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.

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.

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.

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.

A thorough start-up guide for garden leaders with some helpful sample documents.

This 7-page document outlines key steps and tips for starting a community garden.

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.

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.

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.

A specific resource for church-based with a thorough section on engagement.

This resource on starting and managing a community garden includes a wealth of sample forms and documents.

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.

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 “top tips” or “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

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.

Building Your Garden Leadership Team

Garden Leadership, Boston Natural Areas Network

Making the Most of Meetings, Boston Natural Areas Network

People Management

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 that community and school gardens have been alive and well, garden leaders have formed and refined some great tools for at once supporting garden and people management.

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


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

10 Challenges for Youth Gardens

Minimizing Community Garden Produce Pilfering

Garden Resiliency – Gardens, People & Programs


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, left as something we do if we have time after all the work is done, we should recognize its equal importance in providing garden leadership. 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.