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Educate>Becoming Green With The Horn Farm Center!

Gardens At The Horn Farm Center!

 

Community Gardens

Community Gardens At The Horn Farm Center

The American Community Gardening Association

Popular community gardens

Benefits of Community Gardens

Can produce nutritious foods

Budgets towards food

Conserves resources

Stimulates Social Interaction

Encourages Self Reliance

Beautifies areas and preserves green areas

Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise and education

Difficulties of Community Gardens

Allocating and preserving land

Lack of programs to educate

Lack of community recognition

Politics of farming/gardening

Wildlife and Environment

Start a Community Garden.

Organizing your gardens

Patch Projects


Many people are trying to become more “green”. Either financially, environmentally or in the sense of health. But where and how does someone begin all of this? Try the Horn Farm Center!

Horn Farm Center is a multi-faced area right outside of Lancaster county, in Hellam Township, York Pennsylvania. So even though it is not technically Lancaster county, they are still taking some very awesome and new green initiatives that will help all communities in York, Lancaster and the surrounding areas. At the Horn Farm Center, they deal with various aspects of agriculture and strive to encourage a sense of self-sustainability, as well as county sustainability. They deal with literal green practices, as well as the historical aspect of green farming practices and equipment. The Horn Farm Center has community gardens for community members to join, and create their very own meals at a low, low price. They also have patch projects to help educate people on the importance and advantage of growing your own crops.

The Horn Farm Center also strives to educate the community on agriculture and self sustainability. With difficult economic times, everyone is looking to save a penny or two. The Horn Farm Center understands this and wants to help the community before more dependent on themselves. The Horn Farm Center encourages self reliance and sustainability. Not only on a personal level, but also through your community. Financially, York county alone spends 900 million dollars on food. Only a mere half a percent of that amount goes to York County farmers. That is  99.5 percent of that goes out of the county and does not support York county and their neighbors. As a community, if we can find a way to keep only 50 percent of that in our neighborhoods, it would be a huge financial spike for us.

Community Gardens

Community gardens are an expanding and exciting way for any one at all to get into gardening. Community gardens are plots of land that are split up amongst a group of people, and it’s collectively gardened and or tended to. Community gardens can be started anywhere that has fruitful or healthy soil. Typically community gardens are sectioned off into small segments. At Horn Farm Center, the community gardens are sectioned off into twenty by twenty (20 X 20) plots. 

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Community Gardens At The Horn Farm Center


At the Horn Farm Center, there are very few, and almost limitless rules and regulations involved with their community gardens projects.

 

  1. The community gardens will begin in Mid-April at the Horn Farm Center. Be sure to check the Horn Farm Center's website website for an exact date!

  2. Everyone who participates as a gardener must be sure to properly weed and take care of their  plots of land. Be mindful of neighboring plots as well. If you will be planting things such as sunflowers in your plots, be sure that they will not shade your neighbors crops. This will hinder their crop’s life and growth. If you have vine plants, be sure that they stay within your plots of land and not overtake your neighbor’s plots.

  3. There are no herbicides permitted. Fertilizers manufactured via municipal sludge is not permitted.  Insecticides and or fungicides that are used, should have a two foot not planted border within the plot. The Horn Farm Center prefers that you use environmentally safe and friendly insecticides and fungicides.

  4. The use of shanties, lean to shelters or shades of any type are not allowed to be used. Any lockers that are used, must not exceed two feet high, two feet wide and six feet long.

  5. Rain barrel water as well as spigot water will be made available at the Horn Farm Center Farmhouse.

  6. Wooden stakes are encouraged for temporary fencing as well as supporting fence borders as well as staking plants.

  7. All trash should be removed from plots, and neighboring areas. Please take all of your trash with you and dispose of it in an appropriate manner.

  8. Dogs, as well as loud music, are prohibited from the community garden plot area.

  9. The Horn Farm Center asks that you please remove all non-biodegradable items from your plots at the end of the season.  This includes any additional stakes used, fencing, wires and any perennials. If plot renters refuse to follow these guidelines, they may be denied future garden plots.

  10. If a gardener, for any reason, must abandon their plot, they are to immediately notify the Horn Farm Center. If a plot becomes untidy, the gardener will be notified and given one week to take appropriate actions. After the one week period, the plot may be reassigned or tilled.

Please note that any gardener that fails to follow the rules and regulations established by the Horn Farm Center may lose future opportunities and access to the community gardens.

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The American Community Gardening Association


            The American Community Gardening Association is a nation wide effort to help implement community gardens, as well as greening into areas all across the United States as well as Canada.

