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I am one of many volunteers in the grass roots, non-profit organization, Earth's Promise. This past year we created an organic community garden with the Ethiopian community of Beer Sheva, Israel. Our garden is called the "Building Strong Roots" community garden, located in the Gimmel Neighborhood of Beer Sheva.

We chose a neglected piece of land originally intended to be a park as the site for the garden. This instructable will showcase the steps we took to construct the garden. We hope this instructable will help anyone considering building a garden in your community. Please visit our website for more information.

Earth's Promise


 
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Step 1: Planning

A lot of time went into planning the garden. The biggest issue was location, location, location. We spent over 5 months searching out communities who would be interested in working with us. In the end we chose an absorption center who house new Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. It worked out well for us because most Ethiopians have agriculture experience, especially in the coffee fields. We actually ended up learning more about gardening from them.

Step 2: Acquire the land

This can be one of the most frustrating parts to building the community garden. The land we intended to use was neglected and full of garbage. The problem was that it was intended for public use. We approached the city many times and got the support of the deputy mayor and city engineer. In the end, we got permission to use the land for the garden. This was a big victory. We do know that there is more work to do. Having permission and owning the rights to the land are very different things.

Step 3: Initial Land Cleanup

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Before the land could be used, it needed a good cleanup. We organized a "Cleanup Day." This was a huge success. We had so much help picking up trash and moving rocks. We added a little music and brought in volunteers from the local high school and university to help.

Step 4: Ribbon Cutting Ceromony

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We found that one of the keys to a successful garden is to get as many people involved as possible. You never know who will come forward and donate equipment or seeds. We held an opening ceremony to announce the garden to the general public. It was a huge success. We had local newspapers come and do a story, along with government officials. The local Ethiopian children performed a dance to entertain the crowd.

Step 5: Fence and marking the plots

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We did not want to put a fence up, but vandalism was a big concern. We worked with the city engineer and local residents to make sure the fence fit well into the neighborhood. We also decided to set hours the garden would be open, so people could work and enjoy the area.

We also worked with the community to decide whether to have one large garden or individual family plots. This community wanted individual family plots and would then work together on the upkeep of the rest of the garden. It was also decided to dedicate a separate area for a children's garden and teenager garden.

Step 6: Compost Delivery

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One of our first biggest mistakes that turned out to be a lot of fun was the compost. We had a truckload of compost delivered after we put up the fence. It probably would have been smarter to drop the compost in the middle of the garden and then put the fence up. We ended up having to transport to the compost by buckets and wheelbarrows. We created a "Work Day" and invited the community to help. This generated a lot of enthusiasm from the community and the volunteers.

Step 7: Irrigation Pipes

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We hired a local company to help us lay down irrigation pipes. We designed the garden so each individual family plot has their own faucet to control the amount of water. Later we brought drip irrigation equipment to conserve water.

Step 8: Garden Plot Lottery

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In order to distribute the garden plots fairly we held a lottery. We turned this event into a party as well. It was a lot of fun and really got everyone excited to start gardening.

Step 9: Bed Building

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We held a work day in order to construct the garden beds. The Ethiopians pretty much knew what to do. They were actually teaching us volunteers. We first broke up the soil and then added the compost. The soil in this part of Israel is pretty much like clay so we needed to add the nutrients. We found that the older kids were really excited to work and use the tools. They turned out to be a big help after school was out.

Step 10: Invite Guests to The Garden

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Right away, we started advertising and inviting guests to work in the garden. We had special visit from member of Knesset (Israeli Parliament) who is the Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galil, Yaakov Edri. We also enjoyed visits from IDF solders who brought smiles to everyone.

Step 11: Water Conservation Workshop

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Israel, along with the rest of the Middle East, is a land plagued with a water crisis. One of the primary goals was to create a garden that required as little water as possible. After the beds were constructed we installed drip irrigation lines. These drip lines are engineered to deliver a set amount of water directly to the roots of the plant. We are really excited because the manufacturer, Netafim, has invited everyone to visit the factory. For more information about the technology you can visit their website:

www.netafim.com

Step 12: Planting

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Finally, after months of hard work, we planted. We searched out donations from a local organic seed manufacturer. We also had some friends at the university who donated seeds and seedlings from their research in desert agriculture.

This was a lot of fun but it did get a little hectic. The key was being organized and not over planting because it would have been a big waste. We had about 15 different species of crops like lettuce, hot peppers, green onions etc.. We kept a list of who received seeds to make sure there was enough for everyone. This was a little tedious but the extra seeds were saved for a second planting a few months later.

Step 13: Sign Building

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We had to identify each individual plot and thought numbering them would be kind of boring. One volunteer had the idea that each plot should represent cities in Israel and Ethiopia. We got all the kids together to brainstorm different cities and paint the signs. We chose 3 primary colors for the signs, red, yellow and green; the colors of the Ethiopian Flag.

Step 14: Harvest

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A few short few months after planting, we started to see the "veggies" of our labor.

Step 15: Ouside the Fence

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The enthusiasm for the garden could not be tamed. Volunteers along with the community took extra plants (cacti and succulents) and planted them outside the garden fence. This seemed to bridge a nice relationship with the community in the area. We also find that kids like to compete to see who can pick up the most garbage.

