Sometimes it's obvious where the community garden is - you drive by it every day, or there's a big roadside sign, or you read about it regularly in your local newsletter.
It may not be obvious. All kinds of organizations can sponsor a community garden, and they are free to govern their gardens as they choose. This might mean that they lease plots only to people who meet specific criteria, such as being residents of a town, being a member of the synagogue, or being a student at the university.
If you're looking for a community garden to join, it can take some investigation to find the right place for you. Here are some strategies, beyond the obvious, to find community gardens near you.
With the advent of technology, finding resources near you is easier than ever. Open Google maps or another map application, and search for
community gardens near me
You might need to try searching based on your town name, your region name, or even the county. For example:
community garden Centre County, PA
community gardens near Colorado Springs, CO
But you may not find one close enough to your home. If the garden is too far a drive, you may not make the trip frequently enough to tend to your garden plot well. A longer trip to the garden can be a barrier.
If this is the case, look for gardens affiliated with other local organizations. These gardens are usually less publicized and they may welcome nearby gardeners.
School gardens are relatively common, and they tend to be used as a teaching tool for the students.
Sometimes, an enthusiastic staff member sets up the garden and establishes a program, but over time, the interest wanes. They may welcome neighborhood people to come in and garden in their space. Your plot will help the garden look better, and it might even renew interest in the school's garden.
You can scout out schools near you when school is not in session. If you find a garden, give the office a call.
A group of students or faculty may establish a garden on the grounds of the college for students and staff to use. Again, once the initial "newness" of the project wears off, the garden may have some openings. Students cycle through the college, and plots are likely to open up every semester.
Gardens are probably affiliated with a horticulture department. It's a good place to start your investigation.
Your county might have a Master Gardener's program affiliated with your county extension office. The Master Gardeners will probably have a list of local community gardens.
Even if they don't, your county cooperative extension office usually has resources for horticulture and growing. The office staff may be able to guide you to find the right garden.
Religious organizations (churches, synagogues, mosques) sometimes construct gardens to grow vegetables for their ministries - food for a food pantry, for example. They may allow neighbors to lease or use a plot for their own private use. Call the church office and see what you can find out.
Sometimes, cities run community gardens as a benefit to the residents. Check out the city website and look under parks, environment, or similar. At least there should be a "contact us" link with a phone number or email address where you can inquire.
Libraries may know about local resources, or they may be able to help you search online.
There is a nation-wide community garden association, and its website can help you find a garden. Click to Find a Garden on the American Community Garden Association website.
Inclusion in this listing is voluntary, and it probably doesn't include all community gardens in the country, and the listings may have outdated contact information. But, it may get you started.
Since community gardens are often small projects and their administration is decentralized, it's not always easy to find one near you. It can take some detective work to find the right one for you. Be persistent! The right place may be hidden but very close by!