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Checklist for Getting Started

Winter is the ideal time for cultivating ideas, especially in the garden's first year. Organizing a new community garden can begin with a collective of people looking for potential land or with a dormant garden site, awaiting the hands to steward it. Spring will come quickly! So, follow these basic steps to organizing the Garden's First Growing Season.

    What to accomplish in garden dormancy

  1. Write the Initial Proposal guided by the needs and interests of the community
    • Describe intended programs, including project goals and objectives
    • Define budget and funding sources [Public and private sponsors, fundraising strategies/activities, a fee structure for members]
    • Draft a management plan for garden site
    • Determine sources for technical assistance [Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners, community members]
  2. Organize a Meeting of Community Members
    • Present the organizational plan [Initial Proposal]
    • Determine the level of support and commitment of participants
    • Recruit sponsors and committee members
  3. Inform the media {Start raising funds and community awareness as early as January for the first growing season}
  4. Survey the garden site and develop a site plan {February - March}
    • Determine zoning laws or ordinances that might limit garden activities
    • Acquire necessary lease agreement
    • Have soil tested 6 weeks before planting, if possible
    • Arrange for water usage
    • Document garden site
  5. Open a bank account for garden revenue
  6. Obtain insurance
  7. Determine and Access community resources that will contribute to the garden and educational programs
    • Advertise the garden and solicit donations {early} so that resources can be assessed and gardeners can be properly informed.
    • Print and distribute flyers to recruit gardeners and volunteers {opening enrollment in March is common for rental plots}
    • Establish sources for plants, tools, soil amendments, and water
    • Gather horticultural resources, develop educational curriculum
    • Make pre-season garden education available
  8. Create guidelines and bylaws for garden members.
  9. Distribute enrollment forms and assign plots well before it is time for first plantings to begin
  10. Develop a work schedule for the season. Facilitate a Garden Preparation orientation {April}
  11. Begin work on garden site as soon as soil thaws

  12. Construct bins, stake plots, build beds, make a garden sign acknowledging sponsors
  13. Assist gardeners with insect and disease problems throughout the gardening season. {May - September}
  14. Encourage gardeners growing together

  15. Maintain the garden site. Tidiness benefits crop yield as well as neighbor relations.
  16. Institute garden programs. Education is an essential aspect of every community garden and stimulates collective action.
  17. Announce news with public bulletin board or newsletters, hold public tours
  18. Plan successive plantings
  19. Document garden progress and community activities with photos
  20. Celebrate the Garden Harvest as a Community

  21. Garden Clean-up should also be a community affair {October - November}
    • Plant cover crop, amend soil
    • Repair, clean, and store tools
  22. Evaluate program, write an annual report, inventory supplies. This will be priceless for planning for next year.

Starting a Community Garden: Organizing Basics