Suggestions for Assigning Work
So now you know what has to be done in your garden, but who is going to do it? One of the greatest challenges for any community garden is continual maintenance. It is too easy to say "oh, she is going to take care of that" without realizing that she actually thinks that you are going to take care of it! This page will give you a few pointers on how to keep your garden growing through the collective efforts of those who enjoy it the most. Visit our Program Team section to find out more about recruiting garden members.
One of the best strategies for ensuring you have a well-maintained garden is for your group to stay organized. If you are working with a team of gardeners, it is a good idea to rely on written records and logs that are kept in a common area, either in your garden shed, classroom, community center, or some other accessible location. If the members of your gardening group have access to the internet, an online blog or website may be a good option to assure that the lines of communication remain clear.
Planning in advance is another key to staying organized, and creating a weekly or monthly maintenance calendar is one of the best ways to do this. Download our customizable Rebel Tomato Calendar (PDF) to get you started, and fill each week with garden tasks that need to get done. Gardeners can sign up for different tasks, and then cross them off once they are completed.
Divide and Conquer
To keep gardeners from getting "burnt out" make sure that you are dividing tasks equitably. It is important that people feel like they are not taking on more work than they can handle, and that everyone has a diverse mix of tasks to perform. This type of division of labor has its own benefits - the greater the variety of tasks you complete, the more you will learn about how the garden works.
Don't be Afraid to Ask
Since your garden is about collective work and enjoyment, it is never too late to bring more people into your group. Soliciting help from community members and organizations is a rewarding way to get garden work done, and can help forge new relationships. Projects or big work days, such as building a new tool shed, or planting 200 tomato seedlings, are the best opportunities to ask for help and get a lot done. Offering something in return can be a motivator for some people, but you may find that others just like to get their hands dirty and feel like they have contributed to the beautification of their community. Solicit help at local schools, libraries, clubs, organizations, etc. Even your local fire or police department may be willing to help out with some heavy hauling or digging. Just ask!
"Many Hands make Light Work"
Gather your whole crew together for big projects so that they do not seem so overwhelming. Because big projects may also require special tools or materials that you may normally not have on hand, getting lots of people involved is a great way to capitalize on everyone's resources, materials, and skill sets. A construction project or big harvesting day is also great opportunity to throw a party and celebrate all the work you have done year-round! Ending a long day of work with a garden-grown feast will keep everyone motivated for the next big project!
Capitalize on your Skills
While many gardeners want to get involved wherever and however they can, it is important to remember that everyone has something that they are best at - and that their most valuable skills may have nothing to do with gardening. Perhaps an outgoing member of your group loves to talk to new people - she may also be one the best person to gather new members and donations. Perhaps someone else likes to write and would love to write seasonal newsletters, or another person is good with their hands and will be able to lead in construction projects and repairs. Community gardening is about much more than growing produce, and it is important to find out who in your group will be well suited for the numerous 'non-garden' tasks that will help keep your garden diverse and thriving.