indi- agement, leadership development and cal health. cates community gardens may increase market gardening. • Mental health. Interacting with plants surrounding property values (Whitmire). Adapted from Multiple Benefits of Community Gardening, by Gardening Matters in Minneapolis. Online at Extension 8 MP906
  9. 9. getting startedStarting a community garden Before getting into the nuts and bolts of starting the importance of using a bottom-up or grassrootsa community garden, it’s helpful to lay a foundation approach when developing a garden. As the authorsfor the work at hand. have learned over the years, most successful com- From the outset, it is essential to understand that munity gardens are initiated, established and man-community gardening is about more than growing aged by the gardeners themselves. When gardenersfood, flowers and herbs. It’s also about interpersonal have the opportunity to take ownership in a project,relationships, group dynamics, planning and orga- they are more likely to invest their time and effort innizing, group decision-making and the associated making the garden a success.rewards and challenges that come with working Additionally, keeping these suggestions in mindwith people. In short, community gardening is as may help you overcome some of the challenges thatmuch about “community” as it is “gardening.” arise when moving forward with a community gar- If community is so important to community gar- den project. For example, the people involved in yourdening, then how do we orient ourselves to the task project will likely come from different backgroundsof starting or enhancing a community garden? and have different ways of relating to each other and The authors of the Growing Communities Curricu- the project. They will bring their unique personali-lum (Abi-Nader et al., 2001) offer a set of suggestions ties, perceptions, knowledge, skills and experiencedeveloped by community gardening experts to a group situation. They will have differ-from across the country. These sug- ent ideas about how to accomplish agestions, written in the form of project. Some group members“core beliefs,” can be used to may learn faster than the development of Five core beliefs Some will be more pes-your community gar- of working in groups simistic. Others willden and provide a be more optimistic. • Core Belief No. 1: “There are many ways to start andstrong foundation Regardless of these manage a community garden.” Although this may be afor growth. given, it helps to remember that community gardens can differences, the Taken as a serve many purposes and take many forms. group shouldwhole, these be committedcore beliefs • Core Belief No. 2: “In order for a garden to be sustainable as a true to remainingemphasize community resource, it must grow from local conditions and reflect open and the strengths, needs and desires of the local community.” Assistancethe impor- patient with from people or organizations outside of the community can be helpful.tance of However, those who will be using the garden should make most of the all groupbeing inclu- decisions about how the garden is developed and managed. memberssive, mak- and creat-ing room • Core Belief No. 3: “Diverse participation and leadership, at all phases of ing the timefor diverse garden operation, enrich and strengthen a community garden.” Gardens and space can be stronger when they are developed and led by people from differentideas and to facilitate backgrounds.utilizing dialoguelocal assets • Core Belief No. 4: “Each community member has something to about the bestwhen starting contribute.” Useful skills and good suggestions are often overlooked way to accom-a community because of how people communicate. People should be given a plish the tasksgarden. They chance to make their own unique contributions to the garden. at hand.also demonstrate • Core Belief No. 5: “Gardens are communities in themselves, as well as part of a larger community.” This is a reminder to involve and be aware of the larger community when making decisions.University of Missouri 9 Community Gardening Toolkit
  10. 10. Community Gardening Q toolkitFrom idea to action Questions to address at an initial meeting: The Growing Communities Curriculum notes that • What type of community garden does thecommunity gardens generally start in one of the fol- group want to create? Will space be dividedlowing two ways. Scenario one: One person or a and gardened by individuals and families, willsmall group of people has the idea to start a commu- it be gardened collectively by the group, or anity garden. Scenario two: An outside group or local combination of both? Will it take some otheragency has the idea and land available to start a com- form?munity garden. • What is the purpose of the garden? Whether you are involved in a volunteer group or • Who will the garden serve?part of a local agency, the basic steps for moving froman idea to planting the first seed are the same. The fol- • Is land available for a garden?lowing 10 steps can serve as your guide. (If your group • What are some of the resources needed foris interested in involving local agencies, or if you are part a garden? Can gardeners provide their ownof a local agency interested in starting a garden, see page 16 resources or will the group need to locate andfor more information.) provide some of them? • How much gardening experience does theTen steps to success group have? Step • Are there individuals or organizations willing Talk with friends, neighbors and local orga- to provide materials and expertise? 