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matter. People are on fire to learn food gardening and community associations are in a great position to be able to offer this to residents.

This is true for two reasons: First, you’ll have to figure out a way to educate would-be food gardeners to guarantee the long-term interest in the garden. There are lots of resources out there to help you find the right way to accomplish this important step. The second reason is because you may reside in a condo building that doesn’t have a lot of space so a community garden might be the only real gardening option. Consider any small, sunny space as an opportunity for people to grow food together. You don’t have to have acres and acres of land - it is shocking how much can be grown in a small space! Most importantly, what you’ll find after the project gets rolling is that the community part of the garden is likely more influential than the food part anyway. Facilitating a way for people to work together on something as fundamental as food offers a powerful common denominator that allows them to get to know each other and collaborate. A garden doesn’t have to be large to be powerful!

Compelling and Cooperative

The possibility of HOAs and other housing related associations starting community gardens is very exciting and has been a trend in many areas for the past several years. For example, a few years ago my husband and I were looking for a long-term corporate apartment in Seattle and, in the process, we were considering buying a condo. One of the buildings we looked at actually offered a raised bed community garden on the roof as a selling point! Had we decided to buy versus rent, that community garden would have definitely swayed our decision.

Thinking Strategically: Make your Garden Work in Unexpected Ways

Community associations are familiar with the process of governance via an elected board. This is a key skill many organizations need to learn when they start community gardens and you’re already there! If your board is successful and there’s lots of demand to join, perhaps the waitlist can be recruited to be garden leaders first. Incorporating the governance of the garden with the governance of your organization can be a great training ground for potential leaders of your overall community while ensuring success and involvement in the garden, too.

44 | COMMON INTEREST® A Publication of CAI-Illinois Chapter


There are a lot of elements involved in a successful community garden - both the tangible and the intangible. Community gardens are a proven way to not only provide good, fresh food, but also bring people together. The historic World War II Victory Garden movement, which was the inspiration for Peterson Garden Project, demonstrated that where there’s a will, there’s a way. More than seventy years ago in my hometown, Chicago, almost overnight hundreds of thousands of people (90% of whom had never gardened before) rocked the nation with their organization, education and collective effort to feed each other and maintain morale during World War II. That “we can do it” ethos is being revived across the country today in all sorts of communities. Your community association can succeed in integrating a food garden into your community and be part of this bigger, positive movement. And that’s a win-win for everyone!

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