Public farms are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to build community connectivity, but many are too worried about where to start. It's a lot to take on and an incredible amount of planning, but opening a public farm can give anyone the chance to get a great connection to the food they grow and the people around them.
This is the 2023 guide to opening a public farm and what to keep in mind.
Choosing Your Location
When picking your location, someone within the community must have ownership or permission to use this property. Although it would be great if you could take over any public land that's gone untouched, that doesn't always work and could lead to legal repercussions.
Pick a location that's easy to reach for everyone within your community or where someone is willing to bus community members out at least once a week to work together.
You don't need a perfectly cleared property when you start. You can work together as a team to create this. In the end, the main things you need in a property are good soil, distance from flooding spaces, and access to whatever utilities you need.
Water Storage Matters for Everything
Water is the most important part of growing life, and any impurities can kill plants or taint them in ways that can result in illness, so you must have the best water storage containers possible.
If it's legal to collect water in your state, you can start with this, but it needs to be carefully monitored and stored as safely as possible. Using containers that aren't clear, and are kept away from sunlight and heat while remaining tightly sealed, is your best bet to ensure the water stays safe.
Protecting Your Buildings from Elements
There will more than likely be a few buildings on your farm, from storage to possibly a farmhouse, so it's a good idea to take the time to consider how you can best make sure this property will last. From painting a log cabin exterior protectant on a wood exterior to updating or replacing the roof when needed, it's a good idea to pay attention to the needs as they happen.
This also means clearing the roof of leaves in the fall and paying attention to water levels so they don't flood the buildings.
Help Your Property Drain
Drainage is a big deal since standing water can quickly cause damage or invite mosquitoes to start breeding on your property. Consider installing in-ground drainage that leads down and away from your property. Focus where water stands the most, and pay attention to where you're diverting it to avoid getting in trouble.
If your property has no trees or deep-rooted plants, consider planting some. Species that are native to your area will need minimal care, will look fantastic, and will be able to drive the moisture deep down into the soil. This is great for your property and fantastic for your soil.
Consider Storage for Produce and Production
Where are you going to store the product after you've grown it? Of course, you'll want to eat it and share it with your community, but these gardens produce tons of food. Is there somewhere it can be stored for anyone to come and take some?
You'll also need storage for the tools and materials needed to grow the produce. From shovels to plows, gloves, and more: you should invest in at least a good-sized shed to handle everything you need.
Think About Access
Who is allowed access to your garden, and how do you enforce this? Generally, a community garden is open to everyone, but if someone causes trouble or is disruptive, it's understandable to want them off the property.
How can you keep them off of the property? Do you want to build a fence? Or have cameras on the property? Consider putting it to a vote to ensure the entire community feels comfortable with the decision.
Consider Waste Removal
Waste is going to happen on the property. Whether it's from the bathroom or from produce that didn't turn out how it should, you should consider early on what types of amenities will be available on the property. For instance, will it need regular trash pick up? Do you prefer a septic tank vs. sewer access for bio waste?
These considerations must be taken into account early on so that they don't catch you off guard by piling up otherwise. Even the best trash receptacle needs to be emptied often.
Community Farming Can be Incredible
Whether you're building this for your neighborhood, church, or school community, it's a good idea to plan as much as possible. This is an awesome way to get everyone to feel more connected, so do it correctly.
Updated Oct 6, 2022
2023 Guide to Opening a Public Farm
Public farms are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to build community connectivity, but many are too worried about where to start. It's a lot to take on and an incredible amount of planning, but opening a public farm can give anyone the chance...
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Categories: Farmland and Real Estate
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