ORGANIZE A MEETING OF INTERESTED PEOPLE
Determine what kind each person wants to grow ... vegetable, flower, fruits, all, organic? Invite neighbors, tenants, anyone who is likely to be interested. Go to Toolkit for Flyer sample, sample meeting Agenda, Gardener Information Sheet, and Meeting Sign-in sheet. Schedule a few meetings (about every 2 weeks) of interested people (not all need to be gardeners, some may want to share their space or are new to gardening). Go door-to-door to your neighbors and personally invite them participate. After you have about 5 or 6 households enrolled, schedule new member only meetings separate from existing members. This new member orientation helps separate those just starting from those already started so that you do not bore the existing members with repeat recruitment information. Then, fold in your new members with existing members and have great fun sharing information and gardening!
FORM A PLANNING COMMITTEE
People who feel committed to the creation of Victory Gardens and have the time to devote to it should comprise this committee, at least at this initial stage. Choose well-organized persons as garden coordinators. Form committees to tackle specific tasks: preparing gardens, tools, cultivating and harvesting. A committee is not required if you have a dedicated leader willing to do the planning, organizing, and communicating. Sign up your Victory Garden Network with us and we'll help you.
The Victory Gardens "self-support" through individual gardener's resources. However, you may want to assess each Victory Garden member a nominal fee for sustaining the administration of the network. Or, each member may want to fund their own garden independently. However, we encourage cost sharing for items that can be purchased in bulk. Check resources in your community for free compost, discounted compost bins, plants, seeds, and materials for raised beds. Keep in mind that low cost/no cost is the mantra. You may be eligible for a mini-grant to assist your gardening activities. More ...
IDENTIFY RESOURCES AND SHARING
What skills and resources already exist among the interested people that can aid in the helping with the Victory Garden’s creation? How will you maximum your numbers by sharing tools, seeds, plant cuttings, buying in bulk? Discuss and determine what crops interests each gardener. Match the crops to grow (by season) to the members and publish the document. Be sure to get commitments from everyone. In some cases, you may find that a member believes they only have capacity to grow for their own family and not have enough to share. You can work with that member to help them choose a high value crop that allows sharing. Or, the member may be able to provide transportation to bring in compost and other supplies from a supplier to the members. Organize based on the willingness and resources of the members. Do not force an organization. This is also supposed to be fun. Go to the Toolkit for a sample grow commitment matrix for a season in a mild climate like Northern California.
CHOOSE A SITE IN YOUR YARD, PATIO, BALCONY
Each member must consider the amount of daily sunshine (vegetables need at least six hours a day), availability of water, and soil testing for each Victory Garden. Will you grow in your backyard, frontyard, both, in containers on your patio or balcony? For members without gardening space; indoor gardening may be the answer. Or, share your harvest in exchange for working in the gardens.
DETERMINE RULES AND PUT THEM IN WRITING
Since these Victory Gardens belong to each individual, keep the rules simple. Harvest rules are probably the best ... What will you do with the extra harvest? Give to the food bank? Have a weekly or monthly neighborhood free Victory Garden market? Share with Victory Garden Network members? Also, consider rules about sharing tools especially if members decide to collective purchase a large item like a mulcher.
PREPARE AND DEVELOP THE SITE
In most cases, the land will need preparation for planting. Organize your gardeners to help each other prepare the sites or each gardener may prepare their own site. It's recommended that if this is your first garden; start with a reasonable size that's manageable.
When deciding site size and location; be sure to allow space for storing tools, making compost and pathways between plant rows! If you plant in your front yard (why keep the lawn - you can't eat it); plant flowers or shrubs around the garden's edges to promote good will with non-gardening neighbors and passersby.
GET THE KIDS INVOLVED
Consider creating a special garden just for kids. Children are not as interested in the size of the harvest but rather in the process of gardening. A separate area set aside for them allows them to explore the garden at their own speed. Get great ideas for involving children in the garden at Barretts World.
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER
Good communication ensures a strong community of Victory Gardens with active participation. Some ways to do this are: form a telephone tree, create an email list; install a rainproof bulletin board in the garden; have regular celebrations. Become a member of The Victory Garden Foundation and take advantage of valuable information to get started, sustain and harvest the gardens. Victory Gardens are also about creating and strengthening communities. Communicate often - E-mail communication is great and the Internet works good also. We offer to your Victory Garden Network ... a free website is included just for your Victory Garden Network. During our 350 Victory Garden Challenge, you are also eligible to receive vegetable seeds (while supply lasts). Remember, not all of your Victory Gardeners may have access to the Internet. Go door-to-door to your neighbors and personally invite them participate.
Adapted from the American Community Garden Association's Community Garden organization.