Gardening for Life!

Community Relations

Commrelations -1

Issue: Connecting with people living in multi-unit housing:

  • Contact the property management company (for rental buildings) and condominium board of directors (for condos). Ask if community garden information can be posted at centrally located mail boxes for all to see.


Issue: Grooming the garden's social reputation

  • Communicate the garden's culture with photos and monthly paragraph in community newsletter.  Use a positive tone to explain core rules, planting deadlines, waitlist process, and role expectations for people joining the garden.


  • Host an annual outdoor open-house style garden tour where people can drop in, talk with gardeners, walk around and explore the garden.


  • Connect the spring and fall  garden cleanups with another already scheduled social event such as community association pub night.


  • Host a plant swap or perennial sharing table at an existing community association event such as sport registration, Stampede Breakfast or Harvest Fair.


  • Know the names of neighbourhood residents  beside the garden.  Make a personal visit instead of a letter drop in the mailbox.  Actively engage them and invite them to garden social events.  Show them your appreciation by sharing fresh food or flowers.  Invite them every spring to drop by any time during the growing season and see what is happening in the garden. 


  • Get to know the homeless people in the area and talk to them about the garden.  They may be interested in helping out.


  • Let the entire neighbourhood know when new garden projects are coming such as a small fruit orchard.  All signage must be approved by City of Calgary Parks staff and follow The City of Calgary sign bylaws Post a weatherproof sign at the garden and post a notice in the community association newsletter.


Issue: Strengthening the community association connection


  • Have a garden representative attend monthly community association board meetings to express support, willingness to collaborate, share news of garden progress and collect information about community changes to communicate back to garden team.


  • Invite community association board of directors and staff to garden social events.


Issue: Reaching out to children: 


  • Connect with parent school councils and groups (such as Girl Guides, Cubs, Scouts) so kids do supervised planting of root crops in a shared garden bed in the spring.  The bed is watered and weeded by community gardeners for July and August while school and youth groups are disbanded for the summer. When the youth groups reactivate in September they return to the garden (on a date pre-arranged in the previous May) to harvest the garden and transport the food to agencies serving people short on food.  This arrangement is better than having a garden bed set aside for  school use because it will not be tended in the summer and the crop will be lost. 


  • Reaching out to seniors: independent living seniors lodges, churches, condominiums.  Be aware that many seniors stop active gardening due to physical conditions, travel, change in focus or amount of commitment involved in gardening.  It's better to welcome seniors via a social event such as a Seniors Tea in the Garden.


  • Compost: It is not possible to welcome "greens" donations from the general neighbourhood because of the overabundance of kitchen scraps unbalances the earth making chemistry.  General garbage waste can be placed in bins in plastic bags and there is no way to keep out weed seeds, chemical contamination, dairy, meat, oil, fish out of an unsupervised compost bin.


  • Do ask neighbourhood residents for bagged leaves in the fall.  This will help address the  shortage of "browns" community garden compost bins often encounter.


Issue: Connecting with not-for-profit initiatives


  • Plant Sweet Peas for Peace, donate produce to the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank, Plant Heritage Garlic with cloves from CGRN, grow catnip for a cat rescue or shelter.


  • Form an ongoing connection with clients supported by  local organizations.  Informally make an effort to get to know people in the neighbourhood who live with either social, physical or economic challenges.
  • Figure out a transportation method of delivering fresh produce to the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank. 


  • Find out if there is operating in your neighbourhood a:

Community kitchen

Best Beginnings (prenatal support and education group for mums at risk run by Alberta Health Services)

New Canadian organization

Group home for people with disabilities

Residence for people recovering from addictions


Issue: Ways to  Grow Community Engagement

  • Get in touch with Youth Central.  They have provided huge amounts of help to Wildwood, West Hillhurst and Parkdale.
  • Involve an art group from the community to provide art a fundraiser or timeraiser.
  • Set up a Free Little Library.
  • Host a talk on container gardening for those interested in getting into gardening but not necessarily in the community garden.



Next topic:  Beauty in the Community Garden