Community Gardens: What are the Rules of the Rows?

People at a Community Garden

People at a Community Garden

Community gardens have grown in popularity in recent years as more Americans look for ways to cultivate their own food. The success of the community garden model depends on all the gardeners working together with respect and care.

Photo by: Shutterstock/XiXinXing

Shutterstock/XiXinXing

If you’re itching to grow your own food but have been held back by a too-small yard or less-than-ideal conditions, you may want to consider becoming part of your local community garden.

Community gardens have grown in popularity in recent years as more Americans look for ways to cultivate their own food. The American Community Gardening Association offers a handy “Find a Community Garden” map on their website that can help you locate a community garden near your own home.

But before you jump in with both feet, remember that the success of the community garden model depends on all the gardeners working together with respect and care. While each community garden will have its own set of rules, there are a few basic etiquette guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Keep It In Check: Plant only crops you have the time and skills to control. Avoid invasive species like mint, which could take over your entire plot plus your neighbors’.
  • Stay Inside The Lines: Make sure to plant within your plot’s markers. Encroaching on your neighbor’s space isn’t very neighborly.
  • Keep It Neat: You may not be growing food there, but the walkway around your plot is your responsibility. Keep it weeded and tidy. If there are community tools, hoses, etc, for you to use; treat them with care and respect.
  • Grow Something: Sounds obvious, right? But many community gardens have specific rules against “harvesting” soil from plots. Bottom line: Part of being a polite community gardener is growing a garden!
  • Watch The Kids: Keep a close eye on little ones and don’t let them trample on neighboring plots (or take any of the bounty!) Same goes for pets, if they’re allowed (many gardens don’t allow pets, so be sure to check.)
  • No Chemicals: Most community gardens have specific rules against using pesticides, fertilizers, or other kinds of chemicals on your plot. Remember that whatever you use on your plot affects all your fellow gardeners

Have you ever been part of a community garden, or are you currently? If so, what advice would you offer others who are considering getting involved with their local community garden? 

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