ACTION PLAN: Starting a Community Garden in Indianapolis (from someone who has been there)

The Keystone-Monon Community Garden launched as an idea in early 2015, and it took an entire year of planning, building our garden community, drafting proposals, securing land, and raising funds before the first garden bed was planted. As we enter our fourth growing season, we’ve found that the most important thing to fully embrace throughout the lifespan of any community garden is this: without community, it’s just a garden (and probably not a very successful one at that).

At our core, we strive to be a community organization rooted in gardening. We welcome all in our neighborhood and recognize that every person brings something of value to the table. Even as you work to build a garden, cultivate your plot, and harvest your gorgeous produce, the more important thing to cultivate continually is community.

So what’s your action plan? 

  1. GATHER your community and establish whether there is a critical mass committed to both gardening AND community. Discuss community organizing topics, such as Asset Based Community Development and Assume Positive Intentions, and ask people why they are there and what they hope to get out of creating a garden.
  2. ESTABLISH your organization’s mission and vision. Don’t rush through this part, and make sure your mission and vision are developed collaboratively by all.
  3. EXPLORE land options. Some options include vacant lots, parks, churches, private land – any unused or underused space. Be creative, and be sure to consider access, parking, and, most importantly, water. The Indy Urban Garden Program is an example of our city supporting turning vacant lots into urban garden production. The Keystone-Monon Community Garden identified Arsenal Park as our desired space due to its central location and its popularity as a gathering space for all in our community.
  4. DESIGN your space, considering light, access to water, placement within your neighborhood, and any site-specific considerations, such as busy roads. Our design team developed two phases, allowing us to grow slowly, building off successes and giving us the chance to rethink any missteps.
  5. DEVELOP your proposal. Because we work closely with Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation, we developed an extensive proposal, including our mission and vision, goals, design plans, annual schedule, maintenance plans, and risk management tactics. While many locations might not require such an extensive proposal, this guidance document has been extremely useful as we have built the garden, established partnerships, and applied for funding.
  6. BUILD partnerships. Truly, you cannot talk to enough people, organizations, or businesses. Look to everyone in your community, and listen to their needs and services. Schools, businesses, non-profits, hardware stores, churches, restaurants, neighborhood development corporations and associations, other community gardens: all could potentially serve as partners or provide guidance and support.
  7. RAISE funds. In addition to a nominal per-bed fee (waived for anyone who is unable to pay), we have raised funds through grants, individual donations, donations from churches and businesses in our neighborhood, neighborhood garden tours, and seedling sales. We have also received in-kind donations of wood and supplies, free mulch from tree service companies, and the donation of a Bobcat from a neighborhood tool rental business to move soil.
  8. FINALIZE land agreements and ACQUIRE insurance. Each year, we submit reports and renew our agreement with the city. The American Community Gardening Association also recommends community gardens acquire general public liability insurance, which we established through Farm Bureau Insurance.
  9. BUILD! This is when you get to really activate your community in a very tangible way! During the spring of 2016, we hosted multiple volunteer days, moving mountains of mulch, building 20 garden beds, and putting together our storage shed. These are also some of the most fun, rewarding projects for volunteers who can walk away seeing what a huge difference they have made.
  10. MANAGE the garden. Applications, participant waivers, regular gardener communications: your group will need to decide how to manage everything.
  11. EDUCATE and CELEBRATE early and often. Offering educational and social opportunities rooted in gardening and celebrating your community help continue your positive momentum and involve all in the neighborhood, even if they aren’t gardeners.

If you read the steps above and felt like you could never accomplish it all on your own, you are probably right! But when you have a strong community of people who are willing and encouraged to speak up; share their skills, ideas, and connections; and empowered to take action, you can accomplish anything. And each person involved will make everything you do that much stronger, better, and easier to accomplish.

