Inspired by a recent outreach, I thought I would take some time to talk a little about community gardens. Community gardens are a wonderful thing. Whether they are on public land, brown field sites, local authority spaces, school playgrounds, beside a church, or other community space, they can make a big difference in a community.
I help people develop community gardens – from putting together the initial ideas and finding a site, to sowing seeds and getting growing. But if you already have a community garden – I can help you too.
Here are some simple tips to help you make your community garden the best it can be:
- Consider the space available, and make sure the growing areas are designed to maximise its potential. (Are you making the most of edges and vertical space?)
- Embrace perennial planting – don’t just automatically go for annual beds. (A forest garden, a few fruit trees… some fruit bushes or fruiting canes… these can be great low maintenance options and dramatically increase yield.)
- Make plans for the gardening year. (It can be helpful to have a grower’s guide and calendar for your garden so everyone working on the garden keeps moving forwards in the same direction. (Remember to think about companion planting. And consider crop rotation for certain annual crops.)
- Make sure people (not only in your group but in the wider community) know what you are doing and why. Outreach can be important to keep the garden growing strong, and encourage others in your area to follow suit.
- Don’t neglect the basics – make sure you have rainwater harvesting/ water management and composting system in place to keep your garden healthy long-term.
- Community gardening can reach beyond the garden itself. Think about how the food from the garden is eaten and/or preserved. Consider providing informational materials so garden users know what to do with the produce grown – perhaps providing recipe tips and suggestions. Share community picnics, cook-outs, meals, etc…and remember to reach out to others in your community who you might not usually interact with.
- Think about how you can prolong the growing season in your community garden, and perhaps even grow year-round – even in cooler climates. Consider adding greenhouses, poly tunnels, row covers etc.. to get as much use from the space as possible.
I can help community gardens be the best they can be by, for example:
- Creating a full permaculture design for the site, to show how to use the space available most fully and successfully.
- Developing layout and planting plans for existing growing areas.
- Establishing a calendar for the garden, and plans for year round sowing and growing.
- Providing information on garden systems, such as rainwater harvesting, composting etc..
- Creating informational booklets or brochures for growers, or the wider community.
If you have a community garden and you and your group would be interested in any of these services, please do get in touch.