1 nizations about your idea . • Will there be a fee charged to gardeners to As you talk to people, collect names and cover expenses? Will there be a sliding scale?numbers of those who are interested. If people voice • How much time (hours per week) can groupopposition or concern, take note and be sure to ad- members commit to the project?dress these concerns in future meetings. As a generalrule, aim to find at least 10 interested individuals or • How will other people and organizationsfamilies who want to be a part of the garden before know about the group and the garden?moving to the next step. • Who is willing to serve on a garden leadership team? Step Hold a meeting with anyone interested in the • What is the best way for the group to stay in 2 garden . touch? The purpose of this meeting is to deter- • Should the group proceed with finding andmine the feasibility of starting a garden, to brainstorm evaluating land for a garden? If the answer isideas and to address some basic questions. This meet- yes, then ask for volunteers to work on Step 3ing can be informal or formal, but at the very least, and Step person should be responsible for taking notes and • When should the next meeting take place?Purpose, values, vision and action planning Your first meeting may that underlie your purpose organized, stay focused and Charge Too, from the North be an appropriate time to (values) and the long-term add a measure of account- Central Regional Center for define your group’s purpose, goal or outcome you hope to ability to your process. Rural Development. Online values and vision. This can achieve (vision). The identified action at help your group develop a At subsequent meetings, steps can also be the basis pubs/contents/182.htm. To common understanding of you may wish to draft an ac- for forming garden teams order a printed copy for $25, why you are embarking on tion plan to identify steps to to handle various garden- contact NCRCRD, Iowa State a community garden proj- take throughout the rest of related tasks. University, 107 Curtiss Hall, ect (purpose), the beliefs your garden startup process. *For more information, Ames, IA 50011-1050, or call and principles you share This can help your group get see Vision to Action: Take 515-294-9768.MU Extension 10 MP906
  11. 11. step by stepsending them to the group afterthe meeting. Publicize the meet-ing to individuals, groups and rel-evant organizations using phonecalls, personal visits, e-mails orfliers posted around your com-munity. Some general questionsyou may want to address at aninitial meeting are included in thebox to the left. Step Find and evaluate 3 potential garden sites . Q Get on your bike. Goout on foot. Tour the neighbor-hood with friends and family andtalk to your neighbors. Be sure to Questions to evaluate • How was the site used in theconsider churches, nonprofit agen- potential garden sites: past? Do you suspect that thecies and businesses as potential soil may be contaminated?partners. These groups may own • If you want to grow fruits and Some urban soils may be poorland and have an interest in be- vegetables, does the site get at and contain large amounts ofing a part of your garden. Use the least six hours of direct sun- rubble. These sites may requirequestions in the box to the right to light per day during the spring, raised beds and fresh soil.evaluate potential sites. summer and fall? • Can you sample the soil to • Does the site have access to check its quality and obtain water? a soil test for nutrients and • How big is the site? Does it heavy metals (see sidebar,Soil testing have enough room to accom- left) prior to entering into any modate the number of inter- agreement with a landowner? Soil tests can usually be ested gardeners you’ve identi- • What is the present use of the obtained through your local fied and additional gardeners land? What is the lot’s history? extension office. To search for who may want a garden plot? an office in your area, go to the Does it currently attract loiter- • Is the site relatively flat? ing, dumping or drug dealing? U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, • How close is the garden to Do neighborhood youth use Education and Extension Service the people who plan to use it? the land for recreation? Con- Web site at www.csrees.usda. Ideally, gardeners should be sider these present uses and gov/Extension/. In Missouri, the able to walk or drive a short the feasibility of altering the University of Missouri Soil and distance to the garden. function of the site. Plant Testing Laboratory, online • Is the site visible? A visible site • Can you determine who owns at, will be safer and attract more the lot? Often, if you know the offers nutrient and heavy metal soil tests for gardens and lawns neighborhood support. address of the potential site through the Columbia campus • Is the site fenced? you can go to your county tax and local Extension offices (exten- • Can a truck gain access to the assessor’s office or Web site to lot? find the property owner.University of Missouri 11 Community Gardening Toolkit
