HGNC Garden Collective

photo: group of people gathered around a picnic table watching a woman cut a watermelon
For Collective Members:

Spring Work Meetings will be as needed, generally
Sundays, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesdays,  5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

During the Spring months, please check the WhatsApp group to be sure a meeting is happening. If you can’t make a meeting on a given week but still want to contribute independently, post to WhatsApp to find what tasks need to be done.

A morning option may be added later.

In 2022, Hansberry Garden created a gardening collective — a group of gardeners who share both the work of cultivating a number of garden plots and the harvest from those plots. In 2023, the collective shared 14 raised beds among 14 member households. In 2024, Hansberry Garden will welcome all new garden members as members of the collective; collective members who attend work hours regularly, contribute volunteer hours to the maintenance of the garden, and communicate with other members may ask to be considered as candidates to hold individual beds in subsequent years. But most of our active collective members are very happy with collective gardening, and several have given up individual beds in order to join the collective.

Choosing Crops

The collective’s leaders survey members at the beginning of each season to determine what crops, including specific varieties, are of most interest to members. After some discussion of the space and maintenance requirements of crops suggested by members, the collective leader creates a planting chart. This chart is posted online with updates for succession planting throughout the season.

Working Together

Two experienced gardeners have volunteered to lead two two-hour work sessions per week, one on a weekday evening and one on a weekend day. Days and times of these work sessions are determined by a poll of members’ availability.

Working Individually

During the summer, some plants may need more than twice-weekly attention. Members may work in the garden outside of regular work sessions on tasks identified by the collective’s coordinator.

Harvesting

The collective generally harvests and divides crops during work sessions, although members may enter the garden at any time to harvest cut-and-come-again crops like greens or plants that produce fruit prolifically in the collective’s beds.

Some Advantages of Collective Gardening

  • Crop rotation. An important principle of organic agriculture, crop rotation helps replenish soil. It also inhibits the growth of soil-borne plant diseases because many of these tend to be specific to types of plants. A tomato fungus, for example, can live in the soil for a couple of years, so it is best to plant tomatoes in soil that has not hosted plants in the tomato family in the recent past. With only 32 square feet of garden, crop rotation is impossible for a gardener who wants to grow a variety of produce. With several beds held in common, we can rotate crops.
  • Better control of weeds and diseases. There is hardly a member of the garden who hasn’t neglected their bed at some point. When members don’t have time to tend to beds, weeds grow and plant diseases go unchecked; unfortunately, neighboring beds are affected when weeds propagate themselves and diseases spread. With a collective garden, the coordinator can call for the removal of weeds or diseased plants from all of the beds belonging to the collective, so it won’t rely on every member participating every week.
  • Less waste. We’ve all seen vegetables rot on the vine when members don’t have time to harvest their produce. Gardening collectively ensures that our produce doesn’t go to waste!
  • More guidance and support. If you have a lot of enthusiasm but not much experience with gardening, you might be more comfortable — and reap more – following the leadership of a garden coordinator who has expertise gained through many growing seasons. It’s a great way to learn best practices.
  • More community! Working together fosters strong relationships. Collective gardening is a great way to get to know your Germantown neighbors.