Community gardening setup, benefits, and tips
Today, let us learn community gardening design and setup. There is nothing in the world which satisfies the pride of growing vegetables and fresh flowers in our home garden. Mainly, if you are coming from a work environment which requires sitting behind a desk, this would be more satisfying because this would be a place where you can spend some time outdoors by doing some physical activity using hands. As this activity happens with the gardens, it makes you feel connected to nature. Maintaining a garden can be a lot of work, but when you get to feel the taste of the vegetables you grow, you will know the difference between growing and buying them in the supermarkets.
Unfortunately, people living in urban areas do not have any yard to create their own garden. They even do not have a balcony with abundant sunlight to at least maintain a container garden. At the same time, cities do have plots which are vacant which are left unused and are filled with debris. The urban people can try to turn that land into a gardening space and this would be a great help for them and also for the locality.
That is the main idea behind community gardening. Community gardens are the plots of land which are shared and this is the place where people come together and grow fresh vegetables and flowers.
Creating a community garden is the best way to bring different age groups of people together and make them work. Most of the people living in the urban areas are taking the responsibility of turning the vacant spots in their apartments or neighborhood into community gardens. Community gardens will help the people to develop socially and also increases the greenery around the urban areas by making the locality relaxing and at the same time nature-friendly.
Community gardens can be built in the gated communities, townships, schools, hospitals, Universities, Office campuses, etc. When commercial spaces inculcate community gardening, we can see many community garden designs being used. If you are an urban gardener and are interested in having a community garden, you can go through community gardening articles and attend community gardening programs to get some knowledge on how to start a community garden and community gardening design ideas.
Benefits of Community gardening:
Community gardening can be considered as a part of the sharing economy. They will make it easy for several people to enjoy the benefits such as gardening land which only one person cannot afford on his own. In the community gardening, not only the gardeners gain benefits through it, but also the locality which is staying near to it gets benefitted. Indirectly, this would make a change to society as well. There are multiple benefits of community gardening and few are listed below:
- Cities get Beautified:
Most of the community garden will be laid on the slots which are vacant and are also piled with debris. When the gardeners who belong to urban areas take over this vacant place, they will clear all the rubbish and will work on the replacement of the place with greenery. Community gardening will convert the urban areas into filled with pollution into green spaces which will help in the improvement of quality of life of not only the gardeners but also the entire neighborhood. There are also few pieces of evidence found that the community gardening will improve the property value in the areas surrounding it.
- Fresh fruits, flowers, and vegetables:
Many of the urban localities are considered to be food deserts where you cannot find fruits and vegetables which are fresh. Community gardens will be of great help in providing the families residing in the neighborhood with fresh produce which is nutritious which will, in turn, improve the health of people.
- Healthy life:
Community gardening will give an opportunity to the people living in urban areas to enjoy the fresh air. It will also provide them with the outdoor exercise which is proved to be healthy. Community gardens also give great relaxation from the noise of urban areas and serve as stress busters for the residents.
- Clean Environment:
The plants grown in a community garden will help in the addition of oxygen into the air and also play a vital role in the reduction of air pollution. They will also absorb the rainwater which will, in turn, reduce the amount of runoff which will happen through the streets by carrying the pollutants into the fresh lakes and rivers. Many of the community gardens are also a part of composting, recycling the wastes produced from plants like leaves and trimmings of trees into fertilizers which are useful.
- Strong communities:
Sharing of a single plot of land by converting that into community garden will give people a chance to increase their connection with their neighbors. Gardeners will also feel personal about the places where they are residing and also gain some sense of ownership and the spirit of community. As they get people out of their flats, they can keep an eye on the locality which reduces the crime which is happening in the surrounding neighborhood.
- Opportunity for education:
It is a very good way for kids to take part in the community gardening as they will learn from where the food comes and will also gain some knowledge on the issues of the environment. They will also learn about the skills required to work and also a few principles of business. This will also be learning for adults too. A community garden will give the people living in the urban areas an opportunity to meet and learn about the neighbors who hail from different cultures and backgrounds and this will also bring together the people of different ages, religions, races and also classes of society.
Read: Herb Garden Design Ideas.
Community gardening tips:
Composting is a perfect method to turn the waste from the food into soil. It will indulge in the biological process which occurs in a natural way where the beneficial microorganisms such as earthworms will break dorm the organic matter and start converting it into a conditioner for the soil which can be termed as compost. Examples of organic matter used in daily life are filters dried brown leaves, tea, and food waste. That would be a great start if you inculcate the practice of composting into your community gardens.
Rather than striking into the closest faucet, you can place the rain barrels across your community garden and collect the rainwater. When there is less rainfall, these rain barrels will help your garden to sustain.
Plantation of seeds which can sustain:
Seeds which are sustainable should be used so that the plants will grow to an extent and provide the neighborhood with a greener environment. Urban gardeners should develop and learn about seed preservation methods so that it will help them to maintain the community garden in a good manner in the future.
