Gardening for Life!

Gardeners are Volunteers

Volunteers are Very Important People!

With all garden volunteers we:

1.  Explain what is involved in each of the areas where you want to engage volunteers.

2.  Spell out the time and type of task so people can understand fully what is involved.

3.  Invite people personally to take a role or undertake a specific task.

4.  Take time to value what the garden volunteers do by saying thank you.

5.  Accept that there can be a 50% turnover in volunteers during one gardening year.

6.  Know that the garden can thrive with new people coming on board to volunteer.

7.  Welcome youth with school groups and faith community teams for short term garden projects.

8.  Welcome corporate day of caring opportunities. Corporations can donate a team of their staff to volunteer as a group on community projects during office hours.  On a corporate day of volunteering we:

  -  Discuss ahead of time the kind of tasks that the corporate volunteers are able to do under the terms of their workday.

-  Prepare a detailed plan of the work to be done in advance so that small teams of people can be assigned to different projects.

-   Implement good safety practices.

-   Make sure all people are involved completely and no one is standing around wondering why they came.

-   Serve a hearty lunch for the volunteers and have beverages and snacks for mid-morning and afternoon.

-   Write a thank you letter to the team lead expressing enthusiastic gratitude for the community improvements they made possible.

-   Connect with the Calgary Attendance Centre work crews for heavy labour, non-gardening projects by contacting John Lee, Senior Probation Officer, Calgary Attendance Centre.

-    Track volunteer hours contributed in all forms.  Listing the total of volunteer hours is a very compelling addition to any grant proposal.  It demonstrates how the garden is a valued and important feature of the neighbourhood.


Engaging Volunteers in Community Gardening Projects

People become inspired when they can see that there are worthwhile and achievable goals being set.  When they can see how to become connected and have fun, they will feel comfortable enough to volunteer. 


Understand that when a person volunteers, it is a person's heart, mind and spirit that are being offered and shared. Plan your actions as garden leaders with the understanding that the heart, mind and spirit needs to be acknowledged as the garden goes forward.


Be respectful of everyone's time.  Divide up tasks into small packages that need a small  amount of time to accomplish.  Show these tasks to volunteer and invite them to pick ones that interest them and match the time they have to volunteer.

Activity: List 3 ways to recognize the heart, mind and spirit of garden volunteers




People who feel they are part of the community garden will be engaged
in the present and future well-being of the garden and its gardeners.  When people feel engaged, they are more likely to step up and volunteer.

Activity:  Identify what can be done to create, encourage and increase a sense of belonging for gardeners and visitors to the community garden. Be specific on how your garden team makes decisions and how gardeners can have input to make suggestions.

List 3 ways to create a sense of belonging in this garden for different age groups.