02 Dec COMMUNITY GARDENS
A few years ago, I attended a garden tour in my city, and one of the focuses was on community gardens. I was surprised at how many community gardens exist where I live, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been, because as it turns out, their popularity is on the rise. “But why,” you might ask, “would I want to garden in a place that is not in my own backyard?”
The reasons are numerous. Perhaps you love the camaraderie that comes with hanging out with other gardeners you know, sharing tips and advice or swapping seeds. Or maybe your yard is too shady for growing vegetables, or you want to grow more than what your property can handle. Or perhaps your front yard is the sunniest spot, but your Home Owner’s Association doesn’t allow front yard edible gardens. If any of these reasons sounds familiar to you, and you’re intrigued about joining a community garden, here are some great tips for getting involved and getting the most out of your participation.
1. Reserve enough time to garden. After all, this kind of gardening is different than going into your backyard in your pajamas to tend to your roses. Factor in driving time as well, but be sure to look for a community garden that is close enough to your home to be fairly convenient.
2. Inquire about volunteer hours. Some community gardens require participants to perform a certain number of volunteer hours per month or per season. These are gardens that, for the most part, are non-profits and depend upon volunteers to keep them going.
3. Be open to new experiences. You might think you’re joining a community garden so you can grow more tomatoes, but you might be surprised to learn that you could make lifelong friends, develop a taste for eggplant, and learn how to garden without chemicals. The “community” aspect of this type of gardening, and everything it entails, is a huge part of the draw.
4. Get on the waiting list. Many community gardens have waiting lists for at least a year to reserve a single garden plot, so be sure to inquire ahead of time how long the wait may be. Sometimes it’s sufficient to get on the list towards the end of the growing season, but don’t make that assumption only to be disappointed with no availability.