Released March 27, 2009
PINE BLUFF, Ark. - Community gardening can be much more than a hobby. Community gardens can play a key role in the economic landscape, food safety scares and a healthy, fresh food supply, says Obadiah Njue, Cooperative Extension Program horticulture specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Community gardening provides a way to make fresh and healthy foods accessible to families and transforms idle land and vacant lots in urban and suburban areas. Community gardening can be thought of as "horticultural therapy," says Njue. It has positive environmental, economic and social impacts on a neighborhood and brings together residents as they share in both the maintenance and rewards of the garden.
Community gardens add beauty to a community and offer opportunities to teach children about food sources, the importance of community and stewardship, and math and business skills. Those who live in a small space or have no yards can use community gardens to grow nutritious, safe food for themselves and their families and donate extra produce to those in need.
Njue has these tips for anyone hoping to start a community garden.
First, form a committee. This committee should determine if a need and desire exists, who the garden will serve - youth, seniors, low income residents or anyone who loves to garden; organize a meeting of interested parties and choose a coordinator.
Second, choose a site. Identify the owner, consider the availability of water, have the soil tested and consider past uses of the land.
Third, prepare and develop the site. This includes cleaning the site and planning your garden. Organize volunteer work crews, gather resources, plan a storage area for tools, equipment and compost.
Fourth, organize the garden. This includes determining the conditions for membership (place of residence, dues, etc), and how plots will be assigned. Also, if dues are charged, how will they be used and how will vandalism be dealt with.
Lastly, Njue advises determining if liability insurance is needed, and how to deal with unexpected accidents.
Contact: Carol Sanders, (870) 575-7238, email@example.com