The City ofColumbus Land Bank Community Garden Program
The Land Redevelopment Division is looking for community groups, non-profits, companies, and individuals to help organize and build community gardens on Land Bank properties. Our office manages vacant properties throughout the City.
Click here to search for properties. Any property marked as Residential Vacant (no structure present) may be eligible to be licensed as a garden. The list contains all of the City Land Bank's properties that are for sale including lots and structures. Urban farms, rain gardens, butterfly gardens, production gardens, community beautification projects and other types of projects that benefit the surrounding neighborhood are encouraged.
Please review the Policy Fact Sheet before starting:
The City of Columbus Gardening Policy Fact Sheet
Applications are accepted anytime during the year on a rolling basis. Generally, it will take two weeks or less to process an application depending on the total number of applications received at one time or the feedback impacting an application. The City Land Bank staff will do their best to process applications in a timely manner, but please be considerate of our other obligations.
What is on the garden application?
- The parcel and address you wish to license and why
- Your contact and background info
- Your experience with gardening and the community and your objectives in a project narrative
- How will you fund the project and what improvements will be made to the property?
- Community Garden Liability Waiver and Indemnification: All participants must sign a Community Garden Liability Waiver and Indemnification form before entering onto the premises.
- Site Plan: A drawing of the proposed garden with the locations of any proposed improvements to the property. Drawings need to be legible and labeled with dimensions, but they can be drawn by hand or done on a computer. We are checking for any obvious building and zoning violations. If you are planning on constructing a fence on the property, please review the Vision Clearance language in the Columbus City Code before submitted your site plan.
Applications can be dropped off or mailed to the City of Columbus Land Redevelopment Division, 845 Parsons Avenue, Columbus, OH 43206.
Community Garden License Agreement
- Process: If you application is approved, gardeners are required to sign a Garden License Agreement with the City, which contains language spelling out the rules of the garden program. They are intended to reduce potential conflicts between gardens and adjacent property owners and to ensure the sites are well maintained.
- Length of Time: The License Agreement is a maximum one year agreement unless more time is determined appropriate by the City Land Bank staff, which will be determined on a case by case basis. In the future, the City with City Council authorization may do agreements for more than a year for gardens that have been established and licensed for at least a couple of years.
- Renewing and Expiration: All garden licenses expire on March 31st of the following year from when you signed the agreement. In order to renew for another year, the City must be notified in writing a month prior to the expiration date. Upon approval of an extension, the licensee will sign a one year amendment and liability waiver with the City and pay a renewal fee of $10.00 per parcel. If the license expires, a new application will need to be completed by the community garden group, individual, etc.
- Expense: The cost to license a community garden from the Land Bank is $50.00 per parcel and $10.00 per parcel to renew. A check or money order made payable to the "Columbus City Treasurer" is required. WE CANNOT ACCEPT CASH.
Community Garden Helpful Resources
What does the City provide to help get started?
1. Water Containment System
- Since 2012, the City Land Bank has provided 550 gallon cisterns to community gardeners who have demonstrated a need for more water. It is at the discretion of the City if a garden warrants approval of receiving a cistern.
- The City will also provide one free fill up of water for the tank each year. Additional refills may be provided depending on funding. Gardeners should make plans to refill it by collecting rain water from an adjacent neighbor’s roof or by building a rain catchment structure under 169 sq. ft. so a building permit is not required.
- Pumps are not included with the cistern, but the City will raise it off the ground on cinder blocks.
2. A Voucher for Property Improvement Items
- Starting in 2015, the City has provided qualified Land Bank gardeners a couple hundred dollars per licensee to spend on buying items to help develop and building their gardens. Eligible items include building materials, soil, plant food, and mulch. Tools are not an acceptable purchase due to funding restrictions.
- The City currently provides these funds through a partnership with the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporations (COCIC) and Lowe’s. Licensees will apply for funds with the City after being licensed. The City will work with its partners to set up spending accounts at Lowes for each licensee who is eligible. All purchases are audited by the City and Lowe’s.
3. Soil and Com-til
- The City will provide for free a couple cubic yards of top soil to community gardens. The City through its Department of Public Utilities also provides free up to ten cubic yards of com-til to community gardens in its program. Com-til is also available for purchase directly from Public Utilities. More information can be found on this website: Com-til Compost.
Other Support In Franklin County For CommunityGardens
Community Garden Grants
For more information on some available grants, please visit the Columbus Foundation Grants Center. Two annually available grants are:
- Being registered as a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit of the Internal Revenue Code or have a fiscal sponsor. A fiscal sponsor may be a registered 501(c)(3) organization or government agency that has agreed to manage a project's awarded grant.
- Being located within the City of Columbus or qualifying areas of Franklin County.
For questions regarding the City of Columbus Land Bank Community Garden Program, please call (614) 645-LAND (5263) for the main office line.