Community gardens are gardens that more than one family plants, weeds and harvests together. They were called Victory or war gardens in the past because they were planted when the country was at war and helped provide food for Americans. Rising grocery prices,recalls and health and environmental concerns have brought them back. Does a community garden fit rural and small towns? Like a gardeners glove!
Preliminary steps for a community garden.
Find interested people and hold a meeting. Decide where the garden will be located. If there will be 1 large garden or several small ones. Will it be organic or will you use pesticides and herbicides. Do you have to "rent" the space or is it donated? Does the garden plot have access to water and parking? Decide how you will charge people. Will you set a fee that includes the space, the plants and seeds or will someone donate you these things. Some community businesses might donate money towards a project like this.
Who's in charge of your community garden?
There has to be someone that has oversight of the entire project. This person needs to know how to delegate work. They will need to have phone numbers of all participants.
Fertilizer. This is no small job because gardens need fertilizer to be bountiful. This person should check with farmers in the area who have ready access to manure. Many will gladly give you all you need for free.
Insects/Bugs/Diseases. This overseer has to know what bugs to look for on certain plants. They also should recognize diseases early. For this job, someone with gardening experience is needed. Whether your community garden is grown organically or not will make a huge difference in how insects, bugs and diseases are tackled.
Weeds. Weed control is essential for great producing gardens. Whether or not your garden is organic will again play a huge role in how this person tackles weeds. Here is an article using newspapers to fight weeds.
Harvesting. This person should have some experience in when a vegetable is "ready" to be harvested. For instance, green beans should be picked when young, firm and tender. If you let them go past this stage they get rubbery and don't preserve as well.
Freezing and Canning. I think there should be people ready to either freeze or pressure can the vegetables when they ripen. Many would love to have this produce to eat in the winter and several people working together make short work of such tasks.
Ordering plants/seeds. Decide whether or not to use "heritage" plants and seeds that can be gathered back from the plant at the end of the growing season to be used to plant next years garden. Example: Tomato seeds retrieved from a tomato, thoroughly dried and stored can be planted next year. Many seed companies have taken this ability away. Search heritage garden seeds or non GMO seeds on the Internet for great information. The seeds and plants should be ordered or bought with your areas climate and weather zone in mind.
Planting. This person should have experience in what seeds should be planted first. They should have knowledge of when the last frost takes place in your area. Also what vegetables like each other and which vegetables hinder another vegetable from producing. Rotating vegetables from year to year is important too. Can tomatoes follow potatoes?
Planting a community garden in a small town can be a rewarding experience. It can also feed a lot of people healthy food.