Community Gardens

If you’re looking for an activity that people of all ages can enjoy, you may be interested in starting a community garden. Community gardens are a great tool for not only producing food but also provide areas for community socialization, therapy, education, open space and even job creation.

  1. Recommendations
  2. Garden Types

The following are some general recommendations you should keep in mind if you are interested in beginning a community garden in your neighborhood. You can also check out the Urban Agriculture Toolkit (PDF).

Get Your Neighbors Involved

There is a lot of work involved in starting a new garden. Make sure you have several people who will help you. Survey the residents of your neighborhood to see if they are interested and would participate.

Form a Garden Club

If you have enough support, form a garden club. This will help in making decisions and dividing up the work effectively. It also ensures that everyone has a vested interest in the garden and can contribute to its design, development and maintenance. Also give your garden area or club a name. Names can provide a means of association and a sense of ownership.

Find Land for the Garden

Look around your neighborhood for a vacant lot that gets plenty of sun - at least six to eight hours each day. A garden site should be relatively flat. A site without pavement, relatively free of trash and debris is best. Also choose a location within walking distance, or no more than a short drive from you and the neighbors who have expressed interest in participating.

Find Out Who Owns the Land

It is illegal to use land without obtaining the owner’s permission. In order to obtain permission, you must first find out who owns the land. You can obtain this information from the tax office or by using Forsyth County’s GeoData Explorer.

Contact the Land Owner

Communicate with the owner of the land you desire to begin a community garden on and ask their permission to use the land. If necessary, establish an agreement (in writing) with the owner stating such things as the intent of use, hours of operation, maintenance, liabilities, fees for use, etc. Anyone who participates in the gardening of the site should be required to sign this agreement.

Obtain Any Necessary Permits

Refer to the zoning ordinance and Inspections Division to determine any required permits, site plans, or public hearings that may be required before putting any seeds in the dirt. This will also include the construction of any fences, storage buildings, and additional amenities that you intend to have within your garden.

Other Useful Suggestions to Keep in Mind

  • Check for water availability and establish how water fees will be paid. The type of irrigation system you will use will go a long way in determining how much water will be necessary for the garden.
  • If the site is located in an area of known soil contamination, get your soil tested. Contact a private lab, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), local health department, or Forsyth County’s Cooperative Extension Office to learn how to take soil samples. The quality of soil can have an effect on the products your garden produces as well as the type of garden you may eventually use.