Community gardens are recognized and celebrated for their power to build community beyond the garden gate. The American Community Gardening Association’s publication Cultivating Community (Payne and Fryman, 2001) is a recommended resource for gardens ready to expand involvement in social justice, community-based development, and local food security.
Form a Citizen-Based Community Garden Advisory Board
The experience gained in a successful community food garden can be invaluable to others who want to start a garden or make an existing garden stronger. Volunteer to serve on a citizen-based advisory and resource board for community gardening, if one already exists, and encourage interested gardeners to do the same. If your community lacks an umbrella organization to support community gardening, consider forming one with the garden team as host and sponsor and gardeners taking leadership roles.
A citizen group is especially valuable for working toward the creation of public policy that clearly supports community gardens. Public policy can be as simple as ensuring that park master plans include community gardens on park maps and state official support for them in documents. Introducing a resolution supporting community gardens to the city council or county commissioners is another way to influence policy. At the state-wide level, Vermont is a leader in this area.
Create a Garden-Based Non-Profit
The garden may want to form a non-profit community garden association to make garden decisions and raise funds to purchase the garden site outright. Starting a non-profit is a big step that demands a high level of organization and commitment. It should be discussed thoroughly and carefully planned . The group will need to elect customary officers, such as president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer, and enlist a committed board of directors from the larger community. Some community food gardens have successfully used this option to establish long-term stability.
Join Regional and National Organizations
Like politics, all gardening is local, something doubly true for community gardening. Regional and national organizations, however, can be invaluable sources of networking, support, resources, and ideas.
In North Carolina, the NC Community Garden Partners website features a directory of community gardens around the state as well as a host of other resources, including information on workshops and conferences. NC State University hosts an email listserv connecting community gardeners. To sign up for this listserv, learn more, and and access digital copies of the publications, How to Organize a Community Garden and Growing Communities through Gardens, visit NC State Extension’s Community Gardens website.
At the national level, the non-profit American Community Gardening Association has been working with community gardening for over a quarter-century. Visit their website to access a wealth of resources, and their annual conference is an excellent way to meet other community gardeners and share ideas.
Publication date: Aug. 10, 2017
Other Publications in Collard Greens and Common Ground: A North Carolina Community Food Gardening Handbook
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