A community garden is an excellent way for groups of people to benefit from fresh vegetables and fruit when there is limited garden space. Community gardening in a 55+ community can be challenging, yet the rewards of fresh produce, new friendships, and learning new gardening methods make it well worth it.

The first step to creating a community garden is to determine the right space. It’s possible, in an established community there aren’t a lot of options. However, if there are, choose an area large enough to grow the herbs or vegetables most desired in the community.  The location should receive full sun exposure. Chose a space that is convenient for those who intend to use it. If it is difficult or inconvenient to access, the likelihood of everyone participating drops significantly.  Other factors include the accessibility of water and the quality of the soil. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the most significant number of people so that they want to participate fully in the gardening experience.

One of the keys to success in community gardening is choosing the right vegetables and fruits to plant. Low maintenance vegetables are best, so you don’t have to go out to the garden every day. Life gets busy, and we can’t always control the time we will have available to tend the garden. In a community garden, this gets accentuated because a messy or unkempt plot will stand out. It is essential to take care of the small garden space regularly, so no weeds or problems expand.

To avoid this situation, plant crops that can go a few days or longer without tending. Many vegetables will grow mostly on their own and need to be watered and checked on only a few times a week. Good low maintenance vegetables include kale, cabbage, beets, basil, garlic, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and swiss chard. Avoid vegetables like bush beans and peas which need a lot of daily care once they start producing.

To make gardening chores fun, plan planting parties and weeding days with the other gardeners. Work is a lot more enjoyable when it is done as a group. Consider sharing resources like shovels, hoes, and spades to reduce expenses. A community garden is a beautiful space to learn new skills, create community, and appreciate natures’ plenitude.

Come check out the community garden at The Tapestry, a 55+ community in Garner, NC. Call 919-772-4663 for more information.