Community Gardener Survey 2015


IMG_0943     The Wagon Hill Community Garden opened the summer of 2009 with just 9 10×10 foot plots carved out of the clay in the field.  Now, just 6 years later we have over 90 garden spaces.  It seemed a good time to take stock of what we have become so this year I conducted a survey of gardeners at Wagon Hill Community Gardens to see how being a part of this community project was benefitting their lives or influencing their thinking and behavior.  I also wanted to know how the WHCGardens might be improved.

There are approximately 75 gardeners and I received 28 surveys.  Wagon Hill Community Gardeners especially appreciate the open skies, sunshine and beauty of the garden site.  Everyone’s responses alluded to the pleasure of watching the gardens grow,  the opportunity to be outdoors “digging in the dirt”, meeting new people and sharing a common interest as important reasons and rewards for their participation.

Many mentioned that their lives have improved as a result of their involvement.  They described the experience as relaxing, peaceful, and a connection to gardens from their childhoods.  “My heart has been mended because of this garden.  I feel more myself when I am there and happier because of it.”  “It makes living in an apartment feel more like a home because of the independence of growing my own food.”  Making friends and working together for the benefit of the whole garden helps some feel more connected and balanced.  “It is very peaceful in the garden and there is always someone nice to talk to and share ideas with…”

Everyone commented that they were eating more and fresher fruits and vegetables.  Some have been able to preserve food for year round use, learned about canning and fermentation and have grown vegetables they had never tried before.  Being able to share their produce with family, friends and those in need has been satisfying for many.

The Wagon Hill Community Gardens have been  an opportunity for many to learn more about gardening through the educational events provided and by working with, talking to and watching other gardeners.  “The key is community vs. solo work at home.”  “I’ve learned so much in one year!  It’s a wonderful sense of community.  It’s fun watching children and adults learn about the garden.  I love promoting the garden to new comers.  I can’t wait to bring my new grand daughter.”  “My kids know how plants grow and where their food comes from.  My kids love to eat veggies!”

Appreciation for the management of the WHCGarden was also expressed.  “I am so impressed with these gardens and how they are organized and operated.” “I like how neat it is.”  “The water, mulch, raised beds, very much appreciated.”

Items that need attention are:  A swale to divert water that flows through the garden.  An additional water stanchion for beds closest to the orchard. A shade structure.  Improvement of handicapped accessibility to the garden and also wheelchair accessible beds.  More educational programming.  More social events.  The edges of the garden planted with blueberries, fruit trees to create a “Food Forest”.  While gardeners appreciate the necessity of rules and expectations they do not want  “micromanaging of individual gardens other than when they negatively impact the whole.”

This final quote summarizes the over-all message of the surveys.  ” I love being part of the Community Garden and am so thankful our community has this available to us.  It’s been very gratifying to see how the garden has grown and blossomed since those first days digging in the clay.”