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Q and A: How To Create A Garden For Your Community

May 12th, 2013

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What is a community garden? A community garden is a space where community members are able to grow anything from fruits and vegetables to flowers on a plot of shared land. A church, school, business, or private landowner can donate a piece of land – but the space continues to thrive as a community garden by a variety of share holders.

What can I expect? Typically, you’ll find designated garden plots, usually measuring about 3′ x 20′ that are made available to individuals and families in the neighborhood. The gardener is responsible for supplying the plants, seeds, and soil amendments. However, you don’t have to worry about manually watering your plants each week, as drip irrigation systems are normally installed to supply water to the plants.

What is the cost? Expect the cost to be based on the bed size, as well as a reimbursement water fee to the property owner – usually around $15.00 per month for each plot. This money also pays for the irrigation equipment, a monthly newsletter in some cases, as well as a set of tools made available.

How can I create a garden for my community?

Step 1: The first step is initiating a planning committee. As a group, determine if there is a real need for a community garden, and whom the garden will serve. As you move forward, you will also need to make a list of what needs to be done, and designate roles to each member.

Step 2: The planning committee or sponsor will need to choose a site. The land should get at least 6 full hours of sunlight, pass soil tests, and be clear of contamination. You may also need to consider if irrigation is available.

Step 3: The next step is developing the site. The community garden site should be cleaned up and organized. This includes selecting work crews, choosing plot sizes, creating a storage area, and deciding whether organic gardening practices will be used.

Step 4: Organize the garden details. The planning committee should decide the large and tiny details behind the community garden. At the very least, these questions should be answered:

* What are the conditions of membership?

* How will plots be assigned?

* How will the money be used?

* How large should each plot be? Should there be various sizes to choose from?

* Will there be a plot for children?

* What happens if the plot becomes vandalized?

* What will the community vs. committee members be responsible for?

* Will there be garden meetings? How often?

* Will the garden members share tools or supply their own?

* What kind of maintenance will the garden need daily, weekly, monthly and seasonally?

Step 5: Choose some general rules and bylaws for the garden. Bad gardeners and angry neighbors are the two most common reasons community gardens lead to frustration. Choose each rule and bylaw carefully so that there are understood procedures, and consequences to actions within the garden. To get some ideas, read these sample community garden rules.

**Friends, have you considered utilizing or starting your own community garden within your neighborhood? 


About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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And the Humble Deed Goes To… Oliver’s Garden Project!

April 26th, 2012

We are excited to share a new feature on our blog we’re calling “Humble Deeds.” These posts will highlight those who take part in special projects related to individual or community gardening, and/or an effort that helps promote more sustainable living.  The first family we’d like to recognize for a Humble Deed established their own backyard community garden, with a goal of donating the proceeds to local youth charities.  This task would be a challenge for anyone, yet the striking part is… an exceptional six-year-old came up with the idea! Learn more about Oliver’s Garden Project below!

They are not only growing vegetables, they are growing adults.

Oliver’s Garden Project is a children’s based initiative that promotes growing organic vegetables in your yard and sharing the excess.  Sales of the vegetables go to local youth charities.

Oliver’s Garden Project was started because a six-year-old boy named Oliver wanted to help kids that may not have what they need in terms of food or clothes. It began when Oliver and his mother Stacey were driving, and he spotted two young boys digging through some curbside recycling bins. He asked his mother what they were doing, and Stacey responded, “perhaps they need to return bottles for cash in order to get what they need.” Oliver replied, “no kids should be hungry, we are good people and I want to sell our veggies and give the money to kids in our community.”

They were already growing vegetables in their backyard with the intent to sell and use the money for a family trip. But Oliver convinced them otherwise! With the help of his five-year-old sister Piper, Oliver’s Garden Project was born.

The family trip is still postponed.

They created their handmade vegetable stand and started selling on their front lawn. They sold tomatoes, peppers and basil, and 100% of vegetable sales went to local youth charities. Piper acted as ‘Veggie Stand PR’ and brought in the passers by, while Oliver was answering questions and in charge of the donation jar. His mother blogged about the experience and also shared information on Twitter and on Facebook. It snowballed from there.

