What will make a community garden successful? As we make the Bragg Hill Garden the best it can possibly be, lets keep in mind this advice from established gardens. Research and the experiences of established gardeners show that the following characteristics are crucial to a thriving community gardens.
- Community Leadership: whether elected or appointed, having the leadership consist of members of the community that are invested and committed to the garden’s success is important to making sure that it stays maintained.
- “The strongest gardens have the most involved coordinators. One of our coordinators sends a weekly email update thanking people for doing certain tasks, They keep everyone informed and involved. They sometimes hold potlucks so people meet each other. This all helps to build a sense of community in the garden.” – Kirk Jones, Project Grow
- Realistic Goals: being too ambitious will spread people’s energy thin. Starting modestly and branching out once there is increased enthusiasm and more hands to work on the garden is better than starting with a gazebo, a pollinator garden, an orchard, and several plots all at once and being unable to maintain it all.
- Community Space: having herbs and flowers in shared spaces can make the garden a nicer place to go, as well as having picnic benches and a place to sit in the shade. Features like these can make the garden a space people want to go.
- Enforced Management System: most community gardens will have a long waitlist. It’s important to have a system in place where gardeners are called and warned if they need to fix a neglected plot. If that fails, neglected plots should be transferred to an interested person to avoid the spread of weeds and keep the garden active.
- Guidance: Have people and resources available, as well as a phone number and email, that novice gardeners can reach out to if things go wrong or they are unsure of what to do. This will help prevent people from giving up because they are uncertain with what they are doing or disappointed with the results of their work.
- Stay Organized: Determine how beds are numbered, track who is assigned to what plot, have contact information on hand for everyone, make sure people have paid, and have clear rules for conduct and plot ownership in the garden. This will minimize complications down the line.