Starting a Community Garden
Interested in starting a community garden in Hamilton? We’d love to help. To start, please check out Starting a Community Garden in Hamilton: A 10 Step Guide To Get Your Garden Up and Running. This guide was designed to provide you with all the tools you need to help make your garden a reality.
We also encourage you to visit the Tools and Resources page of the website where you can find a variety of other gardening guides.
In the meantime, here are the basic things to consider. Please note that finding a spot for your community garden is one of the LAST pieces of the puzzle. While it is great to have a space in mind, unless you have all the other pieces come together it will be challenging to have a successful garden. Check out the tips below and try to follow them in order (if possible):
You can’t do this alone! A community garden needs support from an entire community to succeed. Things to consider:
- Who wants this garden?
- Who will take a leadership role in this garden? (Keep in mind the City Policy requires a collective of 4-6 people to sign on as leaders before they will license land for a garden)
- Who can support this garden with donations of money or materials?
- Who will garden?
- Who may not support the garden?
Without a clear motivation, it will be a challenge to keep the garden going. Consider why your group wants a garden. There can be one reason or many. Some current gardens in Hamilton are motivated by the following:
- Teaching youth to garden
- Empowering people to grow their own food
- Providing a communal green space to a community
- Growing food to support pantries and shelters
What type of garden does your group want? This will be guided by the ‘Why’ of your garden. Here are some examples of the most common types:
- Plot-Based: These gardens offer small plots of land for community members to grow and harvest their own vegetables, fruit, or flowers. There is often a small cost associated and there may be a wait list of interested gardeners.
- Communal: In these gardens, community members work together to grow and harvest the produce. All vegetables and fruit are then equally distributed to the garden members.
- Donation: All produce grown and harvested in these gardens are donated to local food banks and charities. Like in communal gardens, there are typically no individual plots.
- Youth: These gardens have a youth focus and are either only open to those that are under 18 years old or students who attend the neighbouring school.
- Tenants Only: These gardens are only open to residents who live in the neighbouring building.
- Beautification: Only flowers and ornamental plants are grown in these gardens.
How will this garden be created and maintained. What assets do you have in your community? To help you review and get a better sense of your resources and financial needs, check out Worksheet 3: Community Garden Resources Inventory, and Worksheet 4:Creating a Budget in Starting a Community Garden in Hamilton: A 10 Step Guide To Get Your Garden Up and Running.
The two main options are City-land or private land. To see where there are currently community gardens, visit our online Garden Directory. To learn more about the Hamilton Community Garden Policy click HERE.
The best time to start planning a garden is the fall. This gives you plenty of time to have a garden up and running in time for spring. It is possible to get things off the ground as late of February or March but it will be a challenge. Here is the suggested timeline for getting a garden on a City site:
October – December:
- Determine and collect community support
- Define garden leadership and determine your resources
- Create a budget
January – February
- Find and secure a site
- Develop a site design and garden rules
March – April
- Finalize garden goals, rules, and design
- Set up a communication strategy
- Form committees and promote the garden
- Gather resources and prepare the site
April – Onwards
- Get gardening!