Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook

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Peterson Garden Project also operates a Community Cooking School to teach people how to cook their own food.

Joy has served on the board of the American Community Gardening Association, spoken at the Library of Congress, national conferences, garden shows, festivals, libraries and has appeared on PBS and other media outlets. She appeared in the documentary Food Patriots. Her home garden, The Yarden , has been featured in local and national news outlets and is the basis for her blog, Facebook and Twitter presence.

Joy : I had lived in Chicago for a number of years in condos or apartments.

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A specific piece of property in my new neighborhood was another catalyst. This one particular empty lot near my house on Peterson Avenue had caught my eye. Dad was in the occupying forces and my mom was a Rosie the Riveter in Los Angeles. She became a bomber door riveter on her 16 th birthday. I grew up with the World War II ethos of pulling yourselves up by your bootstraps, being self-reliant … the idea that no one else is going to do it for you, so you might as well get to work. That was the inspiration for that first garden in I thought if 20 people wanted to do it that would be cool.

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It ended up being the largest organic food garden in the city at the time. What makes us special and different from what people would consider a community garden is probably how we use space. The lot on Peterson was for sale. I knew we could never afford that lot or any other land in Chicago … land is too expensive. So we decided to focus on long-term gardeners versus long-term gardens.

We come to agreements with property owners to utilize their unused space for gardens. We use a lot for a minimum of two years, we build the garden, we use the land carefully and wisely, we bring people in and educate them. And when the property owner needs the land back, we disassemble our operations and move to a new spot. We have a total of 1, plots at various sites, and almost 4, people gardening at these sites.

Growing Food | NC State Extension Publications

Most of these people are brand new gardeners or just a few years into it. Many of our original gardeners from are now key volunteers and garden leaders. My favorite thing is when our gardeners spin-off to help with other community gardens, school gardens, gardens they share with condo associations, etc.

Q: Your nonprofit, Peterson Garden, has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. Then, it was a necessity because of food shortages.

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I see all these things happen around our gardening work. Some people come at it from a strong food focus: they are chefs and want a tighter connection to the food they prepare. Or home cooks who feel the same way. There are so many reasons to garden. When I started the project in , there was a lot of fear around the nation.


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We were in the recession and there was so much economic difficulty and uncertainty. There were also some major concerns about food safety — for example, there was a listeria outbreak in fresh produce. People were also interested in connecting more with locally produced food. And as our work has gone along people have learned very quickly about supporting local farmers, organic food and community-based efforts in food. The entire gardening movement has spread like a wildfire in the past five years, in my opinion.

Tell us more. Joy: The very first year we realized if we were going to teach people to grow their own food and sometimes they were producing a lot of food.


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So we opened a Community Cooking School in to teach the fundamentals of cooking. Skip to main content. About this product. Stock photo. Brand new: lowest price The lowest-priced brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging where packaging is applicable.

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See all 3 brand new listings. Buy It Now. Add to cart. About this product Product Information LaManda Joy, the founder of Chicago's Peterson Garden Project and a board member of the American Community Gardening Association, has worked in the community gardening trenches for years and brings her knowledge to the wider world in "Start a Community Food Garden. A section dedicated to the basics of growing was designed to be used by community garden leaders as an educational tool for teaching new members how to successfully garden.

Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Topics covered include planning, sustainability strategies, mobilizing volunteers and developing people skills. The nuts and bolts of growing food make up much of the book, from choosing seeds versus seedlings, site selection, structural supports, pest and disease control and weeding. An excellent tool that cultivates human communities as much as it grows vegetables in group gardens.