YAY! I’m thrilled to hear that you jumped into your community garden. I am always so inspired by the connections I’ve seen in my gardens and have learned so much not just about growing delicious things but also about myself. I love talking about community gardens. So here are a few things I’d like to pass on to those who are just getting started in community gardens.
The Three Ways I Get the Most Our of my Garden:
1. Talk to your neighbors. I’ve heard amazing stories and listened to people cry over stolen tomatoes. Usually, all I have to do is ask what they like about the garden or how their day is and our conversation magically opens to all sorts of beautiful things.
2. You can’t mess up. Newbies often think their gardens have to be perfect or lovely, pinterest worthy depictions of green things. Community gardens are spaces to get messy and try new things. If it doesn’t grow, or dies, you can always plant something else. Someone probably has seeds or plants to share, just ask. Weird plants you’ve never heard of are either delicious or the best story you’ll tell for the next six months. THERE IS NO FAILURE IN A GARDEN.
3. People are passionate about their community gardens. This can be a wonderful motivation to complete projects or interact with their neighbors. This can also breed some difficult political moments. When conflict arises, because it always does, just remember that most gardeners feel just as passionate about it as you do. Don’t let the conflict keep you from enjoying the garden or volunteering to help out with leadership. Their are lots of ways to direct the passion into amazing events and projects!
Bonus – If you feel super overwhelmed just grow one or two things that you know you like this first year. Starting small allows you to narrow down what you have to remember and makes weeding easier.
Resources (There is so much out there on gardening how-to! This is just a taste):
-Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
-Year Round Gardener by Niki Jabbour
-The New Organic Gardener by Eliot Coleman
-Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway (Warning: This will lead you down the beautiful rabbit hole known as permaculture. I feel like permaculture is a bit like crack for nature loving Pagans. It becomes an addiction for many. I think Yucca on the channel also does a bunch with permaculture lol)
-Pick at least one good cook book to help you use all the yummy things you grow.
-Invest in some jars or good freezer bags to preserve any extras that you have for the Winter. Or just give all your extras away!
-Check with your local Extension office. Just google your county, your state, Extension. They will probably have Gardening workshop, experts, and events all tailored to your area. I cannot stress how important those experts are to your community.
–Mother Earth News is a magazine with great advice and ideas. Their website is shit, but the actual magazine is fabulous.
I hope your garden gives you the space to connect to the Earth aspects of your path and to your neighbors. Congrats on taking the leap to join your community garden. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. I hope it is as enriching for you!