Note: This blog is a companion to Galion Garden Group 
GGG is Aquaponics oriented, yet many of the
 topics there may be of value to you.

Why reinvent the wheel?

We have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of those that have pioneered the establishment of community gardens. This blog is a partial/selective recording of what others have done, and is presented for the use by the residents of Galion, Ohio. Many of the questions above have been considered, tested and adapted successfully.

American Community Gardening Association
The following steps are adapted from the American Community Garden Association's guidelines for launching a successful community garden in your neighborhood.

Determine whether a garden is really needed and wanted, what kind it should be (vegetable, flower, both, organic?), whom it will involve and who benefits. Invite neighbors, tenants, community organizations, gardening and horticultural societies, building superintendents (if it is at an apartment building)—in other words, anyone who is likely to be interested.

This group can be comprised of people who feel committed to the creation of the garden and have the time to devote to it, at least at this initial stage. Choose well-organized persons as garden coordinators. Form committees to tackle specific tasks: funding and partnerships, youth activities, construction and communication.

Do a community asset assessment. What skills and resources already exist in the community that can aid in the garden’s creation? Contact local municipal planners about possible sites, as well as horticultural societies and other local sources of information and assistance. Look within your community for people with experience in landscaping and gardening.

Some gardens "self-support" through membership dues, but for many, a sponsor is essential for donations of tools, seeds or money. Churches, schools, private businesses or parks and recreation departments are all possible supporters. One garden raised money by selling "square inches" at $5 each to hundreds of sponsors.

Consider the amount of daily sunshine (vegetables need at least six hours a day), availability of water, and soil testing for possible pollutants. Find out who owns the land. Can the gardeners get a lease agreement for at least three years? Will public liability insurance be necessary?

In most cases, the land will need considerable preparation for planting. Organize volunteer work crews to clean it, gather materials and decide on the design and plot arrangement.

Members must decide how many plots are available and how they will be assigned. Allow space for storing tools, making compost and don’t forget the pathways between plots! Plant flowers or shrubs around the garden's edges to promote good will with non-gardening neighbors, passersby and municipal authorities.

Consider creating a special garden just for kids--including them is essential. Children are not as interested in the size of the harvest but rather in the process of gardening. A separate area set aside for them allows them to explore the garden at their own speed.

The gardeners themselves devise the best ground rules. We are more willing to comply with rules that we have had a hand in creating. Ground rules help gardeners to know what is expected of them. Think of it as a code of behavior. Some examples of issues that are best dealt with by agreed upon rules are: dues, how will the money be used? How are plots assigned? Will gardeners share tools, meet regularly, handle basic maintenance?

Good communication ensures a strong community garden with active participation by all. Some ways to do this are: form a telephone tree, create an email list; install a rainproof bulletin board in the garden; have regular celebrations. Community gardens are all about creating and strengthening communities.

Modified by GCG Admin.
More to come...
...for those...like me...that learn visually...

10 Easy Steps For Making A Community Garden

More to come...

Ten Tips on Local Advocacy
(especially to get gardens preserved)
1. Develop a plan (or don’t wait for crisis). If your garden is not protected, understand exactly who owns the land. Know exactly what you are asking for and who you are asking. Is there a public process or is it “who knows whom”? Your plan should include the other tips listed below. Meanwhile keep the garden looking great!

2. Develop allies. Community gardens, low income housing organizations, churches, schools, community development organizations all serve the same constituencies. Introduce potential allies, including government officials and business leaders, to the garden. Determine areas of commonality and find ways to have gardeners help your allies. Be sure to ask your allies to take specific actions to help your cause.

3. Be prepared for opposition. Acknowledge, in advance, that there will be objections to your efforts. Know both who is likely to be in opposition and what objections they will raise. Read opposition material, study the newspapers, watch or listen to talk shows, and check websites. Determine if there are any points of commonality. Learn, if possible, if you have contacts with those to whom the opposition listens.

4. Become known. Invite decision-makers and the media to your garden. Host activities for neighbors. Share your produce. Do other community service – a children’s program; horticulture therapy, conduct neighborhood clean-ups and plant tree-pits. Make presentations at nearby neighborhood and tenant association meetings.

5. Use the media. Develop a compelling message which includes what you are asking for and a convincing reason why you should get it. Determine spokespersons and have them practice giving your message. Make a list of the human interest stories of your garden. Write up the stories (with photos!) for neighborhood weeklies. Invite newspaper and TV garden reporters to the garden. Don’t forget public access cable TV.

6. Meetings, meetings, meetings. Be prepared to attend public meetings of the city council, planning department, parks commission, city planning and zoning hearings, and health department. Whenever possible sign up to speak at these meetings and present your message. Host meetings of your own to inform and motivate gardeners.

7. Resolutions, plans, and ordinances. Take the offense. Get friendly local legislators to sponsor and champion resolutions and ordinances supporting community gardening. Be alert for opportunities to have community gardening promoted and sanctioned within neighborhood and citywide planning and re-zoning efforts.

8. Celebrate successes. Preservation efforts can take many years. However, there can always be something to celebrate (alliances with new organizations, a successful harvest, a resolution sponsored). To keep up spirits, demonstrate progress, become known, use the media, and involve allies – have press conference, parties, and congratulatory award events.

9. Be persistent. The opposition is hoping that you will just go away. Don’t let them wear you down. This is why having parties (tip #8) is so important. It is really important that gardeners really do go to ALL the meetings!

10. Be flexible. Be open to changing your campaign to reflect the needs of allies or what you realize is more realistic long-term success. For example, you may lose a garden, but gain a commitment to the building of a permanently protected and larger garden across the street.
More to come...
DIG, EAT, AND BE HAPPY is a 48 page pamphlet that provides an overview of the experiences of other communities in developing community gardens that is in layman's language provided by ChangeLabs Solutions.
Denver Urban Gardens
Growing Community Gardens: Denver Urban Gardens’ Best Practices Handbook for Creating and Sustaining Community Gardens [82 pages of great stuff!]
It is all here for our use in Galion!
Don't miss the appendices... Wow!
Appendix A: Benefits of School-Based Community Gardens.......... ..56
Appendix B: Steps to Starting a Community Garden...................... 58
Appendix C: Construction Start-Up Schedule.................................59
Appendix D: Steps to Starting a School Garden.............................60
Appendix E: Cost Estimate for a Typical DUG Garden..................... 61
Appendix F: Reciprocal Map.........................................................62
Appendix G: Garden Leaders’ Roles & Responsibilities.....................64
Appendix H: Steering Committee Roles.........................................66
Appendix I: Monthly Leadership Activities......................................67
Appendix J: Produce Theft & Vandalism.........................................69
Appendix K: Effective Water Conservation Techniques.....................71
Appendix L: Community Garden Plot Application & Waiver...............73

Find a Gardening Expert
Find a Master Gardener to help you through your local Agricultural Extension Program. See: Resources Tab
Find a local Extension Office. See: Resources Tab

Legal Documents
ChangeLab Solutions
Model Leases, Gardener Agreements, and Forms
Contracts, Memos of Understanding : Understanding Key Terms
Joint Use Agreements
ChangeLab Solutions
Model Joint Use Agreement Resources:
Increasing Physical Activity by Opening Up School Grounds
Volunteers and Liability
ChangeLab Solutions
Volunteers and Liability: The Federal Volunteer Protection Act
American Community Gardening Association
The Peoples Garden (United States Department of Agriculture)
National Gardening Association
More to come...

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