  12. 12. Community Gardening toolkit Q Questions to identify local resources Step Identify local resources needed for starting a needed: 4 garden . • Does the group have access to tools and other Gardens can require a fair amount of tools, gardening equipment?equipment, supplies, infrastructure, knowledge andother forms of support. Gardeners themselves can • Will the garden need to be plowed or tilledprovide some resources. For other resources, it makes or can the soil be turned by hand? Is no-tillsense for the group to seek out and acquire materials gardening and option?in bulk or solicit donations and support from other • Is compost and mulch available?groups. The box to the right contains a few questions • Will the group provide seeds and transplants?that can help guide you. • Will the group need a shed for storing tools? • Will the site need to be fenced? Step Hold a second meeting . • Will the site need to be cleaned? How will 5 The purpose of this meeting is to discuss trash, branches, etc., be removed? the notes from the previous meeting and hear • Will trees need to be trimmed?reports from the people who volunteered to find andevaluate possible locations for a garden (Step 3) and • Will the site need to be mowed on a regularidentify local resources for starting a garden (Step 4). basis?If you completed the Purpose, Values, Vision exercise • Will the garden and group need to carry liabil-(page 10), you may wish to revisit this document to ity insurance?see if people are still in agreement and to gain input • Are there existing community gardens in yourfrom new group members. area that you can learn from? If your group feels like the primary issues have • Are Master Gardeners or others available tobeen adequately addressed and enough people are share their gardening expertise?committed to the project, you may be ready to eval- • Are community organizers available to helpuate and select one or more sites to pursue for your facilitate the group’s process?garden. You may also be ready to elect your garden’s lead- • Are local government departments, nonprofitership team. At the very least, you will need to have agencies or businesses willing to sponsor theone or more garden co-leaders and two to three ad- garden, make donations or lend other typesditional people to handle important tasks such as of support?drafting and negotiating the lease agreement (Step 6),leading the planning and preparation of the site (Step7 and Step 9), and drafting gardener guidelines and Asset-based community developmentthe gardener application (Step 8). Rather than focus first on a community’s needs Step Draft a lease agreement . and deficiencies, the asset-based community devel- 6 It is in everyone’s best interest to have a opment approach takes stock of a community’s ca- pacity for change by identifying the “assets, skills and written agreement that outlines your group’s capacities of residents, citizens associations and localand the landlord’s obligations and institutions” within a given community (Kretzmannresponsibilities and includesa “hold harmless” clause thatstates that the landlord is not re- ( Lease Agreement ) ✓ it out : Sample Page 23, appendix and McKnight, 1993). For more information on this approach, check out Building Communities From the Inside Out by John P. Kretzman and John L. McKnight from your local library. Also, visit the Asset-Basedsponsible if a gardener is injured on the property. Try Community Development Institute’s Web site at negotiate a lease that enables your group to use land for at least three years. See the Sample LeaseAgreement on page 23 for an example.MU Extension 12 MP906
  13. 13. step by step Step Develop a site plan . elaborate as you choose. Consider • The boundary of the lot 7 The plan for your gar- including the following elements • The location and size of den can be as simple or in your plan: garden beds • Any trees, shrubs or existing vegetation that will be kept • Driveways, pathways and open spaces • Compost bins • A shed • The location of the water source • Common or shared garden areas such as perennial or herb beds, a row planted for donation purposes, a picnic table with chairs, or grassy areas • Garden sign • Garden nameRaised-bed gardening There are a number of advan- experience: SCHOOL GARDENING tages to building and using raised Seed to taBle program, maplewood riChmond heightS SChool diStriCt, beds. According to Christopher J. St. louiS area, mo. Starbuck, associate professor with the University of Missouri Division What started as a small program to the buildings and grounds staff, who of Plant Sciences, raised garden involve preschool students in growing received training in horticulture; the St. beds allow for better drainage, food and appreciating nature has blos- Louis University Nutrition and Dietetics are easier to maintain, and can somed into