Information for Mini-Garden Installation Volunteers

Cooperation Humboldt volunteers are empowering low income residents to learn about gardening and grow more of their own food by installing free mini gardens at their homes.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering to install mini gardens!!! This is a fairly independent and self-directed volunteer activity, though of course we'll provide guidance and cover all costs. This page outlines the basic process that installers will complete for each mini garden. Please review this information, and when/if you're ready to help, email Tamara.

Information for Mini-Garden Installation Volunteers

Installations are assigned based on where folks live. There is a Google Drive with folders organized by town/city, with sub-folders for complete jobs and those in progress - that's how we've been managing the work so far. (Here is a view-only link to the drive; once you decide you'd like to volunteer you'll be granted full access.)
This is a pretty independent and self directed volunteer job. We can help you get all the supplies you need, but it's up to you to decide how many you'd like to do, update the Google Drive accordingly, make contact with the recipients to plan a time, and complete the installation(s).

Sourcing materials -

  • We've been purchasing 'Ultimate Goat' soil at Wes Green Landscape materials. If you have a truck, you can pick it up yourself (each garden requires 1/3-1/2 yard).
  • Free compost is available from Recology. It's really good quality stuff, but does sometimes have some contamination of glass bits from their transportation process, so if you choose to use it, I recommend putting a layer of it at the bottom of the bed to minimize the risk of cuts. (This is not strictly necessary - you can just use the Ultimate Goat soil alone; it's just a way to reduce costs.)
  • So far we've been able to get most plants donated but sometimes we run out and when that happens I buy them at Pierson's.
  • We can provide 3' square grow bags for the beds themselves, or if you prefer, you can construct wood ones.
  • Of course, Cooperation Humboldt can cover any out-of-pocket expenses (please keep receipts).
Here's a summary of typical steps for an installation -
  • Choose your assignment(s) from the appropriate Google Drive folder (based on city/town) and move the pdf documents to your 'In Progress' folder.
  • Update main spreadsheet to show which assignment(s) you've taken on (enter your name in the Installer column and 'In Progress' in the Status column).
  • Contact resident(s) to schedule day/time. (I like to request their affirmative confirmation before I show up.)
  • Review application(s) and gather plant starts and other materials (wheelbarrow, shovel, soil/compost, hardware cloth, Sluggo, tomato cages, bamboo stakes, seeds). Here's the materials list I use.
  • Text resident when you're on the way.
  • Determine site for mini garden (with resident) - must be accessible for a wheelbarrow and receive good sun (this may happen earlier via text).
  • Mini garden installation
    • Lay 3' square of 1/2" hardware cloth on ground as gopher barrier (not necessary if on deck or concrete)
    • Position 3' square fabric bed on top of hardware cloth
    • Fill bed with compost and/or soil
    • Plant starts
    • Plant seeds, if using (I often plant carrot seeds between other plants)
    • Add any needed supports - cages for tomatoes and/or bamboo tripods for snap peas
    • Apply Sluggo and leave some for resident's future use
  • Complete planting diagram and instructions and leave for resident.
  • Text resident to let them know you are done, and ask them to water the garden.
  • Update Google Drive by moving the pdfs for the jobs you finished to the 'Complete' folder.
  • Update main spreadsheet by changing status to 'Complete' and entering date completed.
  • Bonus points for taking photos during the process, or once complete, for us to use on social media and our website!