New forum suggestion: Community Gardens/Gardening

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

It would be helpful to have a forum dedicated to those who garden in a community garden. We face some additional gardening constraints that are not part of private gardens. It would be helpful to learn how other community gardens handle the things that come up in their communal situation and get support/ideas from others with a similar setup.

If there is already a forum devoted to gardening in community gardens, please pardon my post and point me in the right direction.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

There isn't a forum that addresses community gardens...yet. So your suggestion is in the right place ;o)

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Is it possible to do a poll to see how many people on DG are gardening "en commune" or interested in such a forum?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

That's what this thread should do.

You might try posting a link to this thread over in the Vegetable Garden forum, and see if there are others "over there" who haven't yet seen your thread, and would be willing to weigh in if they were made aware.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

I think it's a terrific idea. There are many unique issues around Community Gardens. I sorta help-out in the community garden here.

Moose Jaw, SK(Zone 3b)

I'd be really interested in this forum. (and we garden in one).

San Tan Valley, AZ(Zone 9b)

I would be interested in this forum...I don't particapte in a community garden at this time but would like to learn more about it.

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

I'd be interseted. I garden in a community garden and also a guerrilla garden.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

What's a guerrilla garden??

Faversham, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Well you may have heard of a Monkey Puzzle Tree and monkey nuts (as known to us in the UK,ground nuts to you), inanda has just bred a guerrilla plant. He has just got a contract with all the zoos and preservation societies to help with the breeding of this the largest primate!!!


Only joking

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

And here you had us going that we sould be able to grow "gorillas" in the community garden! Extra calcium to produce King Kong?

As to guerilla gardening, I did some googling on that term as inanda has not answered. It looks like a community effort to replace blighted urban soil with gardens:

Sheffield, United Kingdom(Zone 7b)

We have been running a community garden for four years now and are slowly getting it how we want - funding is a major headache. It would be very helpful to share ideas with other people.

There was an article on guerrilla gardening in the Sunday paper where a group of people turn up at night and transform a neglected eyesore into a garden at their own expense. The link tells you all about it.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Patbarr, when you say funding is a major headache, what does your garden use the funding for? Is it to cover basic expenses? To build out the garden?
How do you communicate to the garden participants? Are notices posted at the garden? Distributed via email or the web? Communicated at meetings?
Much to share and learn!

We are still in the inaugural year for our community garden. The "grand opening/harvest festival" is taking place this weekend. Our garden has a 5 year lease from the city, with a clause that if the city needs the land back, the must give 180 days notice so we can bring in our harvests before giving up the land. I believe we are officially considered a "park" and come under the parks and recreation regulations.
Everyone who was fortunate to win plot in the lottery pays an annual fee and a key fee. If the water bill exceeds the sum of the fees, an assesment may be made to the plot owners.

So far we've received a few cash grants from both public and private foundations to help with building it out. We also have a few members who are experts at getting local businesses to donate materials.

Terry, how many people need to comment to qualify for a forum?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

There isn't a set number of people required for us to consider a forum. We watch these threads for activity and interest, and also try to weigh the perceived need for the new forum with the danger of getting too many highly-specialized forums ;o)

Sheffield, United Kingdom(Zone 7b)

Our funding has paid for a secure unit to keep the tools in and to shelter when it is raining, raised beds, disabled access, a greenhouse and all the equipment, fruit trees etc.

We have leafletted houses near the site, had displays in the library, health centre and at fairs and fetes and had articles in the local newspaper to let people know where we are and what we do. We have disabled people, schools and anyone with an interest in gardening for health or just to socialise.

It is a plot on an allotment site, and we let the other allotment holders use the secure unit to keep their tools in and the school uses it when they are making fences, bird boxes etc.

Anyone who joins us can take a share of whatever crops are ready and if they wish can make a small donation - only a few pence - to go towards buying seeds etc. for next year.

The infants schools took part in a sweet pea growing event and we also had a pumpkin day. It is developing slowly, we don't have many volunteers at present.

We are trying to provide a toilet and hand washing facilities on site, but have run into problems regarding the standard of facilities necessary to comply with disability legislation. If anyone has managed to get these installed I would love to have details.


