The Community Gardening Handbook – Book Review

The Community Gardening HandbookThe Community Gardening Handbook
Plant & Grow Together
by Ben Raskin
Published by Leaping Hare Press in association with Big Dig and the Soil Association
February 2017
ISBN: 9781782404491
Price: £9.99

Join the community gardening revolution for a greener future!

Whether you are a budding grower setting up a new plot, or an experienced green thumb looking for new inspiration, The Community Gardening Handbook offers expert advice and insight on how to grow food, especially as a community. The authors clearly presents the unique workings of community gardens, covering everything from legality to land tenure, to skill shares and seed sowing, seed saving, and much more.

The book is divided into four chapters

  • An Introduction to Community Gardening

  • Extending Roots

  • Planning Your Site and Planting

  • Plant Directory

that again have subsections which tackle the bits that go with it.

The Plant Directory has all the information you m need to have about the plants listed as to planting how and where, and also how to grow them in containers.

Easy to read and follow. No lengthy waffle. Every point explained in short sections, with lots of illustrations.

Community gardening is a growing revolution that is taking root in towns and cities all over the world. Groups of like-minded people are transforming neglected plots of land into green, flourishing spaces for everyone to enjoy.

The “community gardens” mentioned for Germany in “An Introduction to Community Gardening” in this book are a very old institution and generally called Schrebergärten or Kleingärten. Akin to the Allotment Gardens in the UK but the individual plots are generally larger, with the minimum being about 400m2 while the standard allotment plot in the UK is just a little over half of that. They cannot, per se, and neither can the allotment gardens in the UK, seen and understood in the same way as community gardens as they are being understood in the USA and by those setting up such gardens, say on vacant lots as, in general, those are worked by all (no individual plots) and the produce being shared by all.

In The Community Gardening Handbook, Ben Raskin shares his keen expertise in an invaluable introduction to a new wave of collective self-sufficiency, encouraging a community audience to grow food and to garden together. A look into different types of inspirational community gardens from all over the world is followed by a practical guide: planning advice is laid out alongside essential etiquette tips for running a successful site and proven ideas for involving the whole neighborhood.

Ben says: "With a growing disillusionment with global capitalism and multinationals there is a desire to take back some control of our food system. What better way than to do it yourself!"

This is a very well presented book and very recommendable.

Ben Raskin is the Head of Horticulture at the Soil Association. He runs courses and training and launched the Soil Association's flagship Organic Apprenticeship Scheme in 2007. He also mentors and advises on organic growing. Ben got the gardening bug working on an organic vineyard in northern Italy, and has worked in horticulture for more than 20 years, including a stint as Assistant Head Gardener at the UK charity Garden Organic.

© 2017