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 Community Gardening: Getting Gardeners Involved


Story:
There’s a lot of different ways to organize a community garden. But one of the main things that you have to keep in mind is that the most successful community gardens are those where the gardeners are very involved. They help set the policies and they make the decisions. They determine the direction of the garden. 
 
So, in the beginning, you may want to have just a brainstorming session of how you want the garden to go, and the direction you want it to take. At that point, some leaders will probably surface to the top. From that, your group may want to elect a board of directors that will serve to help supervise the garden, help make decisions, and run the garden. You’ll also want to elect officers such as a president, a vice-president, a secretary to keep some records, and of course a treasurer to keep track of all the money. 
 
In some cases, a garden may have a garden manager. It may be a volunteer who is the garden manager, or it may be a paid position, or a part-time position which can be funding in different ways. The garden manager would help keep track of who the gardeners are, the list or roster, do the communicating, keep track of the garden rentals, and other types of things.
 
Gardens often meet periodically to help make those decisions, elect officers, and help decide what kind of fees and programs they want to have. One of the key components of the organization of the community garden is communication. Communication has changed a lot over time in the ways in which people like to receive information. It’s good to give several options for communicating. 
 
You may have a newsletter. It could be an electronic newsletter that is sent out through e-mail. Or, for those folks who don’t have a computer or access to e-mail, a hard copy would be ideal. You may have a phone tree where you can quickly get ahold of everyone by making phone calls. You might have some signs posted in the garden. For instance, you may have a bulletin board, that could have some key information such as a list of people who have keys to the shed, who to call in an emergency, when the next social event is scheduled, when the next meeting is going to be, and other types of things. 
 
Try to remember to keep communication high on your list so that everyone is on the same page. When you think about a community garden, you have to remember that it’s a community and it’s a garden. It’s a community of gardeners. You’re a community within a bigger community. You’re a group of people within your neighborhood. And you have so many talents from all of those people that want to garden at your community garden. 
 
You may have people that are great at finance. You may have people that have great technical skills electronically. You may have people that are great at hands-on projects such as carpentry projects or tilling. And, you may have people that are wonderful gardeners that are good garden mentors that can help the others. 
 
So, just remember that within that community, try to find all those skills that others have and match those skillsets with those jobs that you have within your organization. And when you do that, you’ll have a community garden that thrives.
 
This feature story prepared with Evelyn Neier, Kansas State University Research and Extension Youth Gardening Specialist, 4-H Youth Development. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.