By Nathan, on August 23rd, 2011
You’ve probably heard us rave about ASCs, CSAs and Local shopping in previous posts. But how do you start a community garden in your apartment complex, neighborhood, school, or office building? And how do you get people interested. I mean, you’re interested, right? Well –
- If you don’t already know how, learn to grow the best produce for your area. I know, I know. This is obvious. But also realize that those you are wishing to garden with might not know how, even if you have done this all your life. My favorite book for this is Gayla Trail’s Grow Great Grub. Also, most areas have an online chart for what grows best there. If you already know what you’re doing, offer to teach those you are trying to get to participate.
- Approach your neighbors. If you are an out-going people person, feel free to print up a petition and knock on doors. As most of us at Health Now, Wealth Forever are not out-going, we suggest printing out letters with a reply card and hanging them on the doors of your neighbors explaining the concept of an ASC and asking that they return the Reply to you at your address. If they wish to garden with you, they will reply. Offer to teach them if they are hesitant. Just don’t be pushy. If it’s a school, then you’ll need to approach principals and school boards, and that can be intimidating, so find yourself some allies in the PTA.
- If you were able to drum up some enthusiasm, good! You can now take those replies to your Landlord, Property Manager or Neighborhood Association. The more support you gathered, the better. Especially if the owner of the complex is a corporation in another state, as is the case in my situation. This will take a chunk of space that will need to be converted in many cases. If you and your neighbors can invest time and resources to the project, it can be a big negotiating tool.
- Build a rotary schedule among the participants for gardening. In an ASC, it is a Communal Garden. All work on it and all benefit. The cost is mostly in time. The more active participants, the more bounty. So make it easy for everybody help out, schedule tasks (with generous input from those being scheduled).
- When it is harvest time, have everyone help. Give each their needs. By having everyone help bring in the harvests (which will be at different times), it makes everyone happy, and if they need to come out to pick fruits and vegetables for that day and the food is there to be picked, by all means allow it! It belongs to everyone.
- Learn how to preserve. Rotting fruits and vegetables aren’t good for anyone. Have everyone learn to dry and can. If you are lucky enough to be able to have a community area for this, that’s awesome. If not, everyone concerned should be able to preserve their share one way or another.
If properly done, an ASC should make eating healthy, organic and local a possibility for everyone, no matter how strapped they are. And we believe that it tastes better too!