Garden Essentials: 3 Must-Have Human Factors for a Successful Community Garden

This article is more about community garden plots that you have to travel to. Obviously, if you're gardening in a plot at home, you have access to facilities!

Access to a Bathroom

It's really helpful to have a bathroom nearby. Sometimes you'll be at the garden for a few hours, and you'll need the facilities! It's important to keep drinking water (stay hydrated) when you're working out in the sun and/or wind, and the natural side effect for drinking water is having to urinate. 

A porta potty will do in a pinch!

Parking

If you are driving to a community garden, you will need to park somewhere. 

You want it close enough that it's not too long a walk from the car to the garden. Sometimes you're carrying heavy items. Sometimes you'll have to make multiple trips between your car and your garden plot.  

You also want sufficient parking. If crowd shows up at the same time, you won't want to be stuck without a parking place, or stuck with a really long walk from "remote" parking.

In my experience as a community gardener and as a visitor to community gardens, there's rarely a crowd at the garden. Everyone's schedule is so different. Some will be there early in the morning, some will come to the garden in the evenings. Some can only come on weekends. But, a team workday or a social event can bring many members to the garden at the same time. Poor parking might discourage members from participating. 

Tools and Supplies

It's very helpful to have a stocked tool shed at the garden. In many community gardens, using the tools at the garden is a major benefit of being a member. 

If you don't have a lot of storage space at home, you may not already own the tools you need to tend your garden well. Most gardeners will have their own hand tools like pruners, snips, cultivator, etc., and they will bring these with them each time. 

With a tool shed, you don't have to worry about remembering all the tools you will need when you pack up to go to the garden. Or, maybe you arrive at the garden and find that it needs work you weren't planning to do. You don't have to go back home - just use the shared tools in the shed!

Access to a wheelbarrow or a wheeled garden cart is helpful. If you're bringing bagged garden supplies like mulch to your plot, it's a lot easier to wheel those heavy bags to your garden plot. 

People also tend to share garden supplies at the garden shed. You may be able to find free packets of seeds, fertilizer, garden ties, plant supports, or extra bags. 

Human Factors Make a Huge Difference

The human factors provided by your community garden make a subtle but critical difference in your success at the garden. 

If you frequently find yourself leaving the because:

  • you need the bathroom
  • you forgot the tool you need
  • you don't have a supply that you need

it's less likely you'll come back the same day and get the job done. 

If parking is a hassle you might put off going to the garden and then ultimately not go. 

If you don't go to the garden frequently, your garden plot will start to become neglected. Your plants won't grow as well as they could. Then, your harvest isn't as good as it could be. Then, the weeds start taking over. 

Then your plot isn't fun any more. If it isn't fun and it isn't producing, then you'll avoid it even more. 

It's a downward spiral. 

See how human factors contribute to the success of the garden as a whole? 

My point is this - in order for your garden to succeed and for your community garden to succeed, you need to do as much as you can to make it easy and fun for people to come to the garden. Engaged gardeners are the key to success. Nurture that engagement.

If you've joined a garden that doesn't offer these kinds of benefits, maybe it's time to talk with the garden leadership about getting them. 

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