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8 Ways to Join the Local Food Movement :: Start a Community Garden

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Photo by Liz Deane
Photo by Liz Deane

Start a Community Garden

Start by calling a meeting (or better yet, a potluck) to decide what kind of garden you want, what locations might work, and how to manage plots.

Identify possible sites. Look for land that gets plenty of sunlight, has a water source, is convenient to get to, and is free of soil contamination. You could consider combining back yards if several neighbors are involved.

Identify the owner of the land and negotiate a lease long enough to make it worth building the soil and the community involvement. Invite immediate neighbors to join.

Test the soil for nutrient levels and contaminants. Clean the site, mark plots with gardeners’ names, and, if possible, include on-site storage for tools and equipment. Also designate a spot for compost.

When the first planting season comes around, consider hiring someone to turn the earth, or throw a work party to build raised beds.

Meet now and then with your fellow gardeners to swap seeds and seedlings, advice, and produce, and to resolve any difficulties. Have potlucks to enjoy the harvest.

For more ideas, including sample bylaws and insurance policies, go to

Sarah van Gelder, Anne Lovejoy, Kim Nochi, and Heather Purser wrote pieces for this article as part of Food for Everyone, the Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Sarah is the Executive Editor of YES! Magazine. Photo of Sarah van Gelder
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