Depending on where you live, I would organize a group of interested local residents and contact your city’s economic development and/or community development department. Many cities today own sites that they can’t develop and may be interested in allowing someone to start a community garden. If you can’t get anywhere by calling the city, don’t be afraid to show up at a city council meeting and voice your desire and ask who you should contact. Just get to a council meeting early and ask for a speaking card. There is always a portion of the meeting that is reserved for general comments.
I live in Seattle and we have what is called a P-Patch program. Almost every neighborhood has its own public garden and there are ways for people to start one if there isn’t one nearby. I would contact them as a model organization; they will likely be able to give you some good pointers and maybe even help get you started. The link is below:
I found a great resource sheet cited below (pdf) that has some awesome suggestion, tips, and how-to guidelines on starting a community garden. They suggest beginning by forming a planning committee to help decide what kind of garden to create, where it will be, help delegate responsibilities, and organize legal issues, like land use and water sources. With your committee’s help, you’ll begin with choosing and preparing a site for the garden, then organize garden membership and possibly create an official organization centered around the garden, and finally begin managing the community garden. The sheet also has links to some great resources for beginning your garden—check it out!
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