Generally, it isn't necessary, Fiona, unless it is on private land without any insurance coverage, such as a backyard someone is loaning to a neighborhood. Most municipal agencies, if not all, have a liability policy in place on public land, same goes for churches and large landowning non-proftis such as food banks and YMCAs. If there are sports there, or children's play areas, you can be sure there are policies in place to cover these activities of much higher risk than vegetable gardening. (Or flower gardening - any gardening!) Park and Recreation districts have such policites in place, making them ideal CG partners.
Not infrequently, staff and organizations ask for liability insurance, however. There are several ways to address this in a friendly and constructive way. I am looking for a link - I'll try to send one - but Google Jack Hale. He wrote an excellent position paper on this. He is with the Park Helms Foundation in Hartford, Connecticut which sponsors a community garden network.
As he says, if you must get a policy, the place to start looking is with a sympathetic insurance agent.
Thank you so much for your response. This is extremely helpful. We are looking to either lease or purchase land from the city of Philadelphia. Not sure if its likely their properties (like most municipal agencies you mentioned) would also have a liability policy in place. I am only asking such specific questions and reaching out because, due to COVID, no one is in their offices to answer any of my questions haha!
Also, are there any perks/benefits for a church (as opposed to just a non-profit) trying to start a community garden on land outside of what they already own?
Also, Fiona, please read further on in the Forum. This same question came up last year, and there were good replies with the names of policies and even an agent. So, check to be sure you actually need one first, but if you do, there are sources.
For awhile, ACGA helped make a group policy available. That might be something to think abour in the future.
Great, I'll check in there and certainly look at the ACGA policy if need be
Hey, Fiona! It happens that Philly has a strong community garden tradition, with support from Penn Hort. See if you can link up with Sally McCabe, she knows everything about community gardens and Philly both. I’ll look for her too.
Hahaha re COVID! Same here in Charlotte!
Faith community? Yes and no. Where there is a strong congregation, you benefit from ‘instant volunteers.’ And a garden makes a great project, and can build bridges between different communities- & we need bridges! Cautions are that church groups sometimes want ‘help’ ‘those in need’ so much that projects never empower gardeners, and sometimes simply grow food to ‘feed the hungry.’ Sounds great, but that can perpetuate power imbalances not encourage transformation.
Just always keep ‘community’ in mind as you’re creating gardens.