What Is Community Gardening

Community Gardening can address people’s needs in many different ways. To be effective, start by getting support of many people who share a similar goal and purpose for the garden. It is best to find a sponsor organization or agency, such as a public housing department, a church or the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Individual Family Garden Plots Garden plots can be set up for people who want to grow their own food but do not have a suitable site. To be successful with family garden plots, make sure the participants understand what responsibilities they have. What tasks can be delegated to the land owner, an overseer or rotated among all the participants? For example, tools and equipment might be shared and kept in a central place; watering may be scheduled so a central sprinkler or shared hoses can be used. Guidelines for planting, weeding and pest management methods should be set-up ahead of time. Gardeners might also discuss their plans with each other so abutting plants will complement and not compete with one another for sun, water or space.

Community Gardening to Support a Food Pantry, Slielter or Vegetable Stand Fertile land may be set aside for volunteers to grow food for a community soup kitchen, food pantry, homeless shelter or vegetable stand (where proceeds benefit a group or cause). There are many tasks and responsibilities involved in a volunteer effort to plant, manage and harvest produce. Knowledge, skills, availability, flexibility and commitment are important considerations. It helps to have one person, a coordinator, in charge of the overall effort. He or she will develop a schedule with daily, weekly and seasonal tasks, determine what resources are needed and how they will be obtained, and keep track of tasks. Small group leaders can be helpful if many people are working together. Leader roles might include directing volunteers parking, providing water or cool beverages for volunteers, arranging for bathrooms access or documenting the group’s progress.

Planning Your Community Garden.

1.Use this step-by-step list to start a community garden plot: 1. Gather materials you’ll need. EH Planting, growing and harvesting tools I I Seeds, seedlings and organic material, such as compost, manure or peat moss I I Long-handled shovels, hoes, rakes, garden spades and three-pronged hand cultivators I I Scissors, knives and containers (baskets, bowls, or cardboard boxed) 2. Pick a spot. □ Make sure the vegetable garden gets at least six hours of sunshine a day. Otherwise the seeds produce plants and leaves and not much food. If the plot chosen doesn’t have enough .

2. It is better if your garden spot has 
been cultivated before. If you are starting with 
a brand new site, take the first year to prepare 
the soil, following soil test recommendations. 

3. Plan your garden. 

D Point north. Find the north side of the plot, 
because that's where the tall plants should go, 
so they don't shade shorter ones. Stand facing 
the sunset, north is the direction to the right. 

CH Sketch out the basic shape and size of the plot. 
Plants can be grown in rows or raised beds, so 
the garden will be square or rectangular. 

4. Decide what to plant. 

n List what vegetables you'll grow and decide 
on the number of plants you'll need. 

5. Design the site. 

I I Draw a picture of the garden and plan out 
what plants will grow in which rows or beds. 
Figure how far apart the plants should be 
based on how wide the plants will get. This 
will make it easier on planting day. 

6. Test the soil. 

I I If the soil has not been tested, conduct a soil 
test. Call your county Cooperative Extension 
office for a soil test kit. What does a basic soil 
test show? Three things: (1) lead level of the 
soil; (2) whether the soil is acid (sour), alkaline 
(sweet), or neutral (neither sour nor sweet) 
and (3) the nutrient levels in the soil. Lead is a 
poison and if it gets into the plants, it will get 
into your food. Plants will not grow well in 
soil that is either too acid or too alkaline. 
Nutrient levels determine how well plants grow.
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