No yard to plant a vegetable or flower garden? No problem! Band together with neighbors to turn an unused tract of land into a shared garden of Eden.
Step 1: Find participants Organize a meeting of friends and neighbors who are interested in starting a community garden.
Step 2: Choose a type of garden Decide whether you want a vegetable garden, a flower garden, or a combination thereof; whether or not it will be organic; and if each member will have their own plot or you'll work the land together. Discuss whether to approach local businesses to sponsor or donate seeds, gardening tools, and so on.
Step 3: Scout sites Find a site with a water source and, if you're growing vegetables, at least six full hours of sunlight daily. Approach the owner about using or leasing the property.
TIP: Many landowners require that you pay for liability insurance.
Step 4: Set some ground rules Set some ground rules, like maintenance of common areas and what happens if a member neglects or abandons their plot. Restrict members from planting tall crops that will block a neighboring plot's shade.
Step 5: Prepare the land Test the soil to see what nutrients it might need; kits are available at gardening centers. Then get everyone together to clean, fertilize, and till the site. Mark plots clearly with each gardener's name. Include a common compost area.
TIP: Plant flower beds around the perimeter of vegetable gardens to promote good will with neighbors.
Step 6: Share your bounty Enjoy your bounty! Have a bumper crop of vegetables? Share your harvest with a local food bank or sell them at a farmer's market. That way, even more people can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
FACT: Three of the easiest vegetables to grow organically are beets, chard, and crookneck squash.