About establishing community gardens

Gardening at home is one of the biggest hobbies in the United States. Some people do not have space at home for a garden. Others may prefer to garden in a more social setting. For them, community gardens are the answer.

Community gardens exist all over the world. There are an estimated 10,000 community gardens in the United States. I recently visited one at Point Reyes Station in California. I have read about gardens in Europe and Scandinavia that are handed down generation to generation. These gardens often have small cottages attached to them so that their city dwelling gardeners may extend their time in the garden, enjoying meals and perhaps spending the night.

Community gardens are a shared experience. They are collaborative projects created by the participants who establish guidelines and procedures to ensure communal success. Gardeners share the maintenance and the rewards. Community gardens improve the quality of life for people in the neighborhood. The gardens are lovely to look at as gardeners fill them with food crops and flowers. People garden together, so for many, a community garden is a socially satisfying experience providing recreation, exercise and education.

Gardeners grow healthy, nutritious food for themselves and their families and save money. Of course, there is also a wonderful sense of satisfaction and delight when eating the first ripe tomato.

The Carson City Community Garden is entering its eighth year this spring. It is located east of the cemetery on Beverly Street with 24 plots, 4 feet by 16 feet long. Supervisor Jon Plank instigated the garden idea shortly before his death. A generous anonymous gift paid for the initial layout and supplies for the garden. Carson City Parks provides the water and assistance with trash. The Senior Center handles the finances. Cooperative Extension takes care of logistics and organization. Many of the gardeners have participated in the garden for more than five years and have developed friendships along with their garden plots. Each pays a $10 fee for the seasonal expenses. Businesses such as Greenhouse Garden Center donate seeds. Tools, hoses and fertilizers are supplied. The gardeners share their produce with organizations such as FISH (Friends in Service Helping) or with elderly residents across the street who are unable to raise their own.

If you are interested in a garden plot at the Carson City Community Garden, call me at 887-2252 or e-mail skellyj@unce.unr.edu. No experience necessary, because master gardeners will guide you if you need assistance.

n JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.


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