“In a group the work load is much lighter and there is shared satisfaction in the outcome.”
A community garden is built on a sense of community and cannot succeed with the enthusiasm of just one or two people. Forming a working group of committed folk with a range of skills and experience is the first step in establishing the groundwork for your project.
The size of this group will depend on the project but may be as large as twenty or as small as five. A larger group will provide more energy and input, but a smaller group may be easier to manage in the initial stages.
Holding a public meeting is one way to recruit involvement. As well as inviting people you know, extend the invitation to your local community including environment or gardening groups and resident associations. Put an advertisement in the local paper and letterbox the local neighbourhood, particularly if you already know where the garden is likely to be located.
At the meeting avoid putting forward your own already developed ideas for the garden. Instead, consider having someone from an established garden give a presentation on their project and present the benefits of community gardens generally. If possible, have a skilled facilitator run the meeting, someone who is able to draw out ideas from the group and ensure these ideas are recorded. At the end of the meeting, get names and contact details of everyone who wants to be involved. This will form the basis of your project contact list.
Anticipate that there may be concerns about the project. Make sure there is room for these to be heard and that you have the background information to address them. If concerns persist, don’t bulldoze ahead with the project. In the longterm you will need the support and goodwill of everyone in the community in order to get the best possible outcomes. It is best to take a little time working with the people concerned rather than assuming the problems will go away by themselves.
Once you have established a committed group, work to develop trust and collaboration through social events such as BBQs, skillsharing workshops and planning days. Maintain enthusiasm through celebration and activities that foster both personal and group development.