In yesterday's post about the Rooftop Garden Project in Montreal, I questioned why I do not know of any community garden in the U.S. doing what they do to serve their surrounding community.
We have more than 600 community gardens serving less than 1% of the population here in New York City. To my knowledge, there is not one of them offering modern method options to growing in the ground.
Long time New Yorkers will remember the ConEd motto "Dig We Must". That seems to have stuck with the community gardeners.
In my view, it is not enough to simply provide a small plot of land to a limited few when there are modern methods that are portable and can serve an unlimited number of people in the community.
Why should a community garden be synonymous with dirt gardening only and be anchored to a scarce parcel of city land? Why should a community garden be a clubhouse for a very small number of people? Why should there be a waiting list? Using modern methods an urban community garden can serve both garden plot holders and residents of the surrounding community.
Following are two community gardening guides among many on the web. The first is authored by a national organization called the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA). The second is by the U of Missouri Extension program.
There is no information in either of these guides about modern methods such as sub-irrigated raised beds or other types of sub-irrigated planters (totes, tubs, buckets) that could be used for outreach to the local community including the aged and infirm.
Community gardens could be and should be educational leaders to their local communities. It is not enough to be a mono-method dirt gardening teacher. There are other more modern methods of growing fresh vegetables. There is life beyond often-contaminated dirt in the city.
There are many ways to start a community garden. Whether you're working with friends, neighbors, or a local organization, there are many things you'll want to consider before you ever dig the first hole.
This fact sheet is designed to give many different groups the basic information they need to get their gardening project off the ground. These lists are in no way meant to be complete. Each main idea will probably trigger more questions, so an assortment of ways to carry out that idea are presented; pick and choose those that seem to apply to your own situation. Also check our LINKS, TOOLS, RESOURCES and STORE pages to find more helpful articles and resources. Also visit our RebelTomato website for tools for planning a community garden and enjoying the harvests.Click here to download a PDF version of the publication.
There is no mention of modern urban gardening methods such as sub-irrigated planters (SIPs - raised beds, totes, utility buckets). The assumption once again is that a "garden" means in-the-ground dirt. That is clearly an incorrect assumption.