Try Community Gardening

You and other "would be" urban and suburban vegetable growers can get your start at community gardening with help from organizations like the National Gardening Association.

| March/April 1980

When the winter's snow has melted back to a few gritty gray piles on the street corner and the first crocuses show bright green in front of the porch, a lot of folks turn their thoughts toward putting in a garden. Unfortunately, many people who'd love to raise their own vegetables are—because of a lack of available growing space—unable to do so.

However, over one million Americans have already solved the exact same problem ... through community gardening! Such groups of vegetable raisers simply share adjacent growing plots on otherwise unused public or private land, and the crop coalitions often obtain their "growing privileges" for free!

You can found a community garden where you live, too. All it takes is a bit of organizational know-how and some enthusiasm. Of course, it'll be up to you (or to someone you know) to provide the "sparkplugging" energy for such a project ... but a group called the National Gardening Association can readily supply all the "how to do it" information you'll ever need.

The dedicated organization has helped dozens of successful community growers from Boston to San Jose. And the NGA folks—who know scads of useful "inside tips" and "pitfalls to avoid"—have freely offered to share their hard-earned knowledge with MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readers.

The Coordinator Is the Cornerstone

According to the "vegetable veterans" at the National Gardening Association , successful community gardens are most often created by one live wire person. So the first step in starting your own group growing project is to find—or become—someone who understands gardening, has the get-up-and-go to do the necessary groundwork, and possesses the dedication to see the project through. Remember, though, that any coordinator will need the volunteer assistance of some reliable staffers. 

Find the Land

Locating a piece of real estate on which to establish your gardens will likely be a matter of keeping your eyes open. Vacant lots, church or school property, factory yards, cemeteries, industrial parks, apartment grounds, utility right-of-way land, unused farmland, and corners of public parks should all be looked upon as potential crop-raising territory. Just scout around. You'll be surprised how easy it is to find available "vegetable heavens."

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