The Ten Most Important Things in Establishing a Community Garden

Guest post by Beth Roesler

Elizabeth Roesler is an OC Community Intern. Originally from Chicago, Beth is pursuing a Masters degree in Wildlife at Texas Tech University, followed by a Ph.D. During the next 5 years of studying and residing in Lubbock, Beth is working to establish a community garden, located at Ave. X and 21st Street (a neighborhood called “The Heart of Lubbock”). The Garden is just getting established, so check out Beth’s list of The Ten Most Important Things she has learned about establishing a Community Garden.

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10. Trucks! – Or really any other means of transporting large items. I, myself, drive a sedan, and although I fill it to the brim, it is still not large enough to store lumber, rain barrels, a broad fork, and irrigation line. Having great connections to people who are kind enough to lend you their vehicles is very helpful when your garden required large materials to build it.

9. Selection of Plants – It is essential to understand the biotic and abiotic factors that will allow for certain plants to grow. If your area has a lot of heat, plants that require cooler conditions will not grow well there. Regional planting guides can give insight on the plants best suited for your environment.

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8. Knowledge & Experience – Although not mandatory (as in true in my case), having some idea of how to go about planning a community project will benefit you in the long-run. It will always be a learning experience and each person will come out of it with new skills. But, having the right ideas of what direction to lead in will really set the precedent.

7. Collaboration Skills – Your ability to organize, plan, and manage various groups of people can make or break the success of your project. People don’t want to work with Oscar the Grouch, so knowing how to work with corporations, organizations, volunteers, and the city will promote momentum.

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6. Water -This is always a limiting resource with gardens! If you have limited resources, drip irrigation is recommended because a lot of the water is not lost to evaporation. However, rain water harvesting is the most efficient method to provide water for your garden.

5. Labor & Resources –Reaching out and getting to know a lot of people with different skills, connections, and backgrounds will solidify your resource network. For example, knowing construction workers can help you build a shed, knowing councilmen can help you advocate, and knowing master gardeners can help you design and tend the garden.

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4. Gusto! – Being able to positively challenge the people around you is an important key to creating any sort of community project. The willingness to want to make a change in your community and expressing that is how all significant projects get completed.

3 Sustainability – Permaculture techniques are a good way to ensure your garden will be more sustainable. Practices like taking advantage of the way the land is, sheet mulching double reach beds, using drip irrigation instead of sprinklers, using recycled materials over new ones, and planting trees and shrubs that perform well in your area will promote the best bang for your buck and leave a good mark.

2. Long-term Goals – Setting goals and making a plan help organize the project and keep it going. It is imperative to know what goals you plan to aspire towards to help keep everyone inspired and motivated.

1. The Community’s Involvement – Ultimately that is who you are doing all of this for. They are the glue to the whole project. Without their labor, donations, support, and time, no project can be completed.

The Heart of Lubbock Community Garden is a rich opportunity to unite people in the neighborhood and all of Lubbock through sharing a common interest of bettering the community. It is a safe place where people can gain gardening skills, meet their neighbors, have an emotional investment in, and reach out to the youth about nutrition. The garden is practicing sustainable techniques such as rainwater harvesting to ensure its longevity. Everyone is welcome and an important asset into making this garden a thriving neighborhood hub! Learn more at their Facebook page.

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