Questions on getting started
- Subject: [cg] Questions on getting started
- From: LarrmoNC@aol.com
- Date: Sun, 8 May 2005 09:46:14 EDT
Hello, all. My name is Larry Kroutil, and I'm new to the community garden
I live in Durham, North Carolina. I am a member of Calvary United Methodist
church. Our facilities are in a central city location. We have a vacant
lot next to our Education Building that would look to be an ideal site for a
community garden. We have members in our church who are no longer able to
garden or to get out much; particularly for older members on fixed incomes,
providing them with good-tasting, nutritious, home-grown produce (and the
interpersonal contact we have with them in doing so) could be important for their
quality of life. In addition, depending on the size of the space, we might have
produce that would be available to local food banks or community kitchens.
Because we are in a central city location, low-income neighbors also might
benefit from having space to grow some of their own food. It also would be
important to me that we have good participation from our church, in supporting
our members, having a role in hunger relief in our city, and in connecting
with our neighbors.
There is quite a bit of work to be done to prepare the site, so we are not
thinking about having a garden ready for summer crops. However, this also
gives us an opportunity for careful planning and building of support to do the
work to sustain an effort such as this. With regard to the latter, people may
say that they think this is "a great idea," but when I ask them about their
willingness to work on this effort, verbal support often doesn't translate
into action. That being said, I gradually am finding people at church who are
voicing their interest in contributing to the success of a garden. We're
probably better off with support building slowly and deliberately, as opposed to
us having an intense, emotional groundswell of people saying they were
willing to work in a garden, only to see that support not materialize.
I wanted to throw out some questions to get others' collective wisdom and
experience as we plan and prepare.
1) What has worked well for you in terms of organizing the gardening space?
For instance, I'm thinking that a model that might work well would be for
the church to have some common space that we use for some of the needs I listed
above, and for households from the neighborhood to rent a plot (or a portion
of a plot) with an application and for a nominal fee. That would deal with
the issue of how the harvest gets shared -- i.e., those who are assigned a
given space get "first rights" on the harvest, and it would be up to them to
decide how and with whom they want to share any extra produce.
2) What has worked well for you in terms of dividing up work assignments,
such as weeding or watering? If people have their own plots, have you shared
weeding and watering responsibilities as a group, or are people generally
responsible for weeding and watering their own space?
3) Assuming we went with an approach where people are allocated space for
their own vegetables, what would be important things to include in an
application/contract? If anyone has examples of an application or contract, I would
love if you could share them. In particular, how are community gardeners'
rights and responsibilities spelled out? What common work assignments or
responsibilities do you have, such as maintaining compost bins? What happens if
people don't maintain the plots they are assigned or don't fulfill their shared
work assignments? We're also thinking that we would want people to agree to
follow organic gardening practices in their spaces (and not use chemical
fertilizers or pesticides).
4) If people are assigned space in a community garden, what have been the
pluses and minuses with regard to crop diversity, crop rotation, soil
maintenance, and pest control? For instance, I know from my own gardening experience
that an important aspect of control of animal pests and plant diseases is to
put plants (or related plants) such as tomatoes or green peppers in a
different location each year. I could envision, for example, that we might get
several households all wanting to plant tomatoes or related plants somewhere in
their space. Then the following year, if we were to rotate the space, someone
might want to plant peppers or eggplant in a space where tomatoes were grown
the previous year. How have other groups dealt with some of these issues?
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