a district-wide effort to in- Program; and the Missouri Foundation be used on sites with poor soil. tegrate gardening, cooking, nature and for Health. Raised-bed gardening may also local food into the entire pre-kinder- In many ways, the Seed to Table pro- lead to higher yields and allow for garten through eighth-grade curricula. gram is the envy of other schools. The an extended growing season. On Seed to Table Program Director Debi program involves all of the students in the other hand, raised-bed gar- Gibson explains, “Our mission is to pro- the district. It supports one full-time dens are typically more expensive mote education, health and wellness and two part-time staff members. It to build than in-ground gardens because of the cost of materials, by connecting children to the natural also has begun to incorporate local compost and soil. Also, where world.” The program has benefited food into school meals. With all of this, summers are hot, the soil in raised from the enthusiasm of students, par- Gibson is hopeful about the future beds may have a tendency to dry ents, teachers and the commitment of of the program and the impact it can out faster. For more information, many others. “Our district superinten- have. “Our intention is to create a see Raised-Bed Gardening, MU dent truly understands what gardens model for other schools and districts Extension Publication G6985, can do,” Gibson says. In addition, the to follow,” she says. To learn more, visit program has been supported by the the Seed to Table program Web site at guides/hort/g06985.htm. district’s Wellness Policy Committee; of Missouri 13 Community Gardening Toolkit
  14. 14. Community Gardening toolkit Step Establish gardener 8 guidelines and draft the gardener application . Just as there are many typesof community gardens, there aremany types of gardener guide-lines and gardener applications.Having clear guidelines for gar-deners to follow and an applica-tion to collect their contact infor-mation will aid in your effortsto keep order among and stay intouch with gardeners. For starters, let’s look at somecommon issues that most garden-er guidelines address in the boxbelow. For an example of gardenerguidelines, see page 22. For anexhaustivecompilationof gardenrules, click ( Guidelines) ✓ it out : Gardener Page 22, appendixon “Community Garden Rules”at the Gardening Matters Website at Common issues gardener guidelines address • Application or membership fee. Is there a fee • Materials and tools. Are shared materials and tools to garden? How much is the fee? Is there a sliding available for gardeners to use? How should these scale? When is the fee due? items be handled and stored? • Plot maintenance. Is there an expectation that • Pesticides. Which pesticides are allowed? plots will be maintained to a certain standard? What • Other people’s plots. How should gardeners treat happens if a plot is not maintained? Who decides? and respect others’ gardens? • Garden maintenance. Are gardeners expected to • Water. Can the water be left on unattended? volunteer for certain chores? • Pets and children. • Planting restrictions. Are there restrictions on • Alcohol and drugs. which types of plants can be grown? • Unwanted activities. How should theft, vandal- • End of the season. Do plots need to be cleaned by ism and other unwanted activities be handled and a certain date at the end of the season? reported? • Composting. Which materials may and may not be • Violation of garden rules. What happens if a rule is composted? violated?MU Extension 14 MP906
  15. 15. step by step As for gardener applications, most gardens collectthe following information: • Name, address, phone number and e-mail ad- dress • Number and location of plot(s) assigned • Total plot fee paid • Sign up for a garden job/chore • Request for help if the person is a new gardener • Offer to help if the person is an experienced gardener • Photo permission • Phone and e-mail list permission • Agreement to follow all of the garden rules lected a location, identified and assembled the re- sources, drafted and signed the lease, established • Hold-harmless clause the garden rules and made the plans, it’s time do the • Signature and date physical work of preparing and developing your com- For an example of a gardenerapplication, see page 21. ( ✓ it out : Gardeners’ Application Page 21, appendix ) munity garden. There are many ways to go about this, and much will depend on the condition of your site. Generally, During the planning stage, itmay be wise to treat these initial documents as drafts groups will schedule regular workdays to take care ofthat will be revised by the gardening group after the the initial tilling, trimming and building projects. It isfirst season. In addition, after your first season, it is helpful if one or more people can lead various projectsstrongly recommend that you create a relatively com- and coordinate equipment, supplies and volunteers.prehensive set of written documents that explain howyour garden operates and how gardeners can be in- Celebrate your success .volved. To aid your efforts in this process, a link to a Step Don’t forget to take a step back and rec-downloadable Gardeners’ Welcome Packet is includ-ed in this toolkit. For more, see the box below. 