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.
- Setting up and running a school garden, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome, 2005
Just like it’s title indicates, this resource is specific to schools looking to start gardens and planning for their care and development. Unique aspects of handbook include ideas for classroom connections, market gardening tips, and vegetable fact sheets.
- 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.
This is our compilation of “best practices” for starting, and sustaining community and school gardens and associated programs.
- Establishing a Garden Project
- Keys to Success: How to Develop a Sustainable Garden Project
- 10 Best Practices for Sustaining School Comm Gardens
- 10 Steps to Starting a Community Garden, American Community Gardening Association
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.
- Building Your Garden Leadership Team
- Garden Leadership, Boston Natural Areas Network
- Making the Most of Meetings, Boston Natural Areas Network
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.
- Community Garden Guidelines Tips
- Ideas for Welcoming Diversity at your Community Garden, Buckwalter & Anderson
- Garden Organizer Monthly Tasks, adapted from Boston Natural Areas Network
- Space to Place Worksheet
- Top tips on working with volunteers in community-based gardens, by Laurie Dana, Coordinator of Volunteer Mobilization with United Way
- Here are a few templates & tips for working with volunteers: VolunteerJobDescriptionWorksheet-Ellis, VolunteerValidation-Miller-2012 & WhatDoYourVolunteersWant-Fritz
- You can find some wonderful templates & tips also in these school garden handbooks (also great for other community-based gardens): Summer in the School Garden, The Edible Schoolyard Project Volunteer Handbook & GMFTS Summer Activity Guide
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.
- 10 Challenges for Youth Gardens
- Minimizing Community Garden Produce Theft
- Building Resilient Solutions
- How Resilient is Your Garden?, developed by Charlie Nardozzi for VCGN
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.