Joining the Garden

Please read this entire page
All information is important for potential new gardeners

The 2023 lottery has taken place

Thank you for your interest in the garden
The wait list is currently large, so we will not be taking more names at this time.
Visit this page in Feb 2024 to see the next lottery date.

Each year we invite new people from the neighborhood to become a part of our garden community to fill vacancies that have opened up over the previous year. If you're interested in being a part of the Berkeley Garden community, this page has all the information about our lottery and procedures to join the garden.

Berkeley accepts new gardeners through a
lottery system.
  • The lottery takes place around end of March.
  • Available plots are assigned based on lottery draw of those present
  • Everyone else is places on a wait list for the season
  • At the end of the season the wait list is dissolved

Our Community

Berkeley is a community of 159 gardeners. We work together to make Berkeley a beautiful addition to the neighborhood as well as being a place for us to have our own space in which to grow flowers and vegetables. It's a place to not only garden, but to make new friends and meet your neighbors; to become a part of our community.

Berkeley Community Garden is a
community garden. We're looking for people who are not only interested in gardening, but who are interested in being part of our community. Keeping your garden plot well maintained is only a part of garden life. As a member of the garden, you'll be required to not only keep up your garden plot, but participate in garden community events, as well as contributing time to maintenance and upkeep of the whole garden. You would be a neighborhood and friend as part of our community as well as a gardener.

Gardening is work

Being a part of the garden requires time and commitment over the entire growing season. Gardens require work. Turning soil. Weeding. Adding compost. Planting. Weeding. Watering. Weeding. Maintenance. Did we mention weeding? It takes a lot of work for those flowers to fill the beds, and for those vegetables to ripen. It's a rewarding experience, but a long and fun road to get there. On top of that is volunteering time to help in general garden work. In a way, gardening is a lot like owning a dog. It looks really attractive when you see someone else with one. But once you get one of your own, the work needed to maintain a garden may turn out to be more than you expected.

We don't say this to discourage you from joining us. Around 10% of the new gardeners who join in the spring don’t finish the first season. We want everyone who applies to join us to be ready to get their hands dirty and be ready for the commitment of time and energy throughout the growing season, working on both your own garden areas and your community efforts for the garden overall.

The Lottery

Given the high demand at Berkeley, those wishing to join our garden community and garden are given the opportunity via a
lottery system each spring. We have found this the fairest way to assure anyone in the neighborhood has an equal chance of becoming a part of the garden.

  • Anyone who is interested in joining Berkeley can submit their name into the lottery; giving everyone an equal chance of becoming a Berkeley gardener.
  • Those who don't get a garden in the spring lottery are put on a waiting list. Should gardens become available, they are given out in waiting list order.
  • At the end of the growing season, the waiting list is annulled and those who were on the wait list can enter the lottery again next year.

Lottery requirements

  • You must be present at the lottery on lottery day.
    • No exceptions, no proxies
  • You must live in Boston. Please bring an ID with you
    • We ask that you live in the South End or close to the garden
  • You cannot be a part of another community garden
  • Only 1 entry in the lottery per house/hold/family.
  • You can fill out an application now (word) (pdf) and bring it to the lottery. Please do not send it to us.

How the lottery works

Here's a summary of what happens on lottery day

The Lottery

  • All applications are collected and gardeners verified
  • All applications are put into a 'hat'
  • Applications are randomly drawn. Order of draw is the order in which garden plots are distributed
  • Drawing continues until all applications are drawn

  • Immediately after the lottery we begin assigning plots.
    • All lottery winners, plus the first 2 wait list candidates will stay to get more details about the garden.
    • Those not getting a plot are put on the wait list for the rest of the season, should any gardens open up. (Wait listed entrants are free to leave after lottery draw).

Post Lottery

If you get a plot

  • We will take a few minutes to introduce everyone and go over some garden basics
  • Plots will be given out in order of draw.
    • We assign plots based on your personal desirements and what is available. We will be as fair as possible
  • Fees are due when you win a garden. 2021 Berkeley dues are $65 per year plus a $10 lock & key fee.
    • Cash or cheque day of lottery. PayPal within a week if you would like to use a credit card.
  • After payment, we will have a volunteer take you to your garden and answer any additional questions
  • You will be required to participate in the Spring cleanup, usually a week or two after the lottery. This will give you a chance to meet your fellow gardeners, and potentially clean out your garden (and get help doing so) if your garden was left if rough condition.
  • If you receive a garden, you can to keep that same garden every year, provided you pay all fees and follow the garden rules.
  • If you get a garden and decide gardening is not for you, let garden leadership know right away so a gardener from the wait list can take over your plot.
  • All gardens (new and old) must show some activity by June 1, or you will lose your garden.

If you do not get a plot

We will always have more applications than available plots, so many applicants will not get a garden

  • Everyone who does not get a plot will be put on a wait list for the season
  • Applications received after the lottery are added to the end of this wait list
  • If a plot opens up between lottery day and September, we will call the next person on the wait list and invite them into the garden community.
  • After September, the wait list is dissolved. If you would like to be a part of the garden, you will eb asked to enter the lottery next year.

Good Luck!

Thanks again for having an interest in the Community Garden! If you have any questions about getting a garden, or wish to get into the waiting list after the lottery has happened, you can email the
Lottery Coordinator

If it is past lottery day

If you're reading this page and the date of the lottery has gone by, you can contact us and get on the waiting list for the current year. As gardens become available, those on the wait list will get a chance to get a plot in the garden. We will add your name to the wait list as long as the wait list is reasonable. If the wait list already has 30+ names on it, there is no chance of that many gardeners leaving, and we will politely let you know the wait list is closed.

To ask to be on the wait list, send a message to the
Lottery Coordinator and ask to be put on the wait list for a garden for this season.