A vacant lot in the city can become a little slice of country with some group effort and a lot of determination.
There are eight things to do to get started if you find a vacant lot in your neighborhood that would make a great garden:
Call or visit the City Department of Records, Registrar of Deeds - or similar office in your jurisdiction to find out who owns the vacant lot.
Write a letter asking for permission to garden the land. Be sure to send it “return receipt requested” to the owner, if it is an individual, and include a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. The owner will need to send you a signed letter granting permission.
Include a sample letter for return. You will often get a prompt reply if you make it easy for the owner. Write a professional letter with all pertinent information included that the owner can sign and send back to you.
Finding soil. When houses are demolished the debris is left in the ground where the basement was. If the site was a parking lot, the ground below the asphalt will be compacted to the point of being like a rock. You will have to account for this when you are planning your garden. Almost every site will need soil or compost to a depth of 8".
Find Local Resources. Your State’s Cooperative Extension office often has resources available to help people find soil, and they offer technical assistance in planning a community garden.Another resource is the city. There is often a recycling center which usually offers free mulch made from wood, leaves and manure. Starting a neighborhood organic compost pile will also provide soil and nutrients for years to come.