Summertime is the time for planting, nurturing, and harvesting delicious fruits and vegetables. And when it comes to your community, warmer weather encourages neighbors to get out of doors, meet one another, have picnics and barbecues, and socialize in ways that they cannot during the winter months. One of the ways that a community can come together during the summer is to set up an HOA community garden.
Why Should You Set Up an HOA Community Garden?
More and more homeowners associations are starting community gardens where residents can get their hands dirty and grow their own produce, and it’s easy to see why. Are community gardens effective? Apart from adding a lush breath of freshness into the neighborhood, community gardens promote physical and mental health as well as encourage skill-building.
What does a community garden do? For those who are unaware, an HOA community garden is simply a place where members of the association can come together and plant a variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Each individual gets to rent an individual or shared plot of land.
If your community currently doesn’t have one, now is the time to bring the idea to the board. Here are the many benefits of starting an HOA or condo community garden:
- Gets you out of the house and under the sun — just remember to apply sunscreen!
- Makes for a great exercise
- Save money by growing your own healthy and organic food
- Good for mental health
- Allows you to socialize with neighbors in a supportive setting
- Promotes community involvement
- Sets a good example for the younger generation
- Appealing to the eyes
- Develops skills and expands knowledge of gardening
How to Start a Community Garden
Community gardens don’t just pop up out of nowhere, with soil ready to be tilled and seeds ready to be planted. If you’ve never set up a community garden before, there’s a good chance you don’t know where to begin.
Here’s how you can start your very own community garden in your HOA.
1. Get Permission From the Board
Before you really get started with your idea to set up a community garden, it will be necessary to get the backing and permission of the HOA board. After all, a community garden isn’t just a one-off thing. It’s a big project that will stay within your community perhaps forever. Set aside a time during a meeting where you can discuss ideas and vote on the prospect of setting up a community garden.
2. Get Help From the Community
Once your board has approved the idea, it is time to get the community involved. Try to get volunteers from both the board and around the community to help with construction and planning.
Make sure to use as much community talent as you can before hiring anyone to do the job for you. This way, everyone will have a vested interest in the project and have a chance to play an active role.
3. Establish Rules and Policies
As with any project in an HOA, there should be HOA community garden rules for everyone to follow. Make sure to draw up some HOA gardening policies to keep everything in order. Consider how often owners should weed their plot. Don’t allow owners to leave their gardening tools lying around.
In addition to creating these rules, it’s vital that everyone knows about them, so post these rules at the entrance, too. This way, plot owners can avoid committing violations.
4. Decide on Fees
Every HOA community garden will need constant maintenance and upkeep, so it only makes sense for the board to charge a regular fee to cover the cost. Decide on how much you need to charge participating homeowners by factoring in projected expenses. Implementing a fee will also make sure those who sign up for a plot don’t just abandon it halfway through.
5. Pick a Site and Assign Lots
After deciding on the HOA gardening rules, it’s time to choose a site. When picking a site, make sure there’s enough room and consider things like weather and temperature.
Equally as important as the beauty of the space is the functionality of the space. The best community gardens are those that are sectioned out into specific plots that homeowners can rent out for the summer. These plots should be raised both to accommodate older residents and to keep weeds from taking root in the gardens.
6. Protect the Plants and Plots
Even a small bunny can wreak havoc in a garden. To prevent them and other critters from munching on the plants, install a fence around the area.
Make sure the fence can keep out all sorts of animals, even dogs. Dogs love to roll around in the soil and, if one that escapes from its leash, can cause plenty of damage.
7. Install Sprinklers and Benches
Many people travel during the summer season. To help everyone in the community out, it may be helpful to install a sprinkler or soaking system to ensure that each plot is getting the moisture that it needs even if the owner of the plot is out of town or forgets to visit the garden.
A community garden should be a place where anyone from the community can come to enjoy the beauty and the peace that the garden affords.
Spend time and resources planning the space to be not only a place to grow plants but a place to sit and enjoy a chat with a neighbor. Consider placing inviting benches and a table to encourage repose.
Not everyone has a green thumb, so it’s only natural for residents to feel apprehensive about gardening since they don’t know how to do it. You can easily solve this problem by enlisting the help of a local farmer to educate the community about gardening. They can give community gardening tips and advise residents on the best flowers and produce to grow.
Farmers are pretty busy during the summer and spring seasons, though. So if your schedule can accommodate it, set up the orientation during off-peak months.
9. Set Up a Sharing Page
There is nothing more neighborly than sharing the bounty of the harvest. One excellent idea is to set up a sharing page on social media where owners of the plots in the community garden can go to find or share produce that has been grown in the garden. That way, if one plot has a bounty of squash or cucumbers, they can be shared with the whole community.
Frequently Asked Questions on HOA’s Garden
Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about HOA gardening:
Who Benefits From a Community Garden?
The entire HOA community can benefit from a shared garden. Having a community garden not only promotes physical and mental health but also encourages socialization and adds to the neighborhood’s overall appeal. Additionally, you can save money on food, too, because you can grow the fruits and vegetables you need. Plus, you know they’re organic because you were the one who planted them!
How Much Space Do You Need for a Community Garden?
Ideally, every homeowner will be assigned equal-sized plots in the garden. In that case, the space you need will depend on how many homeowners there are in your community. You also need to consider pathways where people and wheelbarrows can pass (usually a minimum of 3 ft). Other than that, if you intend to install other fixtures such as benches and picnic areas, you need to factor those in.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Community Garden?
It depends on the size of your garden as well as the extent of your needs. For instance, if you need to completely redo a space to prepare it, the cost will definitely be higher. Insurance, city fees, and irrigation costs should also be considered. Typically, though, setting up an HOA community garden will cost you anywhere between $3,750 to $7,500, with larger gardens even running up to $30,000.
Can You Make Money From a Community Garden?
The HOA can make money from community gardens by setting up shops for gardening supplies or seeds. You can also hold gardening classes for a fee. Homeowners, on the other hand, also stand to gain from an HOA community garden. They can save money on produce by growing fruits and vegetables themselves. They can even sell their harvests if they wish.
How Do You Promote a Community Garden?
Gauging community interest from the start is a critical step when setting up a community garden. If no one seems interested, then your HOA will likely not get enough participants. You can promote your HOA garden, though, through various communication tools such as newsletters (or e-newsletters), email blasts, flyers, and even on your HOA website.
How Do You Run a Successful Community Garden?
What makes a community garden successful? It takes proper preparation and ongoing maintenance to run a successful garden. That means you need to clean the site regularly, make sure it has an appealing design, keep pests away, and make it easy for homeowners to participate. A successful HOA community garden is one where everyone involved happily tends to their plot.
Why Do Community Gardens Fail?
Gardens in an HOA community fail mostly due to a lack of upkeep or participants. When the association does not pay attention to the garden, it risks letting it fall into ruin.
Soon enough, you’ll just have a plot of dirt or a garden overrun by pests. Additionally, if a community garden doesn’t have enough participants, then it leaves many lots open.
Try HOA Community Gardening Today
Having an HOA community garden is a great way to beautify your neighborhood and bring people together during the summer and spring. It’s no wonder an increasing number of HOAs are adopting it as a norm. If you don’t know how to set up a community garden, use these tips to get started. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to a lush community garden and satisfied residents.