            They also focus on things outside of community gardens. Such as ornamental gardening, which is used for aesthetic pleasure rather than sustainability.  Urban forestry which is the caretaking of forestry in urban areas such as cities by methods such as pruning, to improve the urban environment as well as other educational, preserving and managing techniques.

The American Community Gardening Association engages in some of the main topics highlighted in the Benefits section, such as:
            Promote regional and national community garden networks.
            Develop resources to help support community gardening and greening.
            Promote research on the impact that community greening has
            Institutes educational training to help further develop community gardening and greening.

The American Community Gardening Association has their own set of guidelines that most should attempt to follow when setting up a community garden. They are:

“1. Assign the duty of inventorying vacant public lots and vacant private lots in low income neighborhoods and the duty to make that information readily accessible to the public.
2. Authorize contracting with private landowners for lease of vacant lots.
3. Authorize use of municipal land for minimum terms long enough to elicit commitment by gardeners, such as five years, and provide for permanent dedication to the parks department after five years of continuous use as a community garden.
4. Provide for clearing of rubble and contamination where needed, and for regular trash collection.
5. Prepare land for gardening by tilling and building raised beds, configuring some gardens for access by disabled gardeners.
6. Provide for access to water without charge to gardeners.
7. Provide compost from the locality's recycling programs, if available.
8. Provide tools, hoses and secure storage facilities for tools and other necessary items.
9. Tap resources for training about gardening, including organic methods or pesticide use,and consulting about particular garden problems.
10. Provide technical assistance to support programs with youth, elderly, disabled, low income, and other populations depending on neighborhood needs and interests.
11. Provide signage, if requested.
12. Network with farmers' markets, entrepreneurship programs, vocational education, and organizational leadership programs.
13. Provide for liability insurance against personal injury.
14. Permit sale of excess produce by charitable organizations.
15. Provide trash collection service.
16. Provide maintenance for adjacent park property.
17. Provide favorable tax treatment for loan of private land.
18. Identify sources of program materials (for teachers, youth and senior counselors ,etc.).
19. Provide a funding mechanism to cover the locality's costs in establishing a computer database and mapping program, property acquisition and maintenance, and technical assistance.”

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Popular community gardens

While there are many local areas that can, or already do have community gardens such as the Horn Farm Center, there are some other more well known community gardens. They are not just ran and used by your every day Joe. There are some well know people and places that have community gardens as well. The first lady of the United States of America, Mrs. Obama has a community garden of her own. She is the first in the White House to have one since Eleanor Roosevelt during World War Two.

Michelle Obama also has done some research on community gardens, and realizes the benefits that they can have. She has taken a deep interest in the physical benefits that community gardens can on those who are actively involved with them. The First Lady has stated that she hopes the idea of her community garden, and others as well, can spark a fire in the lives and minds of others and they will start or join a community garden of their own. The First Lady says her hope for community gardens are “that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities.” She as well realizes the benefits and strengths of community gardens being education, as well as financially. It is said that the costs for seeds, mulch and such for the White House’s community garden is around 200 dollars. Again, this is harping on the fact that community gardens can offer a lot for a little. Even one of the most influential families in the world, the Presidential family, with many resources, can run a community garden with a very limited amount of money.

Mrs. Obama is very passionate about stopping childhood obesity and believes that childhood obesity can be stopped wit the integration of community gardens. With getting children outdoors and active with gardening and such, the Obama administration believes that they can help end childhood obesity.

Benefits of Community Gardens


Community gardens can be a very beneficial aspect for an individual, as well as for a community. A few of the headlining benefits of community gardens are as followed:

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Can produce nutritious foods


            Community gardens such as the ones that the Horn Farm Center run, have a strict policy on the use and belief of chemicals and herbicides when it comes to gardening.  These strict guidelines can create very healthy foods. Also, the fact that the foods grown in community gardens are fresh from the field (literally!), they are much more nutritious than the foods purchased at the local grocery store is a key benefit. Since the gardener (or farmer) has control of the crop from start to finish they know exactly what they are growing. They can avoid the high sugars and other unhealthy additives and preservatives.

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Budgets towards food


Community gardens can help drastically reduce a family’s grocery budget. With the state of our economy making a lot of consumers cut back on expenses, many are looking for alternatives to the high prices of the grocery stores. Community gardens can be the answer most people are looking for! The costs of a plot of land from a community gardens can vary depending on where you go. However, the Horn Farm Center offers their plots for a low $35 for the season. After you pay that small fee, you simply need to buy the goods you wish to grow and produce, and allot a little bit of time and hard work. From there you’ll be well on your way to cutting your grocery bill in no time. Which in turn is making you more sustainable on your own.

