Community gardening brings neighbors together

Community gardens can be a great way to bring neighbors together. (Photo courtesy of Jacqlyn Rivas.)

Community gardens can be a great way to bring neighbors together. The groups share the work (upkeep) and the rewards, the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. Many types of groups have become involved in community gardening, such as homeowners associations, neighborhood groups, educational institutions, social service agencies, correctional facilities, businesses, religious organizations, and clubs. of gardening.

These groups are interested in creating and maintaining community gardens because participation builds self-esteem and confidence and encourages young people to get involved. Groups create beauty, grow edibles, improve nutrition and fitness, reduce stress, neighbor and foster healthier communities.

Initial planning and communication are the keys to the success of community gardens. Site selection is very important. A minimum of six hours of full sun is required. The site must have appropriate zoning and legal restrictions, sufficient space, access to water, well-drained soil, be free of tree roots/tall plants, and have a “clean” history (free of contaminants or other environmental concerns). A shaded area should be available for resting, space for a tool shed, parking, possibly toilets, have electricity if needed for water supply and a debris management plan. Site preparation, fencing installed, plot/path staking, soil amendments, raised beds built or purchased, soil test completed and irrigation installed including back-up prevention required.

If you are interested in starting a community garden, contact our local UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County office. We don’t provide the labor, but we have the information and experience to help you, including topics ranging from horticulture to irrigation system design, food preservation and nutrition. For more information, please Google “ask IFAS” followed by “community gardening”. Also contact the Coalition of Community Gardens – Tampa Bay

Check out our calendar of events and our Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Facebook page on the internet at Hillsborough County Extension. For help with horticultural questions, call 744-5519 or visit us at UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County at 5339 County Rd. 579 in Seffner. We hope to see you soon at a future workshop. Remember to reuse, reduce, recycle and repeat.