Community Garden

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    Amber Sammons

    I live in a Condo Complex that currently has an area in the middle with a lawn and then a dirt patch with junipers that are heinous and old. This area has been in the works of being landscaped supposedly for over 2.5 years now but according to the HOA a change in landscape architects and due the rains its been delayed. Last year a few neighbors and I proposed making that area into a community garden with edible flowers as well as your more traditional herbs and veggies. The HOA at first made this seem like something that would actually happen and then quickly changed their minds claiming that no other condo complex has one, the landscape architect said it would decrease the value of our homes and so did the realitors. This year we are back with a fight being the area has still not been touched. In looking at the discussion already going on I would be lead to believe that the HOA either made these findings up OR the landscape architect was afraid of losing business. Can anyone weigh in on this so I can bring some other professional opinions to the next meeting? Thanks

    Vance W. Hall

    Great ambitions !!!

    I feel that the renovation and reclamation of a community area rarely devalues the land or property value and usually does quite the opposite if consciously designed. A proper design and cost estimate must be put into play to know the true cost of the addition both short term (installation) and long term (maintenance and upkeep). A good portion of the people will be looking at that dollar amount to base their decision.

    I feel that using edible flowers could cause you issues unless they all are proven edible. You could create a health liability for both you and your neighbors. Choose plants that offer unique and pleasant smells at different times of the year. If they are edible you will know and chow down.

    I would approach the HOA with a well thought out design with limited plant specifics, showing them the beauty an improvement could bring. Present it to them with words such as sensory highlights and seasonal interest ( ie flowering trees,flowers, perennials and veggies). Get the door open then come back to the development meeting with the groups of plants you would like to see included.

    I hope this helps. I know that these type of situations can be challenging.

    Vance Hall

    Andrew Spiering

    Here is a resource that might be useful:

    The HOA might also be concerned that the garden will not be maintained after a period of time and turn back into an eyesore. It would be important to get enough people caring for it that when tenants move or lose interest there will be others to take their place.

    Meredith Sessions

    Start small. Prove to yourself and to your HOA that there is enough interest to keep it going. If you start too big and some people give up it will be demoralizing for everyone else.

    Be sure to bring the critics some of your first fresh tomatoes.

    Create some images to show what it could look like. Bring photos of other gardens like what you have in mind.

    In this housing crisis the sustainable housing market has not dropped off nearly as much as conventional and they want to look conventional. Tsk tsk. That the other condos don’t have one makes it special. A vegetable garden may attract people willing to pay more. If they are neat freaks you might put up a hedge.

    Community gardens impact more than property values. They improve sense of community, reduce crime (, make neighborhoods safer for kids etc. Do some research. Have studies that back up your claims.

    Stay positive.

    Be sure to get a soil test, etc.

    Good luck!

    Amber Sammons

    Thanks for the information, all points of view are helpful….As of right now we have a CAD drawn to scale design (with room for additional plant types)…my neighbor is an engineer and her husband a surveyer. We also have a stack of pictures with similar garden ideas we handed and out with the petitions and the letter laying out the rules of the garden…i.e. the rules for harvest, complaints, money, what plants to plant, maintenance, etc…The board meets again soon but I really don’t think they have read any of the info we have handed out so I would like to come with a new stack of info. I am not opposed to the idea of blending a community garden with more traditional landscape, my only concern is that people who aren’t educated in plant varietals won’t know the difference between edible and non-edible plants. Any addition opinions are articles are great. Thanks!

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