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Conserves resources


            This can be tied in with family budgeting as well. Allowing you to conserve, and stretch your resources (money) to use every possible penny to the maximum limit. It can also pertain to being able to get “more bang for your buck” as the saying goes. For the small amount of financial investing you do with community gardens, you can reap a very large harvest from that little seed. You may also choose to sell some of the crops you grow in your community garden. This will not only allow you to conserve resources, but allows you to create even more resources.

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Stimulates social interaction


            In most community gardens, you will not be alone, or be the only one doing all the gardening. There are other gardeners out there with you putting work into their plots. This allows you to interact with the community, and it also pushes the idea of community gardens. At the Horn Farm Center, you can see a large part of the property right from the highway as you drive by. This position essentially shows off the center, as well as the community gardens, which could spark interest and motivation in others to join and become more self reliant and sustainable!

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Encourages self reliance


            Having a community garden can allow a gardener to become very self reliant. Community gardens allow the gardeners to rely on themselves, not the grocery store. Gardeners do not have to rely on outside sources for their foods, which makes them more independent than they were originally. This will encourage them, as well as those they interact with more independent.

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Beautifies areas and preserves green areas


            Community gardens help let surrounding areas flourish both visually and naturally. Growing flowers that spread seeds can help beautify areas, as well as other plants in general. Community gardens are starting to take swing in urban areas, bringing a bit of the country side to the city. It brightens up the area and brings more life to the area.

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Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise and education


            The Horn Farm Center takes pride in educating future generations on the art and history of farming and agriculture.  Community gardens also offer exercise and recreation by having the gardeners staying active with their gardens. The positive side of community gardens located in beautiful areas such as the Horn Farm Center, is that the community gardens are located at a fresh and beautiful piece land with rich air to breathe and relax in.

Community gardens can obviously be very beneficial to those who embrace them and take full advantage of them. They allow you to have more nutritious and healthy foods, reduce you and your family’s budget, conserves your resources, beautifies your neighborhood and creates opportunity for exercise, recreation and education. All of these are things that can benefit you short and long term in your life.

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Difficulties of Community Gardens


Of course, as with everything in life, there are hardships and difficulties. The same goes with community gardens as well. However you are free to decide for yourself if the difficulties outweigh the benefits of having community gardens.

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Allocating and preserving land


            To be able to host a community garden, or to find one, there needs to be an abundance of useful land and soil. There is also the difficulty of being able to preserve and upkeep the land. To be able to properly till the land and make sure that it is properly taken care of.  There is also the issue of making sure that the land is not, and does not become, contaminated either by run off or dumping. If that does happen, you then need to find ways to treat the soil and repair it. Without having a full background of knowledge in agriculture, it is very difficult to maintain upkeep and maintenance of the land.

Lack of programs to educate


            Education is a key to have an evolving and expanding community garden. Without learning new techniques and methods, the gardening will become difficult. There is also the difficulty of educating and training others who are gardening at your plot. The Horn Farm Center is taking strides to enhance the education of agriculture in general, as well as how to properly use their community gardens. Education is very much the key to expanding community gardens.

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Lack of community recognition


            Having an area that hosts community gardens is not the only thing needed for a successful community garden. You of course need to get the word out about what and where your community gardens are. Which can prove to be quite difficult and expensive if looking to take out ad space in a news paper or create flyers to hand out. So you may need to rely on the public’s ‘word of mouth’ feature and hope that those involved already can spread the word and get others involved. People may be weary of the idea because community gardens are not the most convenient way of getting foods. It is much easier to walk into a grocery store and buy fruit or vegetables that you want. People naturally go towards the path of least resistance, so you would need to educate the public on the benefits of having a community garden.

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Politics of farming/gardening


            Many people who are active and well versed in agriculture have many different opinions and views of how a community garden and farming in general should be done.  Working together with fellow farmers on how to run the overall community gardens as a whole is an issue that will need to be dealt with Some will believe that pesticides are okay to use, others will be against it. As a fellow gardener you need to be able to negotiate what is in the best interest of the land, crops, and everyone involved with the project.

Wildlife and Environment


            When having a community garden, you have to take into consideration your surrounding in both rural and urban environment. Whether a rural or urban environment you have to consider your surrounding. In a rural environment, you need to take into account the wildlife that may graze upon your community gardens. You would then need to install more or better fencing around your community garden to protect it from groundhogs, deer, rabbits, etc. getting into your garden. For a community garden hosted in an urban area, you need to be aware of a possibility of lacking sunlight depending of where you place your garden. Also you need to be weary of birds and stray animals getting into your garden as well.

