Crafting a mission statement is a crucial part of establishing a community garden because it allows you to communicate your group’s values and goals with the larger community. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the roots of your group, the people you want to reach and the impact you want to make. A properly written mission statement is both a signal flag and rudder for your community garden vessel. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you create your mission statement:
Who is our guiding organization?
Community gardens are started by a variety of organizations. We’ve seen schools, neighborhood organizations, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and jails start community gardens. Whatever your guiding organization may be, it should affect your mission. Think of the ways your guiding organization might limit and increase the reach of your garden.
Who are our funders?
Depending on the arrangement you have with your guiding organization, you may be receiving all, some, or none of your funding from them. Who funds you should shape where you focus your impact. For example, if your receiving grass roots type funding mostly from neighbors in your community you should do everything you can to share the fruits of your garden with those same neighbors.
Where is your garden located?
A garden’s location has a huge impact on its mission. This is because a garden’s location goes hand in hand with the needs of its community. A community garden in an impoverished neighborhood can be thinking of how to feed their neighbors, how to organize themselves to create solidarity and how to look after each other. There are usually fewer resources in impoverished neighborhoods, think about how you can make your community garden a substitute for the failings of more conventional institutions.
Who is the food being grown for?
Are you going to donate the food to local food shelter, is it going to a school’s cafeteria, are your gardeners going to take it home themselves? This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself when constructing a mission statement because the primary function of a food garden is to feed. Who are you feeding?
Who are your gardeners? What are your strengths?
The make up and availability of your team will have a huge effect on what you can do for your community. If you have a large, dedicated team with time on their hands shoot for the stars. Think about your strengths. Maybe you have some people who know how to get things through the city government, use that. Maybe you have some people good at soliciting funding, use that. Make your community garden the best it can be by using your people to the fullest.
What is the moment? Is there are larger force out there you should be taking note of?
Is there an economic downturn? Is the government ineffective in some way? Are certain people being ignored or attacked? It is important to take into account your community’s needs but sometimes communities can act like bubbles, insulating you from the outside world. Listen to the larger messages echoing across the country and organize yourself in such a way that you are responding to them.