FCG Documents

Community Gardens

On this page, you’ll find documents and forms to help your group: start a new garden (or strengthen participation and organization at an existing garden), submit soil samples for free pH and nutrient testing, apply for financial assistance to test for soil contaminants, and track your harvest.

If you have trouble finding what you're looking for, please contact Megan Gregory.

Organizing Your Community Garden

Forsyth Community Gardening has worksheets and templates for garden groups to use in all stages of starting and organizing a community garden – from recruiting new members, to setting up systems to share garden maintenance responsibilities. Please feel free to adapt and use these files with your garden group. Files are posted here in pdf format; please contact Megan Gregory for Word documents you can customize for your garden.

  • Use our Interest Surveys to identify potential garden members or volunteers, and learn their skills, availability, and learning needs with respect to gardening. Sample surveys are available for recruiting neighborhood garden members (in English and in Spanish), or school garden volunteers (in English and in Spanish).

  • The Intake Questionnaire will help organizers think through the many aspects of starting a garden, from land tenure to water to fundraising.

  • When you have an interested group of people together, use the Developing a Garden Mission Statement worksheet to identify and prioritize goals for your garden. This should energize and guide all your future efforts.

  • Use the Customize-able Garden Organization and Rules document to outline leadership positions, meeting and workday schedules, plot assignment procedures, and garden rules. Note: Information that should be filled in by each garden is indicated by yellow highlighting; these prompts can be deleted in the final version. Garden groups may also adapt the rules for their garden.

  • Use the Customize-able Plot_Holder's Agreement to draft a plot registration and gardener agreement form for gardens offering allotments to individuals and families.

  • The Garden Steward Instructions may be used by garden groups that establish a rotation of people to maintain and harvest the garden. The template contains suggested instructions for day-to-day maintenance and forms for seasonal instructions, a crop map, harvest log, and journal to record tasks completed, pests found, and other notes. It is accompanied by a packet of Resources for Routine Maintenance for reference by garden stewards.

Thanks to Janet Scharling of the Shallowford Presbyterian Church garden for sharing their garden maintenance instructions; the ones in this template are adapted from their garden notebook.

The Harvesting Vegetables guide in the Resources packet is provided courtesy of the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service’s Home & Garden Information Center. Thanks!

Soil pH and Nutrient Testing

Soil sampling is a critically important task that every community garden should should complete at least once every two years. Please contact Megan Gregory if you need help sampling your soil. Additionally, you can look at the soil publications listed on the Printed Materials page. When it is time to submit your soil sample, you will fill out the form below.

Soil Contaminant Testing Assistance

In urban areas, soil contamination may be a concern for groups planning to start an in-ground community garden. Soil contaminant testing can help a garden group decide if they can proceed with an in-ground garden, or if they need to construct raised beds with imported soil and landscape fabric beneath.

Each year, Forsyth Community Gardening can provide a limited number of garden groups that meet certain criteria with up to $150 to offset the cost of soil contaminant testing (for example, heavy metals, PAHs). For more information and to apply, please review the guidelines and download an application below:

For more information on soil contaminant sources and testing, as well as best practices to reduce exposure, please visit Resources for NC Community Gardeners (information on soil contaminants and pesticides from the Duke University Superfund Research Center), and the Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities project.

Tracking Your Garden’s Harvest

How much produce did your garden grow this year? How much was shared with people in need? Which crops and varieties did well, and which did not? Are your yields per square foot improving with each year as you learn more about gardening?

Weighing and recording your garden’s harvest is a great way to answer these questions! Forsyth Community Gardening encourages garden groups to track this valuable information for their own use. Yield records can help you learn from successful (and not-so-successful) plantings and plan for future years, communicate your garden’s impact on availability of fresh produce, and advocate for programs that provide horticultural assistance to community gardens.

Garden groups may use the information and forms below to track their harvests. Though Forsyth Community Gardening is not conducting a comprehensive survey of harvest records, you are welcome to share your garden’s information with our program by contacting Megan. We would love to know if you feel that our educational programs have helped you achieve increased harvest totals and/or yields!

Please note, Forsyth Community Gardening is not formally compiling harvest records at this time, due to limited staff capacity to promote widespread and standard record-keeping. We hope to do this in the future, but for now we are focusing on educating community gardeners in best horticultural practices! That said, you are welcome to share your information with our program, as outlined above.