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Milwaukee Community Gardens

Community Gardens FAQ

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  Community garden resources in the Milwaukee area.

There are several great organizations that can help you learn about gardening.

  • Alice's Garden (414) 687-0122
  • Groundwork Milwaukee (414) 763-9947
  • Milwaukee County UW Extension (414) 256-4664
  • The Urban Ecology Center (414) 964-8505
  • Victory Garden Initiative (414) 431-0888
  What is considered a community garden?

A community garden is "any use of land or a premises for the growing of crops, plants or other vegetation by a group of individuals or by a public or non-profit organization. This use includes composting and the raising of crops, native vegetation or fruit not otherwise in violation of this code. It also includes the sale of produce and ornamental crops grown on-site. This use does not include a commercial farming enterprise or outdoor storage facilities."

  Do I need a community garden permit?

Yes. You are required to apply for a no-cost permit from the City of Milwaukee Development Center. You can access the permit application HERE.

  Can one individual operate a community garden?

A community garden is designed for successful neighborhood involvement and support. A community garden is for a community group or multiple individuals.

  I want to start a community garden on City-owned land. What is the process?
  1. We suggest first contacting Groundwork Milwaukee, (414) 763-9947. They can answer your questions and help you fill out the Community Garden permit application found HERE. Groundwork can help you site and plan your garden and aid in accessing City water hydrants for watering.
  2. Email, mail or drop off the application with Yves LaPierre, Department of City Development (DCD), Real Estate; 809 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
  3. City staff will forward the application to the alderperson representing the district where the garden is located.
  4. The alderperson has 10 days from receiving the application to inform City staff whether the garden should be denied, based on criteria outlined in city ordinance.
  5. Once the permit is approved, you will be contacted by City staff to complete any remaining paperwork. A seasonal garden license will be issued to your group by DCD.
  6. If the permit is denied, DCD will contact you to inform you of permit denial. We suggest working with your alderperson to then refine your project to remove the obstacles to your alderperson’s approval of your application and resubmit your application.
  What are my options for getting water to my community garden?

Low Cost Options:

  • Obtaining a Hydrant Permit through Groundwork Milwaukee to utilize the fire hydrant closest to your vacant lot.
  • Rainwater harvesting techniques, contact ReFlo for more information.
  • Sometimes making an arrangement with the neighbor adjacent to your vacant lot to utilize their water hose is feasible.


  Can I sell vegetables, fruit, or ornamental plants that have been grown on-site at our community garden?

Yes. You can sell products on-site that have been grown at that same location.

  Can a community garden permit be revoked during the growing season?

Yes. If there have been multiple code violations reported to the City's Department of Neighborhood Services, the City has the authority to revoke the community garden permit. Examples of code violations that could lead to revoking a community garden permit include:

  • Cars parked on the vacant lot space
  • After-sunset parties held on the site
  • Vermin complaints from compost piles
  • Not keeping the grass cut
  • Not cleaning up the property by December 1
  • A community garden started but not finished
  Can we compost at a community garden or commercial farming enterprise?

Yes, but the size and placement of compost bins is restricted under current regulations. Compost bins must be no taller than 5 feet, covered and they cannot exceed 125 cubic feet. Click HERE for the City ordinance, Sec. 79-12.5. Note that you may only compost garden debris from the community garden.  Composting of any materials from outside the community garden is not allowed.

  Can I sell vegetables and fruit grown on-site at our community garden?


  Can I sell ornamental crops (flowers, perennials, shrubbery) that were grown on-site at our community garden?


  Can I sell on-site at a community garden processed food under Wisconsin’s pickle law?

No. Only the sale of un-bagged, whole fruits and vegetables and ornamental crops produced on-site is allowed. Sale of cut, packaged fruits and vegetables or ready-to-eat foods is prohibited.

Real Estate

 809 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202


Tess Wynn

[email protected]

We're eager to help! 

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