Starting Your Own Please Pick Project

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Thinking of starting a Please Pick Project in your town? Please Pick gardens are blossoming in new zip codes every year, and we would love for you to become the newest part of this expanding positive movement that brings food and love to people around the world.

When you grow food to share in an edible village, you become a key element of a thriving ecosystem that keeps you, your neighbors, and your environment healthy for years to come. In order to ensure the success of your garden and the nutritious value of the food that you grow, there are some important guiding principles that will help every gardener who is committed to joining this growing movement.

1) 100% Organic

Please Pick Project gardens are all organic, which means that the plants derive their life force from the sun, water, and the health and nutrient density of the soil. No artificial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used in Please Pick Project gardens. 

How do organic gardeners make their soil naturally healthy and fertile?

COMPOST

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Additionally, you can use seaweed, biodynamic compost teas, organic matter (such as crushed eggshells and cow and horse manure) and even fish emulsion to amend your soil.

2) Support System

You have the idea in mind, but it's going to take a little help from your friends to make it happen. Find a few friends who want to work with you to launch this project and try to build up some momentum to rally more volunteers and gardeners around the prospect of joining the movement. 

Once you have your earthy crew together, contact your local government to make sure that you understand local ordinances pertaining to land use and small-scale food production. If you've got full clearance to make a Please Pick Project happen in your town, then team up with local community leaders to help with communications and implementation of the gardens in public spaces.

3)Accessible and Safe Location

You can participate by creating your own front yard garden that grows food to share or you can mobilize a whole force of gardeners who want to transform a walkable streetscape into an edible village. Your choice depends on the layout of your town and the strength of your volunteer force.

In an edible village, Please Pick Project gardens do best at community centers and libraries where there is space, visibility and convenient community access to the property. It's important to find volunteers who will keep the plants healthy and hydrated during the growing season!

If you would like to create a Please Pick Project garden on your own property, your space must meet the following criteria:

Is there a sunny space along the sidewalk where a garden can be created?

Can passersby stop and pick from the garden without having to leave the sidewalk?

Is the garden far enough away from the street to keep it clean and safe? Curbside plots of land are not good spaces for Please Pick Project, because the plants will be stressed when growing that close to the street.

 

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This is the perfect Please Pick Project front yard garden set-up

 

3) Public Relations

Once you know what the scope of Please Pick Project will be in your town and you have a core group of volunteers and supporters, it's time to communicate your plan with the rest of your community.  This is a good time to rent a space at a Farmers' Market or organize a community information session to discuss the idea with everyone who can participate and benefit from it. 

4) Garden Design

Please Pick Project gardens are now popping up all over the world, so the first major question to ask yourself is: what grows best where I live? If you live in the United States, this chart from Arbor Day will help you figure out your hardiness zone:

Once you know what grows best in your garden, the next step is to figure out how to pair fruits and veggies in your growing space. Find a companion planting chart like this one or check with Farmer's Almanac to find out which plants work best together in the same garden bed.

 

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Perennials, such as fruit trees and berry bushes, make for highly sustainable Please Pick Project gardens. A food forest Please Pick Project model is an edible landscape that relies on little more than nature to keep it healthy and hydrated, and it produces enough fruits and vegetables to feed the whole neighborhood.  These are the layers that go into a self-sustaining food forest model, such as the Beacon Forest in Seattle.

4)  Maintenance

Whether you're growing food to share in your front yard or at another location in your town, it's crucial to devise a watering and weeding plan before you even begin growing. Here in Nyack, we usually end up eating half the weeds that we find, because they're super nutritious and undervalued in the gardening world!

5) Garden Signs

Once your food is growing, make sure that you place a clear sign that tells people that the food is available for them to pick for free! We offer Please Pick Project stickers with the movement's logo for your signs, so please feel free to contact us with any requests.

Welcome to the growing movement. Keep us updated on your progress so that we can share the news about how cool you and your fellow Please Pick Projects growers are!