What is a Community Garden?

Very Simply, it is: any piece of land gardened by a group of people.

It can be urban, suburban, or rural. It can grow flowers, vegetables or community. It can be one community plot, or can be many individual plots. It can be at a school, hospital, or in a neighborhood. It can also be a series of plots dedicated to "urban agriculture" where the produce is grown for a market.

Benefits of Community Gardens:
* Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
* Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
* Stimulates Social Interaction
* Encourages Self-Reliance
* Beautifies Neighborhoods
* Produces Nutritious Food
* Reduces Family Food Budgets
* Conserves Resources
* Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
* Reduces Crime
* Preserves Green Space
* Creates income opportunities and economic development
* Reduces city heat from streets and parking lots
* Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections

-American Community Garden Association

What is organic gardening?
The short answer is that organic gardening means not using synthetic products, including pesticides and fertilizers. Ideally, organic gardening replenishes the resources as it makes use of them. Like feeding depleted soil with composted plants, or planting legumes to add nitrogen to an area that had been planted with heavy feeder. The bigger picture involves working in cooperation with nature, viewing your garden as a small part of all the natural system.

The Beginners Guide to Organic Gardening

What is horticultural therapy?
American Horticultural Therapy Association

What is Composting?
Composting is a recycling system, returning organic matter to its natural purpose of restoring and enriching soil.

Why is composting important?
Putting organic materials in landfills not only takes up valuable space but also creates greenhouse gases and contributes to global warming. Like many materials sent to the landfill, organic materials can be easily handled in more environmentally conscious ways.

Contrary to what many believe, landfills are not like huge com- post bins. When garbage arrives at the landfill it is spread evenly across the working face and compacted down to take up as little space as possible. After compaction, a layer of soil is added to cover the garbage. This keeps the elements out, especially oxygen. Without oxygen the garbage decomposes very slowly. In fact, it is not unusual to find 50 year old newspapers that you can still read.

Professor W.L. Rathje, the founder and director of the Garbage Project at the University of Arizona, found ten year-old romaine lettuce, 20 year-old Kaiser buns and 15 year-old hotdogs that were still recognizable while conducting archeological studies of modern landfills.

Up to 40% of our garbage or more is composed of food and yard and paper wastes. These are the materials that cause the most problems in a landfill because of the moisture they add. If these materials weren’t buried in landfills, odors and emissions like methane gas and liquid leachate, would be significantly reduced.

Ironically, kitchen and yard waste like grass, leaves and potato peels could easily be composted in our backyards and turned into a rich soil amendment we could use on our gardens and lawns. Prunings can be chipped and used for mulching. Paper and cardboard are not only excellent choices for recycling but can be used as dry material in your compost bin. A well functioning compost bin uses oxygen to decompose materials. Instead of creating greenhouse gases, compost helps retain moisture and returns needed nutrients to depleted soil

Unless we reduce the amount of organic waste being buried in landfills we create greater environmental problems and economic burdens for future generations.
Central Oakagan Community Gardens

Who are the garden coordinators?
Lance and Andrea

Do you offer any gardening classes?
Yes! and they're free!

What is Succession Planting?
Some crops are harvested early, like peas and salad greens, which means you might have empty spaces in your garden mid-season.What now? You can re-plant in that spot for a second harvest!Beans are quick to mature and are an ideal choice. You can also put in cold weather and frost tolerant plants like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, as well as kale, which you'll be able to harvest into October.This is called succession planting and is a great way to take advantage of Grand Rapids long growing season to increase the yield from a small plot of land.

How much should I water my garden?
In order to give your plants the water they need and at the same time make the most of the water we have available, consider these tips:

* Add mulch around your plants to decrease by 2/3 the amount of water (and number of times!) needed.
* Avoid watering in the heat of the day (10am - 4pm). Most water added at this time will simply evaporate, especially if you have no mulch. Water early in the morning or early evening. (Late night watering can cause mold growth and encourages slugs, so also avoid that time if possible.)
* Water only around the plant - concentrate your water directly around the plant as this is where the roots are. A small depression around your plant will funnel the water where it is needed. (Personally, I water with a small sour cream container right at the plant stem to concentrate the water.)
* Water deeply and less often. For our soils and a depth of 6 inches, a square foot of plants will need on average 4 cups of water 2x per week.

What is a Pizza Garden?
This particular garden is shaped like a pizza. In your garden area, mark off a circle by putting a stake upright in the ground. Attach a 3 and a half foot piece of string to the stake. Keeping the string tight, walk around in a circle and mark the ground to show the garden's border. Divide the circle into six equal wedges. In your pizza garden plan to grow three vegetables and three herbs. In one wedge plant 2 or 3 oregano plants. Oregano is a perennial herb that gives pizza the characteristic taste and wonderful smell. It may be used fresh or dried. Parsley is a biennial herb that reseeds itself. Plant 2 or 3 plants in its wedge. There are several kinds of basil varieties, but I recommend sweet basil for your pizza garden. Basil is an annual herb and you can plant 2 to 3 plants in its wedge. Onions or scallions can be planted from seeds or sets. Select red, white or yellow for your garden. You can plant up to 30 onion sets in your garden. Plant 1 or 2 pepper plants in your garden. Plant any green, sweet, bell type of pepper. If you like hot, spicy pizza, plan to also grow a hot pepper variety. The final wedge will be planted with one tomato plant. A paste tomato variety, such as Roma, is recommended for your pizza garden. Roma has small, oblong tomatoes with a thick meaty flesh. A pizza garden could be a fun project for the whole family to get involved in. Click here for other themed garden ideas.