Fresh food is the best food, and the freshest food you can get is food you grow yourself. Unfortunately not everyone has enough space to grow anything. This is where community gardens enter the picture. A community garden is a plot of land, the size will vary, where a number of people come together to grow what they need.
Finding Space For A Community Garden
The biggest challenges in developing a community garden is finding a site that is suitable for this purpose. Ideally, the gardeners would own the land, but a long term lease is the next best arrangement.
The first step in finding a site is to contact the municipal government and ask for their assistance in identifying municipal property that could be used for a community garden. If one is found then discussions on lease terms can begin.
If this does not work, then scout out locations that seem suitable and find out who owns them. Approach the owner and see if a mutually beneficial arrangement can be accomplished.
Community Garden Case Study
This is the story of how the Campbellton Community Garden came into being and how my plot, plot number six, became a reality.
When we arrived here over five years ago, I began to get to know the city. My wife had a job so she was busy; however I was retired, and looking for a project. I asked around, checked at City Hall and the Library and found there was only one community garden and that was too far away from home. So, I had a project. I did not realize at that time how long it would take to bring the project to life.
A few conversations later, and a small, informal, committee was formed. There are a number of vacant lots around town, some city-owned. The main problem, the group soon found out was that most of the vacant city lots were used as snow dumps during the winter months. We have a long winter and often get considerable snow.
These sites were eliminated; even if we built raised beds, the snow dumped on them over the winter would contaminate the soil. Contaminated soil, contaminated food, this would not do.
We kept on looking, and our hope was kept alive, as people asked about the progress and wanted to know if a garden was going to happen.
The project came together when the Restigouche Community Inclusion Network was formed and food security was on their agenda.
The project really took off when the Food Security Committee decided that a community garden was a priority. They approached the City, but no suitable site was available.
Finally, after several months and a number of meetings a site, privately owned was found. The land was not for sale and was not likely to be sold, so a one year contract was negotiated with an option for five years if the first year worked. A factor working in the garden’s favor was that some of the food produced would go to the local community kitchen.
A public meeting in the neighborhood where the garden was located was held, and the community members were invited. Six people showed up that night. All signed gardening contracts, and their plots have been planted.
The plot chosen had been unused for years and it took four days of lowing and removing rocks before the raised beds were ready. The cool wet weather did not help.
There are 15 plots in all. The gardeners are a mix of people living on low income, youth and retirees. It has been a bountiful first year.