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a manageable community garden size.

Posted by
grifen
(grifenhope@e3.co.nz) on
Wed, May 8, 02 at 6:38

We are a group of committed and busy students undertaking a community garden project. There are approximately 20 members with an area of 1/2 hectare or 50 metres x 100 metres available to us. We desire to know what a realisticly manageable size is to start a communal garden.

grifen


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: a manageable community garden size.

Hi Grifen,

I really don't know the answer to your question, but in an effort to keep this forum active, I'll offer some suggestions that I hope will be helpful.

Their are so many variables, that I think it just depends. Are you planning on dividing up the space into individual plots? Or do you anticipate that the entire area will be gardened communally? You could ask each gardener how many square meters she would feel comfortable being responsible for. Of couse, that method would assume that individuals would have "their own" plots. At the community garden where I belong, the plots range in size from about 150 square feet (sorry for the non-metric measurements) to about 300 square feet. And then there are communal areas that different volunteer committees take care of: an orchard, several flower gardens, etc.

The area you mention sounds pretty big. Do you have the option of taking over only a portion? Or do you have to commit to the entire are? Also, do you have ideas about what you want to plant? Food or flowers? Both? Also, how much work needs to be done to get the area ready for planting?

Good luck and have fun!

Carrie


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RE: a manageable community garden size.

hi carrie,

We have decided on allottments that are communally managed so that we can easily compare treatments for a quantified series of plots.

Will be growing food essentially but am thinking of a surrounding belt of predator insect attracting flowers, mulch crop etc.

We can take as much or as little of the area as we wish. Have the option of the entire thing being plowed for us.

my concern is that we will overstretch ourselves as enthusiasm wanes and exams and summer holiday come around. I was thinking it would be best to approach the process by creating a fixed circular (so avoid monocultural straight rows)sized plot with 3 metre ( hmmm around 9 feet) diameter...each individual prepares a circular bed or more as they can manage. Then we end up with a series of beds that we know is within our capacity and budget etc.

thanks fro your feedback.

grifen.


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RE: a manageable community garden size.

This doesn't answer your "size" problem, but you may want to plan meetings, or certain times to work together in the summer. You may also want to plan a midsummer event that others can be invited to such as a garden party. This will give incentive to keep the interest throughout the season.


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RE: a manageable community garden size.

GET-TOGETHERS DURING THE SEASON, EVEN IF ONLY PICNIC LUNCHES WILL HELP TO BIND MEMBERS TOGETHER-- WE HAD SEVERAL ENJOYABLE BAG LUNCH WORK PARTIES IN MY PAST COMMUNITY GARDEN EXPERIENCE...
THE CIRCULAR BEDS ARE VERY DIFFERENT-- WILL YOU LOSE MUCH PLANTING SPACE DUE TO THE ODD SHAPE?--MANY COMMUNITY GARDENS FIND RAISED RECTANGULAR BEDS ARE MORE COMMON...GOOD GARDENING TO YOU.


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RE: a manageable community garden size.

Griffen, you might have better luck if the beds are of variable size - then people who have limited time can choose a smaller piece to be responsible for. Or have some way to match people who want to split a plot?

Another way to divide up duties is to have one person (or a team) meta each kind of plant. That can be nice because some plants are early-season or late season; a person who was responsible for potatos would be able to plan around one big dig early in the season and then just light weeding and watering until harvest time, where a person in charge of tomatos or kale would have ongoing investment in staking, insect control, and more intensive weeding. Plus, someone who wants to grow something but doesn't feel confident of their ability would be able to team with a more experienced person and learn about that plant while being responsible for something else they do know more about already.
It's not so much how big a space you can take care of as how much skill, time, and attention you'll put in - I once failed utterly to stay on top of a 3 meter by 8 meter plot, but I know a woman who singlehandedly grew all the food for a 40-person commune.


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RE: a manageable community garden size.

I suggest rectangular plots as well because they are easier to build as raised beds using junk wood (that hasn't been treated). Raised beds will save you tons of work in the long run. You can also devote a few to lasagna composting and you will have wonderful soil next year.

Since you have a fair amount of space, set aside some space for non-gardening activities. Maybe plant some trees and have a seating area. This would help when you want to have socials. I have seen some wonderful community gardens that include public spaces for non-gardeners. This is especially important in cities. If the gardeners have kids, set up a play area so people can bring their kids when they garden.


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