Organizing & Leadership

Garden Organizer Handbooks

There are already many wonderfully useful resources out there designed specifically for people like you, who are starting, managing, and/or growing community and school gardens. Enjoy!

  • Tools, American Community Garden Association
    A list of links to: sample forms (i.e. plot registration, land use agreement, release of claims, etc.), community garden start-up guides, and more.
  • Community Gardening Toolkit, University of Missouri Extension
    A non-site specific resource for starting, enhancing, and sustaining community garden projects.  Also includes a bit of background of community garden history and descriptions for different types of gardens.
  • Community Garden Management Toolkit, Springfield Food Policy Council
    Compiled by Betsy Johnson, this is a collection of some of the best resources from garden groups and garden networks across the country.
  • From Neglected Parcels to Community Gardens: A Handbook, Wasatch Community Gardens
    A community garden planning handbook for garden leaders with additional information on land use permission and tips for promoting the positive in the face of common community garden challenges.
  • Twin Cities Community Garden Start-up Guide, Gardening Matters, 2007
    A thorough start-up guide for garden leaders with some helpful sample documents.
  • Starting a Community Garden: How to Put Your Plot on the Path to Success, University of Wisconsin Extension
    This 7-page document outlines key steps and tips for starting a community garden.
  • Forsyth Community Gardening: Printed Materials, Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Service, North Carolina
    Here you can find extensive resources on how to start a community garden, legal and safety considerations, garden registration, youth engagement, and a variety of plant and pest links.  Included among the long list of documents is this one-of-a-kind resource: Food Safety for School and Community Gardens.
  • CAC’s New Garden Guide: Starting and Growing a Community Garden, Community Action Coalition for South Central WI, Inc.
    This community garden guide provides tools for starting and sustaining a garden with the notables of an in-depth site-analysis worksheet, garden evaluation tools, and an asset mapping exercise.
  • Building a Community Garden in Your Park: Opportunities for Health, Community, and Recreation, Grow Your Park Initiative, National Recreation and Park Association
    A specific resource for park-based community gardens with resources useful for any community garden, including a community garden planning timeline, common obstacles and opportunities related to building a community garden, garden design tips, growing tips, inspiring photos and stories, and resources.
  • Why Every Church Should Plant a Garden…and How, A Rocha USA
    A specific resource for church-based with a thorough section on engagement.
  • Orange County Community Gardeners Guide, University of Florida and Orange County Extension Education Center
    This resource on starting and managing a community garden includes a wealth of sample forms and documents.
  • Community Garden Policy Reference Guide, Public Health Law Center, William Mitchell College of Law
    This garden leader guide has a unique layout that divides the various community garden planning and management tasks into four sections: local government considerations, land-use planning and zoning, community garden group considerations, and liability.  Within each section each topic is covered as it relates to a specific population: general, policymakers, and gardeners.
  • A Community Garden Manifesto, Newcastle Community Garden Project
    All the way from Callaghan, Australia, this document looks at the community-side of community gardens, addressing issues from “Who’s in charge?” to “Valuing what we do” from the perspective of a variety of gardeners and garden leaders.

Best Practices

This is our compilation of “best practices” for starting, and sustaining community and school gardens and associated programs.

Leadership Team

We’ve already said it and we’ll say it again: don’t go it alone! The following tips will help you think about who to involve, how to involve them, and how you’re going to work together.

Supporting Your Gardeners

As a garden leader, you know better than anybody that community and school gardens are as much about garden community as they are about gardens. Here-in lies your role as an organizer–how do you organize the people in your garden? Over the many years, garden leaders have formed and refined some great tools for at once supporting gardens and people.



Many community and school gardens face similar challenges and, even though each garden is unique, there is much that we can learn from each other regarding how we build solutions.


We haven’t forgotten (and hope you don’t either) the importance of celebrating–in your garden, with your gardeners, with the broader community! Celebrate the seasons, your garden’s growth, volunteer contributions, and your friendly garden community! Even though celebrating often ends up at the bottom of our lists (even as it did here), we should recognize its equal importance in growing our gardens. Celebrating builds community, keeps up team morale, and provides opportunities for others (i.e. community members, funders, government officials) to see the value in your project.

For more resources and tips on starting a garden and leading its development, return to Coordinating Tools.