Community gardens bring neighbours together
Community gardens are an amazing way for neighbours of all ages and backgrounds to work on a project together. Community gardens can be created anywhere so long as you have the landowner’s permission.
Benefits of a community garden
Community gardens can be used in several ways including planting flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs. They also:
- Provide a community resource for fresh produce
- Help reduce food waste
- Promote an active lifestyle for mental and physical health
- Create a gathering place for your neighbours that can kickstart other great placemaking
- Share knowledge and pass on skills
- Foster community spirit and build a safe and welcoming community
There are some important considerations to make when starting a community garden.
Find your tribe
As the name suggests, a community garden requires just that, a community. It’s important to remember that you can’t do it all. We recommend finding two or three other likeminded community members who can help put in the mahi to get your garden up and running, and most importantly maintain it over time.
Make a plan
It’s critical to the success of your community garden that you’ve got a plan for upkeep.
First, decide on a purpose for your garden. Will you be growing produce for your community? How much? Will you be looking to donate your crop to a local food rescue? Your purpose will determine how big your garden will be.
Then consider how much time and attention your garden will need and how you’ll go about providing that.
Once that’s been decided you can start planning – where will your garden be? What will you grow? What tools and facilities will you need? What other considerations are there?
No doubt there will be some green thumbs in your community, it’s just a matter of finding them. Start by presenting at local community meetings, create a Facebook page, join Environment Network Manawatū’s community garden directory and make a club listing on Club Sandwich Palmy.
Find a plot
A community garden doesn’t require a farm or even large plot, in fact some of the best community gardens are in the most unexpected places. Don’t be afraid to get creative but there are some things to consider.
You'll need the landowner’s permission to set up your garden. Try reaching out to your local community hall, school, church, playgroup or even us! If you spy a piece of Council land, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you have a piece land agreed upon, make sure you get written confirmation of the landowner’s permission.
Location, location, location
Finding a spot for your community garden is much like buying a house – there are some non-negotiables.
- Is it easily accessible?
- Is it big enough?
- Can your community access it (if that’s your purpose)?
- Is it safe? i.e. not near major roads or hazards.
- Do you have access to facilities? i.e. bathrooms.
- Do you have easy access to water?
- Does it get enough sunlight?
- How is the soil quality?
Make sure you run through your checklist of requirements before putting up the sold sign.
Dollars and cents
Overall, thanks to your volunteer army you can run a community garden relatively cheaply, however there will likely be an upfront cost to get going.
Some cost considerations include:
- Water: If you don't have ready access to water, then your group will have to pay to establish a water service connection
- Tools: Your members will likely BYO but its handy to have some spares. Search second hand for items like spades, wheelbarrows, rakes, and trowels.
- Seeds and seedlings
- A garden shed or storage facility (if required)
A fundraiser will get you started and you can also apply to Environment Network Manawatū’s Environmental Initiatives Fund.
How Council can help
We can support your community garden by helping you with:
- Site selection.
- Looking at whether your objectives meet an existing group nearby or whether there is a gap that your group can fill.
- Advice on consulting with neighbours and building wider support from the community to help chip in.
- Where you can find allies for resources and skills – Manawatū Food Action has a collective wealth of contacts and knowledge that you can lean on.
- Help with going through any regulatory processes if they are triggered, like the Reserves Act, District Plan, and Water Supply Bylaw.
- In-kind support for fruit trees and compost, subject to demand from the community each year.