Host a Meeting
Hosting a Community
One of your first steps should be to host a community
meeting for anyone who is interested. This will help you gather
volunteers and start to understand any areas of concern.
Preparing for the Meeting
Choose a central, accessible location such as a community centre.
Strive for a venue that offers free parking and access for those
with limited mobility.
Your neighbors will appreciate lots of notice. We suggest you begin
promoting the meeting at least one month in advance.
Getting the Word
Out Promote the first meeting in as many
places as you can. Don't forget about community association
newsletters, places of worship, child care centres, Facebook pages,
grocery stores and coffee shop bulletin boards, seniors' groups and
local non-profits. We recommend that you hand deliver fliers
directly to any residences who face onto the proposed garden
Consider inviting a representative from the Community Garden
Resource Network. Our team works with community gardens in every
corner of the city and we can introduce the guests to the different
types of community gardens and help address many of the questions
- Your guests' comfort is important! Arrive early and make sure
you have good temperature and air flow.
- Arrange chairs in a circle. That way everyone can see each
other and you create a sense of equality.
- If possible, provide light snacks or beverages.
- Set out a clipboard or list for collecting names, phone numbers
and email addresses of attendees. Name tags are helpful.
- Greet guests as they arrive and make them feel welcome.
- Begin the meeting by asking guests to introduce themselves and
share their reasons for attending, and their hopes for the proposed
garden. Listen carefully. What gets people excited
about the garden? Who has useful skills that might help the garden?
What are some of the common concerns?
- You can help keep the participants focused on the outcomes by
incorporating an activity like
a visioning exercise. This helps the group define the values,
spirit and intentions people have for starting the garden.
- You can ask the group to brainstorm what words or phrases
describe the garden that they hope to establish. Capture the
responses and share them on your community garden's website or
- Provide a short report on where things are at with the
- Carry out
the garden visioning exercise.
- As the meeting draws to a close, summarize the next steps
and confirm who will be, for example, keeping in touch with the
City of Calgary, Community Association, obtaining the letter of
support from their City Councillor and so on.
- Set the date, time and location of the next meeting.
- Ask participants who are comfortable with it to provide their
names and contact information so that they can receive messages by
If you follow these simple suggestions, by the time the meeting
concludes everyone will know a little about each other and shared a
laugh or two. If people start to chat after the 45-minute
meeting adjourns, that is a very successful meeting!
The first meeting is about exploring the idea of
a community garden and seeing what level of interest there is in
the neighbourhood for a group gardening project. Many
participants will still be deciding whether the proposed garden
will be something they want to be involved with, so don't rush into
recruiting people to do tasks right away. Being too
task-oriented can scare a lot of people off so wait for a couple of
meetings and then start personally asking people to take on small
Communicating with gardeners and with the larger community
is the most important activity to carry out. Frequent open
communication will help stimulate and welcome discussion,
address concerns and create the links to form an emerging
garden team. Make sure there are many ways for residents of
all backgrounds to follow the garden's progress. Some ideas
- Create an email address for the garden using free tools such as
Gmail. Decide which 2 gardeners will check for messages and answer
- Start a blog or Facebook page for the garden.
- Submit community garden updates to your community association's
- Post signage at the garden site in languages spoken in the
neighborhood. Include the garden's email address and how to join
- Offer to speak to local service clubs about the garden.
They have a mandate to serve the community and may be able to give
volunteer labour and/or financial support.
- Post notices of upcoming gardeners' meetings on neighborhood
- Invite neighbourhood residents to an Open Garden
With ongoing communications, outline how the garden will
operate. Explain things like:
- How the garden plot waiting list works
- What the garden's policy is on pesticides and herbicides
- What measures will be taken to conserve water
- Weeding and pest control methods
- Composting, soil care and waste management practices
- What will be done to put the gardens to bed at the end of the
Keep your communications simple and free of gardening jargon.
Not everyone speaks English as their first language and many of the
your neighbors may not have any prior gardening experience.