10 ognize your accomplishments. Hold a garden party and invite neighbors, local businesses and organizations. Show off the work you’ve done, Step Prepare and develop the site . and talk to people about your plans for the future. 9 Once you’ve held the meetings, gained This is a great way to gain community support for commitments from a number of people, se- your garden.Gardeners’ Welcome Packet The Gardeners’ Welcome and involved. It is also your garden. • Frequently asked ques- Packet is a set of docu- intended to help gardeners The Gardeners’ Welcome tions ments that can be edited find a clear and easy way Packet includes the follow- • Gardener guidelines and revised by gardeners to play an active role in the ing contents: • Gardener application and garden leaders. The garden’s management and • Welcome to community • Planting, harvesting, packet is intended to be upkeep. Although these gardening composting, pests, dis- a tool for organizing your written materials will not • Community garden suc- ease and more garden, introducing new take the place of face-to- ( ) cess and security ✓ it out : Gardeners’ gardeners to the policies, face communication with • Community garden job Welcome Packet procedures and people that gardeners, they can provide descriptions download pdf or MS Word file keep the garden running a framework for improv- • Roster and map smoothly, and keeping re- ing communication and Online at: • Contact list and calendar explore/miscpubs/mp0906.htm turning gardeners updated increasing involvement atUniversity of Missouri 15 Community Gardening Toolkit
  16. 16. Community Gardening toolkitAdditional information for local agenciesinterested in starting a community garden, or groups interested in involving an outside organization As noted previously, community gardens are gen- ization who is not a part of the immediate group.erally started by individuals or small groups of neigh- Trained facilitators and organizers, such as universitybors or an outside group or local agency. In the latter extension staff or other agency professionals, cancase, the process of starting a garden is very similar assist groups as they work through the process ofto the process outlined previously, with a few added starting a community garden.twists. However, the garden group and the outside fa- First, an outside group or agency needs to be clear cilitator should be clear about their respective roles.about its reasons for wanting to start a community The facilitator’s job is to help move the group alonggarden. Just as a small group of neighbors should be and assist with the group process. It is not the facilita-clear about its purpose and vision for a gardening tor’s job to do the actual work of starting and man-project, an outside group or local agency should take aging the garden. According to Jack Hale, executivethe time to define its own purpose and vision for the director of Knox Parks Educations in Hartford, Conn.,project. facilitators and organizations should use the fol- Second, an outside group or agency needs to be lowing guidelines (Growing Communities Curriculum,clear about its role in the garden’s establishment and p. 58) when engaging with garden groups:management. What exactly does the group or agency • Facilitators or organizations should only work expect to contribute to the project? Money, staff time, with groups that have at least 10 committedequipment, land, training, other resources? For how gardeners. Expect half of these people to droplong? out before the project is completed. Finally, it is very important that the outside group • The gardening group should accomplish at or local agency involve clients and potential garden- least one task — locating potential garden sites,ers from the beginning. All too often, outside groups finding out who owns a particular site, check-or agencies develop well intentioned plans without ing for water, etc. — before the first meeting.engaging the people who will be affected by them. • At the first meeting, everyone should be as-Role of an outside facilitator signed a job to complete before the secondor community organization meeting. In some cases, a volunteer gardening group will In Missouri, to locate MU Extension resources inenlist the help of a facilitator or community organ- your region, visit online: experience: INTERGENERATIONAL GARDENING SChuyler County, mo. Nancy McCullum, avid gardener 13-year-olds. and garden coordinator, explains that The success of the garden is spread- The community garden in Queen food from the garden is donated to ing throughout the county. There is City, Mo., located at the Schuyler the nursing home, seniors in the town interest in starting community gardens County Nursing Home, touches the and the local food pantry. In addition, in the nearby towns of Lancaster and lives of many county residents. Local Darla Campbell, MU Extension agribusi- Glenwood. In Lancaster, a private lot seniors and youth, along with commit- ness specialist, uses half of the garden has been identified next to some senior ted volunteers and staff from the local to teach the Garden ‘n Grow program housing. Local nurseries have also com- MU Extension office, are all involved in ( mitted to donating plants for all of the planting and tending the garden. pubs/mp0737.htm) to a group of 8- to community gardens.MU Extension 16 MP906
