To be an active member of your community is to show your citizenship and support for your area, to be involved in a respectable cause, to give back to your local roots and to strengthen your relationships with neighbors all at the same time. Community gardens, in particular, are an exceptional way in which you can become active in your community, all for a sustainable cause.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about how to start a community garden, how to get a grant for one and details about careers, rules, designs, routing and dorms in relation to them. Also, we will answer the following questions:

  • What exactly are garden communities and what does community gardening imply?
  • What are the benefits of community gardens?
  • How can you design a proposal for community garden grants and get one started in your urban area?
community gardens work photo

Taking care of a community garden

What Are Community Gardens?

A simple definition for community gardening involves a plot of land that is taken care of by a group of individuals through gardening. It may sound pretty basic at first, but there are more advantages than you probably would have imagined.

Before we get into the benefits of community gardens, let’s get more into the objective of such a collective garden to understand why garden communities have become ever more popular in recent years.

Garden communities like the Grove or Kew project, Atlanta Community Food Bank or Sunshine Community Gardens are all ways in which you can take part in this form of collective activity. They can be found all across the United States, from Palm Beach to San Francisco, from NYC to Los Angeles and in basically every larger city center in each state.

The reasons for starting a community garden are various, depending on the types of plants that are grown there. For instance, flower community gardening aims to offer a safe, productive and creative activity for neighbors to engage in together.

On the other hand, community garden grants can be accessed for growing local, organic produce for members of the neighborhood. This means that residents can grow their very own vegetables and fruit with the help of a community garden and even share with their close ones. In this regard, community gardens can be either open or close gated, depending on the in-house rules.

Even more so, solar community gardens have been established in states like Florida, California, Colorado, Utah or Massachusetts for tax benefits and sustainability.

Benefits of Community Gardens

If you are interested in learning how to start a community garden or if you want to participate in one in your area, you should be aware of the countless benefits it offers. They all cover a wide range of areas on both personal and collective levels, from bringing neighbors together, to reducing crime in the community, to supporting mental health and producing organic food.

Just a few of the numerous benefits of community gardens are:

  • Increasing the local economy through community farming
  • Promoting a healthy lifestyle and diet with fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Lowering the crime rates in neighborhoods that are usually tensioned
  • Encouraging cultural exchange among ethnically diverse members of a community
  • Beautifying otherwise empty areas of the neighborhood
  • Supporting education for the local youth
  • Promoting sustainability starting from a local level

These are only a handful of the benefits of community gardens and how they can bring positive change to a community. If you add all of these benefits in one place, you get a stronger, more involved and passionate community that brings their contribution to making the world a better place.

community garden work for the whole family photo

Working at a community garden with the entire family.

How to Start a Community Garden

Starting up a community garden is similar to establishing a non-profit organization, but on a smaller level. To do so, you need to be aware that you will need the help and support of several other neighbors, as the process can be a lot for just one individual.

The first basic steps of founding a community garden are:

Search for partners: Like we previously mentioned, you need to form a team so you can start a collective garden in your community. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors about the idea of beginning a community garden in your area and see who would like to get involved in the process.

Decide on the kind of garden: After you have put together a community garden team, you can start discussing what type of garden you want your community to enjoy. Would a simple flower garden be enough to beautify your neighborhood? Does your community lack fresh, locally-grown, organic fruits and vegetables? Identify the needs of your community and see how a collective garden could meet them.

Seek out sponsors: While many community gardens rely on membership to sustain the project, sometimes the costs can be a bit overwhelming and require the support of a sponsor. Reach out to your local institutions and organizations to present your community garden project. As an alternative, you can look into community garden grants available for your project.

Find a site: Choose the perfect place in your community for developing the garden. It should be spacious enough for multiple members to take part in, as the community garden will expand in time. Set up the area, write down rules and get your community garden blossoming in no time!

Community Garden Grants

Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can access community garden grants for your neighborhood project. The official website of the American Community Gardening Association provides a lengthy list of grants, sponsorships and partnerships for setting up a community garden.

See what options you have available in your area and take your community garden project to the next level to give back to your neighborhood.

No matter if you choose to get involved in your community through your local hospital, church, association, council, credit institution (like Velocity Community Credit), golf club, library / bookstore, college or community gardens, you will be carrying out an act of kindness and care for your peers.

Image sources: 1, 2.

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