Just because you live in an apartment complex doesn’t mean that you can’t start a garden. While it’s possible to grow flowers and vegetables in planters on your own patio, organizing a community garden will give you lots more space to plant and dramatically increase the variety of plants you’ll be able to grow. Community garden programs are gaining popularity across the nation and there are lots of resources to help you get your own project started. Here’s a quick guide to starting up a community garden in your apartment complex.
1. Get a group of gardeners together.
The first thing you need to do, when starting a community garden, is find some community members to garden with. If you’re planning on setting up the garden in your apartment complex, you’ll need to find a bunch of neighbors to share the responsibilities with. The more potential gardeners you can find within the complex, the easier it will be to sell the idea of a community garden to the complex owner.
2. Make a plan.
Sit down with your fellow gardeners and figure out what you hope to get out of a community garden. What will you grow? Who will have access to the bounty? Who will be responsible for it? The more detailed your plan is, the easier it will be to get the project going.
3. Discuss the idea with the owner.
Before you go the way of Johnny Appleseed and start littering your complex with seeds, take some time to discuss the idea of starting a garden with the owner of the complex. If you live in a suburban apartment complex, there’s probably plenty of space on the grounds to host a garden and if you’re in a high-rise, there’s the possibility of a rooftop garden, though these gardens are harder to set up. Make sure you are able to articulate the benefits of a garden to the owner.
4. Draw up a lease.
If the owner is keen on the idea of a community garden draw up a formal agreement that allows the gardeners access to a specific part of the grounds. You should get to garden for free, but someone still needs to be responsible for the garden so that if a lovely patch of carrots, green beans and corn turns into an unsightly patch of dirt, the landlord will know who to talk to about it. Make sure the landlord knows which renters are in charge of the garden and what the garden will be used for.
5. Start gardening.
Once you’ve got the paperwork in order, it’s time to start gardening. Clear out the landscaping plants and any debris from the area, mix fertilizer into the soil and plot out your gardening spaces. Clearly define the edges of the garden with some shrubs or a low, attractive fence (just be sure that you are cleared to put up a fence!). Label your garden plants so that neighbors know what it is you’re up to and leave information about how they can get involved in the community garden as well.
Are you gardening in your community? Have questions or comments you’d like to contribute? We’d love to hear from you, here or on our Facebook page!