Jul 16

Community garden water pump


Hello garden community! My first time posting...


I work for statewide community garden organization in Vermont. I got a question recently from a garden coordinator about water pumps for her new watering system. She's growing in raised beds on a retired tennis court and is specifically looking for a small pump to attach to a water tank that has a slow drip, to take pressure into her new drip irrigation in 15 raised beds. I connected her with other community gardens who use pumps as well (to get water up from the river, from tanks, etc.) and found that everyone seems to be struggling to find the right system (from solar to hand-pump) that doesn't cause regular problems.


What do you all know about finding the right pump/pump system? Any tips or examples will be greatly appreciated!


Happy gardening!


Hi, Libby! We've successfully used an electric submersible pump designed for cisterns. Cistern companies, as well as irrigation companies and, of course, Extension are invaluable resources. So are farmers. With drip using t-tape, you need a pressure regulator, and we didn't have to deal with that factor. Robert Kourik has done an excellent book on irrigation she may want to look at, too. Good luck!

Also, ACGA longtime friend and former board member (I think) Daniel Winterbottom at U of Washington has done some excellent work with rain harvesting and storage, and probably knows some useful things, too.

Hi Don! Very helpful--thank you! One more question: Do you have any recommendations for cistern or irrigation companies that work well with community gardens? Of course it would have to be at least sort of a nation-wide company with mail order options and such, unless you just so happen to know of any North East or Vermont companies : ) (You're in North Carolina, correct?)

Thanks again!


@Libby Weiland hi, sorry to take a little while, I have to find my old notes. We 'won' a cistern in a contest from the late lamented (by me anyway) Organic Gardening Magazine. It was a nice big cash donation, with the expectation that we get a 'real' cistern. We did, 1500 gallons. Looks like a silo, all fashionable (at the time) black. We hired locally for design and installation (part of the grant earmarking), but the cistern itself and materials (including that submersible pump) were from a national firm. I have to dig through my records - it was a couple of computers ago, at least. The system still in operation, though I get calls to come help fix something from time to time. It's at the garden for the homeless, next to a large building that houses the soup kitchen and offices, so there is a big roof to harvest rain from. We needed the pump because the garden site is uphill from there, not much but enough to need a pump, our technician said. So, might take me a couple of days - feel free to poke me if you haven't heard anything. Up your way, I'd check with Betsy Johnson (of course, she knows everything), and maybe Jack Hale in Hartford. And maybe NOFA. For sure. I find farm irrigation companies are far, far better for community gardens, especially food gardens, than suburban-oriented landscape and lawn companies. Very different systems and mindset. Farm = durable, uncomplicated, fixable. I highly recommend that Kourik book, too.

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