Start your community garden today

Ashleigh Mostert

With so much information out there, it can be really daunting to figure out where to begin with starting a community garden. That is why the Sustainable Gardens team have banded together to give you a step by step guide on getting your very own garden in your suburb. So, here we go.

First Step

Check to make sure there isn’t already a group formed at ‘Find your local community Garden’. If the answer is no, then you can move on to the:

Second step

Find your people. You can’t have a community without the people. We suggest starting a Facebook page called Community Garden “enter suburb name here”. Add a little introduction saying you are looking to get more people on board to start your garden. Do not try go it alone, one, it’s boring and two, it’s way too much work.

Third Step

Promote that page! You can use other gardening sites such as ‘Brisbane Gardening Enthusiasts’ or even our very own one ‘Sustainable Gardens’ conveniently set up to connect all our community change makers. So, now you have your team together it is time for the

Fourth Step

Find a site. So, you have the people and the drive to grow them sweet apples but where? If you are lucky and live in the middle of nowhere, you may find a farmer willing to give up a small piece of land. You just need to ask. Take a buddy to hold your hand if needs be, I know I would. If you’re like the other 90% of Australians living near the city, it may get a bit tricky. It’s worth going on your suburb’s local site and ask anyone if they have land, they are willing to build a community garden on, but don’t rely on a yes. So here is a list of the places you can talk to:

  1. Local schools, not only is it good for the community but can help educate children on where their food comes from. It can be important to remind children that their veggies don’t come from the supermarket. Make sure to mention that when you talk to them.
  2. Community Centres, they sometimes have a little extra space and who better to help you build a community project than the people already in the community business. They may even have thought through the project a few steps ahead.
  3. Lease a space, in some cases, you may need to rent out the space for your garden. I will go through how to raise funds for this in the next step.
  4. Your local council, sounds scary, I know, but they are approachable. Remember your local MP’s want your vote and will take the time to hear you out if you can show you have enough support. Ask about any council owned space. Just remember patience is key when looking for the right site.

Fifth Step

Fund your project. Getting funding is just one google search away. There are always groups looking to fund the next community start up. Check out your state government website or simply google community gardens. As I am writing this ‘Life Education’ has a grant open for anyone looking to start up their new project. You can not only rely on grants also have a look at more stable forms of income for the project such as:

  1. Having a donation box
  2. Holding educational workshops
  3. Renting the space to others wanting to hold workshops/talks
  4. Having a farmer’s market stall to sell some of your produce
  5. Donations in exchange for advertising (ask your local nursery, hardware store, local businesses) just remember every little bit helps.

The funding will also need to go towards public liability insurance. Remember safety is key.

Sixth Step

Plan out your garden. We have provided you with many options on how your garden could look throughout the site. Feel free to use one of the provided designs or get creative with your own. Just remember you need to match the design to the site. If the area you are building your garden in is fertile then you do not have too much to worry about but if you’re building it in and old carpark you may have to consider a raised garden option. Just remember that where there is a will there is a way.

Seventh step

If you have not done so by now, I highly recommend approaching your local council and another established community group. They will be able to support you and give you all the little tips and tricks for approval of your project. By keeping the council informed of your progress you are showing your willingness and drive to make the project work.

So finally, you have made it through the quick and easy guide it’s time to fill out the councils ‘plan of action’ checklist. If you followed these steps it will make their guideline a piece of cake to follow.

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About the Social Impact Projects

The Griffith University Social Impact Projects address five significant social justice issues faced by vulnerable communities. Expanding on the work done by Project Safe Space, and Project Open Doors, the Griffith University Social Impact Projects bring Community Partners, students and the University together to work collaboratively in the innovative solution design sprints. Initially designed to address Mental Health and Wellbeing of Griffith students, we soon realised this was a much larger issue intersecting across a number of social justice issues for students and the wider community. The Social Impact Projects aim to contribute in some small way to improving these social issues.