Community gardens - FAQ
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding Community Gardens. If you have additional questions, please contact Parks or view the Community Garden Resource Network website.
- I want to start a community garden - how do I get started?
- Why can only City land be used for a community garden? Why can't any unused patch of land be used?
- Who determines what site works for our garden plan?
- Can we use herbicides or pesticides?
- What makes a City community garden different from other communal gardens?
- What kind of equipment and soil is permitted at the community garden?
- Can members sell their produce?
- Can we install a gate or fence?
- Why do we need to have insurance?
- Can we set the rate charged for the plots in our community garden?
- Why do we have to talk with the neighbours about the garden? What if they don't want it?
- Can we get corporate sponsorship for our garden? Can we put up signs and/or distribute product from the company?
- Do we have to have a composter?
- What will Parks provide?
I want to start a community garden – how do I get started?
The City provides detailed information on starting a community garden – please follow the steps outlined and contact Parks if you require further guidance.
Why can only City land be used for a community garden? Why can't any unused patch of land be used?
The approval process can vary with private, provincial and other City-owned lands as some lands may be vacant now, but have a future purpose. The City has the authority to approve community gardens only on lands within our inventory.
Who determines what site works for our garden plan?
Each site has different benefits, conditions and limitations. Your garden plan or guidelines will help determine which site will work best for your garden.
Can we use herbicides or pesticides?
No. The City has specific pest management guidelines and no herbicides or pesticides will be permitted in the community gardens. If the garden has a severe infestation, contact Parks to discuss options.
What makes a City community garden different from other communal gardens?
Community Gardens on public land are expected to provide an educational component and community benefit beyond individual garden bounty. See the definitions list for more information. Existing gardens in Calgary may be able to rent a single plot to an individual or allotment gardener. Visit the Community Garden Resource Network for a list of existing gardens.
What kind of equipment and soil is permitted at the community garden?
All soils brought onto public lands must be tested and a copy of the soil diagnostic provided to the City as a requirement for development of public land. Parks will be doing an environmental review of each site (public lands) which may result in site specific conditions (ie. minimal soil disturbance). Garden volunteers may be permitted to bring in any mechanical labour-saving devices depending upon site selection and insurance coverage.
Can members sell their produce?
Community gardens on public land are subject to the Parks & Pathways Bylaw and individuals cannot sell/benefit from access or use of public lands.
Can we install a gate or fence?
Each garden will be assessed on a site specific basis but the intent behind a community garden is that public access is not only provided but encouraged. There are many options to deal with vandalism/theft from gardens and a locked gate is the least preferred solution.
Why do we need to have insurance?
Since the garden is on the community association's Licence of Occupation, the community association's insurance will provide coverage for the garden.
Can we set the rate charged for the plots in our community garden?
Yes. The Community Garden application includes description of the garden group and it is expected groups would identify the rates and include accessibility (financial and physical) to the garden.
Why do we have to talk with the neighbours about the garden? What if they don't want it?
Neighbouring residents may be impacted by the garden in terms of more site visits to the location (parking) and/or other related impacts. It is good neighbour practice to ensure those around the garden support it. Neighbour support is encouraged and the City will assess such impact as an integral element of approval and a meeting with residents may be part of the process.
Can we get corporate sponsorship for our garden? Can we put up signs and/or distribute product from the company?
No. There is policy in place which prohibits third party advertising on public lands including sampling activities. Newsletters and events may be more appropriate means of recognizing sponsors.
Do we have to have a composter?
Groups are encouraged to compost and composters for community gardens can be purchased from Green Calgary. We recognize successful composting programs require group management practices and ask groups applying to identify how they will manage composting at the site.
What will Parks provide?
In addition to the land approval, new gardens may receive up to $5,000 in materials and irrigation from The City. Funding will vary in the amount based on site location and the availability of resources and will not be available for established community gardens.
New and established community gardens have access to a limited amount of municipal compost on a first-come first-serve basis. Contact Parks for more information.
Mulch is available at the East Calgary Landfill at no extra charge and must be loaded by hand. Calgarians are welcome to take one or two truck loads. View our landfill hours and information.
Please note: the mulch is created from Christmas trees and can be acidic in nature. It is not recommended for tender annuals but can be used around evergreens, for garden displays, and is helpful for water retention and weed control. Consult your local greenhouse for more information.