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Community Gardening Toolkit

Questions to ask

To address at an initial meeting

  • What type of community garden does the group want to create? Will space be divided and gardened by individuals and families, will it be gardened collectively by the group, or a combination of both? Will it take some other form?
  • What is the purpose of the garden?
  • Who will the garden serve?
  • Is land available for a garden?
  • What are some of the resources needed for a garden? Can gardeners provide their own resources or will the group need to locate and provide some of them?
  • How much gardening experience does the group have?
  • Are there individuals or organizations willing to provide materials and expertise?
  • Will there be a fee charged to gardeners to cover expenses? Will there be a sliding scale?
  • How much time (hours per week) can group members commit to the project?
  • How will other people and organizations know about the group and the garden?
  • Who is willing to serve on a garden leadership team?
  • What is the best way for the group to stay in touch?
  • Should the group proceed with finding and evaluating land for a garden? If the answer is yes, then ask for volunteers to work on Step 3 and Step 4.
  • When should the next meeting take place?

To evaluate potential garden sites

  • If you want to grow fruits and vegetables, does the site get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day during the spring, summer and fall?
  • Does the site have access to water?
  • How big is the site? Does it have enough room to accommodate the number of interested gardeners you've identified and additional gardeners who may want a garden plot?
  • Is the site relatively flat?
  • How close is the garden to the people who plan to use it? Ideally, gardeners should be able to walk or drive a short distance to the garden.
  • Is the site visible? A visible site will be safer and attract more neighborhood support.
  • Is the site fenced?
  • Can a truck gain access to the lot?
  • How was the site used in the past? Do you suspect that the soil may be contaminated? Some urban soils may be poor and contain large amounts of rubble. These sites may require raised beds and fresh soil.
  • Can you sample the soil to check its quality and obtain a soil test for nutrients and heavy metals prior to entering into any agreement with a landowner?
  • What is the present use of the land? What is the lot's history? Does it currently attract loitering, dumping or drug dealing? Do neighborhood youth use the land for recreation? Consider these present uses and the feasibility of altering the function of the site.
  • Can you determine who owns the lot? Often, if you know the address of the potential site you can go to your county tax assessor's office or website to find the property owner.

To identify local resources needed

  • Does the group have access to tools and other gardening equipment?
  • Will the garden need to be plowed or tilled or can the soil be turned by hand? Is no-till gardening and option?
  • Is compost and mulch available?
  • Will the group provide seeds and transplants?
  • Will the group need a shed for storing tools?
  • Will the site need to be fenced?
  • Will the site need to be cleaned? How will trash, branches, etc., be removed?
  • Will trees need to be trimmed?
  • Will the site need to be mowed on a regular basis?
  • Will the garden and group need to carry liability insurance?
  • Are there existing community gardens in your area that you can learn from?
  • Are Master Gardeners or others available to share their gardening expertise?
  • Are community organizers available to help facilitate the group's process?
  • Are local government departments, nonprofit agencies or businesses willing to sponsor the garden, make donations or lend other types of support?

MP906, new April 2009

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MP906 Community Gardening Toolkit | Page 3 | University of Missouri Extension