Friday, March 22, 2013

Guest Post - 6 Tips for Community Gardening

Over the past few years, there has been an enormous increase in green living and organic, self-sustainable gardening in the United States, and the idea of feeding yourself and your family while at the same time helping the environment is one that even people who live in cities want to be a part of. The problem there though, is obvious: Where are they going to find the space to garden when their front yard is a busy intersection and their backyard is a parking lot?

Many communities have taken to solving this problem with community gardens: Public land where individuals and families are given a small plot to grow whatever they please. Cities all over the country have adopted this idea to give those people who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance the ability to garden. Though this is a great opportunity, there are obviously going to be some differences between gardening at home and gardening in a public forum, so the folks at Perfekt Earth decided to compile a few helpful tips about what and what not to do when starting a community garden.
  1. Use your trunk as a tool shed. Some community gardens have a shed with tools for everyone’s use, but if you’re not the only one in the garden there’s a good chance these will already be in use. Keep a set of basic gardening tools in the trunk of your car so you won’t ever have to find yourself waiting in line to use a spade. If you take public transportation, keep a backpack or duffel bag handy.
  2. Remember that the garden is a public place. Sure, the majority of the people are, like you, mostly trustworthy, but leaving tools out when you’re not around is an invitation for theft.
  3. Prioritize: Obviously you don’t want to keep a full tool shed in your trunk or duffel, so pick your tools carefully. A few must haves include a hand fork or cultivator, a trowel, gloves, hand pruners, and any soil enhancers you might want to use.
  4. Plan ahead. Since community gardens are utilized by a large number of people, space is obviously going to be an issue: You may not be able to have as large of a garden as you might like. This being the case it’s important to decide ahead of time what you want to grow and how much of it, and lay out your garden ahead of time. It’s never good to start without planning only to find that you’ve filled up your entire plot with tomatoes and corn, and have no room left for everything else
  5. Make friends. Since your garden isn’t in the same location as your home, there may be days where you can’t make it there for routine maintenance. Talk to your fellow gardeners: most of them would be glad to water or weed your crops if you can’t attend, as long as you do the same for them.
  6. Enjoy yourself. Though home gardens have the advantage of space and privacy, community gardens offer exactly what their name implies: community. Take advantage of your fellow gardeners to learn the latest news about gardening, and don’t be shy to ask for advice when you might need it. Making friends can make your experience even more enjoyable, and in many public gardens a group of people decide on a set time each day to attend, turning gardening into not only a way to eat right and help the earth, but a fun social activity as well.

This article was submitted by Scott Craw at Perfekt Earth. As devoted soil conservationists, we spend all of our time and effort in researching practical solutions that promote an easier, healthier, and sustainable way of life, and to replenish the world we live in: nourish the soil, the plants, yourself, and the world. Our ultimate goal is a healthier planet, with improved ways for people to grow better food.