Get involved

How to get involved

Join an existing community garden: Check out the locations of existing community gardens and contact the community garden coordinator listed for the garden you are interested in.

Make a donation: Community Gardens are always grateful for donations. Items being accepted depend on the site. Some community gardens already have or don’t need certain items. Items that are frequently needed are building materials for raised beds, or fencing, clean soil (for raised beds), mulch, and vegetable or flower plants and seeds and of course funds for items not donated are always appreciated. Contact the coordinator of the garden closest to you or email CommunityGardens@guelph.ca.

Volunteer opportunities: Community gardens are excellent places to get your hands dirty and volunteer. Single volunteers with a summer to spend or groups who only have a few hours can find meaningful opportunities in a garden.Check out the locations of the existing gardens and contact the coordinator of the garden you want to help out or email CommunityGardens@guelph.ca.

Join the community gardens network: The Community Gardens Network Working Group (CGNWG)  meets to support each other, problem solve and celebrate community gardening in Guelph. Contact the community gardens coordinator to join by email at CommunityGardens@guelph.ca.

Community consultation: Have your say about a potential community garden. Community surveys for proposed gardens are posted on this website during the community consultation process. If there is an active consultation a link will be posted below for the potential garden. If there is not an active survey no link will be available.

For more information

Community Garden Coordinator
CommunityGardens@guelph.ca

How to Start a Community Garden

Application Process

All requests for Community Gardens on City Property must follow the process for applications, garden groups, and the site criteria and selection outlined below. These criteria must be met for Community Garden site approval.

  • Community members interested in community gardening, garden groups, community groups or neighbourhood groups will contact a Community Engagement Coordinator in writing to express interest in a community garden.
  • Applications for Community Gardens can be submitted at any time throughout the year but applications must be received by October 31st  or the first business day following October 31st to begin the site selection process for the growing season of the following year.
  • The City will work with the garden group to meet all requirements for approval of a Community Garden. Approvals from the City for complete applications including all testing and permits will be received by the Community Garden group on or before May 1st of the growing season.

229 kBCity of Guelph Community Garden Application – PDF format42 kBCity of Guelph Community Garden Application – Word format

Site Selection Process

The City will work with the community group to identify and assess viable sites that meet the criteria to choose an appropriate site.

  • A garden site plan will be prepared and submitted to the Community Engagement Coordinator who will circulate it with other City departments for review and comment.
  • The site plan will include plot layouts and other features including structures such as compost bins or storage sheds, perennial plants. Soil amendments or fill materials and materials for pathways must also be defined.
  • Minimum setbacks of 5 meters from edges of Community Gardens to surrounding amenities, property lines, hedgerows and trees to allow for regular park maintenance equipment may be required.
  • Facility Accessibility Design Manual Standards (FADMS) should be considered in site plan. Features such as crushed gravel pathways to plots and garden amenities, raised beds and other accessibility features are encouraged. The City will offer information and/ or consultation for FADS and will assist with funding requests from outside funders to apply for grants to promote accessibility for all people.
  • The City and the community garden group will hold a consultation process with the neighbours near the potential site. This may include surveys, neighbourhood meetings, petitions and outreach tools. On site meetings are encouraged.

Garden Group Criteria

  • Supportive community garden members
  • Volunteers willing to develop, and maintain the community garden
  • Volunteers willing to be the Garden Coordinator and Second to manage and coordinate the garden
  • Gardeners in close proximity to garden site
  • Ability of Group to obtain Liability Insurance
  • Ability and willingness to complete all applications and apply for all outside permits such as utility locates and soil tests

Site criteria

  • An area that receives 6 or more hours of sunlight daily
  • Away from trees including immature trees that do not yet cast much shade
  • Availability of water (via existing water chamber) or can be harvested and stored in rain barrels or cisterns such as the roof of an existing building
  • In an area that will not interfere with other uses, i.e. recreational
  • In an area that will not interfere with water drainage and site maintenance
  • Walkable to the gardening community and accessible to parking and or busing
  • Sightlines are unobstructed to the garden from the street or other amenities
  • Slope of the land/garden will be considered on a case by case basis. Flat areas are considered easier to garden and are recommended for novice gardeners

Frequently asked questions

I really want to be a part of a community garden how do I get started?

Find out if there already is a garden near you and contact that garden to find out if there are plots available. If there isn’t a garden near you yet you may want to get one started.

I really want to get a garden started in my neighbourhood but I am new here and I don’t know anyone yet. How can I get a group of people together?

This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know your neighbours. There may be people in your neighbourhood that are thinking they would like a Community Garden too and don’t know where to go. If there is a neighbourhood group or a neighbourhood association in your area you can connect with them and see if they have met with some like minded people. If there isn’t a neighbourhood group in your area email CommunityGardens@guelph.ca. Leave your name, contact info and address to be linked with other gardening hopefuls in your area.

Note: This may be a good time to knock on your neighbour’s door and offer them some of your famous carrot cake to get the conversation started.

How many people do we need to be considered a Garden Group?

The number of people needed to make a garden group in a neighbourhood is dependent on the size of the site you are looking for but a minimum of 5 interested gardeners is a very good start to share the work and the benefits of community gardening.

I don’t know much about gardening but I want to learn. Can I be a part of a community garden? Who will help me?