  17. 17. other considerationsAdditional things to consider while getting startedGrowing a garden Your local extension office can provide an array ofresources concerning horticulture, composting, foodsafety and preservation. To search for an office inyour area, go to the U.S. Department of AgricultureCooperative State Research, Education and ExtensionService Web site at a garden roster and map As interest in your community garden begins togrow, it is essential to keep good records of interestedgardeners, existing gardeners and plot assignments.Garden leaders will need to collect the names, ad-dresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of in-dividuals. They will also need to create a map of thegarden, keep track of plot assignments and develop • Know your neighbors . Learn the names anda system for contacting gardeners. All of this can be a little about your non-gardening neighbors.done with paper and pencil or you can use spread- Share some extra produce. Take the time tosheets to create electronic documents. visit with them about how the garden works ifEnhancing opportunities for success they’re not familiar with it. You may be sur- prised to find that people just assume that they New and returning gardeners may need support can take food from the garden. “Hey, it’s for theand encouragement to keep up with their garden plot community, right?”for the entire season. Garden leaders can encouragegardeners to take the following steps to enhance their • Harvest produce on a regular basis . Somechances of success: thieves use the excuse that “a lot of food is • Visit the garden two to three times a week going to waste” to justify taking food from a during the growing season to keep from being garden. During harvest season, let other gar- overwhelmed by weeds, pests and disease. deners know if you plan to be out of town for more than a few days. Gardeners can harvest • Attend scheduled meetings and workdays and for you and donate the food to a local pantry. volunteer for a committee to meet other garden- ers and contribute to the garden. • Consider growing unpopular, unusual or hard-to-harvest varieties . Thieves generally go • Make friends with other gardeners to share for easy-to-snatch things like tomatoes, peppers challenges, successes and gardening tips. and corn. • Study, attend classes or participate in an exten- • Grow more than you need . sion Master Gardener program to learn more • Put a border or fence around your garden or about gardening. individual plots . Even a simple barrier can be a deterrent.Security and personal safety • Use common sense . Although your garden Theft and vandalism can be common occurrences may be well lit by street lights, only gardenat community gardens, regardless of the height or during daylight hours. Garden in pairs or keepstrength of your fence. The following tips are intend- a cell phone nearby if it makes you feel moreed to help minimize theft and vandalism and keep comfortable.gardeners safe while working at the garden.University of Missouri 17 Community Gardening Toolkit
  18. 18. Community Gardening toolkit • Report theft, vandalism and unusual activi- • Seeking out funding sources ties to garden leaders and the police . The more • Developing a garden budget people you have looking out for the garden and talking about what’s going on, the more success • Making sure that both gardeners and interested you’ll have at being safe and curbing unwanted neighbors know how to become involved activities. (Adapted from Great Garden Leader Practices, Han- Additional tips can be found by clicking on the nah Reinhart and Lauren Maul, Gateway Greening,“Theft and vandalism” tab at the American Commu- St. Louis)nity Gardening Web site at Making the garden accessible to all Community gardens tend to attract a wide vari-Leadership ety of people, including those with physical or other Leadership at a community garden is a vital part challenges. Because of this, it is helpful to think ofof any garden’s ultimate success. While garden lead- ways to make your garden accessible to all garden-ers may typically wear many different hats, their pri- ers. Building accessible raised beds for those whomary role is to help other gardeners find meaningful use wheelchairs or have trouble bending over is oneways to be involved in the garden. All too often, gar- way to make the garden more accessible. For moreden leaders take on the responsibility of coordinating information, see Raised-Bed Gardening, MU Extensionmeetings and workdays, making plot assignments Publication G6985, at drafting and enforcing rules when they could agguides/hort/g06985.htm. Another great publicationbe enlisting the help of other garden members to is Accessible Raised Beds, by the Community Actiondo those and other jobs. Regardless, learning to be a Coalition of South Central Wisconsin at takes time. It also requires