Gardeners: Backyard Growers and Community Gardens
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Frequently Asked Questions
How is the Agriculture Collaborative involved in supporting community gardens and backyard growers?
Our webpage, www.localfoodnm.org, provides a variety of support and information for both those who grow in their own yards and those who grow with others in a community garden setting. In addition, related topics are often featured at our monthly meetings, such as at our January meeting on Digging Community Gardens. We also feature community gardens and backyard growers in articles on our Local Food Blog, such as a downtown resident's edible landscape, and the Action Buzz neighborhood garden.
Is there an existing community garden in my neighborhood?
There are a few community gardens in our region, and the demand for more is high. View a listing of area community gardens.
Let's Get Growing
The MRCOG Inspiration Garden
We planted a garden at the MRCOG office building in Downtown Albuquerque to inspire people to plant their own vegetable garden and purchase locally grown foods.
Here are 10 tips for starting your garden today:
Decide what style of garden you want to have. For example, you may want to have a large row style garden, or if you are limited on space you may choose container gardening instead.
Select a good growing location in your yard, taking into account sun exposure, access to water, and soil and drainage conditions.
Prepare and till your soil, and don't forget to add compost.
Shape your garden rows or build raised beds with wood or other materials.
Based on the season as well as the size of your garden, select appropriate seeds and seedlings to plant. Remember to plant foods that you enjoy, and try something new as well.
Water and weed your garden regularly, and keep an eye out for bugs and other problems.
Harvest your bounty, and re-seed or add new crops as needed.
Take notes on what worked and what did not, so you are better prepared for the next growing season.
If you grew more food than you can eat, give some away or preserve it for the winter months.
Remember to have fun and enjoy the fresh produce you have grown.
How do I start a community garden in my neighborhood?
Starting a community garden often requires a lot of time and energy upfront, but it is well worth the effort in the end. A great place to begin is by looking at the American Community Gardening Associations publication on how to start a community garden. The best resources however are the managers and members of existing community gardens in your area. You will learn quite a bit by talking with them and seeing how their garden operates.
Can I grow food in my front yard?
Although backyard gardening is most popular, some homeowners are replacing their front lawns with a vegetable garden, creating an edible landscape. Growing in your front yard is legal in most municipalities, although homeowner association by-laws may prohibit the growing of food in front yards.
Can I keep chickens, bees, or other livestock?
Again, it depends on where you live, so it's best to check with your municipality or homeowners association before you start keeping livestock. In the city of Albuquerque, for example, you can keep up to 15 chickens per household in single family residential areas, and bee keeping is also permitted. Keeping hoofed animals, such as cows and pigs, depends on property size and zoning.
How do I know what USDA growing zone I am in?
Growing zones in New Mexico's mid-region can be a bit tricky to understand due to a variety of elevation changes and valley micro-climates. New Mexico State University has a great publication that can help you determine your growing region. The best way to find out however is through experience growing at your location, and by talking with other growers in your immediate area.
Where can I get tips and advice for gardening?
There are a variety of great resources to help cultivate your green thumb. For starters, check out the NMSU publication Home Vegetable Gardening in New Mexico, which details eight easy steps for a successful home garden. Also, they have an extensive publications page with topics ranging from worm composting to growing raspberries. The Albuquerque Area Master Gardeners has an online monthly garden calendar with gardening tips and reminders, and you can also call them with questions. Be sure to also check out our local food and agriculture events calendar, as there are a variety of workshops and classes offered year-round.
What resources are available to me?
The Agriculture Collaborative hosts monthly meetings on a variety of topics, many of which are of interest to crop and livestock producers. Sign up today for our e-newsletter and learn about upcoming meetings and workshops or view our past meeting topics online. Our Local Food Blog and our Events Calendar can help keep you up to date on what is happening locally and nationally with local foods and agriculture. Be sure to also see the gardeners resource listing.