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Starting a Community Garden – A Site Assessment Guide for Communities


Looking at the soil in a vacant lot

By Melissa Iverson M.Sc. (Soil Science)
University of British Columbia – Faculty of Lands and Food Systems
2010, 39 pages

Introduction – How to Use This Guide

Have you ever walked by that vacant lot near your home, work, or school, and thought “I would love to make this place a garden!” If so, then this guide is for you!

The purpose of this guide is to help you answer some of the big questions about the environmental quality of your site. Questions like:

How can I find out if the soil is contaminated?
Is the soil deep enough for my plants to have healthy root systems?
Are there enough nutrients in the soil?
Is the site too shady for a garden?

These are important questions to answer after issues regarding site tenure, community support, and liability insurance have been addressed.

To use this site, go to the decision tree diagram on the next page. Starting at the top of the “tree”, with the box entitled: “Does the site’s history or location present a contamination risk?” Go to the corresponding chapter heading and carry out the suggested activities. These activities should provide information to help determine a “yes” or “no” answer. Proceed down the decision tree, concluding with the boxes “Garden” or “Select another garden location.”

Read the complete report here. (4 MB)

1 comment

1 Carol McIntyre { 05.21.11 at 10:24 am }

Wow! What a great resource! Thank you for this work. Is this the nudge I’ve needed?!