No Garden? Try a Community Garden

Yesterday I talked about setting up a garden share day, for you home gardeners. But what if you don’t have a home? Condo and apartment dwellers can still enjoy the gardening experience. You just need to join a community garden. True, you won’t be able to plant some of the larger items like fruit trees, but you can grow flowers, berries, and vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes in your very own plot. Here’s how a community garden works and how to find one near you.

Garden Rules and Requirements

Most community gardens are either free to join or require affordable annual dues. In addition to the fees, which are used to pay for things like water. Most are city-sponsored, so land rental isn’t an issue.

In addition to the low annual fee, you’ll also be required to work a certain number of “community hours.” These are spent cleaning up the grounds and maintaining group projects. Usually the work is performed on group work days. The hours requirement isn’t excessive – typically 12 hours per plot per year.

Most gardens limit what you can grow on your plot, so that you don’t interfere with someone else’s plot. Things like tall structures and trees that would shade a neighboring plant are usually forbidden. Most other noninvasive plants are permitted.

Finally, and this should seem obvious, you can’t take anything from anyone else’s plot and you must keep your area tidy as a courtesy to others.

How to Find a Community Garden

Community gardens have sprung up all over the United States. You first resource is the American Community Gardening Resource. They list many community gardens and provide resources to people who want to start on.

The second place to find a garden is Google. Just search for your city name and “community garden.” If that doesn’t bring up anything, try the nearest large town or city. That should yield plenty of results. If you still can’t find one, maybe it’s time you started one yourself.

If you’ve always wanted to garden, but your landlord or condo association doesn’t fancy a rooftop plot or a walkway covered in container plants, a community garden is the best option. My old neighbor had one and she grew her own lettuce, potatoes, and tomatoes (as well as flowers.) It cost her more in time and effort than store-bought, but it tasted much better and she earned bragging rights over dinner. How many people can say “I grew this lettuce myself.” My guess? Not many.

If you’ve had an experience with a community garden, share it in the comments. What would you grow in a garden if you could? I think I’d start with herbs, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Those are the items I go through the most (aside from lemons, of course.)

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