Gardens And the Community Connecting the Church A Proposal for Area Churches The Benefits of Community Gardens Starting a Community Garden Benefits for the Church Community Creates community and partnership within the church by allowing different age groups to work together
And the Community
Connecting the Church
A Proposal for Area Churches
The Benefits of Community Gardens
Starting a Community Garden
How to Get Started
1. Find out who is interested. Alert congregation members, but also contact your Neighborhood
Association to see if other community members are interested in starting a garden
2. Make sure that there is at least one community member, possibly a Church Staff member, who
can take charge of maintaining a committee of neighbors for the care of the garden.
3. Choose a site. Make sure the site gets at least 6 full hours of sunlight daily (for vegetables).
4. Test your soil for lead. Lead, found in some kinds of paints before 1978, can cause a serious
health risk to people. If lead is in the soil, leafy green plants will absorb it and ingesting these
plants can be harmful. Check out www.ci.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?page_id=3222 for
more information on Grand Rapids Programs.
5. Identify a water source! If there is no building on the site, negotiate with a neighbor to use
water from their house.
6. Consider how the garden should be organized, how many plots are needed and who should get
7. Make a set of rules for those who want to have a plot in the garden. Ensure that all gardeners
are aware of the time-commitment to gardening and create a standard for neatness. By
establishing this before the garden is planted, problems can be avoided and/or dealt with
quickly and efficiently.
8. Consider a community compost heap. This is an excellent way for neighbors to reduce their
waste. Be very intentional about informing every community member about what can and
cannot be put in the compost.
9. Be aware that the first several years may not be as fruitful as expected – the soil will take a
while to develop into good nourishing soil.
10. Make a sign! Let your neighbors know about the garden!
11. Prepare the land and plant your food
12. The American Community Garden Association has an excellent fact sheet with ideas for
starting a community garden. http://www.communitygarden.org/starting.php
A 50’X50’ garden will generally cost at least $1,000 to construct and prepare for the first growing season. However, a garden can be prepared for only $200 and later gradually improved if it proves successful. But the more money put into beautifying the garden, the more it will be enjoyed; an unimproved plot of land will likely not draw participants and the garden will not be a lasting success.
Tool Shed $400
(Tools can also be kept in storage room or a simple large bin.)
Tools: shovels, rakes, hoes, spades, hoses, wheelbarrow, gloves $300
(Alternatively, large tools for construction can be brought by church members, and smaller tools can be donated by members)
Small fence to ward off vandals: $200+
(If the neighborhood is involved, vandalism and theft will be minimal in most cases even without a fence.)
Raised beds: (lumber and soil) $75+ each
Bench, Path materials, Bulletin board Cost Varies
Soil test Lab Test $100+ DIY Test $15
Once the garden is well established and running efficiently, production of vegetables will be one-tenth the wholesale price. The following costs can be redeemed by renting plots out to gardeners for a season or possibly by selling some of the produce of the garden.
Water $20 / month
Mulch; Fertilizers & Pest repellents; Seeds and young plants 1/10 wholesale
The social and economic significance of community gardening is gaining recognition in West Michigan. Neighborhood organizations, schools, businesses, and other groups currently operate about a dozen community gardens in the Grand Rapids area.
Through this poster, we hope to encourage area churches with open land to consider starting a garden for their members and neighbors.
- Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council
- Working to promote and coordinate community gardens in West Michigan
- American Community Gardening Association (ACGA)
- Numerous resources and tips for starting a community garden
Examples of Existing Gardens
Webster Church Community Garden
Located in the heart of Webster Township, near Ann Arbor .
6 plot are available every summer
Designed for people with physical limitations
Church, community members & local boy scouts continue to build and maintain the garden areas
Church provides land and water
Built on the property of Webster United Church of Christ
Heartside Peace Garden
Located at the intersection of Wealthy and Commerce Ave.
Garden was created in 1996, focusing primarily on the homeless in the neighboring areas
The vegetables grown by Richa, maintainer and founder of the garden, are donated to Well
House homeless shelter
6-10 plots available for gardening each summer
Land and water provided by Catholic Secondary Schools
Grand Rapids’ Community Gardens