Acquiring the Land & Making a Plan
Get permission and a written lease to use any space. If your garden plan includes physical improvements such as fencing, creating raised beds, or adding soil, try to obtain at least a 3-year lease. Your group needs to be able to use the site long enough to justify its investments.
Making a plan: Before the soil is turned for the first time, develop a clear plan, including plot sizes, common area maintenance, and group activities. Evaluate your group's resources—what do you have? What do you need? Assign members to gather missing elements before gardening begins.
A few final tasks will improve garden relations during the growing season. Plan a work day for site cleaning and plot assignments. Keep records of plot locations and users; mark plots clearly with gardeners' names. Identify and prepare paths and common areas, then open for planting. Use a rainproof bulletin board to hold announcements and a garden map.
If your group needs horticultural information or other gardening support, contact the Cooperative Extension Service (there's an office in every county), garden clubs, or garden centers. To learn more about managing a community garden, check the Web site of the American Community Gardening Association.