Cochise, AZ(Zone 8b)

I would be very interested in this. We do some I'll grow this and you grow that but no community garden. We have had some inquiries from people who live in apts or on small lots near us who would like space to garden. Up to now we have kind of passed on the idea but more info might lead to consideration. I think the concept is good but worry that it will just make more work for me and more phone calls??

South of Winnipeg, MB(Zone 3a)

I'd be interested in this forum too. We have a small seniors housing apartment close by that is sadly lacking in landscaping or any garden for the seniors to enjoy. I think starting a community garden there could be a good idea, but would need lots of ideas.

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

Hi guys,

Busiest week of the gardening year here - our lily club bulb sale. Thats why I've not been around for a couple of days.

About 8 years ago some friends started gardening on a vacant plot owned by the city. Lots of veggies, herbs, fun. This went on for 4 years or so, then we were told local NGO had a city grant to make it into a nice tidy park. No more 'untidy' veggie gardens. Never mind that there are 2 other parks within walking distance,
both with play structures & hockey rinks.

There followed an intense year of lobbying, sit ins, arrests, media attention - you name it - it happened.
Finally the city decreed that there would be 'some' garden plots for the locals.

Won't go into the various designs, gazebos, sheds etc etc. We now have our community garden with 70 little plots , each 8' x 12'. Plots take up about 2/3 of the space. Rest is grass and on an adjoining vacant lot there is a play structure. Furniture is 2 picnic tables on a cement slab and a bench on the grass.
For the past two years we have gardened here, subject to tons and tons of rules, bringing our own water in milk jugs. This year we finally got city water. We each paid $10 towards the water so I hope that will be enough to cover it. People who couldn't afford that, didn't have to pay.

I gardened with local kids, peas, beans, marigolds . Kids gardened with me. New Rule last year. a) no kids under 10 except with parents and b) you could not share your plot. Because I gardened with little kids, I was 'sharing'.

I plant peas very early. When they are finished, I dig in the vines (nitrogen) and replant. I happened to plant my entire plot with iris that year, after adding/digging in tons of semi-composted leaves. Great drama over that. Could not add foreign material to a plot. Might be sprayed or buggy materials. From my own trees. !!!! Could not plant only flowers.!!!! So on I went. They tried very hard to get me out of the garden. However, I had not broken any rules because there were NO WRITTEN rules. Only verbal.

Had to find somewhere else for the kids to garden. Another vacant plot.

By now you must realize I live in a very depressed part of the city where crack houses are often raided and bulldozed as rehab is not possible. So.... I started gardening last year on this vacant plot with kids. WE have 3 rules. Politeness, don't touch others gardens and time outs or banishment for the day for throwing things or bad language. Oh yes, local adults are welcome but you have to garden with a kid. Only exception to this are the seniors.

This year we had 12 kids and a total of 17 people gardening in decent large plots. We harvested a lot of beans and tomatoes for the local food bank. It was quite interesting taking the kids with their buckets of veggies to the food bank. Some had been there with parents to receive food. At first they thought it very strange to give food. One 12 year old now volunteers there on Sat AM, packing boxes.

The kids wanted to make signs for their plots and then they wanted a BIG sign for the garden. A good activity this very hot summer to keep them out of the sun.

We now have a fire pit for story telling/reading/marshmallows. The Elders come and have been teaching us about the aboriginal herbs and medicine. So we have different medicine plants. We also have a treehouse about 2 ft. off the ground for the little kids that the older kids always seem to be looking after.

3/4 of our garden is plots. At the end of each plot against the main walkway we planted tomatoes, hoping that passersby would pick them and leave our gardens alone. This has worked well. We have only lost one huge sunflower, 2 pumpkins and a row of carrots. Everybody has their own plot or part of a plot - as much as they need and can plant as they wish.

We have been extremely lucky with water. The apartment buildings on either side of the garden take it in turns to let us use their water.

We have just started building a long perennial garden the length of the lot which I hope will be like an english cottage garden.

we do other guerrilla gardening too. Pots on the main street which were weedy were planted, including the CBC pots!!! We planted in a little space at the back of the art gallery one night but they didn't water it so it didn't last. It was too hot this summer.

I realise this long story is not about a usual community garden. It has brought the community together though. We have had potlucks, dancing, a mini-powwow. Pinatas, an african musical group who live
nearby. People talk to each other on the street now and people from neighbouring streets too.

