A community garden can be a great way to bring your community together! A garden is a fantastic way to teach kids responsibility and bring families together during the spring and summer months.
Families can grow their own food, and see the rewards of their hard work in a tangible and tasty way. What kid (or child at heart) doesn’t enjoy a chance to play in the dirt, especially when it results in tasty food? Extend the fun and benefits to your community!
Community gardens are wonderful ways to:
- Promote community spirit
- Use under-utilized spaces in a beautiful and productive way
- Promote family bonding
- Provide a supplemental source of healthy food
IKO Management would like to share tips for establishing a garden in your HOA community! Here are some suggestions to get you started planning your community garden:
- Get the HOA board’s approval –A community garden is a big project and you need to make sure everyone is on board!
- Rules - Establish guidelines for the use and maintenance of the space, such as how often the lot should be weeded and warn against leaving tools lying around. A community meeting is a great way to raise awareness for the project and to get everyone excited!
- Register - Sign up for lots before the community garden is prepared! Ask families for a nominal fee to help cover the costs of preparing the site as well as costs associated with irrigating the site.
- Chose a site -The site should be in a common area, easily accessible but away from homes. Look for under-utilized spaces that can be improved by a community garden!
- Partner – Find a local farmer who is willing to volunteer to educate families about growing techniques. The farmer can also suggest what fruits, vegetables and flowers will work best for your space. Remember, spring and summer are especially busy time for farmers! Many have hundreds of acres of produce to take care of, as well as animals. If possible, set up a meeting in late winter or early spring, before the frost ends, when farmers are less busy.
- Set up your site - Raised bed gardens are a beautiful and practical option! The site should be properly planned and constructed to ensure continual use and to keep it aesthetically pleasing. The community garden should add value to your HOA community, not be an eyesore. Have everyone pitch in with hammers, shovels and plenty of good soil. Encourage ownership of the project from the very beginning.
Bring out your sunscreen! Before you get to work, make sure you’re prepared with the following:
- Plenty of sunscreen or other protection
- Gardening glove to protect your hands from blisters
- A towel, foam pad, or small bench to ease the impact on your knees.
Now that your community garden is set up, get to it! The possibilities are endless.
- Plant seeds or seedlings. Seedlings can be started indoors before the designated planting time if desired.
- Mulch the area if appropriate.
- Weed the beds when needed.
- Make sure the plants have adequate water, especially during the hottest days of summer.
Remember, a garden doesn’t come to life overnight. A garden takes patience, diligence, and hard work. Ask kids to keep journals recording the growth of their gardens, with pictures of weekly changes and the final harvest. This is a great way to show children the benefits of hard work and patience.
Spring and summer are the best times of year for eating fresh, local produce. Picnics, block parties and other community events can now be personalized with fruits and veggies that were grown by families in your community! Kids can show off their hard work and your community will be eating delicious, healthy food throughout the summer.
So get ready for a fun and rewarding season of community gardening? Get to it and get your hands dirty! IKO Community Management wishes everyone a safe, happy, and fruitful summer! Happy gardening!