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Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2012

Garden Calendar: New resource helps community gardens get growing

April 29, 2012

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A frequent question to the garden hotline is: “My (church, school, organization, neighborhood, friends, etc.) want to start a garden. Can you help us?”

Until recently, the Master Gardeners and I answered the call for new community gardens by directing interested parties to national and regional resources.

Now, however, Douglas County has a community garden guide to call its own.

Although community gardens are sometimes thought of as a place where people rent plots to garden for themselves, school gardens and other collaborative efforts are also sometimes identified as community gardens. To include all the different kinds of gardens, the American Community Gardening Association defines a community garden as any piece of land gardened by a group of people.

The Douglas County Community Gardening Toolkit is geared at identifying local efforts and contacts to help community garden organizers get started.

The toolkit is available in print form from K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St., Lawrence, or online at douglascountycommunitygardening.com.

Shannan Seely, who also serves as the Kaw Valley Farm Tour Coordinator, created the toolkit.

“There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding community gardens and gardens in general, but this is a local resource,” Seely says.

Seely notes that while she was gathering information, she realized that a lot of community gardens in Lawrence were unaware of others. She thinks the resource can be valuable to existing gardens and gardeners to help us learn from each other.

The toolkit includes some basic considerations for starting a garden, links to other resources, and examples of guidelines, policies, budgets, etc., from other community gardens. More importantly, it includes profiles and experiences of local gardens, some do’s and don’ts for Douglas County, and contacts for donations of excess garden produce.

Seely says the toolkit is a work in progress, however.

“I think there are gardens out there we don’t know about, or maybe people gardening with their neighbors who don’t have an official name for their garden. Part of the reason we developed the website is so that it can be easily updated.”

“We would love feedback,” she adds. “If there is a garden we missed, or if you have more information on an existing garden, please let us know.”

Feedback, corrections and updates can be directed to K-State Research and Extension–Douglas County at 843-7058 or by using the contact form on the Douglas County Community Gardening website.

Seely, who does not consider herself much of a gardener, says she learned a lot about community gardens while working on the toolkit.

“So many things are hard when you take on a new hobby, especially as a family. This is something that is so manageable.”

She also suggests using the guide to find opportunities to volunteer. School and organizational gardens are typically especially appreciative of volunteers to help manage their gardens. She recommends contacting the organization directly if interested.

“One thing I’ve gathered with the contacts I’ve made is that people are really enjoying gardening together,” Seely says.

— Jennifer Smith is the Horticulture Extension Agent for K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County. Contact her or an Extension Master Gardener with your gardening questions at 843-7058 or dgemg@sunflower.com.

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