Recently, I had opportunity to help organize a community garden from "the ground up" in my picturesque community of Forest Grove, Oregon. We were able to obtain a 1.5-acre plot of land donated by the city for use for garden plots. The effort was amazing the way things unfolded. The organizer, a retired magazine editor named Walt Wentz, posted notices around town asking for volunteers. He also met with city planners and obtained appropriate permissions to set up the garden. Volunteers came forward to do everything from rototilling the gardens to setting up our Web site at www.fggardens.org to setting up the irrigation system. Everyone from business owners to a troop of cub scouts came forward to help. Over 200, 25'x10' garden plots became available and all the organizing and set-up has been done entirely by citizen volunteers. And, materials have, by and large, been donated by community businesses, if not offered at large discounts.
Now that the planting is underway, participants are discovering that they are learning a lot about gardening from each other. It seems there are almost as many gardening techniques as there are people! The garden has become a great social gathering place where people not only commune with nature and grow their own food -- they make friends and learn a lot as well.
My efforts have involved writing content for our Web site, obtaining and setting up some donated cedar raised beds from NaturalYards Raised Beds, organizing online photo albums documenting our efforts, and arranging our press opportunities. In addition, I have chronicled our processes -- from conception of the gardens to complete set up of the gardens -- in hopes that by telling people about our great efforts, they'll be motivated to set up gardens in their own communities. If you're interested in reading our How To guide for setting up our community gardens, please see the attachment.
Plots rent for a nominal fee of $30 per growing season with discounts given to gardeners who qualify for food stamps. We are also growing crops for the Oregon Food Bank and have a "free table" where plant starts and excess crops will be provided for those in need. Our 22-inch high 4'x6' cedar raised beds are available for handicapped gardeners who can access them via wheelchair.