Use organic fertilizers:
Though there are many pesticides which are eco-friendly, it is always better for the community garden to maintain it free of pesticides. There are many natural ways in which you can eradicate the insects and pests. You can attract these natural predators by placing feeders, birdhouses in your community garden. These will keep the population of insects in control and will also produce waste which will be additional manure to your compost. Beneficial insects are also an effective way and they also act as eco-friendly pesticides. The bugs which control pests are ladybugs, aphids and they can be recognized very quickly.
Bees will help in the pollination of plants in a natural way and will also help you in the maintenance of the health of your community garden. Native bees will evolve with the plants which are native to the locality. So you can attract the native bees by the plantation of the species which are native. The flowers which are annual and perennial, herbs like mint, basil, fruits like strawberries and vegetables like cucumber, peas will attract the bees into your community garden.
Recycling the supplies of the garden:
Buying anything new is not required if you are securing the supplies for your garden. Old household items such as broom handles etc can be converting into stakes for the purpose of the plantation. The clothes which are not being used anymore can be used as rags for cleaning. The concrete bricks can be used in the garden as stones. You will just need to check your home properly to collect such things. You can also make a habit of visiting the yard sales where the gardening kits like shovels, watering cans can be bought at cheaper prices.
A fence is very much important for your community garden for the sake of protection and also for sectioning it. To build a fence, there is no requirement of any sort of fresh lumber or plastic. You can make use of reclaimed wood which is available in the old pallets and other resources which are being abandoned to build the fence.
How to start a community garden:
If you see any sort of vacant space in your locality, you can think of it as the best way to convert it into a community garden. Starting a community garden is the best way to bring all the people living in your locality together and at the same time grow the food which is nutritious and tasty. You can also add some fun to the community gardens by allocating some space to the kids so that the community garden looks even more special. It is not easy to create a community garden. So it would always be better if you have a group which can be able to help in the plantation. The same group should also be able to take care of the maintenance of the garden in the future.
Set Up a community garden group:
If you have already created a way to connect with the people in your locality, you can email or message them by creating a group and explaining your concept of community gardening and its importance. You can also help them understand your concept by visiting door to door when people are available at their homes. Try explaining them about the community gardening facts so that there are more chances that they get impressed.
As you are going to start a community garden, prepare your mind for a lot of work. To do this, you will need a large group for gardening else you will not be able to handle the load. Remember not to make a large group because there is a chance that you become out of space. There is no particular space mentioned for community gardens. Normally, a family will occupy a plot of 15 to 20 feet.
The community garden group members should be able to water the plants on a regular basis and should also be capable to weed their plots on their own. Ensure that your families understand the responsibilities before they become a part of this community gardening project.
Plan your community garden:
The community garden cost breakdown will be completely based on the plot size, location and the things which you want to make a part of your garden. You can also raise funds by collecting them from the residents in your neighborhood. The events of fundraising should be very simple and make sure that you are not spending more money on those events.
Start looking for plots which are empty and also have a good size and also receive sunlight for at least six hours. The plot should be located within your locality or if it is not in your locality, make sure that it is just at a distance of 10 minutes walk from it.
You will also need to contact the utility company which owns your area in order to know if your plots are already taken and also have water pipes laid. It is a very expensive task to put the piping and you should ensure that the installation comes under the laws of the local zone.
After picking up the site, you should contact the landowner to explain to him about the lease of the land for a community garden. Always ensure that you are keeping the land cost low as it is empty land.
After this, organize a meet with your gardening group members to discuss how they want the community garden to be run. You can also make potential rules about maintaining the garden.
To start the planting, you will need to first test the soil drainage. For this, you should dig a hole in the soil and fill it with water completely. Allow it to drain and fill it again. If the hole gets grained in a time of 15 minutes, then it means that your soil has a good drainage system. If the hole takes longer than an hour to drain, it means that the soil drains very slowly.
Most of the trees bearing fruits and vegetables will require soil which has good drainage. If you cannot adjust the drainage, then try adding some compost and manure which is well-rotted in order to improve it. For the drainage issues which are severe, you will need to check with the underground piping so that any excess water can be removed.
Buy a testing kit to test the soil pH. Collect the samples of soil from multiple spots in your community garden and then read the strips to get the information about the soil pH. Plants usually survive in the soil which has its pH ranging between 6.5 and 7. The soil which has a deficiency of nutrients can be enhanced by adding compost or manure to it.
Make sure that you are clearing the land which has weeds. If you see any garbage in the garden, remove it in the first place. Level the soil and pack it in order to prepare it for the plantation.
Set boundaries for your plot. For this, you will need to measure each and every plot and label them with the name of the families.
As watering the plants in your garden will be a big task for you on a daily basis, you can also try installing an irrigation system if you are able to invest money. If you want to make this bit cheaper, you can try installing an outdoor water faucet and provide the garden with a lot of watering cans.
You can also construct a shed in your community garden in order to protect your community garden tool kit from harsh weathers.
Construct a fence around your garden. You can do that yourself by making use of the wood which is available from your unused furniture etc. If you have enough amount of money, then you can hire a professional who does that for you.
Now it is time for plantation. A community garden will have many individual plots for vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The vegetables you can start growing in your community garden are tomatoes, green beans, peas, lettuce, carrots, etc.
A garden with herbs can include basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc.