Sharing Your Community Garden Story
With all the competition for community garden grant funds and donation requests, being able to tell the story of how your garden impacts your community is a key component to garden success. Often, funders and supporters want to see that impact told in numbers. There are a couple easy ways that you can begin to collect impact data in your garden. See below for a list of tips on the types of data to collect and how to track the information.
Use logs in your community garden
Tip #1: In a binder at the garden, keep a harvest and participation log. I’ll break down each of these below.
- A harvest log is simply a log that you use to keep track of the produce harvested from your garden. You’ll need an inexpensive kitchen scale to weigh the produce. Make sure that you track the crop name, number of plants, date of harvest, and weight. If you choose to measure some things in bunches rather than weight, stay consistent. For example, if you track cilantro by bunches, make sure that everyone in the garden does this. Also, set a standard size for the bunches so they are consistent. Not only can you tally this information at the end of the growing season to report the total harvest for the year, you can also use the logs to compare what produced well from year to year.
- A participation log allows you to track the hours that garden members and/or volunteers have worked in the garden. This is particularly important because the hours can demonstrate how invested and committed people are to seeing the garden succeed. For this log, you’ll want each person that works in the garden to note the date, their name, if they are a garden member or volunteer, what activity they worked on in the garden– such as, construction, weeding, planting, harvesting– and the hours worked. The total hours worked each season is great information to provide supporters and funders. Also, if you give out awards in your garden, you can track who has the most work hours for the season.
Tip #2: Document the progress of the garden throughout the growing year in photos and collect quotes from participants. This can really bring the human element to your story. First, make sure that you have permission from others to share their image.
Share the story
Tip #3: Compile all the information at the end of the growing year. Use the numbers in donation requests, grant applications, and when speaking to supporters. Share the end of year info with the garden team and celebrate all your hard work!