Step 16: Future Work

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Well, this is just the beginning for "Building Strong Roots" Community Garden. We have been inundated with requests for garden plots. We just received permission to expand the boundaries of the garden to include more plots. We are also working on new activities for the kids and teens.

For more information or if you would like to help, please visit our website at:
www.earthspromise.org
Beautiful! Thank you for your work and sharing it here with us.
I love community gardens. Yours looks so friendly and fun. Do you do a pot luck?
amcarter815 years ago
In the US, depending on the City, the biggest hurdle can often be permitting and associated costs. In my city currently, any community garden will cost at least $5,000 usually more and one on environmentally sensitive land cost $45,000.
strambeer (author)  amcarter815 years ago
Dear Amcarter81. You are 100% correct. I should have included a "Fund-raising" step. Private donors were solicited along with area industry and the local municipality. We also applied for grants. Private donors covered most our expenses while the municipality and industry covered services and merchandise. For example, the compost was a donation by a local company. They just delivered a truckload of compost. For each of our donors we framed pictures of the garden with a message of thanks from the smiling kids. It really meant a lot to them. We really wanted to show them that their donation was positive and it really made a difference. I hope other people can share their experiences with fund-raising as this is the most difficult part to creating the garden. Thank you.
gabrielG25 years ago
After seeing this i'm really interested in becoming a volunteer... beautiful work!
Best regards from Brazil!
strambeer, well done indeed!  Gardens can be created just about anywhere that human beings have the vision to see them.  Having created a garden where there was nothing but asphalt, I know that this is true.  A garden anywhere is a thing of beauty, but one that was created from waste ground is truly a gift to the world and an inspiration.  Please convey my admiration and good wishes to the members of your community.

This is an excellent instructable because it covers the whole process from conception to fruition, with a focus on how problems got solved, ways to create partnerships and get community involvement.  It's also written at the right level.  Details of how to improve the soil, how to choose crops, how to build the beds and irrigation system, etc. are all somewhat dependent on local conditions, and going into them in detail here isn't really necessary.  I think things like the decision-making process are a lot more universal, though, and having your description of that part of the "how" is very helpful. 
phifoooo5 years ago
 Bravo !
elenilla5 years ago
BEAUTIFUL!
blodefood5 years ago
I really like this kind of stuff.  :-)  Closest we have to a community garden is our church's lot where a group, who is trying to help our community find solutions to poverty, worked with our church to plant a garden.  The produce from our first season, (about 100 kg or so) went directly to food bank hampers.  We're planning to expand it this summer.

We got our community involved by providing kitchen space to a group that harvests fruit and nuts from city residents trees, gives a third to the owner, a third to the volunteers and a third to the food bank.  There was lots of fresh fruit and the rest went into mason jars at preserving parties at the church kitchen.  We are still enjoying last summer's fruit in desserts served at our weekly free community lunch.

shoelace.ca

A good name6 years ago
Just a question (vaguely sarcastic, but then sort of genuinely interested): Does the FBI actually cover you in Israel?
strambeer (author)  A good name5 years ago
Hi Good Name, First, if i'm not mistaken the FBI handles domestic security issues. I don't think they would be too concerned with me living in Israel. In fact, Israel is one of America's top allays, especially when it comes to information sharing and counter terrorism. Near where I live, American solders are sent to learn how to combat urban warefare at a mock city. This is a very safe country with a rich history and fantastic scenery. I highly recomend reading about it on the net. You never know, you may be interested in visiting. Thanks for the question.
chezcraig16 years ago
Hi from Australia, We are 7 months into the planning and set up of a community garden in the town of Sapphire, in the Mining Gemfields of Queensland. The ground is all rock, Sapphire rocks, and nothing will grow, not even weeds, so we are making our garden plots raised for a no dig style soil. We have added Hay, grass cuttings from the local football club, manure is free here we just had to collect it, our local council gave us 1 acre of land, that is flood prone, that is the reason for the raised plots and they gave us compost from the botanical gardens in the major centre of Emerald. We only have 12 people so the labour is hard, but we have recently gained the assistance of one of Australia's large Mining Incorporation, Rio Tinto, so things are looking up. We are raising money to purchase much needed supplies of seed, fertilizer, etc, by running a Bingo night for the community at large. I hope one day to be able to see vegetables growing, people enjoying the fruits of their labour and many more members. I take my hat off to you for the work you have done over there.
funkyonions6 years ago
It is literally AMAZING to know what people can do when they come together to work on a project. My hats off to those who become inspired to help their communities in such a positive way!! It only takes one with a vision and the rest will follow....
This is an amazing Instructable! What a great project. I wonder if we could do this in my computer in Northwestern Canada.
That should say community... not computer. Yikes.
dr156 years ago
אתם סופר אדירים, כל הכבוד!
strambeer (author)  dr156 years ago
המון תודות! את מוזמנת לבקר את הגינה.
A good name6 years ago
Amazing instructable. Well played.
bsrome6 years ago
This is really inspiring :) I wish I had the time to dedicate towards fronting something like this in my neighborhood!
nolte9196 years ago
Wow!! That is just so incredible it brings tears to my eyes. Well done! Well done indeed.