Grow Your Own. Become a Community Gardener!
What is a community garden?
A community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. Individuals rent a plot within the community garden to grow their own vegetables, fruits and herbs to feed themselves, family, or friends. In Missoula, Garden City Harvest's community gardens provides participants with an approximate 15 by 15 foot plot, tools, water, compost, straw, the knowledge and guidance of leadership committee members and the Garden City Harvest staff.
Gardening in community is different than gardening in your own private yard. You’ll have the benefit of friendly neighbors with whom to share ideas and tips or to swap veggies. Garden leadership committees organize potlucks, workshops, work days and other fun garden events throughout the season and are helpful resources when you need them. A community garden means self-sufficiency, pride, the taste of a homegrown tomato, a helping hand and engaging with your community.
What does it take to be a community gardener?
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a master gardener to have a community garden plot! In fact, signing up for a community garden plot is a great way to jump into gardening. With the resources we provide, and a little bit of persistence and patience, any-level gardener can cultivate food for their family (and often their friends, too).
Although gardening doesn’t require a master gardener’s skillset, it does require a lot of time. Plan on stopping by your garden every day or every other day to check on things and put in a little bit of work. On average, successful gardeners spend 4-8 hours (or more!) per week weeding, watering, harvesting and admiring their garden. (Note: This estimate is dependent on the weather and time of year).
Renting a plot for the season costs $40 plus a refundable $20 deposit. Garden City Harvest offers a couple scholarships and payment plans if you are unable to pay these costs up front. If you want to grow with Garden City Harvest, you are also required to follow our sustainable growing guidelines here. Our goal is to nurture healthy soil, bodies and environment, so we prohibit any synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers in our community gardens. Certified organic seeds are encouraged, but not required.
In addition to tending your personal plot, we also ask all community gardeners to contribute a minimum of three hours per season tending to common areas or participating in special projects that benefit the garden as a whole. This can include tidying the tool shed, turning compost, picking up micro trash or attending an organized work day.
How to Apply for a Plot
If you’ve decided that community gardening is just what you’ve been looking for, the next step is to decide which garden is right for you. Did you know that there are nine community gardens across Missoula? Check out the map of all our community gardens and read up about each one to decide which one would be best for you.
We generally recommend that when choosing a garden, the most important thing to consider is location, location, location! If it is conveniently located for you, you are more likely to spend time there, which is key for a successful garden! Try to find one near your home or place of work or along your commute from work to home.
Once you’ve picked out your top two gardens, fill out an application here.
Congratulations if you applied for a garden plot! You’ve taken the first step to becoming a community gardener and we’re glad to have you aboard! We will begin sorting through applications in March, and you will be notified at the end of March if you have received a plot. Because of the high demand for community garden plots, we award plots based on a lottery system. The size of the garden, the number of plots available, and the number of people that put in an application for each garden are all factors that affect your odds at “winning” a plot.
If you didn’t receive a plot before Opening Day, don’t despair. You will be automatically put on the 2018 waitlist and notified when a plot opens up. Your odds for receiving a plot will also increase next spring when we do the lottery again.
If you received a plot from the lottery, you must attend Opening Day, which is Saturday April 14th from 12 – 2pm.
Opening Day is mandatory for paying plot fees, signing garden contracts, meeting your garden leadership team, learning about pertinent garden information, and most exciting, picking out your new garden plot. Available plots will be given by a first-come first-serve basis at each garden.
It’s also a great time to start turning the soil and prepping your bed for spring planting. Yee-haw!