Feature Article - March 2012
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Gathering a Community

Planning Community Gardens and More

By Kelli Anderson

Shedding Light on Infrastructure

Once soil and water issues have been resolved, the next consideration is infrastructure and determining how much is needed. However, in asking the simple question "How much?" the complicated answer is, "It depends."

For some, like the many low-income residential areas of New York City, less is more. "You don't need a lot of infrastructure. It doesn't take much: some clean soil, tools, dedicated gardeners and some water." Stone said. "But they will make it look beautiful, you can count on the gardeners if you turn them loose, they'll do it with very little financial input, and in some ways that's better because when done with their own hands, it's the ultimate buy-in because it's part of them. If you build it all before they get there, it's not the same."

Other communities, however, insist on more, wanting a beautifully built garden enclosure, complete with raised beds, a whimsical tool shed filled with tools, a kiosk for posting garden rules and social activities, shaded seating and even art to beautify the space.

"There is initial money needed to build some infrastructure but it really depends on whose idea it is to start the garden. You can go crazy with how much you do," Poser said, "but you can do fairly simple and not pay a lot, too. It's less expensive, actually, than other traditional structures like ball fields that take more to keep them green. They can even bring money into the parks, between user fees and grants. Community gardens are popular and bring more people into our parks because they want to see them, walk through them, and just like them more than a park with just grass. In the long term, they support parks."