How the Giving Garden Was Built

We are so thrilled that the Giving Garden is complete! The seeds and plants are busy soaking up the sun and being tended to daily by our dedicated team of volunteers. Soon the garden will be providing food for people in our community. We are so thankful to everyone who has helped out with the project. To those who donated money and supplies, thank you- without your support, we could not have built this. To those who donated their time preparing the site, building, and planting these beds, thank you- you created this amazing garden. To those who gave plants and seeds, thank you- your kind donations will feed countless people in our community.

We wanted to document the garden building process here, so that anyone else who is looking for information on how to build a charitable garden could use this as a template. So here’s how it went.

Before Giving Garden- a little used patch of grass behind our library- May 2020.

As a first step, we went to our local officials and Borough Council in Narberth with a proposal- to let us transform little used public space into a charitable garden that would grow food for people in need in our community. They were supportive and granted us permission to do so. So next…

One of our fabulous organizers bought a bunch of 4x8x12 inch high untreated pine boards, and then we cut them down into sets of 4 pieces each 4 feet in length. We sealed them with food safe linseed oil to help preserve them, and then let them dry overnight. Then…

We got to work building. First we lay cardboard, thoughtfully collected and cleaned of packing tape by another of our wonderful organizers, down over all the grass. The cardboard will keep out weeds from the beds and pathways, and is an earth-friendly way to reuse cardboard- it will slowly break down over time. Then, we assembled the beds. Working in small teams, volunteers screwed the beds together. Long deck screws were put into each side, 4 per side. As we were putting the beds on ground that wasn’t sloped, we didn’t use support posts at the corners, but simply joined the corners together with the screws. We then moved the beds onto site, measuring out the spaces between them to ensure that they were all evenly placed. Not pictured, but we also dug down under a row of beds towards the left of the site to level them, as they sat on a slight rise in the ground. After that…

A local tree company generously dropped off a huge load of wood chips, collected that morning from a large tree they had removed. Volunteers shoveled the wood chips between the beds and over the remaining exposed cardboard, to create a deep layer of wood chips on all the pathways. The chips will keep the paths between the beds from getting muddy, and will provide some warmth for the beds in the cooler months, as they go up about 5-6 inches on the side of each bed. Next, we had a large load of mixed chemical free topsoil and mushroom compost delivered, which was shoveled into each bed. We unfortunately neglected to get photos of the incredible volunteers who did all the shoveling of wood chips and soil, but their efforts are deeply appreciated- it was a lot of shoveling!

Then, it was time to plant. Another group of organizers and volunteers put in tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, bean seeds, herbs, cucumbers, eggplant, and pumpkins. There are even sunflowers!

With planting complete, we watered and waited for things to begin to sprout.
Within a week, the transplanted seedlings were thriving, and we had our first sprouts, including the sunflowers, which will grow by the window of the childrens’ area of the library.

With a generous donation of rain barrels and hoses, the garden is now complete and happily growing. Fencing and signage will come soon. Stop by to visit and see what’s growing!

Giving Garden Complete, June 2020

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