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3/9/2012 7:46:00 AM
Before growing starts, things to consider
St. Mary Parish photo
Volunteers work a St. Mary Parish garden in Corvallis.
St. Mary Parish photo
Volunteers work a St. Mary Parish garden in Corvallis.
Types of gardens
There are several different models commonly used to create gardens, which requires leadership and coordination to operate smoothly, resolve conflicts as they arise and ensure continuation of the garden for many seasons.

• The least resource-intensive way to facilitate creation of a garden is to find an outside organization to coordinate the garden on your land.

• A food bank garden is tended and harvested by a group of participants for donation to local food pantries or soup kitchen.

• A traditional community garden consists of many small plots that are rented or claimed by individuals or families who plant, weed, maintain and harvest their plots throughout the season. Charging a fee for garden plots will help offset costs and encourage people to develop a sense of ownership over the garden.

— Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

For churches, community gardens often foster social involvement, healthy activity and a connection to the land and environment. According to Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, gardens help build food security, as well as serving as a place for gatherings, classes, mentoring opportunities and friendship.

Once a parish has chosen a site that has good soil, abundant sun, adequate drainage and nearby neighbors, here are some issues that should be considered before building commences:

• Cost of infrastructure required to create and maintain a garden, including ongoing expenses such as water, soil amendments and plants.  

• Are there core advocates with gardening expertise to spark community-wide enthusiasm?

• Outline a clear plan and long-term vision for the garden.
• Development of an overall garden management plan, including plot allocation, use of the garden, maintenance of plots and seasonal cleanup.

• Is the space accessible to low-income gardeners?

• How will volunteer coordination and ongoing management of the garden be handled?

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