There are a lot of different ways to fund a community garden, and to keep it running. One of the most common ways to fund a garden if you have an allotment or a neighborhood garden is through rental fees. Each one of the individual gardeners or garden families pays a rental fee for their plot. It may not be a huge fee, just a nominal fee, but it helps cover some of the expenses such as the tilling and the water bill. It’s OK to charge that expense to those gardeners because most gardens have found that when the gardeners invest a little bit of themselves physically and monetarily, they’re more likely to follow through and protect that investment. So, that’s a fair way to help pay for some of those expenses.
You might also have some assistance from the local organization that is hosting the garden. For instance, if you’re working on a church ground, or perhaps on a community center, they may be able to help you with some of the expenses. They may be willing to help offset the water bill, or share some of those expenses. They might be able to help you with some of the initial expenses such as fencing, or running the water lines, if it’s on their property.
A lot of the community gardens are hosted by a public agency. They might be on city or county grounds. Again, some of those hosting local government groups may be willing to offset some of the water bill or help you get started. They’ve found that some of that space is ground that they were going to have to maintain anyway. They would have had some expenses in mowing and upkeep, and it balances itself out. They find it to be a benefit to the community and that it makes their community a better place to live.
Various groups have worked on grants where they may get a grant for helping put in some compost bins, or some picnic tables, or some of those types of things. They might get donations in kind that some of their gardeners, the neighbors, or some business in town might help them with tilling a couple of times of year. They could be in-kind donations, or they could give monetary donations, gifts of tools, seeds, and other types of things.
The Sedgwick County Extension office was a great collaborator with us. We knew we wanted a garden in this neighborhood. And, Father Gerome at St. Patrick’s, said that we could use this plot. It had a house on it at one time, and they didn’t know what to do with the land. He was tired of people throwing trash in it. So, the first thing we had to do was to get it cleaned up. We had some volunteers that cleaned up all the boards and trash that was lying around. Then, we had two volunteers from a construction company run a tractor and a plow through here, and till it up.
We have our well back here. A fellow who runs a company that drills wells donated all of his equipment. Our electric bill is only $25.00 a month. It’s awesome. We applied for a small scholarship and received some nutrients to add to the soil. And, we got a load of composted horse manure for the garden.
We plan to have a compost bin for the garden. We wanted to have a nice big one so that we have plenty of room to rotate properly. We talked to Rebecca McMahon about it. She then received a call from a boy scout who was looking for an eagle project. Next, she sent him to me. Then, the following week Safe Streets had a meeting with a State Farm representative that wanted to do some more work in this neighborhood. And, he offered to pay for the materials. So, we have the labor donated, and we also have the materials covered.
So, there are just a lot of different ways that you can help fund your community garden. So, just be creative, and think about all the different ways that you may be able to bring different groups in your community together to help fund your garden.
This feature story prepared with Evelyn Neier, Kansas State University Research and Extension Youth Gardening Specialist, 4-H Youth Development County, and Cindy Galstad, Community Mobilizer for Wichita. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.