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Our Community Garden

Updated on March 14, 2015

Gardening in Community - It's a Good Thing!

Public land sits vacant while people living in the neighborhood go to a store to buy overpriced, under-flavored vegetables that have been shipped in from somewhere far away. Doesn't it feel like there's something wrong with this picture?

But if a group of people organize a community garden on that piece of property, so many wonderful things happen. The land becomes productive. Families become a little more self-sufficient. One or two less vehicles have to use up fossil fuel to transport vegetables from great distances. And bonds are forged between people who might never have met any other way.

We're delighted to be part of the community garden movement, and I'm glad to be able to use this lens to tell you about it.

Image credit: Author's photo

Garden Plots
Garden Plots

Discovering Community Gardening

Before we moved to our condo, we lived on almost an acre of land. Well aware of what a blessing this was, we practiced edible landscaping and small scale vegetable gardening. So as much as we love our new home, we missed being able to go to the garden and pick vegetables for dinner and herbs for tea and seasoning.

Then we discovered our local community garden. For a $20 annual fee, we could have a plot of land to grow vegetables. We could frame it, put up a fence and trellises, and play with it as much as we wanted. Organic methods are required, which suits us perfectly, so there is no worry about chemicals nearby. The assets are exciting. A local company donates mushroom compost, there is a huge unheated greenhouse to start seeds in, tools and wheelbarrows are freely available, as are well water, hoses, lawnmowers and a rototiller.

In return for all this wonderfulness, we are required to give back six hours of community labor. This includes things like mowing the lawns, trimming the paths, cleaning the washrooms, or projects such as painting the goat shed, and tending the additional community patches - strawberries, potatoes, squash and pumpkin, corn, rhubarb and herbs.

Image Credit: Author's Photo

Our Grid Garden

If I had a larger allotment, I'd make four-foot beds just like the square foot gardening method. But since our garden plot is 10' x 20', I can't afford to give the space to paths. The next best choice is to go with a grid garden. Each raised bed is 4' x 20'. The plan shows how many plants can be successfully grown in each section. As you can see, it's a lot.

I found a handy little online program that lets you plan your garden with no fuss. Spacing is determined by the optimum amount of room each vegetable needs to thrive. You can fit more radishes in a square foot than beets - the planner does it perfectly. I think you'll enjoy playing with kitchen garden layouts, so here is the link for you to try it: Kitchen Garden Planner

Improve Your Gardening Comfort - with these products from Amazon

Gardening can be pain-free. These products are all designed to help you get the maximum enjoyment, performance and comfort from the time you spend in your yard or vegetable plot.

Garden Neighbors
Garden Neighbors

Learning by Sharing

I had never tasted fennel. I was fascinated by it's beautiful greenery and delighted when its owner offered me a plant to cook. Gardeners enjoy sharing knowledge and produce. When someone asked me about the large, odd vegetable that was growing prolifically in my plot, they went home with a rutabaga to try.

Wandering through the garden and visiting with other gardeners is great fun, and it's educational as well. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a black radish, or that it's very common in Europe. I didn't know what traditional African vegetables were, or how many ways you can cook kale, until some of my generous garden neighbors explained it to me.

There's always something fascinating going on in the garden.

Image Credit: Author's Photo

Goats Eat Brambles
Goats Eat Brambles

The Garden Goats

Apparently goats love to eat blackberries - the brambles, that is. The local agriculture experts tell me that if goats eat the leaves off of the brambles two years in a row, the vines will die. If you've ever experienced an invasion of wild blackberries, you know that's good news.

We have two resident goats who spend their days in a pen on the hillside, keeping the brambles under control. At night they sleep in a cozy goat shed on the property. Volunteers help their owner see to their care and comfort.

Image Credit: Author's Photo

cottontail rabbit
cottontail rabbit

The Garden Rabbits

Rabbits love blackberries too, but for different reasons. Can you think of a better bunny paradise? Thickets of brambles to hide in, a perimeter fence to keep out coyotes, and all the fresh food any rabbit could ever want.

So cottontails thrive here, and the gardeners all admire each others' fences, and share tips on the best ways to foil the furry foragers.

Image Credit: Author's Photo

Killdeer at the Community Garden
Killdeer at the Community Garden

The Garden Birds

Robins, red-winged blackbirds and herons all call the community garden their home. So do these two killdeers. Their name calling is a familiar sound. Since they lay their eggs on the ground, they have to work very hard at decoying people away from the danger zone. You see them running across the ground just far enough out of reach to keep you interested as you are led to a safer place.

Image Credit: Author's Photo

What Is a Community Garden All About?

