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Biggest garden? plus, plug for Greening Review and Toronto conference

  • Subject: [cg] Biggest garden? plus, plug for Greening Review and Toronto conference
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 12:52:42 -0700 (PDT)

Hey, Shane and Adam,

I knew my ag degree would come in handy...

Given that an acre is 43560 ft2, the Madison site
would be roughly 450 x 31 x 31 (for 25x25 plots, plus
3 ?+3? = 6? on each side, for each plot?s ?share? of
that 6? path). That comes out to just about 10 acres
(9.93 acres). So, Shane, you appear to be bigger than
that in sheer size - though Madison is, as Adam says,
a real treasure, since it's roots reach back into US
community gardening's 'dark ages' between the victory
gardens of the 1940s and the community garden
renaissance of the late 60s through the mid-70s. Can?t
tell about Floyd Bennett in NY, but at 480 plot
holders and unknown garden dimensions, it might be
about the same as Madison?s.

The biggest community garden I?ve ever visited is the
Hilton Head Plantation community garden, which is so
big - at 17 acres, I believe - that they call it a
?farm?. It began in 1980. Plots are 25x25, organized
in squares of 50x50. The cost is minimal, $15/year,
but membership is limited to residents of one of the
Plantation?s housing developments, mostly retired
folks from the north. The farm area includes an
orchard project, beekeeping and a large composting
area. Paths between plots measure roughly 12?. It is
really something, and run entirely by the gardeners. I
estimate their actual allotment garden area at about
12 acres, with the other projects roads etc. at about
5 acres. They have a sensible irrigation system worked
out that covers all the plots.

I?m going to be presenting on size and community
gardens in Toronto, but my focus will be a bit
different. I?m looking at yield potential and garden
layout. It isn?t as simple as it seems, if you are
interested in things like sound soil stewardship and
nutrient management, family nutrition over the whole
garden season, or making money from gardening. If you
get a huge yield of zucchini, for instance - well,
anybody want some zucchini bread? Size becomes a more
complex consideration still when you have retired
folks or apartment dwellers who use their community
garden plot as their virtual yard.

I?ll probably also touch on overall garden size in
terms of organization, at least a little bit, though
that?s legitimately a separate topic. A very large
garden can work, certainly - Hilton Head shows that.
But, on the other hand, as big as their garden is, it
does not encourage building bridges of understanding
among the different cultural groups on the island. 

I?m reminded of a story. At last year?s conference in
Chicago, a charming German immigrant showed us proudly
around a large community garden he proclaimed a
?quilt? of different peoples, ?Polish, Russian,
Bosnian...we're the United Nations...? Walking back to
the bus, we passed another very large community garden
behind a chain link fence, not nearly as pretty. I
asked about it, and our host scoffed ?Oh, that?s a
bunch of Asians. We really don?t have anything to do
with them.?

So, size is a factor- but not the only factor.

BTW, Shane, are you going to have a farmer?s market at
the site, and do you have any tie-ins with local small
farmers? I?m very curious about how to encourage that
here in Charlotte, where there is still a strong
farming tradition, but absolutely no effective small
farm/high value production options. Even at farmer?s
markets and natural food stores here, vegetables that
grow beautifully locally are shipped in from
California, Florida and Latin American (or, cardboard
replicas of the veggies anyway). 

With such a large area, are you able to involve local
farmers in garden creation, composting, soil prep and

Anyway, you sound plenty big to me. Best of luck,

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte, NC

PS: Shane, you had some very funny articles that
appeared in the Journal of Community Gardening back in
the summer of 1986, on, among other things, exploding
zucchini. The theme of that issue, by the way, was
?Community Gardening - Bigger Than You Think?. It
featured the ACGA journal's all time low in cover art
-  a trio of gardeners standing with their hoes beside
a pasted-in picture of a pea pod scaled up to the size
of a greyhound bus. Kind of like one of those
?jackalope? postcards from your part of the county, or
a B scifi movie - ?feed me...feed me...?

Space willing, at least one of your missives will be
in the next ?Best of Community Gardening? issue of the
Community Greening Review, which will either be handed
out at Toronto, inch?allah, or will arrive in all our
mail boxes shortly thereafter.  (We all belong to ACGA
on this listserv, don?t we? If not, hey, sign up
today, put your money where your trowel is - or
something like that . All ACGA members get the
Greening Review - and you won?t want to miss the next
issue, which features a selection of the best articles
from our journal since ACGA put out the first issue in
1982. I?m not sure if we can run the picture of John
Kerry that's on the cover in 1983, showing the
then-lt. governor of Mass. planting trees down by the
banks of the River Charles, but even if not, the
articles are just super.)

And, though it?s late, everybody who can, try to make
it to Toronto, OK? ACGA conferences are great! And the
hotel rooms are a relative bargain ( they tell me) at
about $100 US per day for solo, proportionally less if
you share. To help out ACGA, book now.

www.communitygarden.org, to join and/or to sign up for


> From: "utahgardens" <utahgardens@comcast.net>
> To: <community_garden@mallorn.com>
> Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 11:20:02 -0600
> boundary="----=_NextPart_000_0000_01C497F1.4819F630"
> Subject: [cg] (no subject)
> This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
> ------=_NextPart_000_0000_01C497F1.4819F630
> Content-Type: text/plain;
> 	charset="us-ascii"
> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
> Folks 
> I was recently told that our new community garden
> project in Sandy Utah (10
> miles outside of Salt Lake City proper) when
> complete, may be the largest
> community garden in the country at 15 acres. I was
> just wondering what other
> large community garden projects are out there and if
> anybody knows if this
> is would be true.
> Thanks
> Shane

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