Starting a Community Garden
Healthy Food Growing Healthy Kids
By: Erin S. Carter, RD, CLT, LD
Did you ever wonder how to get closer to your kids? What foods to give kids to help them grow strong and smart? What you can do to help the Earth? One answer is to join or start a community garden. A community garden can be many different things, but the idea is to have a place to grow healthy food for you and your family. While you learn to garden, you also make new friends and can reach out to old friends, too. Community gardens give people something to do with their time that teaches good habits, provides physical activity, and lowers crime¹.
Keep reading for some helpful tips to start your own community garden:
- Find out if your neighbors, church or school want to help. Some gardens run on member dues, but many find it best to have a sponsor.
- Put together a group of people to plan everything. Look for the talent all around you. There are many things to do, such as the planning of the garden itself, money matters, and making sure all garden members can keep in touch.
- Decide where to start the garden. A good spot must get lots of sunshine (at least 6 hrs a day), have a water source, and contain healthy soil. Keep in mind who owns the land and if you need to lease it or can find public land available.
- Lay out garden plots, walkways and more. Decide where your planting will be and where walkways and tool storage might go. Think about planting flowers and shrubs to help beautify the area.
- Get to work! Organize volunteer help; ask for free materials from nurseries and building supply stores. This is where the fun starts and there’s something to see after all your hard work.
- Make sure to have an area for kids to experiment. If your group is planning to sell some of the great produce growing, always make sure to have a kids-only section so young ones can learn from successes and also mistakes.
- Stay connected! It’s a must to either pass out a phone list, have monthly meetings, or create a website or onsite bulletin board. Gardeners and supporters need to stay in touch and to manage the day to day jobs of the community garden. Not only does this make sense running a project, but it helps build on friendships and makes the community stronger.
To read more about community gardens or to find one near you, please visit the American Community Gardening Association.
Test Your Knowledge?
- What is one of the many benefits to starting or joining a community garden?
Answer: Making new friendships.
- What is the first step you may want to take when trying to start a community garden?
Answer: Find out if there is an interest in your community!
Erin S. Carter, RD, CLT, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian specializing in food sensitivities with a strong interest in our environment and food culture. She is the mother of a wonderful 5-year-old son who helps to garden in their backyard. Erin is based in Dallas, TX and has her own private practice, Carter Nutrition Consulting, LLC.