Tips for YOUR community Garden
Starting a community garden in Waterloo Region can be hard work but very rewarding; Use this guide Starting a Community Garden in Waterloo Region to help you get started. Community gardens provide many individual and community benefits. Planting and caring for a community garden is fun especially if people learn together. See also Community Gardening 103 .
Based on the input from several community garden coordinators in the region, we have come up with this list of tips and tricks. Tips and Tricks to Running a Successful Community Garden
- Assign tasks to the gardeners outside of their own plots (ie, filling the water tank, turning the compost, removing garbage etc)
- Create an easy-to-read list of rules or guidelines for the garden (ie. a list of banned plants, that the garden is pesticide free, or to keep weeds under control). Use the template created by Willow Green Community Garden for a Gardener Handbook or Gardener Contract and Jobs - see Public Resources
- Determine a budget at the beginning of the year to make sure that money is available to cover big purchase items if needed.
- Create good communication with the neighbours near the garden, their extra sets of eyes can help cut down on vandalism.
- Also, create good communication among the gardeners at your garden by creating a listserv, a newsletter, or even simply a whiteboard at the garden to leaves messages for each other.
- Get the gardeners to participate in the garden clean-up at the end of the season by having some or all of their fees refunded.
- Understand that people will contribute when you rely on their strengths. Find out what they are good at and ask them to contribute in a way that uses these strengths.
- Reach out to your community in one of these ways: use your garden as a platform for diverse community members to interact, engage Sunday Schools by providing them with a plot, inviting neighbourhood children to make hand prints in the concrete when your garden is starting up.
- Mosquitoes might deter gardeners at night. Try using citronella sprays or sprinkle pine needles.
- Provide a plot for youth in the community to prevent theft and vandalism.
- Subsidize some plots in your garden for people on a limited budget. For some people, $20 for a plot is a barrier to participating.
- Also, allow the gardeners to sell their produce at a fundraiser.
- Use this guide to: Promote your garden through word-of-mouth, websites, community bulletin boards, newsletters, flyers in local stores and email notices. Get the word out and generate interest in your project from the public, media, and politicians too!
- Create an event where your gardeners go door-to-door and see if you can get members of the community to donate tools.
- Or, if this is not something that you think your gardeners would want to do, see if you can acquire some free tools by making a request in your local paper or on websites like Freecycle and Kijiji.
- Have a water source close to your garden so that gardeners with less moblility do not need to worry about bringing their own water.
- Or consider an alternative type of garden in which there is one shared plot. It can make gardening more social, fun and productive.
If you are looking for information about decision-making in the garden, check out Including gardeners in community garden decisions.
What to do about Vandalism?
- Make a sign for the garden. Let people know who it belongs to.
- Build a fence.
- Create a meeting area where gardeners can spend time to create more presence.
- Involve neighbourhood children in the garden. They can also help protect the garden.
- Plant thorny plants along the fence.
- Make friends with neighbours whose property borders the garden. Give them vegetables for keeping an eye on the property.
- Harvest vegetables daily, plant less popular vegetables along the perimeter to deter 'walk-by picking'.
- Plant a little garden at the entrance and post a sign which reads 'If you need to take food, please take it from here only'.