I've been emailing with Pastor Paul Hill in the rural town of McRae, Arkansas (pop. < 600). Pastor Paul's United Methodist Church is attended by "25 older folks, who still have a heart for Christ but not much else." They do, apparently, have a heart for gardening, and Paul has plans to garden a large lawn that once was home to the church's parsonage. Interestingly, the church property abuts the only school in town, a 5th-6th grade campus of kids who are mostly bussed in and out of the school for the day. Perhaps an "Edible Schoolyard" style collaboration is possible?
In a nutshell, Paul is looking for advice on how to get started with his garden. He's already begun investigating a system for collecting rainwater from the church roof, but he has more questions. I thought it might be helpful to post them here and ask you to chime in.
Here are his questions:
1. What’s the best layout for a garden. How big should the individual and family plots be? How wide should the space between plots be?
2. Our garden is going to be for those “in need”, with the idea of making a garden available for those who are a) “poor” and, b) without room of their own on which to garden (those living in government housing, or apartments, or trailer parks). What method is best for proving these needs? Residence can be proven by many different forms of ID, but what about financial need? I can think of many different “proofs” but all of them can potentially be misused or not available to folks. What do you suggest to “prove need?"
3. What hand tools should we have on hand, and are there any suggestions of tools NOT to buy?
4. Is it better to charge an annual fee or some other method to create “buy-in” of our clients? How about using a covenant agreement? I could use some samples, if you have any!
Here's the future home of the garden. I can envision it teeming with produce already....can't you? Please share your tips and suggestions with Paul. I'll keep in touch with him as the project unfolds!