The family also had the wonderful support of their neighbors, family and friends, and felt privileged to sell their wares at the Ottawa Street Market. Shortly after, The Hamilton Community Garden Network(HCGN) got in touch with them, and before they knew it they were entered into the Gardens For Good contest through Nature’s Path Organic Foods.  Clare Wagner of HCGN and Stacey met and devised a proposal to submit, which would then be evaluated on a voting system. The ending results were for one Canadian and two American projects to each win a $20,000 grant. Oliver’s family won the top voted idea for Canada!

Now with HCGN and Clare’s help, they are going to continue their project throughout their neighborhood. They now have five families that will have their yard transformed into an urban organic vegetable garden. In turn, what they don’t eat themselves they will share with family, friends or neighbors. They will have a Harvest Fundraiser at the end of the season to sell their vegetables and give the proceeds to local youth charities.

They plan to have tool sharing, seedlings, workshops, consultations and garden supplies available to the five families.  The public is also welcome to utilize the workshops and tool sharing available. They believe that teaching their children the importance of growing their own food, enjoying it and sharing it is an experience that will last them a lifetime.  The family suggests that we all need to get back to basics, feel the pride of producing our own food, and keep it local.

They appreciate any support in keeping this project sustainable. Their future goals include building a greenhouse to have year round access to fresh produce, to continue educating youth, and to create more community gardens.  Donations can be made through their website, .

Oliver and his family thanks you for taking the time to learn about Oliver’s Garden Project. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@OliversGProject).

Are you currently involved in a gardening project that contributes to the community and/or promotes a more sustainable lifestyle? Submit your ideas directly to us on Facebook or write to us at!


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Gardens that Heal: Two Botanical Gardens Reach Out To Their Communities

January 29th, 2012

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “All my hurts my garden spade can heal.”  Two extraordinary Botanical Gardens are using this idea to make a big difference in their communities.  They have created programs using nature related activities to improve the well being of those that need it most, and have inspired other organizations to partner with them so that people of all ages and abilities can blossom within a garden.

 Toledo Botanical Gardens: Toledo GROWs

If you ever visit Northwest Ohio, you’ll notice the beautiful lakes and may perhaps sample some of the local Midwest food.  But many do not plan on running into any of the 50-plus community gardens organized by Toledo Botanical Gardens of Toledo, Ohio.  TBG hosts Toledo GROWs, a community outreach program with an aim of offering organizational resources and technical assistance that help cultivate and sustain community gardening projects all throughout Northwestern Ohio.

You may know that community gardens help beautify neighborhoods and provide nutritious food for its members.  What also makes this organization so special are the partnerships that have formed to help sustain each of these local gardens.  Toledo GROWs has created a safe haven and therapeutic experience for at-risk youth, seniors, those with disabilities and families who want to provide a valuable service for their neighborhood.

A shining example of this is when Toledo GROWs partnered with the Lucas County Juvenile Justice System, and provided 100 adjudicated youth with paid employment, a place to learn new skills and gain work experience, and the chance to connect with positive mentors. Other youth-centered farms organized by Toledo GROWs are equipped with greenhouses, chicken coops, orchards, rain gardens, beekeeping and training centers, and are sustained with the help of children and teens.

 Tucson Botanical Gardens: Horticulture Therapy Program

Located in Southern Arizona, Tucson Botanical Gardens was once a charming family home with an extraordinary garden in the late 1920’s.  It is now an organization that offers more than just the beauty of its 5 acres of varying gardens and exhibits.  Juliet, the Horticulture Therapist along with trained docents and volunteers have worked with more than 40 different schools and agencies to serve seniors and children with disabilities throughout Tucson. Once a program started by a docent in 1983, the Horticulture Therapy Program maintains the belief that “persons working in the garden and greenhouse become calmer and more focused, need less medication and are more receptive to therapy” after becoming involved in horticulture therapy.

Members of the program work onsite at the Botanical Gardens performing seasonal maintenance duties from planting to harvesting the gardens’ fruits, vegetables and herbs.  Furthermore, high school students have opportunities to earn internships offsite at neighboring farms and gardens to further their gardening knowledge and provide a service for their community.  Juliet feels that there is a real need for these types of programs in her community, as those with special needs not only learn about gardening, but are also taught invaluable skills like responsibility and proper socialization.  When she sees children with behavioral issues switch gears and maintain a clear focus and excitement for building and maintaining a garden, it’s certain that the healing powers of the garden is something difficult to replicate.

 Do you feel your own garden has served you or others in a therapeutic way? Share your experience! 


About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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