Finding Support and Partners
- Involve residents of your building or neighborhood from the start.
- Establish a core group of motivated individuals to help plan and manage the project.
- Ask the Department of Parks and Recreation about free mulch, compost, soil and other resources.
- Look for more volunteers, tools or supplies from local churches, community centers or other neighborhood groups.
- Get education and advice from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Help Desk.
Finding a Site
- Locate an unused open area that gets plenty of sun — at least six to eight hours each day — is relatively flat and near a continuous source of water.
- If a spigot and hose are not available, you may need to pay for plumbing and line installation, sprinkler equipment and the water supply.
- Check the site after a rain storm to see how long it takes soil to absorb water and where water settles; select an area that drains well and doesn’t have many low areas.
- For sites paved with concrete or asphalt, you can build raised beds that sit on the surface or use containers.
- Make sure the site is accessible at most times during the day and on weekends.
- Consider whether facilities like public restrooms, benches and shade are nearby.
Assessing Potential Barriers
Not every site will be suitable for starting a garden. Major barriers include:
- Unsuitable soil due to contamination
- Lack of available space
- Insufficient number of people interested in the project
- Neighborhood opposition
- Inaccessible water
Starting small will help you avoid some of these obstacles and give you the experience needed to solve others. It may take time for residents to become committed to the project and to see the true benefit of their hard work.
Determining What and Where to Plant
- Create a site map showing how many beds or containers you can accommodate and how best to lay them out. The help desk can help you determine the best layout for your particular site.
- Evaluate the temperature range of your region using U.S. Department of Agriculture maps and gather a list of plants, fruits and vegetables that grow well in this area from the help desk.