Ground Rules

Ground Rules

A Legal Toolkit for Community Gardens

Community gardens offer a place where residents can gather to grow fresh foods, socialize with neighbors, and get a little exercise. In many communities, individuals or other private entities (including nonprofit organizations) own land that could be used for community gardens – but landowners may be reluctant to allow their property to be used for this purpose, fearing liability issues, damage, or vandalism.
 
This toolkit is designed to help overcome the legal and practical barriers to establishing community gardens on land that is not municipally owned. It provides several model agreements and other documents that can easily be tailored, simplifying the process of building an agreement that benefits both landowners and the community.

People who volunteer in support of community gardens sometimes worry that they could be at risk of liability if an injury occurs while they are volunteering. For more information about the significant legal protections for volunteers provided by the federal Volunteer Protection Act, see our fact sheet on Volunteers and Liability.