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Re: Starting a community garden

  • Subject: [cg] Re: Starting a community garden
  • From: "Marilyn" dorlandm@iowatelecom.net
  • Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2006 19:39:20 -0600

Mrs. Hunter,
I helped start a community garden 4 years ago in a rural area of Iowa. I did
a lot of researching on the Internet, made use of the Community Gardens web
site before undertaking this endeavor. The local Cooperative Extension
Office was super help to me. We have a Community Garden board made up of
conservation people along with one of the gardeners and we meet once a month
from March through October. The first two years we struggled along with only
a few used tools and donated use of tillers and tractor/plow for breaking up
the sod. At end of the second year we could see there was a need for these
gardens so we applied for a grant through our county Farm Bureau and
received $1500 which we used for a matching grant. With this money we hired
a local Mennonite to build a storage shed and bought tools with the rest of
the money. We started out with 8 (10 by 20 ft) plots the first year, then 16
the next year, last year we had 29 and this year we will have 35 plots. We
kind of felt our way and had a healthy growth each year.

I have kept a rough estimate of the hours which I donate to the gardens.
Last year it was over 180 hours. Some nearby counties started gardens at the
same time we did with a grant to hire someone to be in charge of the
gardens. What they found was that when the grant money ran out the
leadership was done and so were the gardens. Since ours was started without
any paid staff, I feel it was based on sound business practices with all of
us pulling together.

Our State Horticulture Society accepts out-dated seeds from grocers,etc then
distributes them to the needy and community gardens. Some hort dept. of
community colleges will donate plants to our cause. The local businesses
gave us a discount on the tools we purchased. There are lots of helps out
there, if one goes after them. Good luck.
Marilyn


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