The Beauty of Our Community Garden - Food for the body and food for the eyes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Red fingerling potatoes, newly harvestedBountiful zucchini gives so many giftsA Japanese ladybug strolls on the cornPurple amaranth sways in the breezeOnion flowers make a stunning displayProlific pole beans reach to the skyFeathery fennel grows in a gridArtichokes are not only fascinating, but deliciousHealthy and prolific bean plantsA beautiful cosmos flower - delightful
Red fingerling potatoes, newly harvested
Red fingerling potatoes, newly harvested
Bountiful zucchini gives so many gifts
Bountiful zucchini gives so many gifts
A Japanese ladybug strolls on the corn
A Japanese ladybug strolls on the corn
Purple amaranth sways in the breeze
Purple amaranth sways in the breeze
Onion flowers make a stunning display
Onion flowers make a stunning display
Prolific pole beans reach to the sky
Prolific pole beans reach to the sky
Feathery fennel grows in a grid
Feathery fennel grows in a grid
Artichokes are not only fascinating, but delicious
Artichokes are not only fascinating, but delicious
Healthy and prolific bean plants
Healthy and prolific bean plants
A beautiful cosmos flower - delightful
A beautiful cosmos flower - delightful
Gigantic Compost Bin
Gigantic Compost Bin

Community Composting

One hundred and thirty plots produce a lot of weeds, trimmings and spent plants. Since we are an organic garden, we think of this as rich raw material for next year's produce. A gigantic concrete compost bunker sits front and center. As we're working in our plots, we fill wheelbarrows with vegetative waste to add to the composter. Every couple of weeks, a volunteer uses a loader to turn the compost pile and tidy it up.

We also have a huge pile of mushroom manure that has kindly been donated by a local mushroom farm. A few weeks after delivery, the composting process is fully working and it's quite amazing to see the steam that rises when we dig into the pile. We keep the wheelbarrows busy as we enrich our soil with the organic matter and nutrients found in mushroom compost.

Image Credit: Author's Photo

Composting Is Not Rocket Science - Step-by-step instructions for successful organic composting

by the nonprofit group Kitchen Gardeners International

Young Gardener
Young Gardener

Passing on the Passion

Learning where food comes from ...

One very important reason to have a garden is to teach the next generation about the miracle of how we get our food. They need to experience the joy that comes from working on the land, seeing the soil teem with life, planting seeds and watching vegetables develop. Who could imagine that there are so many varieties of food hidden in such tiny, unlikely vessels?

The wonder of growth ...

The satisfaction of tasting freshly picked food ...

Gratitude for the harvest ...

It's something every child should have a chance to experience.

Image Credit: Author's Photo

Our Community Garden
Our Community Garden

All the pictures in this lens have been photographed by the author.

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    • brendasue311 profile image

      brendasue311 3 years ago

      So amazing! I wish our city had one of these. I wonder what it would take to start one? I talk to the mayor quite a bit, I should ask him what he thinks. Thanks so much for sharing your amazing garden. How nice it is to meet new people, I imagine you have made all kinds of new friends in the garden.

    • PatioLawnGardens profile image

      PatioLawnGardens 3 years ago

      This is an awesome community project. I really like this lens and the concepts behind it. Great job of combining images with text to bring us the feel of what you're doing there.

    • DougB101 profile image

      DougB101 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your ideas. We live on 1.25 acres in Florida and have started container gardening growing veggies. Your idea of a Community Garden, especially for folks living in a Condo or where there is an HOA is really wonderful.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I wish I can be part of a community garden but we don't have it here.

    • Art-Aspirations profile image
      Author

      Art-Aspirations 4 years ago

      @sallemange: It sounds wonderful, and highly cooperative. I'd love to see it (or at least some photos).

    • sallemange profile image

      sallemange 4 years ago

      I live in Upper Saxondale near Nottingham in the UK and we have created a community Forest Garden. It is a little less formal than an allotment and provides fruit and vegetables for our immediate community of some 300 homes and anyone else who cares to visit. We also have a new community orchard which was planted last year. The effect on the community has been very positive with people coming together to design and plant the scheme and then enjoy the space and its produce. I recommend community gardening to everyone.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Our community garden is right across the road from us. We don't use it as we have our own yard and garden plot but it is nice to see so many people being able to make use of the gardens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We have a huge community garden in the area. Some of my friends keep their garden there, and and enjoy it very much. It a great idea, and I just might take part in it some day. I love how your community works together, and your lens is lovely. :) Blessed!

    • Mariajomith profile image

      maria 5 years ago

      what a great idea, i love it

    • MermaidDoc profile image

      MermaidDoc 5 years ago

      What a wonderful lens; I'm lucky enough to live on acreage so have a big garden, but this is a great way for folks that don't have dirt to dig in to be able to grow fresh fruits and veges!

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

      Your lens is great; I've featured it on mine: http://www.squidoo.com/too-many-men-in-a-residenti... Thanks for sharing!

    • caffimages profile image

      caffimages 5 years ago

      What a great lens and enterprise! Moreplaces like this would be good for eneryone.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I would never think to do this. What a wonderful idea. And what a well kept garden. Very nice.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 5 years ago from Australia

      Sounds like a fabulous set up that you have, a win - win situation.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Three cheers for community gardens. They do so much good for the community, far beyond even the lovely harvest!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I wish every city, large and small, had community gardens. What a wonderful initiative. Loved learning more about your gardening experience. There is no comparison when it comes to fresh, homegrown food. Plant local. Grow local. Eat local. It's the healthiest option.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 5 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      What a great idea to have a community garden and an awesome job on this lens! It needs a Purple Star :) Many blessings to you!

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      I think community gardens are a wonderful idea. I love close to farmers markets and buy from them whenever I can. There is no comparison to the taste of veggies and fruit right from the garden.