Hero Image

School and Community Gardens

How do we define school and community gardens?

A community garden is any piece of land gardened by a group of people, utilizing either individual or shared plots on private or public land. The land may produce fruit, vegetables, and/or ornamentals. Community gardens may be found in neighborhoods, schools, connected to institutions such as hospitals, and on residential housing grounds. We divide our project information into general community gardens and school gardens since there are so many school gardens, but we can work together on all!

Community and School Garden Managers working together at Falkirk Greenhouse. Photo: Phil Hinderberger
Community and School Garden Managers working together at Falkirk Greenhouse. Photo: Phil Hinderberger

The goal of the Marin Master Gardener Community Garden Committee is to help the current community gardens of Marin remain viable assets to their communities, while assisting future garden development to enable the healthy benefits of gardening are available throughout the county.

Our garden consultants can help you evaluate your garden site, advise you on garden needs (tools, irrigation, fencing, storage etc.), and offer suggestions on bed size and soil preparation. We can recommend plant material based on the goals of your garden, help you establish compost or worm bins and answer your garden and bug questions. While we don’t provide labor, we are happy to to provide garden-related demonstrations to gardeners and volunteers to facilitate their education in order they may have the skills to meet gardening needs.

All Master Gardeners have been finger-printed and have passed background screening by the California Department of Justice. We follow horticultural practices appropriate within adopted University California Cooperative Extension guidelines and established Integrated Pest Management Techniques.

Tales of Marin’s Community Gardens

There are a myriad of people and places growing healthy food in our community. These include school gardens that are increasing food production, continuing their garden education programs while supplying school cafeterias with fresh produce for lunches. Similarly, neighborhood community gardens provide space for outdoor exercise and community building.

Read these stories about Marin’s gardens and garden leaders, making the benefits of community gardens available for so many around Marin. 

Map of Marin's Community Gardens

Learn where Marin’s community and school gardens are located using this interactive online community gardens map. Did you know Marin County has an estimated 120 community gardens, of which 80 are school gardens? Among these gardens there are distinct garden varieties in which community can often participate, including school gardens.

The Marin County Community (and School) Garden Needs Assessment

Download ReportMarin County Community Garden Needs Assessment

In 2011, UCCE staff and garden stakeholders from the county worked diligently to get to the heart of what’s happening regarding Marin’s school and community gardens. Case studies from around the country have documented the benefits of gardens on a number of levels, such as contributing to community health, nutrition education, and neighborhood aesthetics, and now we have detailed data for Marin that verifies these claims. For example, did you know that 80% of respondents active in community gardens reported eating more fruits and vegetables, and getting more exercise? Roughly two-thirds of the youth surveyed reported higher environmental literacy as a result of classroom education in the garden. However, there continue to be significant waitlists at neighborhood community gardens.

"This report shines brightly on Marin's community gardens, highlighting their social, health, and environmental benefits. It also identifies what is needed to expand the community garden experience to others in the County."

-Steve Kinsey, Marin County Supervisor

“The report identifies critical needs in our community around garden access, education, and development, while highlighting invaluable feedback about how Marin’s youth are benefiting from their interaction in school gardens. This document will be very helpful in guiding future planning for programs related to community gardens across the county and its school districts.”

-Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools

In the report you will find recommended solutions to help improve current and future community gardens for Marin's residents. Many solutions were expressed during interviews with gardeners, local government officials, and community organization members, thus planting the seeds for the growth of a collective effort to meet garden needs and build community health.

Several Types of Gardens

The Golden Gate Village Community Garden, Marin City
The Golden Gate Village Community Garden, Marin City
Neighborhood gardens may be what people typically think of when they hear the name community garden. This type of garden is normally defined as a garden where a group of people come together to grow fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. They are identifiable as a parcel of private or public land where individual plots are rented by gardeners at a nominal annual fee. Currently Marin County has ten such gardens fitting this description.

Residential Gardens are typically shared among residents in apartment communities, assisted living, and affordable housing units. These gardens are mainly cared for by residents living on the grounds. There are an estimated twelve residential gardens in Marin, with more in the planning stages.

Institutional Gardens are defined as gardens attached to either public or private organizations. These gardens offer a number of beneficial services for residents, ranging from mental or physical rehabilitation and therapy to teaching a set of skills for job placement. There are eight known institutional gardens in Marin fitting this description.

Demonstration Gardens are used in educational and recreational settings. They can represent, native species, suc as Falkirk’s Mediterranean Gardens, or ‘firewise gardening’, and pollinator gardens. For more information regarding Demonstration Gardens that involve UC Marin Master Gardeners, click here.

Contact us by email at: schoolandcommgardens@marinmg.org

Help us map potential community garden sites in Marin County
by completing this short survey