Community Planning

Grass to Garden: A Guide to Growing Community-based Gardens

From improving access to fruits and vegetables to educating people on how food is grown, community gardens offer many benefits to the place you call home. Grass to Garden is a Purdue Extension Signature Program co-led by members from both the Agriculture and Natural Resources and Community Development Educator teams to bring Indiana residents together and teach tactics on how to start a community-based garden. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the Purdue Extension Grass to Garden Signature Program aims to provide information focused on more than just growing plants by strengthening agricultural and community development efforts, resulting in healthier communities with improved access to local food.



Grass to Garden is a four-part (12-hour in person / 8-hour virtual) workshop geared towards non-profit employees, local officials, community volunteers, and garden enthusiasts who struggle to find the tools they need to make their gardens community-driven, successful, and sustainable.

Whether the program is virtual or in-person, the following topics are covered over the four sessions:

Session One

In this session, participants will serve as an Introduction to Community Gardens and Pre-Garden Planning Techniques, including:

  • An overview of the different types of community-based gardens
  • Establishing a plan to foster positive relationships with local government entities and stakeholders
  • Defining goals, mission and vision statements, and outcomes for individual community-based gardens projects
  • Understanding how to identify community resources, including funding sources

Session Two

This session focuses on establishing Garden Policies and developing the Community Engagement Plan. More specifically, participants will:

  • Work through possible conflict-resolution scenarios
  • Explore practices which might improve productivity and lessen the environmental impact of a garden project
  • Cultivate strategies for recruiting and managing project volunteers
  • Examine possible ways the garden project can engage the community
  • Create a detailed budget plan for the project

Session Three

The primary objectives for this session are to focus on community garden site selection and preparation, as well as to:

  • Research the history of garden site
  • Discover how to assess soil health
  • Create a garden layout

Session Four

In the final session, participants will learn how to effectively grow and harvest the fruits of their labor by:

  • Understand strategies for improving garden security
  • Constructing a planting and harvesting schedule
  • Learn techniques for plant propagation
  • Gain insight about major and minor nutrients, as well as how they affect plant growth and pest-management plans
  • Determine how to identify and manage common garden pests
  • Acquire proper food-safety procedures

Program Takeaways

Every garden project is unique, and Grass to Garden will help you learn more than just how to grow plants-helping your program thrive by:

  • Strengthening agricultural and community development effort
  • Improving access to local, nutritious foods
  • Creating healthier communities, and more!

In addition to the knowledge gained and practices learned, participants receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program.

Target Audiences

  • Non-profit employees
  • Local officials
  • Community volunteers
  • Garden enthusiasts

To learn more about the Grass to Garden program and schedule a workshop, please contact a team member below.

Karen Mitchell
Consumer Horticulture Extension Specialist

Gina Anderson
Agriculture and Natural Resources / Community Development Extension Educator, Floyd County

Veronica Bullock
Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator / County Extension Director, Franklin County


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