Much has been said about America’s predisposition to having lush lawns and gardens. Turfgrass, the kind used in lawns, covers 2 percent or about 40 million acres of land in the continental U.S., making it the most widely grown crop in the nation.
But what about pockets of land that are empty of either structure or greenery? Turns out that 16.7 percent of the land area in large U.S. cities are considered vacant. Vacant lots are an issue of concern because they often become an illegal dumping ground for litter and other solid wastes. They also tend to attract squatters and thieves, putting the community at risk.
How to Create a Community Garden
Fortunately, vacant lots aren’t a lost cause. They can instead be thriving community gardens, pieces of land gardened by a group of people and utilized to support food security and other interests of the community. If you own a vacant piece of land, gather your neighbors and try turning it into a vibrant community garden. Here’s how:
First, look into the land’s history
It’s crucial to determine whether the land is zoned in a residential or mixed-use area and if the soil has the right nutrients and is free from contaminants. This initial step requires quite a bit of research and the local government’s help.
If you don’t have your copy yet, historic property records are usually available at your town’s library. The local tax assessor’s office may also have the public records of land ownership so you can find out if the soil is healthy based on how the property was previously used.
Next, plan your garden design
Gather your neighborhood team and discuss what kind of garden would best serve your community’s needs. Consider the following:
- Do you want to grow vegetables, flowers, and plants, or a combination?
- Is it okay for the community to use pesticides?
- Do members get individual plots of land to tend or will the space be managed by everyone, as a whole?
- Who will supervise the area?
- What will you do with the crops?
From this, you can design the type of community garden you want. In addition, you may also plan for the tools you need to have, such as tool sheds, benches, and trough planters, and the crops you need to buy. By planning these things, you’ll have an idea of the budget you’d need to raise for your community garden.
According to the University of California Cooperative Extension, you’d typically need between $2,500 and $5,000 to start a basic community garden. You may raise this startup amount through membership dues, cash or in-kind donations from local organizations, or crowdfunding.
All these options are great ways to raise money because they involve your community’s active participation.
Build the site and watch it thrive
Once you have the budget secured, it’s time to start planting. Apart from raising funds, this step is one where you can actually see the “community” part of a community garden. You will all feel like part of a community once you start planting together.
After a few weeks, with constant maintenance and enthusiasm for the project, you will feel a sense of triumph when your garden starts blooming and thriving.
We’ll Help You Make Your Community Garden Succeed
For a successful community garden, you’d need excellent materials. PolyStone Planters provide tough, UV-protected and weatherproofed planters in different designs and colors that will match any type of garden.
Visit PolyStone Planters and browse through our products today.