Absolutely! We think everyone can find their green thumb, the Community Gardens Networking Group (CGNWG) meets to support each other and problem solve. Contact the community gardens coordinator at the communitygardens@guelph.ca for details. They share advice all season long and help to organize educational sessions at any garden that wants them. Also, you will find as you are out in your garden a fellow gardener out on the same beautiful day will be very happy to share their knowledge. Gardeners are known for their desire to spread their knowledge.

There isn’t any suitable City property near me. Is there anywhere else I can go to get a garden started?

Community Gardens are popping up all over. Check with your neighbourhood group, your faith based group or your school and see who else is interested in gardening. The Upper Grand District School Board was a very successful part of our pilot. To start a conversation about a garden on school property contact Andrew Seagram the Coordinator of the Community Use of Schools Program.

We need some funds for our garden. Can the City provide us with money to get started?

The City does not offer funds for garden start up at this time. We can offer organizational and operation supports. We can also provide information or letters of support for your fundraising efforts.

What happens if our neighbours don’t want a garden where our group thinks it should go?

It can be difficult to get full agreement from everyone about any new feature of a public space but we understand that neighbours to gardens are affected by what happens near their homes. Full discussion about concerns and education about the community benefits of gardens and how to come together is recommended. It is best when both parties work together to come to solutions that are best for everyone.

Who decides what site is best for our group’s community garden?

The community group and the City as the property owner decide together the best site. There are many things to consider when choosing a site and it can be very difficult to find the perfect place. Water, sunlight, proximity to gardeners, property maintenance equipment access, sightlines and parking and soil quality are just a few things to think of. However, if both the community and the City are committed to implement a garden finding a middle ground is very likely.

Can our garden have a fence (or shed, or bunker, or…)?

Fences, sheds and other features of a garden are permitted on a case by case basis. Identifying these features in your garden plan when you submit it is the first step. Secondly, or if you decide later in implementing your garden that you want a new feature not previously identified, a written request detailing the structure and the location of the structure is required. A written permission or denial (with reasons) will be returned this may or may not also contain recommended alterations. Of course all structures that involve digging into the ground may not be erected without first obtaining utility locates.

Can we use herbicides of pesticides?

Chemical herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides are not permitted in community gardens. Composting and composted manure are permitted for use for soil amendments (enrichment).

We have extra produce from our community garden. Can we sell it?

The selling of produce grown in community gardens is not permitted. Produce grown is intended for the personal use of the gardeners and other volunteers of the community garden. Extra produce may be donated to local food cupboards, pantries or food banks.

Why do we need insurance?

Insurance protects the gardeners, the land owners and any organization you are affiliated with against liability. If the organization you are affiliated with does not have liability insurance or you are not affiliated with any group there are options to purchase insurance for the season. Gardening is a low risk activity so the rates are very reasonable. Please let us know if you are interested in purchasing insurance for the season.

I am not a gardener but I have concerns about a community garden near me. Who can I talk to?

If you have concerns about a garden near you please contact CommunityGardens@guelph.ca

I have a question you didn’t answer who can I talk to about community gardens?

Please contact CommunityGardens@guelph.ca

Why does the City require community garden groups acquire soil testing?

The City requires soil testing to ensure that each garden group and gardener is satisfied with the safety of the soil that will be used to grow the produce they and their families and friends will eat.

What types of produce can I grow? Are there any restrictions?

There are restrictions. Any annual plant is fine to grow. Many perennials are fine too (and are great for pollination) however please steer clear of noxious weeds, woody plants and illegal plants. If in doubt about what not to plant please check in with your garden coordinator or some of our education groups for more info.

How does the garden get water? Will we have access to hoses, water barrels, etc?

Water access if a very important part of the site selection process. In some cases there is an option of putting a garden near a water chamber with a municipal water spigot. In other cases water barrels or other collection systems may be required. The City can help you with your water solutions and water conservation strategies when the site selection process is underway.

How much time do I need to spend in the garden? What type of commitment do I need to make?

A vegetable garden need attention at least an hour a week to keep on top of those weeds. Having an attractive well maintained and healthy plot is important because it will attract fewer pests, you will receive a better yield of produce and your neighbours will be much happier with your garden. If the weather is very dry you may need to water every other day as well as weeding. Note, your vegetables will need water to grow, some more than others but weeds seem to do well no matter what. We suggest if you are going a way for a week or two a fellow gardener or a friend looks after your plot in exchange for some of those zucchini’s you are growing. You won’t be able to eat all of them anyway.

Where can I store my garden tools?

Storage options should be a part of your site plan too. Some people bring tools to and from the garden if they live really close or drive to the garden and some community gardens keep communal storage sheds. The proximity of the gardeners and accessibility to tools should be considered when deciding on storage options.

Who looks after vandalism in the garden? Who do we report issues to?

Vandalism is the number one concern of resident and gardeners, though statistically vandalism occurs less often in areas with a community garden sometimes gardens or the features such as sheds or fences can be the target of vandalism. Vandalism is against the law so it should be reported to the police when it is discovered. The community gardens group can also help problem solve vandalism creatively so let them know and share your pain. Lastly please do contact CommunityGardens@guelph.ca to advise of vandalism so that it can be tracked.

Do I need to live in the neighbourhood to be part of the garden?

This will depend on your garden group and what they decide. It makes most sense to garden close to home but there are only so many gardens so there might not be one close by you. Some gardens give plots first to the people in the neighbourhood and then any remaining plots on a first come first serve basis. Please check with the garden coordinator at the garden you are interested in about their rules. If you are getting one started have a discussion about how your group will handle gardener selection.