Lauren, the maker of Till & Trowel

Welcome to Till and Trowel

Hi! I’m Lauren and I like to grow vegetables. I'm also a little bit crazy about my community garden plot. 

I made a place here on the Internet called Till and Trowel, where I can "geek out" about gardening and community gardens. I'm so glad you found me. I hope you'll stick around. 

Community Gardens

I started gardening in our local community garden in 2011, when the Overland Park (Kansas) Community Garden first opened. I didn't think I needed a community garden plot at first. I had my own little garden in the backyard, and it was doing fine. But, I knew the person who had organized the garden, and that first year, she didn't have enough gardeners signed up. I thought I'd help her out for a year or two. After all, I knew I'd be a responsible gardener, and I figured I could donate any extra vegetables I grew to a local food pantry. 

I was surprised that I liked the community garden so much!

The difference between my community garden plot and my backyard garden was stunning. In the plot, the plants got full sun exposure all day, and the vegetables thrived like I'd never seen before. I was growing vegetables successfully that had only sputtered in my home garden - 8-inch long carrots, perfect green onions, loads of tomatoes, lettuce... they looked like they came from a gourmet grocery store! But they were even better. They were fresher than a grocery store could ever supply. They were grown locally and organically.

In the first years of my community garden plot story, I started a small ministry for my church to support the garden. I recruited a team of gardening enthusiasts from the church, and we used the plot to grow for a church-based food pantry near the garden. (The pantry was not at our church - we didn't offer that.) We were growing with the goal to maximize the amount of fresh vegetables we could produce. Our produce was popular with the clientele; the volunteers there told us that the fresh vegetables and herbs always were selected first. 

As time went on though, my little team of volunteers began to shrink, and I was unable to recruit new garden volunteers. Finally in 2020, after doing most of the work myself for a few years, I decided to disband the team and switch to private growing.  

Learning and Growing

While managing the team of volunteers I developed management techniques that allowed tasks to be delegated efficiently. While planning the garden to grow as much food as possible in the space and time, I developed highly-productive gardening techniques. The community garden plot had a sign identifying that we were a ministry at the church. Since the appearance of the garden reflected on our church, I was mindful of keeping a nice-looking plot. 

Today, I use the techniques I developed to create a community garden plot that is both highly productive and beautiful. The plot is only 80 square feet (4 ft x 20 ft) yet it consistently yields close to 100 lbs. of vegetables, year after year. Some years we harvested as much as 150 lbs.! Additionally, I consistently receive compliments on how attractive the plot looks. 

Having a good-looking garden plot is more than just "nice." When your garden looks good, you are proud of your work, and that encourages you to keep it up. You enjoy spending time at the plot. A well-tended plot is less likely to attract pests and become overrun with weeds. A beautiful plot deters people from swiping your vegetables. 

I want to share my gardening method with you. I think it will help you become a better gardener and help you fall in love with community gardening, too! 

There are very few drawbacks to a community garden. It's all about goodness. It's one of humanity's success stories. 

Come Along on the Journey!

You can do it too.

Yes, for real! 

There’s no such thing as a “black thumb!”

There are a bazillion garden websites and blogs out there. But I hope my practical, real-life method will resonate with you. Maybe something will make sense that never made sense before. 

Yes, you can do this! I know you can!

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