Condo Community Garden: How to Avoid Unexpected Challenges

Condo community garden

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A trend toward urban agriculture and condo gardens is opening up new concepts for condo designers. It’s also opening up new avenues for condo boards to discuss the option to create condo community gardens. However, with new concepts come unexpected challenges. Here are some tips to help your condo board avoid those challenges when creating a community garden.

Measure Interest

While this might sound like an exciting idea for board members with green thumbs, the rest of the community might be less than enthused. Put out feelers to measure community interest before committing to the project. Some people might not be willing to sacrifice a piece of their property for a rural agricultural project gone wild in the middle of their well-manicured common outdoor elements. Hold a meeting to create a committee to manage the proposal. Those against the idea can also present their concerns before a vote is taken.

Speak to a Property Management Company

A property management company can help discuss the pros and cons of the idea. They can also head up the committee and help prepare the proposal to present to owners. Costs associated with the project can also be predicted more accurately, as this will play a major role in whether or not you wish to proceed with the community garden.

Offset Cost Challenges for the Community Garden

Consider presenting an eco-roof option in place of a community garden using the City of Toronto Incentive to help offset costs. Green roof systems are usually installed on flat roofs. Their added benefits might sway those against the roof to reconsider. For example, they can help save energy and are extremely eco-friendly. First, they help reduce urban heat. Second, they reduce greenhouse gases. With the incentive you can create a biodiverse community garden, while also creating an improved outdoor space everyone can enjoy.

Create Maintenance Policies

An important aspect of a community garden is ensuring proper maintenance. As such, it must go beyond the individual growers. Consideration must be given to a general maintenance plan and policies participants must follow. Property management can oversee and monitor the garden, or it can be managed by volunteers. They can communicate with plot owners who are not meeting required guidelines and bylaws. However, there are many issues to consider. For example, should owners with plots in the garden move away, and the new owners don’t want the plot, what happens? What if someone decides they no longer wish to participate or can’t due to health issues? You could end up with a dwindling amount of willing urban farmers, which could leave your community garden in ruins.

Consider a Participant Fee

Another way to ensure success is to charge some form of plot fee. The fee can help offset general maintenance that non-participants might not wish to cover in their common expense fees. As well, it can help improve maintenance as those willing to pay will be the people more likely to remain committed to their plot. Another option might be a slight increase in common expenses. The increase only applies to new owners who purchase a condo with the community garden installed. Grandfathering the existing fees for owners who purchased pre-garden makes the fees justifiable, while remaining reasonable for current tenants not participating in the garden. A lawyer can assist with how fees can be applied, and whether it is legal in your case.

Avoid Compost Smell

Avid gardeners are big fans of compost, but it might not be the greatest idea for a condo garden. It could attract pests and also lead to garbage smells that cause owner complaints depending on which way the wind blows!

The condo experts at CPO Management Inc, a property management company in Toronto and the GTA, have helped many condo corporations successfully introduce community initiatives – and specifically a community garden. As well, our team at CPO has helped condos implement green strategies resulting in cost savings. Reach out to us today to learn more about our condo services.

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