I've gotten involved with the board of our community garden, which was new this year - so exciting! Anyway, over the past growing season, we had quite a few families who abandoned their plots. From what we understand from other community gardens, this happens a lot, especially with new gardeners who underestimate how much they will be able to do.
Anyway, we're looking for ways to help support new gardeners, so they stick with it. We've thought of pairing them up with an experienced gardening mentor, but I'm sure there are other things we could try as well.
So, if you've tried community gardening and it didn't work out for you, would you mind sharing why, and what would have helped you finish out the season (or sign up for another year)?
Thanks a bunch!
I finished up my season out of politeness because I didn't want to leave an untended plot, but I didn't sign up again the next year.
This is excellent info for me right now. I am going to be on the board of our community pool this year and there is talk of turning the overgrown with weeds/cracked concrete/eyesore tennis courts into a community garden. It is private property but I'm working on ways to make it work, especially with the water situation. I am thinking of making a rule that if your plot is not visited or tended for 30 days we rserve the right to trn the crops under and plant a cover crop (for weed control). I'm exited and apprehensive. Fingers crossed.
We didn't drop out but we did lose steam after a large percentage of our garden plot was ransacked/looted. It made us all sad to be there and we felt a bit like "what's the point"
A couple of suggestions for maintaining momentum:
some community building events - kids events, seminars, potluck picnics etc
a work sharing option to help people water/weed while they are away or sick
a community blog/forum to maintain interest
a master gardener/mentor program - there were times I had no idea what to do and no one to ask
a newsletter maybe weekly - it wouldn't have to be big but something like "Now's a great time to harvest basil and here's a pesto recipe, next week we have a seminar about harvesting herbs from the communal plot to make tea"
I think the community aspect is missing in a lot of community gardens - at least in my city.
Blessed partner to a great guy, and mama to 4 amazing kids. Unfortunate target of an irrationally angry IRL stalker.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha
Thanks for the ideas! We did try a few community events. We put on a few seminars during the summer, where we brought in experts to teach new gardeners. They were poorly attended. We also had a (poorly attended) potluck dinner with live music.
One thing we're really struggling with is communication. Our most active members are retirees. They are not computer users, and many don't even have an email account. But we have this whole other group of members who are not active in helping run the garden, have young families, and sometimes respond to emails/message board postings, but usually not. They're the ones we really want to be able to hook next year. We planned a ton of family friendly activities for the picnic - but no one showed up for it. We have great volunteer opportunities that the whole family can take part in - but few of the young families show up. All of the families agreed to volunteer at least 5 hours over the course of the season - but very few met that goal. I love your idea of a weekly newsletter. I wouldn't be able to reach the retirees, but they're already participating. And the constant reminders might get the folks who aren't getting involved. Thanks again!
subbing :) This will be my first year at a community garden (practically across the street from my house! ) I am worried I will be taking on too much while pregnant, but we need to eat!
I'm crunchy... Like a Dorito.
Mama to Sprout 4.09 and Bruises 7.11 handfasted to 9.07
It will be good for your pregnant self to be in the earth. Good exersize and peaceful time with nature. I worked as a horticulturist until3 days after my due date and was no worse for the wear. Do look out for cat poo though- no hands in the mouth unless you wash your hands! Now once the baby comes.... it will be tough. Make friends at the garden and they could take pity on you and water when you are round-the-clock nursing :)
I don't do a community garden, but I do a garden in my back yard. My biggest struggle every year is weeds. They take so much work to take care of without chemicals. I find that weeding becomes much easier with a friend and if I have it on a regular schedule.
What about setting up a weekly weeding party? You could do it as a pot luck, in the evening when it's cooler and most folks are not working, like say on a Sunday or Monday evening. Anyone who wants to come can come, you have a music system set up, and everyone can weed together with company for an hour or two (or three or whatever) with company and music, then afterwards, you all have a picnic together.
I'm not a drop out but I'll tell you my frustrations. Some can be dealt with, some just are.
like a pp- the drive kills me. Nothing can be done about this! We sometimes bike (it is about 7 miles one-way) but that takes a solid chunk of my time. Our garden has a pump well that doesn't dry up until mid-summer, so that is nice.
Theft- from both two and 4 legged animals. Properly fencing in a large plot (mine was about 80'X40') takes time and money and I have to do it every year so they can plow the fields. Ugh.. Can you just not plow my section??? This past year I guess I cut corners in digging the fence down and lost most everything to groundhogs. People who are caught stealing need to have consequences.
Neighboring plots untended- The weeds on EVERY plot next to mine got to well over 7' tall. Blocking sun for some of my garden. I lnew one woman would never make it through the season when she couldn't even be bothered to pull weeds while putting in seedlings she had purchased!
Poison Ivy, deer tics, snake and mosquito bites- I bring my kids and try to keep them busy out of the plot playing along the edges or at the well. The poison ivy could be pulled. I try to keep it out of the weeds outside my plot. Nothing can be done about the deer tics or pesky animal bites.
Also, if my garden could look as lovely and be as plentiful as the retired couple just south of mine- that would be great!
Me. With 1 spouse, 4 kids, 16 chickens, 74 matchbox cars, 968,562+ legos, a dishwasher waiting to be emptied, a washing machine waiting to be filled and a lost cup of tea in the house.
Thanks for the thoughts and ideas, ladies! I like the weeding party idea. Mosquitos were a huge problem this past year. I had envisioned bringing my kids along to play around the garden while I worked, and that never really happened, because the minute you stepped out of the car, you were covered with a swarm of them. I grew up in a mosquitoey wood on the edge of a wetland, and I'd never seen anything quite like this before. My whole body would itch when I was done gardening. I know that was one factor in our difficulty getting people to care for their plots.
kriket - your situation sounds ideal! I gardened all during both of my pregnancies - it works out just fine. Now, gardening with a young toddler is a whole different ballgame. ;)
I am new to this forum as I am thinking about growing something (likely on our porch, in containers) next season with DS. There is a community garden up the road from our house and DH would love to do it so this thread is food for thought.
That is a massive plot!! I almost freaked with joy when I found one that was 10x10! The other popular garden is 10x4 raised beds.
That is a mammoth garden m'lady!
I don't get it. I am not new to gardening. I got loads of goodies off my 2 small gardens (ok, they are flower gardens, I live in the city!) Growing up we had massive massive gardens, so I have done a little of each.
I can't imagine putting seedlings in with weeds all over. I will admit, sometimes I wus out and take the scythe to them in a new garden in the spring, or just use the stirrup hoe in the small gardens, but come on! Does she expect things to grow!
I have never gardened with anyone except my sisters, so I am starrie-eyed-ly dreaming about the retired couple and all the tricks I will learn from their garden. I guess I hadn't thought too much about the sillies!
I'm crunchy... Like a Dorito.
Mama to Sprout 4.09 and Bruises 7.11 handfasted to 9.07