Flowers are appearing in front yards and apartment buildings. Another plus. The street is much cleaner now, not nearly as much rubbish thrown on the
street. The drug houses have gone. Two are boarded up, two are being rehabbed. That is a story for another time.

I have to say that almost all our seeds were donated by
DGers. I could never ever have found enough $$ for seeds for everyone. I'll never be able to thank DGers enough. They came in from all over the country. The huge huge sunflowers were a particular delight. We are going to have a pumpkin carving day soon, so that everyone will have their own pumpkin.

This photo is Spring 2005

This message was edited Sep 26, 2006 10:01 PM

Thumbnail by inanda
Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

a little broader view

Thumbnail by inanda
Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

taken in lily season

Thumbnail by inanda
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

inanda, thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story and lovely photos. I'm sure there are as many ways to "do" a community garden as there are gardens. Yours sounds as though it has made a tremendous difference to improve the quality of life for the surrounding community. Kudos on your accomplishments.

I think a community garden forum would be a good place to exchange ideas on everything from establishing and administering garden rules, sharing tips and techniques for dealing with the public and town councils, fundraising ideas and just helping each other out when dealing with the inevitable excess of egos that seem to go along with group efforts. ;-) Each of these topics can be lengthy threads of their own.

Our garden was in the planning for several years.
Here is a link to write up in our local paper. The photo only shows the front half of the garden:

We do allow sharing of garden beds and have several plots where the gardeners pool funds to cover the annual fee.

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

Garden Mermaid,

Your garden is so beautiful and organised. How I would love to get a grant like that. So many volunteers to get you started. Your article has given me some good ideas.

We are currently collecting yesterdays newspapers from local shops for our paths. In the spring we will get a load or two of chipped trees from the city for our paths.

Our next big job is to collect enough $$ to have a huge pile of builders rubbish taken away. You can see it in some of our pictures. When we started the garden there were many truckloads of builders rubbish dumped on the lot. We had it all pushed together in a pile but could not afford to have it trucked away. Mainly clay and bricks and stones. We have been recycling the stones and brick.

We have a waiting list of 9 people at the moment but who knows. We have a very transient population here. Families moving back and forth between their reserve and the city. Only 3 houses on our street are owner occupied. The rest are rooming houses, apartments, university housing.


Burlingame, CA(Zone 9a)

Does Gardening in a school curriculum garden count?

I am the Garden co-ordinator at my son's elementary school and we are in our second year of gardening. I was just reviewing the budget for the year and when I realised that there is just not enough money to buy all the seeds and supplies for the year, I thought of this thread and realised how useful a "Community Gardening Forum" would be with regards to getting grants, sharing resources, ways to make and save money.

We have one plot for each classroom for a total of 11, full irrigation system, a couple of picnic tables for the kids to work at, a garden shed for our supplies and lots of enthusiatic parents to help out. A lot of the supplies were donated by someone in the community along with their time and energy to build it! Without this it wouldn't have happened. The kids take an enormous amount of pride and pleasure in working in the garden and seeing the results of their labours. It's wonderful to see them wandering through the garden with their parents and pointing out "I grew that".

This year we are starting a composting program and a vermicomposting program. We are totally organic. We have a flea market in the spring and sell some of the plants that the kids grow.

I would welcome a forum where we can discuss Community Gardening et al.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

inanda, is the pile that you refer to as "builders rubbish" gravel or bits of concrete?
I can't quite tell from the photo. Can you post a close up of the pile? My DH may have some ideas. He's the stone mason in the family. If it is something gravel like, would you be able to use it for the garden paths? Then you wouldn't need to spend funds on having it hauled away.

We have used several recycled building materials in our garden. My DH watches the freecycle sites for materials as they come available. We've used his pickup truck to bring in several loads of broken concrete that have been used to create terrace and garden walls. Recycled bricks have been cleaned up and used for some of the more "formal" pathways. The paths along the garden beds alternate between wood chips over cardboard and packed gravel. The wheelchairs can move along the gravel paths, but sometimes get stuck in the wood chips, so there's always one access route to the bed with gravel. One of our members built a sifting screen, out of a wood frame and chicken wire, that we used it to sift large pieces out of the soil and gravel.

