Community gardens during the shemitah year
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I live in a students' village and we are setting up a community garden in our neighborhood. We are trying to start it now to prepare for shemitah next year. We were wondering how we should go about planting and caring for our garden next year: how should we prepare for shemitah this year? What about tending to it during the shemitah year: what may we do in the communal garden (that belongs to the municipality)? Can Arab neighbors work in it? Thank you!
It is commendable that you are already thinking about now how to properly prepare for the shemitah year. We have a lot of material on the subject. For a brief overview on tending to gardens during shemitah, click here. You can also find the link to the booklet on tending to ornamental gardens here.
As a rule, no new planting or sowing should be performed during the shemitah year, but maintenance work is permitted.
With regard to Arab neighbors, since the plot belongs to the municipality, it is owned by Jews. It is forbidden to allow non-Jews to plant or sow.
For more information about observance of land-dependent mitzvot in communal gardens (orla, kilaim, terumot and ma'aserot, etc.), see here.