Thursday, April 3, 2014

Research Q of the Week: Ready, Set, Garden (4/3)

Question: We want to help residents get back outside and enjoy the weather! Are there any best practices in establishing a community garden program?

Answer: Good idea! After all that cold and snow—the best escape may be getting outside together to garden. Has your city considered setting aside some area of the city for a community garden? From Grand Marais, to Pipestone, cities embrace community gardens.

These city green spaces go way back. During World War I, many cities encouraged community gardens to combat what was known as the “HC of L.” Translation? The “High Cost of Living.”

Today, cities encourage community gardens to add beauty to cityscapes, provide healthy food options for residents and to build community. Fresh veggies, sun and exercise. What’s not to like?

If your city is interested, make it as simple as possible, but have rules. Many cities require applications and waivers, for example, see Watertown’s application (pdf). There are lots of resources online, including a Community Garden Resource Sheet from the Minnesota Department of Health (pdf) and wheelbarrows full of information at Gardening Matters.

This is also a wonderful area to work on with volunteers.

It’s not only about garden plots. The city of St. Paul allows residents to plant boulevards (that area between the sidewalk and the street) to “enhance and improve the aesthetic appearance of city streets, avenues and alleys.” See that city ordinance on St. Paul's website.

After the winter we’ve had, let’s get out there and dig it.

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information.

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