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Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week



Permalink What information can you give me on starting a community farm or greenhouse?

D.O.
Alaska

Answer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding community farm and greenhouse models.

If it is not too late, I would suggest the following approach in getting started with your project.

1. Develop a list of your resources. It sounds like land and soil might be a limiting factor, but other resources to consider are buildings, vacant lots, and other infrastructure within your community that can be used by the community to grow food—be it inside or outside.

2. If soil is a limiting factor, I would suggest starting a community composting project. This would help to develop a source of organic matter that the whole community could participate in, while reducing the waste stream in your community. The organization Community Compost has a lot of information on this topic and would be a good start. Note: they are a British organization, but many of the issues/ considerations still apply.

3. Consider not only plant crops but animals as well. Vegetables are a very small proportion of most diets. Having chickens, other foul, and maybe some other forms of protein should be considered when growing more local foods. Of course there is fish readily available too!

4. Once you do have an idea of what your resources are and what your vision is for localizing foods, develop a plan as well as a list of materials and supplies that you will need to make it a reality. Tying in educational activities will help in securing funding, if that is necessary for your project.

Models are a good place to find ideas and adapt according to your unique community situation. I have listed below a few model community farms/ greenhouses that might interest you.

There is a new movement in urban areas called SPIN farming—or Small Plot Intensive farming. This type of market gardening grows on small plots of land either private or community-based, focusing on succession planting and intensive cropping systems. Thy have several guides, and they are not free of charge unfortunately, but they are nominally priced. Below is a link to the official SPIN web site:
http://www.spinfarming.com/whatsSpin/

You may have heard of the Inuvik Community Greenhouse that was converted from an old hockey arena. The greenhouse, which receives funding from the territorial and federal governments, aboriginal groups and businesses, is also a community-development project that plays host to school groups, workshops and even tourists. Their website describes this operation in more detail:
http://www.inuvikgreenhouse.com/main.html

Also developing community gardens are a great way to beautify the town and localize food production. The American Community Gardening Association has a wealth of information and models for you to work from. Their web site is:
http://www.communitygarden.org/

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