36355415_1126065274208013_507748190464770048_n

Advertisements

Free seeds at our first garden organizing meeting of 2019: Join us 1/23/19

We are kicking off our FOURTH growing season with our seed giveaway and season planning meeting! Meet your neighbors, brainstorm events and education workshops we’ll host this summer, and get plenty of free seeds thanks to our friends at Whole Foods Market.
 
WHEN: Wednesday, 1/23/19, 6:30-7:30pm
WHERE: College Ave. Library, 4180 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46205
 
NOTE: Applications for garden beds are now available – new gardeners will be assigned first-come first-served after 2/15! Full details: https://kmcommunitygarden.wordpress.com/garden-with-us/
 
MEETING DESCRIPTION: Each year, we spend our first meeting talking about all of the ideas our community has for the garden. Whether it’s social gatherings, yoga, educational workshop ideas – we base the garden’s activities around what our community would like to see. Come share your ideas!
 
We also have plenty of seeds to give away, generously donated by Whole Foods Market on 86th St., to get you started this spring. Even if you aren’t planning to join the community garden this year, don’t miss the free seeds for your home garden.
 
All are welcome, and no gardening experience is necessary – just a desire to build community, learn, grow, and have fun with your neighbors. You don’t need to be a resident of Keystone-Monon to join.
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Email: KMCommunityGarden@gmail.com

FREE SEEDS! Don’t Miss Our Spring Kickoff and Seed Giveaway on Weds., 2/21, 6:30-7:30pm

We are kicking off our THIRD growing season with our seed giveaway and season planning meeting! Meet your neighbors, help brainstorm events and education workshops we’ll host this summer, and get plenty of free seeds thanks to our friends at Whole Foods Market.

WHEN: Wednesday, 2/21/18, 6:30-7:30pm
WHERE: ACE Preparatory Academy, 5326 Hillside Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220

34767531994_3dc9ea8282_k

MEETING DESCRIPTION: Each year, we spend our first meeting talking about all of the ideas everyone in our community has for the garden. Whether it’s social gatherings, yoga in the garden, educational workshop ideas – we base the garden’s activities around what our community would like to see. Come share your ideas!

We also have plenty of seeds to give away, generously donated by Whole Foods Market on 86th St., to get you started this spring. Even if you aren’t planning to join the community garden this year, don’t miss the free seeds for your home garden!

All are welcome, and no gardening experience is necessary – just a desire to build community, learn, grow, and have fun with your neighbors. You don’t need to be a resident of Keystone-Monon to join.

Meeting Minutes and ONE MORE BED Available at Arsenal Park!

Minutes are now available from last week’s organizing meeting! What a productive, awesome get-together: not only did everyone get as many seeds as they could use, we made huge strides in getting ideas for our educational workshops and community gatherings. We will post a full calendar of events soon!
16730407_1895512140726483_7527977347671576969_n
JOIN THE FUN THIS SPRING – Join a work group! To accomplish our goals in 2017, we need your help. Any in our community are welcome to join our planning team, even if you aren’t gardening with us! Contact us at kmcommunitygarden@gmail.com to be part of our community.
  • Education and Community Gatherings Team: Plan social gatherings and educational workshops throughout the growing season. Work with lead organizers to line up speakers, set calendar, and advertise events to the community.
  • Construction and Site Maintenance Team: Make design suggestions and plans for future site development (must be approved by IN City Parks). Work with volunteer team to establish regular work days and bigger construction events as needed.
  • Fundraising and Partnerships Team: Seek out funding sources, donation drives, and in-kind partnerships with assistance from lead organizers.
  • Volunteer Management: Organize volunteer days to work in the garden and serve as point of contact on work days (will likely work with construction/maintenance team closely).

16640694_1895512154059815_7050948159572851094_n

APPLICATIONS: We have one more garden bed available! 

  • All garden beds will be assigned by early March 2017. If you are interested in gardening with us, submit your application and waiver ASAP to be added to the waitlist!