While community gardens have positives, they also have negatives as well. Community gardens can be difficult to find and preserve land and or area to have them in, it is often times difficult to get public support at the start of the program. Community gardens can also be difficult to operate with other farmers and gardeners who have different opinions and views on how to operate the gardens. There is also the fear of the gardens being grazed upon, or used by nature as well. So overall, there is a lot of give and take with community gardens. In the end though, hopefully the benefits can greatly outweigh the disadvantages of participating with community gardens.

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Start a Community Garden


So, you want to start a community garden of your own. That’s great, but what will you need to consider when it comes to starting one?

First off, there needs to be a decision about if a garden is necessary, and if there is interest from the community or others to contribute to a community garden.

You should decide what type of community garden to have. There is a variety such as a vegetable, flower, tree or a mixture of all?

Who your garden will appeal to, youth (Michelle Obama’s goal) seniors, families, or anyone looking to become more self sustaining(Horn Farm Center).

From here, you should make sure that you keep in mind the target audience or users when planning the garden. If possible, get in touch with some people who will be involved in the garden to get their input on it.

Form a committee or group of people to keep the gardens organized, such as a coordinator, funding and research developer, youth/senior coordinator, activity coordinator, maintenance and someone to be a figure head for the garden.

Attempt to find another group or organization to help sponsor or fund your gardens. This can help with funding any construction, advertising, and financial aspects of your gardens,

Find a plot of land or area, which you would wish to use.

 Approach the owner/s of the land and propose a contract with them.

Designate a contact person (addresses, phone number…) for others to reach your organization.

Create a budget for the garden, and stick to it!

Choose a name for the garden.

Choosing your Community Garden Site

First, as stated above, identify the owner of the land and come to an agreement on the use of it for a community garden.

Ensure that the land gets adequate sun. At least six hours of sunlight a day.

Perform, or find some one who can perform, soil tests for nutrients.

Investigate any water sources nearby that could be used.

Investigate the previous uses of the land. Find out if there has been any contamination to the soil.

Prepare and develop your site

Clean the site and land of any trash and unwanted material. Make sure that everything you do to and on the land is agreed with the land owner/s.

Develop the design of your gardens. Will the be side by side of each other, such as how the Horn Farm Center has theirs. Or will there be neutral space between them.

Organize volunteers and workers to help with the construction of the gardens.

Decide upon the size of the plots and make each plot clearly labeled. The Horn Farm Center simply uses wooden stakes with numbers on them to designate which plot is which.

Plan an area to keep simple tools and other equipment.

Create a rainproof sign or bulletin board with up to date information concerning the gardens, and keep your rules and regulations posted there at all times.

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Organizing your gardens

Decide upon membership regulations. Will you have a yearly fee? A one time fee? A fee per plot? Rules and regulations of using the community gardens. Consequences of failing to follow the regulations. Be sure to discuss all of these with the land owners.

Decide what will be done with funding raised from plot fees. Will any of the funds be used and put towards the gardeners or will it go towards land payments?

Decide what the ‘community’ aspect of the gardens will do as a whole. Will everyone get together during the early spring and prep the land?

Determine how plot tenants/farmers will be chosen.

How to prevent and deal with possible vandalism to the gardens,

Determine if there will be separate gardens available for seniors and youth.

Set up a regular meeting place and time for all the gardeners to gather and discuss the workings of the community.

Decide if gardeners will have access to tools to use for their gardens or if they are to provide their own.

Decide if a garden manager, or individual gardeners will be in charge of weeding within and around the plots.

Consider having competitions or events open to the gardeners, as well as the public. This can help create more public interest in the community gardens, as well more funding. The Horn Farm Center has a Potato Patch Project which

Decide if there will be any limitations on what can and can not be used on the land. This is essential to discuss with the land owner first and foremost because this is still their land.

Decide what can and can not be grown on the land as well.

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 Patch Projects


            Similar to community gardens, the Horn Farm Center has plots available for their Patch Projects every year. Each year, the Horn Farm Center has different themes for the project. This past years was potato, and in years past they have done pizza sauce as well! The participants are encouraged to allow their children to help get involved with the patch project. This can once again help connect back to the goal of teaching children the importance and benefits of farming in general.

The costs for the project include the price for seeds, and the patch of land you use. On the first day that the project begins, there is an educational session for all participants to partake in. The sessions typically provide information on how to grow, tend and harvest the crop of that season. After the session, the gardeners are welcome to begin working within their plots.

 The patch project will not be happening for the 2012 season. However, the idea is being considered for the 2013 season. Be sure to check the website for updates!

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This site was created by Devin Rowe at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

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