If the stones are naturally occurring stones, they can add minerals to the garden beds if you can find a way to crush them finer. I've found that rock crushing and rock pile moving can sometimes be a way to harness the teenagers angry energy in a constructive way. That idea comes from the remineralize the earth site.

If the pile is unsuitable for any use in the garden, is there any chance of getting a building construction company to take it away as an act of community service?
Are there any departments at the university that might be persuaded to give educational credits for a group of students to come in an volunteer at your garden? Just a thought.

I'll copy your post to our community garden site. We have a few ex pat Canadians at our garden. Perhaps someone will have some leads to possible grants available in your area.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

wgnkiwi, it sounds to me that school gardens are community gardens. There are so many aspects of communal gardening that would foster discussion. A community garden forum would help us keep the threads together in one place.

I'll bet the kids will love the "pet" worms in the vermicompost system!

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Hi all, while we are waiting to see if we get our own forum, I thought I'd start pasting useful links related to community gardens.

I recently found this site from the Americas Community Garden Association. It covers community gardens in the US and Canada.

Patbarr, there may be some useful info on that site that could be applicable to the UK & EU as well. I haven't had a chance to read through the whole site yet.

Madison, WI(Zone 5a)

Hi, I'd be interested in a community garden forum too. We have a large old community garden here at the University of Wisconsin Madison that I've been gardening in for a few years. It's excellent! They provide water, compost, mulch, wheelbarrows and community tools, all for a $20 yearly fee and one community workday. I love walking through the gardens and seeing what everybody is growing. It would be great to have a special forum to get ideas from other community gardeners about projects and organizational issues and such.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Question for community gardeners:

Have you had any problems with crop theft? If so, how has your gardening community handled this?

Our garden administrators thought it would be a good idea to hold an open house and harvest celebration now that our garden is about 80% built out. This took place on October 1st. We had presentations by the mayor and city council, and testimonies from various community garden members sharing how the garden has improved their lives. Crops began to dissappear two days after the event.
Our community garden is surrounded by a fence with locked gates, but the main gate is open during the day to allow the general public to tour the gardens. I need to find out if this is a city requirement, or something the garden admins thought of. We are posting signs this week to let visitors know that each plot is privately owned (leased) and the crops belong to the plot owner. We'll see if this makes a difference.

What have your experiences been on this subject?

Burlingame, CA(Zone 9a)

Yes! Over the summer the school garden had loads of tomatoes, strawberries, peas, flowers, beans etc growing merrily away. The gates to the garden are not locked, so anyone can wander through. School families (& probably people from the general neighbourhood) would wander through and pick a few items for tasting and that was not a problem. No plant was completely stripped bare. My view is, so long as the kids get to enjoy the fruit of their labour, then it's OK, after all we didn't want anything just rotting away while school was out. BUT, in the last two weeks we've had pumpkins, sunflowers & some of the other vegetables go missing. All things that were earmarked for projects. It is so disappointing. We are going to have a sign made up for each gate which hopefully will be a deterrent of sorts. Something like a poem or rhyme that will make any would-be vege thief think about their actions. Other than that there is not much else we can do.

A neighbour had the same problem over the summer - she has a beautiful cottage garden filled with lilles and roses and someone was stealing all of her flowers. She made up a very sarcastic sign and hung it from the fence, but by that time the damage was done. I think that it's an issue that is not confined to community gardening.

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

We have lost 2 out of 20 or so pumpkins and two huge sunflower heads.

And a row of carrots.

On our main path through the garden, we planted 28 tomatoes at the ends of each plot that touched the path. They have been harvested by all in the neighbourhood. Seemed to keep people off the plots.


Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

For passersby who pick, why not have 4 or 5 plots on the edge of the garden labelled, Public Pick plot, this means YOU - or something of the sort. Then make 'private' signs or something of the sort on the leased plots. We do this. Along with the tomatoes on the edge of our path , seems to work quite well. Our prob is. ... Next year we won't be able to plant tomatoes again. W will have to think of something else that kids like to eat raw. Maybe carrots. We will have to grow tomatoes all along the edge of our cottage garden bed. That will look sort of funny, plus shading the short little creeping phlox, hens & chicks etc. too much. Hmm.... Will have to think about that one.