Garden Organizing Meeting: Planning for 2017

This summer and fall have completely gotten away from us! Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post detailing all of the amazing work accomplished this summer – including the creation and planting of 20 raised garden beds in a neighborhood that previously had no shared gardening space! – but for now, we want to invite all to our upcoming meeting.

As we continue to grow in 2017, we need YOU – your help, your energy, and your valuable ideas!

Please join us for our next organizing meeting to review how far we’ve come and, most importantly, to identify our biggest needs, design plans, and goals for 2017. A few ideas have included creating a shade structure and seating area, little free library, more shared communal beds, and improved signage.

Applications are also now available for the 2017 growing season! (Current gardeners have until 2/15/17 to re-claim their garden bed; after that, garden beds will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Submit your application today!).

WHAT: Garden Organizing Meeting: Planning for 2017
WHEN: Tuesday, June 29, 6-7pm
WHERE: College Ave. Library, 4180 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46205
TO BRING: Your bright ideas and your neighbors or family – anyone you know who wants to get more involved with their community!

All are welcome – you don’t have to be a resident of Keystone-Monon to be a part of this community endeavor.

 

2016. A garden building timeline.

A garden timeline: Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Summer 2016.

 

Construction Begins! Applications, Meeting Minutes, and a Big Thank You

Wow. Just WOW!

Such a tiny word cannot possibly express our gratitude to Lowe’s, which donated all of the garden edging lumber and hardware necessary to create the border for the new Keystone-Monon Community Garden at Arsenal Park.

Even bigger thanks to our amazing garden construction team and our fearless construction leader, Liz! They got a plan together at last week’s meeting, and this past weekend they launched into action, completing our garden border. It’s happening!

 

A few other items for the good of the order:

MINUTES: Meeting minutes from our 2/22/16 work group meeting are available here. Thanks to our amazing construction team, garden building began as of last weekend with our new garden border! Next up: garden signage and a big mulch moving day very soon. Stay tuned – we will reach out for volunteers ASAP.

CALLING ALL FUTURE GARDEN LEADERS! We also need a few good folks to serve on our leadership/”steering committee.” After a year of hard work to get the garden up and running, Sara is stepping back from a co-organizer role, which means Christie could use a lot of help. Please email KMCommunityGarden@gmail.com if you would like to serve on this smaller team who will help lead organizing meetings and manage work days and operations (communications, setting agendas, serving as rotating leaders of meetings as needed).

PLOT APPLICATIONS: Applications for garden plots this spring are due March 15, and they are going fast! Download your application and forms herePlots are available first-come, first-served, and we plan to build between 16-20 this year, depending on demand and our funding availability. Apply today!

WORK GROUPS: Let us know if you’d like to participate on our construction, fundraising, seed starting, volunteer management, or education work groups. And remember, you are welcome to join any of our work days or events anytime!

Have a wonderful day, all, and we are thrilled to begin gardening with you soon.

UPCOMING MEETING: Seed Giveaway, Seed Starting Workshop, and Spring Work Groups

Join us for a SEED GIVEAWAY, SEED STARTING WORKSHOP, and SPRING WORK GROUPS as we work to build our neighborhood’s first community garden at Arsenal Park!

WHEN: Monday, 2/22/16, 6-7pm
WHERE: IPS Rousseau McClellan Montessori School 91 gym, 5111 Evanston Ave., Indianapolis

During this meeting, we will give away plenty of seeds, generously donated by Whole Foods Market in Carmel and Plantation Products, to get our future gardeners started. We will also assign tasks to build our garden this spring: mulch and soil acquisition, volunteer work days, and raised bed design and building!

All are welcome, and no gardening experience is necessary – just a desire to build community, learn, grow, and have fun with your neighbors. You don’t need to be a resident of Keystone-Monon to join.

Thank you to IPS Rousseau McClellan Montessori School 91 for the generous use of their gym! Please park in the south lot off 51st St.

20150405. Seeding growing setup.