Resources for new Community Garden?

DMForcier(8 DFW)July 22, 2012

A group here is starting a community garden. Long story short, the community surrounds a lake. The lake was dredged a few years ago, forming a flat, treeless plain of about 2 acres between the community association clubhouse and the lake. It lies within a security fence. We can water with lake water. Seems perfect.

Right now we are debating how to set this thing up: participation, governance, layout, cost, etc.

I am looking for resources. Journals of experience with different approaches. Stories of how a garden fostered a sense of community (something we sorely lack here). COSTS. Things to avoid (I mean, besides the geese, the deer, and the aphids). Heartwarming stories of success; comical (or pathetic) stories of failure. Sample bylaws and best practices. Whatever you can point us to.

A particular issue is whether a community association membership should be required before a family is eligible for participation. (Adds $100-150 to the cost of a plot up front.) Some contend that this requirement would be counter-active to the "community formation" goal. Others view the garden as a benefit of membership.

Please post here or email. (If you can't email, post that here and I'll fix it.)

Thank you in advance.


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I would wonder about your decision to use lake water for ittigating the garden. I assume you mean a vegetable garden? Lake water would be full of contaminants that would not be healthy and could contaminate your veggies. I would research this issue before assuming the water is safe to use.
As to the other issue regarding the membership in the Community Association. I would look at who is funding the the Community Association giving more than the land? Will members pay for their plots...that would impact wether or not a membership is a requirement for the garden.
Our Township allows us to use land in one of the Township parks for our Community Garden and also provides the water and the cost of the deer fence. We intend to give the plots free to Township residents but this was the first year and to avoid any empty plots we allowed non residents to have plots. Next year we will see if enough residents want plots before we open it up to the public. Our garden has been a big success so far. We are in Falls Township PA.
I wish you great success with your garden and will look forward to hearing about how it all turns out for you!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 7:03PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Both the lake water and the soil will be tested.

No, the association will not be giving the garden anything but use of the land. They are dangling $500, but that may all go to fix their pump.

Thanks for your support.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 8:56PM
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Lake water is unlikely to do any harm. It is probably pristine compared to the water used in traditional farming. I can personally vouch that the potato fields of Idaho are irrigated with water that flows through barnyards and typically has not only fresh feces but dead animals in it, and no one comes to harm. There are very few industries that are still allowed to pollute ground water in the U.S.

I can go on for days about raising money for a community garden... but what do you need the funds for? It sounds like all you need in order to have a garden in that space is a lot of elbow grease and a little ingenuity. You will really only need to cover the costs of plumbing, which isn't that expensive. I think you will easily be able to cover your costs with membership fees unless you need to build structures on site.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 12:44AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I hate to say it, but it doesn't look good.

We do have "Mr. Community Garden" for the Atlanta area coming to speak, which is certainly a good thing.

But the association has voted to allow only its members access to the garden (and thus its clubhouse), which is a $100+ annual fee on top of any garden membership, (in the range of $60 plus construction costs). So $160+ annually, in a rather modest community.

Association membership is quite low here, so the potential garden membership is maybe 20. Next year I expect to see 5-6 small beds on all that land. You can call that a Community Garden if you want, I'm not sure I can.

We'll see. Maybe it can be developed over time.

Thanks for the thoughts and the help.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 11:03AM
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