Sunday, June 5, 2011

Northeast Florida, How Does Your Garden Grow?

At the recent 2011 Northeast Florida Community Gardening Conference, we distributed a survey for the gardeners to give us feedback on the state of community gardening in our area.  If you were unable to attend the conference, you can still participate in the survey HERE.

We want to get a feeling for what is going well and what is not and then look to see whether one garden's success might help cure another garden's problem. This is one of the strengths of a Community Garden network.

 

Summary

The long and the short of it is that funding/money is a major issue for most gardens, which is hardly a surprise since none of our area Community Gardens are currently for-profit enterprises.  Relief may be available within our group, since fund raising via plant sales was also identified as a major success.  Sadly, fund raising does not figure highly on our list of items to which we'd like to devote our time.

Our goal is to get one of our local Community Gardens which have organized successful plant sales to teach us how to replicate their success.  Until then, we've included the following links on organizing plants sales:

Another recurring issue is Manpower or Maintaining Involvement.  While this seems to be a concern, it is interesting to note that some gardens which report these concerns off the record, did not identify those issues on the survey but did identify the level of involvement in their garden as a success through social gatherings and potlucks.

So, we may have a few gardens that may be able to teach us a thing or two about creating a cohesive, involved community within our garden.  Until we can get them to teach us how to do that, we've included the following links on potluck dinners since these seem to be very popular social gatherings for gardeners:

Details


The Green Thumbs Up

When we asked Community Gardens to identify current and/or recurring successes they experience, they answered as follows.  Items in BOLD occurred most frequently.

  • Harvest gets donated to the local food bank
  • Tours/Education
    • Non school based Community Gardens are teaching to School Gardens on a regular weekly basis
  • Community outreach
  • Fundraisers: 
    • Plant Sales
    • Farm to Table Dinners
  • The Community Garden supports 10 Home box gardens for low income families
  • Community Garden Gatherings and Potlucks
  • High Demand for more gardens
  • Children's Gardening Program
  • Collaboration with community partners (Slow Food, Veterans Farm, Vermont students) to build a major installation in a single day


The Black Thumbs Down

When we asked Community Gardens to identify current and/or recurring problems  they experience, they answered as follows.  Items in BOLD occurred most frequently.

  • Funding/Money (by far the most common issue)
    • For testing of contaminants in soil
  • Manpower (maintaining involvement)
    • Uneven or unequal efforts put forth by plotholders for care of individual plots.
    • Volunteer maintenance
    • Getting participants to come out, water & take care of the garden
  • Water
  • Gardening on public land
    • City restrictions upon use


Are We Willing to Work?

When we asked Community Gardens what community issues or task forces they would be interested in working on, they responded as follows.

Community Gardens in Schools 60%
Childhood Obesity Prevention 40%
Gardening Education/Classes 40%
Promoting Community Gardening 33%
City Planning/Zoning 27%
Food Policy in Duval County 20%
Community Gardens for impoverished areas 7%
Fundraising 7%

If you would like more information on the information gathered at the 2011 Northeast Florida Community Gardening Conference, please Contact Us.