the willingness and gardens/handbook/.ability to lead by example. According to The Citizen’sHandbook at Donating foodhtml, by Charles Dobson of the Vancouver Citizen’s Food banks, pantries and kitchens generally wel-Committee, effective leaders are able to: come donations of fresh produce from community gardeners. However, it is important to check with • Lead by example them before making a delivery to determine their • Delegate work hours of operation and their capacity to handle fresh • Appreciate the contributions of others, regard- fruits and vegetables. For a listing of organizations less how large or small the contribution and agencies in your area that accept food donations, • Welcome and encourage criticism search the Internet or check your local phone book. To become involved in a national effort to increase fresh • Help people believe in themselves produce donations to food banks, pantries and kitch- • Articulate and keep sight of the higher purpose ens coordinated by the Garden Writer’s Association, • Avoid doing all of the work. check out the Plant a Row for the Hungry program at More specifically, effective community gardenleaders are able to maintain frequent and regular con- Fundingtact and communication with gardeners and enlistthe help of other gardeners with the following tasks: Often, little money is needed to start a community garden. However, it is helpful to think about poten- • Forming a team or scheduling regular work- tial expenses and create a simple budget (see page 20 days to complete garden projects and maintain for a sample) to have an idea of the common areas • Hosting community gatherings to involve neighbors and gardeners amount of money or materials needed for your project. Often, gardeners can sustain the garden ( Garden Budget) ✓ it out : Sample Page 20, appendix • Planning winter or off-season activities or meet- themselves. They can either provide their own equip- ings ment and supplies or they can pool their money to purchase items as a group. In other cases, gardeners • Drafting and enforcing garden rulesMU Extension 18 MP906
  19. 19. other considerationsmay seek donations of money or materials from com-munity members, local organizations or businesses.Partnering organizations can sometimes cover thecost of water, insurance and other supplies. A num-ber of grant opportunities also exist. For an excellentguide that covers the topic of fundraising for com-munity gardens, click on “Fundraising” at the Ameri-can Community Gardening Association’s Web site For information about funding, search theWeb for “community garden grants.”Liability insurance for communitygardens In recent years, community gardens have comeunder increasing pressure to carry liability insurance.Although liability insurance can be quite expensivefor individual gardens, larger organizations can oftenobtain policies for community gardens at a reasonable lobby government officials.price or add them to an existing policy. For a more de- Also, an article from Legislation and Public Poli-tailed discussion of this issue by Jack Hale, executive cy, Volume 3:351, titled Community development throughdirector of the Knox Parks Foundation, click on the gardening: State and local policies transforming urban open“Insurance for Community Gardens” tab at communi- space, by Jane E. Schukoske, can be found at This scholarly ar- ticle contains research about the value of communityStarting a community gardening gardens, legal issues faced by gardens and an evalua-organization tion and summary of state and local ordinances con- Once your garden is up and running, you may cerning community interested in exploring the possibility of startingan organization to support community gardening in Evaluationyour area if one doesn’t already exist. For more in- At some point, you may wish to evaluate yourformation, click on the “Starting a New Gardening progress, either for your own benefit or to apply for aOrganization” tab at the American Community Gar- grant. A sample community garden evaluation formdening Association’s Web site at for adults and youth can be found under the “Samplelearn/starting-a-community-garden.php#new. Evaluation Tools” heading on the American Commu- nity Gardening Association’s web site at community-Policy and advocacy There are many resources concerning policy andadvocacy on the “Advocacy” page of the American NetworkingCommunity Gardening Association’s Web site at com- To connect with other community gardeners in United States and Canada, consider joining both the In addition, check out American Community Gar- American Community Gardening Association (com-dening Association’s Community Greening Review, and its e-mail discussion list (com-Volume 10, 2000, titled Making policy: Steps beyond the garden, at The publication includes information abouthow to craft and use policies to support communitygardens. It also includes information about how toUniversity of Missouri 19 Community Gardening Toolkit
  20. 20. appendix Sample



















 Total Income  

























































 Total Expenses  



 NET INCOME (Income ‐ Expenses)  




MU Extension 20 MP906