published Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Five tips for starting a community garden

Now's the time to start planning your spring and summer garden, said Melanie Mayo, Crabtree Farms program coordinator. No time? Then Ms. Mayo suggests starting up a community garden instead.

"A community garden is cool because you have partners to help you garden," she said.

Crabtree Farms will sponsor Community Garden Start-up Workshops on Feb. 13 and Feb. 20.

"Last year we held our first workshop and we had 30 participants," Ms. Mayo said. "The workshop is a chance for people, even with no gardening experience, to learn what it takes to get a community garden started and make it work," Ms. Mayo said.

The cost is $100 for the first participant and $50 for each additional participant in a group. For more information visit


1. Organize a meeting of interested people. The first step is to determine if there is a strong interest in a community garden. Discuss what size and type of garden and how your garden will be managed. Who will be in charge of various aspects of the garden?

2. Pick a site. Choose a site with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight that is close to the gardeners who will be maintaining it. Consider the availability of water. Give the property a soil test to check for nutrients and contaminants.

3. Organize the garden operations. Community gardens operate smoothly when everyone involved understands their responsibilities and what is expected of them. A few issues to consider are paying dues/fees, tool usage, rules of the garden, security and insurance.

4. Plan and develop your garden site. Decide if your garden will be divided into plots or gardened communally. Figure out what materials you will need to cultivate the garden site. Plan a work day to get everyone involved.

5. Educate yourself. Gardening isn't complicated but it does take a little "know how." Learn about plants and gardening from upcoming events like Crabtree's Community Garden Start-Up Workshop and the Hamilton County Master Gardener course.

Source: Melanie Mayo.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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