I would like to challenge each one of you to start a community garden right NOW.  It’ll take several week s to plan and then a few more to get permission and set up, so get started now so it’s ready for spring planting!

Why should you have a community garden?  Everyone loves to go somewhere that has a common interest and be able to talk and work with others with similar interests.  We have found every community can use a community garden to not only enhance property values, reduce pollution and delinquency, as well as improving the health and well being of everyone that lives in that area.

Look at the photo above and see how neat and orderly it is.  This was started in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania way back when the first book was published and the PBS TV show was on the air.  We actually went there and filmed some of the early TV shows from that garden.  Each garden also had a common sitting area where people would sit and have their lunch and brag about their garden and how big their zucchini is.  Another idea for a community garden would be to start one in inner city areas, where there are no grocery stores, only fast food and convenience stores.  Neither one of those has ever been known to have fresh vegetables but now everyone can walk to their garden, harvest their lunch or dinner and still have a sociable event in their day.

It also ties the family together because each child can have their own 3’x3′ right next to their parents’ 4’x4′.  You might say that it’s not much room and ask how much you could grow in that small area, but if you read the ALL NEW Square Foot Gardening book you’ll see on page 44 that an overwhelming amount of fresh produce can be grown.  That’s just for one season.

All it requires is a commitment from someone that owns the land, and who better than the municipality that already has a park and playground.  Let’s just add a small, fenced in area to that and have someone run the garden.  We can furnish them with a set of rules and a layout.  Then it’s just a matter of using their resources to build the boxes, add Mel’s Mix and add a grid.  One of the municipal employees or volunteers could then give short classes on how to Square Foot Garden.

Using a String Grid - the Original SFG Method

Using a String Grid – the Original SFG Method

Notice in this next photograph that way back then we were using just string and nails for the grid.  Now everyone knows that the string method doesn’t work very well.  The string gets dirty and breaks, never seeming to get replaced.  Today, everyone is using a rigid, visible and permanent grid.  Sometimes someone will ask, “Does every box have to be Square Foot Gardening?  Why can’t someone put in a single row garden?”  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Single row gardens should be outlawed from existence.  They’re space-grabbers, inefficient, wasteful, too weedy and do harm to the environment.  Don’t let me get on that soapbox, please!

Are you associated with management of your community?  If not, go to the mayor, present the idea of a community garden.  Gather a few supporters and take them to our website.  Show them this blog post and let us help you get started!  You might enlist the aid of your Master Gardeners and county agricultural agents, as long as they don’t teach single row gardening.  We are also starting a program of grants for brand new community gardens, so keep that in mind as an aid to getting your garden started where you live.

Another excellent location, if the mayor and city can’t dedicate park space, is to go to local churches or schools.  They will have space and would also be willing to help the community.  It’s just a matter of dedicating an area, fencing it in and starting to lay out the program.

Refer to this post about the Do’s and Dont’s of a Community Garden, found on our nonprofit foundation website for some basic rules you can use for your community garden.

Community Garden Layout

As far as the layout goes, here’s the simplest layout imaginable.  It’s a 4 box per family layout in a 15’x15′ area.  We will have other drawings and suggestions for larger, fancier layouts, but start with this one and see what kind of interest you can gather.  Let me know what you think of this idea, and keep in touch with your progress.  We’re here to help you!