How to Set up a Closed Community Garden

by Greg
(Hemet Ca. U.S.A.)

I currently work at a Homeless Shelter in Southern California and we have some unused land here. I would really like to start a project like this here to help feed our residents but where should I start?

I'm sure there are all kinds of Health and Safety issues and regulations. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You
Growing food for the homeless, by the homeless is a wonderful idea and worth pursuing. It will be a win-win situation. Not only will the residents be fed wholesome food, but they will finally feel as if they are making a positive contribution which will make a huge difference to them psychologically. Don't give up on this venture. It is well worth doing on so many different levels.

Visit your local authority and ask them about the by-laws governing such a venture. They will be able to guide you. Each town has different laws and regulations, so it is important that you find out, first hand, what is required.

Basically, you are setting up a closed community garden. But many of the by-laws will still pertain to those who operate a conventional community garden.

At the very least, you will have to set up a 3rd party insurance. Again, check with your local authorities to see what else they may require. As food is involved, there may be other by-laws.

On the positive side, you could also get sponsorship for this venture by getting local nurseries to donate seeds, compost, plants, tools etc. Churches could also be involved in raising money for this cause either through targeted fundraising, or direct sponsorship.

You could also raise money by selling off a few inches of soil for a few dollars as a form of sponsorship.

You will need to have some structure to this community garden venture. In other words, draw up the aims of the garden, who the members will be, what they can and cannot do, and who is in charge. By doing this you will have fewer disputes or infringements. People will the boundaries within which to work, and there should be total clarity in what the purpose is behind the venture.

Think about setting up a farmers market for any excess produce, or canning/freezing anything left over for leaner months.

Good luck with your venture, and keep us updated on your progress.


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