How to Start a Community Garden Task Force.
10 Save the Earth Cooperative guidelines that will enable you to start a garden community task force in your area.
Steps 1 -5
Join Save the Earth and we’ll set up a local Save the Earth Facebook group and invite other local members to join in.
Identify a suitable plot of land and establish what you’re going to grow on it. Think about what crops and flowers will be suitable at different times of the year. Write out a plan of who you’d like to benefit and what it will involve. Think about all the interested parties and stakeholders. Then, contact your local allotment holders association, for example, or gardening clubs, community action groups, local schools groups. Get a feel for what is feasible and how you want to start your community garden.
Starting a member committee to plan activity.
Setting up a community garden will require a members committee. This is people with sufficient time and commitment to get the community garden off the ground. Delegate specific tasks to those involved and garner support from community. Task force coordinators can be given particular roles, such as: purchasing, administration, school support, funding and grants, business partnering, and cultivation.
Assess your Resource Pool to Establish the Garden
Look for available land – from local government, donated land, philanthropic business owners etc. Then, do a scan of what skills and resources you already have to hand. Contact your local gardening or horticultural clubs for assistance and possible synergies. Perhaps you are already an allotment holder or are in some kind of gardening club? Pool your gardening tools and share expertise.
Agree on a Suitable Plot of Land
Think about where your task force plot is going to be. Is it in the shade and if so, will you have sufficient sun to grow your crop? Is there water available? And have you tested the soil to see how fertile it is (and which plants, veg, fruits will grow). Is it organic land or it it contaminated? If you aim to rent the land, make sure the rental agreement is for over 4 years. Otherwise, you may well be wasting your time.
Get ready to Start the Community Garden Task Force.
Before you can start sowing seeds and planting saplings, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to tidy up the land and remove rubbish. Organize a team of volunteers to make a sweep of the site with litter bags and work gloves to prepare for planting. Try not to use chemicals and try to respect the existing wildlife living there. If you are in any doubt, consult someone who knows before clearing the land.
Community Task force Garden Design
Designing the garden requires members to design the layout and to assign areas out to different members/ projects. If you are aiming to follow permaculture design refer to Bill Mollison’s Designer Manual . Consider planting either edible fruits and vegetables or aesthetically pleasing plants and flowers along the edges for the enjoyment of all. Think about companion planting also. You may consider building a swale along the edge also to collect rain water.
Think about the Educational Benefits of the Garden
Education is as important as yield and surplus so think about getting local schools involved. Tagging plants and maybe linking activities to the school curriculum might be beneficial. You may also want to include a specific kids area. Save the Earth Cooperative aims to introduce organic gardening to schools, so contact a member of the Coop team if you’d like to bring your community garden to schoolchildren as well.
Consider Where Your Surplus Might Go
It is critical to decide beforehand who or what will be the beneficiary of any surplus you have. It could be shared among members, given to a Save the Earth sister project, donated to a homeless charity or sold at a local farmer’s market, for example.
Flesh out the Rules Before Starting Your Community Garden
Gardening members can put together their own code of conduct with some guidelines. These include tool sharing, assignment of land and duties, surplus beneficiaries (donated or sold), and which methods are acceptable. (We strongly advise against using harmful pesticides and herbicides – we are, after all, trying to save the earth.)
Use Social Media and other Channels to Keep in Contact.
Communication is key to a productive garden taskforce. Some ways to do this are:
create an email list
use the local STE Facebook/ Twitter Groups
run regular community events .
Most of all, community garden task forces really should focus on building relationships and so remember people are at the heart of your project.
And most of all, have fun getting your hands dirty because it’s a proven fact that hours spent gardening are great for your health! So, get started today!