Creating a Backyard Community Garden From the Ground Up
I’ve always been impressed with Catherine’s garden. By September it’s overflowing — tomatoes, peppers, carrots, greens, beans, garlic, onions, herbs and more. She even grows flowers solely for arrangements. But this year, the garden is going to change. It’s getting bigger (2-3 times bigger) and turning into a community garden she and her neighbors can work on together, sharing expenses, time and, of course, harvest.
Right now, there are about five raised beds along the side of Catherine’s fence, and an additional five by her neighbor Lauren’s house.
But they want more. The boxes above contain unassembled frames for more beds.
Everyone on the block was invited to participate in the community garden project, they held brainstorming meetings over the winter. Currently three households are participating, but they hope more will jump on board once the real work gets started.
Catherine and Lauren created a detailed map for the expanded garden, each raised bed is numbered and coordinates with a spreadsheet that lists what will go in each bed, planting and harvest times, who will buy the seeds/plants and additional notes.
They also have a spreadsheet to keep track of expenses, which will be split between the participating households. So far they have purchased additional cedar bed frames and a large pile of dirt for the beds (a mix of top soil and compost from Meadows Farms). Cedar doesn’t come cheap, neither does quality dirt, but the frames will last for a few years and it’s better to invest in quality than have to replace the frames each season.
Catherine spent last weekend weeding, cleaning and prepping the existing beds. In the process she found a carrot from last year’s garden.
The garlic and daffodils are already making an appearance and pretty soon she will sow the seeds for spring greens.
The next day, more of the neighbors came out to help — removing the grass and dirt (as well as several bricks and large tree roots) for the new beds and assembling the frames.
There’s another few weekends of manual labor before the garden will be ready for more plants and seeds — at least eight more beds to build and fill — but we’ll be back in a few weeks to check in on their progress.