How to Start a Community Garden

Here are some guidelines on how to start a community garden in Southern Ontario. If you’re not in that area, hopefully you can still find this page helpful! This information was presented at Hillside Festival 2014 in Guelph, Ontario by Emily.

1. Overview

2. Cambridge

3. Guelph

4. Kitchener

5. Toronto

6. Waterloo

7. Fundraising & Other Support


1. Overview

Find the original article on how to start a community garden at Alternatives Journal. The eight steps (though you may not do them in this order) are:

Step 1. Find a group of like-minded people

Step 2. Find land.

Step 3. Talk to the neighbours.

Step 4. Find money.

Step 5. Find water.

Step 6. Find the by-laws.

Step 7. Find gardeners.

Step 8. Garden!

All regions have a community garden council to support gardens & help them find funding, etc. Here’s a table with the most important info! These regulations are for community gardens on city (or school board) land, so if you’re planning a garden on private property, you probably won’t have the same rules or support from the cities, but the garden councils will hopefully still be helpful. And all of this information was found on the Internet, and you may find that by talking to staff members you can actually get more help from the city than written here, or you might find your city isn’t as forthcoming with support as they have suggested online. Definitely use this research as a starting point and if you find anything different than written here, let us know!

City Provides Guidelines & Applications Garden set-up support Financial Support Water support Contact
Cambridge Yes, no application Top soil, fill, mulch when available Yes, $1000 Unlikely Community — (519) 740-4681
Guelph Yes, deadline October 31st Yes, sod stripping, mulch, No May provide rain barrel Kelly Guthrie, Community Engagement Coordinator519-822-1260 x 2677

Kitchener Yes Yes, sod stripping, loads of compost, woodchips & soil Yes, $500 + in-kind No Tim Wolfe at 519-741-2600 ext. 4173
Toronto Yes No No No Community Gardens Program OfficePhone: 416-392-7800

Waterloo Yes, deadline August 31 or January 31st Sod-stripping + adding soil Maybe No, need approval for water tanks


2. Cambridge

Cambridge has little online about community gardening there, but here’s the one policy document (it’s pretty good!):

Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region:

3. Guelph

Guelph-Wellington Food Roundtable’s CG Network:

City of Guelph’s CG page:

Application for on city land:

4. Kitchener

City of Kitchener CG Grant Guidelines:

Generic CG page:

Community Environmental Improvement Grants:

Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region:

5. Toronto

Toronto Community Garden Network:

Toronto Community Garden Network Toolkit:

City of Toronto CG page:

6. Waterloo

Partner in Parks Overview:

Partner in Parks Program Guide:

Community Vegetable Garden Guide:

Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region:

7. Fundraising & Other Support

Region of Waterloo Community Environmental Fund:

TD Friends of the Environment:


Don’t forget to talk to banks, credit unions, churches, local business, neighbourhood development projects, and anyone else you can think of. You’d be surprised at who’s willing to chip in!

If taking on building projects, local hardware stores might be wiling to provide a discount or some in-kind donations.

BMO has a free chequing account for community groups.

Kijiji and Freecycle are good ways to collect community tools.

Waterloo Region provides free mulch and compost if you pick it up at the dump.

Greenhouses might have leftover plants/seedlings at the end of the season, so if anyone is struggling to fill their plot or you have anyone back out at the last minute, you could check in and see if a greenhouse will donate some plants.

Did we miss anything? Email


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s