Anybody have any idea how many people we have to have on here, before we get our own forum? Anybody know?

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Thank you for the suggestions. I'll bring up the topic of a public pick plot to the community group and see what they think. One of our garden members made up some 'look, don't pick' signs, but the theft seems to have gotten worse. Stalling them at the gate may work.

Terry's note above says that DG watches how much activity is on the thread to determine if a new forum is warranted. I can think of a number of topics related to community gardening that warrant separate threads, such as:

1 - fundraising
2 - dealing with government/city/town officials
3 - allocating resources
4 - crop theft/protecting the garden
5 - gardening demos/educating the community
6 - helpful hints for gardening with children
7 - handling disputes between garden members
8 - ? what did I leave out?

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

1. Fundraising.
A band member (musical band) on the street was going to have a fundraiser for our guerrilla garden in a pub. Hasn't happened yet.
We went knocking door to door asking for $$. Ended up with a bit.
We planted and looked after gardens in an adjoining seniors home, in return for using their water.
Local radio station had us on air a couple of times and some $$ were given to the station for us.
With all our green tomatoes we went door to door selling them for whatever people cared to give, as well as selling them on our main street - again what people cared to give us.
Local businesses gave us $$. In return we kept them supplied with a vase of flowers/arrangements weekly. Vases have a little card by each one, saying 'Flowers by Guerrilla Garden. Ask us for information'. This has brought in quite a few $$ and donors.
Food bank mentioned our donations in their monthly newsletter. This has brought us to the attention of a couple of foundations who have given us $$.

2. Govt. officials. We did get $200 from a local initiative fund, from the city. Our local development corp. does not like us too much. This because we do not follow their community garden rules. Rules included regular meetings, no children gardening under the age of 10 unless with parents or guardian. (Plots had to be in the name of grownups). Not a charity (too expensive for us to register as one). No regular group workdays. So on and so on. Many of our children are in a loose family situation, often living with a Granny or uncle. Not a legal guardian situation so caregivers but not necessarily a legal guardian situation. Above all, we absolutely will not give the development corp. a list of names and addresses & phone numbers of our members. Many of our members do not have phones anyway. We decided we could give them the names of our members but nothing else.

3. Allocating resources. If you mean $$, a committee of 3 hired a bobcat to level the building rubbish and pile it up in one corner. This has turned out to be a great slide and play area for the younger kids. Spent most of the rest of our $$ buying 4 way mix to make beds. The soil here is terrible clay so we built beds on top of the clay. Skills of our gardeners are used as required.

4. Theft & Protecting the garden. Very little theft. No vandalism. We want the garden to be used by the entire community, gardeners and non gardeners. We dont want to fence it off.
5. Gardening demos/education. This summer we have had composting,medicinal plants, xeriscaping, gardening with children, mulching, shade plants. This has led us to some cooking days in a local church kitchen. Publicity was mainly notices on lamp posts. Not too much response.

Disputes between members?? We have never had any.
What kind of disputes have you encountered?


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

your new forum is waiting here - enjoy!

Burlingame, CA(Zone 9a)

Terry - you are a STAR!!! Thank you thank you thank you....

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Nawwwww, I just build the frame, now it's up to y'all to make it a "home" with threads full of questions, ideas and pictures!

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Thank you Terry!!!! :D

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

This really is just super fab Terry. However, one question, how long do you leave new forums open to the public? To non-subscribers I mean?


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Inanda, we've made all new forums since January "open" to the public, with the exception of the co-op forum, which was essentially making a "clean slate" for a forum we already had.

As far as I know, there's no plan to make any of these forums subscribers-only. (It's always possible that Dave has other ideas, but we haven't talked about it.)

As with all our forums, we encourage members to make themselves comfortable in a forum, but always remember you're "talking" with thousands of other people from all around the world. (That's true even if you are in a subscribers-only forum, since there are currently more than 7,000 subscribers ;o)

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

Thanks for your speedy response Terry.

I don't think tht our problems/fundraising info/fights with city hall etc should be in the public domain. Don't think I would be too comfortable telling others on the forum how we combat City Hall rules (if that ever happens), knowing that the whole world can read it.

Just my own thoughts.

edited to correct spelling

This message was edited Oct 19, 2006 1:19 PM

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