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FW: Press Release What You Can Do -- Gardener recommendations on downsizing/policies

  • Subject: [cg] FW: Press Release What You Can Do -- Gardener recommendations on downsizing/policies
  • From: Irene <irenes@cacscw.org>
  • Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 12:11:14 -0600

No matter how venerable, a community garden can still be seen as an 
interim, special use. If you have the time & inclination, please send a 
letter of support to save Eagle Heights Garden from the chopping block in 
Madison, Wisconsin.

Irene Sadowski
Community Action Coalition Garden Program
1717 N. Stoughton Rd.
Madison, WI 53704-2605
phone 608-246-4730 ext. 218
fax 608-246-4760

-----Original Message-----
From:	David Shiffert [SMTP:DShiffert@edgewood.edu]
Sent:	Thursday, December 20, 2001 8:51 AM
To:	joem@cacscw.org; irenes@cacscw.org
Subject:	Press Release  What You Can Do -- Gardener recommendations on 

Joe and Irene, I found some typos in Elisa's message that may confuse
folks.  Please use this version when sending out to others.

Please read this synopsis and lend your voice to this community campaign
to head off a misguided set of recommendations to the Campus Planning
Committee (recommended by the Campus Natural Areas Committee, a
subcommittee of the CPC).  As noted below, the issue has important
implications for the way that university officials interact with the
community at large, not just community gardeners at Eagle Heights.
Accordingly, it is crucial that the Chancellor hear from a substantial
number of non-gardeners on this issue.  We're here to answer any
questions you may have.  Please contact the student sender of this
message, or Elisa Graffy (alumnus) 231-9688.

Dear Gardener:

As you know, we held two meetings last week to talk with gardeners about
recent vote to downsize the Eagle Heights Community Gardens and new
proposed management and oversight policies for the Gardens. About 50
came to these meetings, and many more wrote back emails or called by
All expressed serious concerns and suggested what gardeners could do to
have a voice in the final outcome of these major decisions affecting the

Here's a recap of the two main issues(if you want more detail, let us
and gardener reaction to each. At the end of this email is a bulleted
of what you can do, as recommended by the gardeners who met last week.
IS AN IMPORTANT TIME for individual gardeners to use their voice as
effectively as they can to ask for better decisions than those we've

On November 10, 2001, the Campus Natural Area Committee (CNAC)voted to
eliminate about 85 of the Eagle Heights Community Garden plots in parts
the 500s, 600s, 1100s, and 1200s rows. This decision came about because
the need of the University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
(CALS) experimental gardens to move to a
new space in the natural areas, and a desire by some for a prairie
restoration project in the fields above and alongside the gardens.

RESPONSE: Gardeners who met last week did not see any compelling reason
the significant loss (as much as 19%) of the gardens and were concerned
about the decision-making process that led to the vote. They noted that
CNAC is dominated by faculty dedicated to prairie restoration and that
GIS maps clearly show that the area assigned to prairie restoration is
already twice the area of the current garden. They questioned the
for seeking even more prairie land and displacing gardeners, given this
situation. They did not agree with the characterization of the EHCG as a
"special interest" seeking space in the CNA. No gardeners were persuaded
that the loss of space to the EHCG was really necessary, even with CALS
taking some space. Though unsure if the CNAC vote could be reconsidered,
gardeners believed the vote should be reconsidered and thought it was
asking for.

On November 10, members of the UW administration recommended that the
Campus Natural Area Committee adopt new management and oversight
for Gardens. The CNAC will vote to accept, reject, or modify these
toward the end of January, 2002. The recommended policies would place
gardens under the control of a new Oversight Committee made up of
representatives from Housing, CALS, CNAC, UW Facilities Management, and
Eagle Heights Community Gardens. This committee would replace the
system of self-governance that has been used by EHCG for most or all of
40-year history and would oversee day-to-day operations and long-term
planning functions, ranging from collecting plot fees and assigning
to determining training needs, resolving disputes among gardeners,
garden policy, etc.  The proposed policies would also remove gardeners
are not considered to be part of the UW community. Those removed would
likely be alumni and city residents who are not students, faculty or

RESPONSE: Gardeners were very concerned about bureaucratizing day-to-day
garden business. They are dubious about the fact that none of the
committee members, except EHCG, possesses any expertise in organic
gardening and will no be able to make informed decisions about organic
garden management or gardener training. They believe a system of
self-governance has served the Gardens and the surrounding community
and should not be changed, except to work with Housing more closely on
managing finances according to established University procedures.
are concerned about the possible loss of alumni and community residents
who, though a minority of the gardeners, provide institutional memory,
mentoring, and many other assets to the gardens and to the wider UW
community. Strikingly, this concern was voiced by a cross-section of
gardeners, not only those who would be directly affected. Many felt the
University should be consistent in its view of alumni as either being
of the UW community or not, but not change definitions when it suited

Overall, gardeners said they felt that the loss of plots is inequitable
unnecessary, based on rationales presented by the CNAC. They concluded
the proposed changes in policy would be disastrous for the gardens. They
said interaction with the CNAC during the last 6 months has reduced
trust in that committee because of the poor and unpredictable process.
noted that hours and hours of volunteer resources, the main fuel for
running the Gardens, could have been used for direct garden management
instead went to dealing with the CNAC process, which is creating worse
worse results for the Gardens as time goes on. The process and recent
have caused turmoil among gardeners, who are now worried about the
reliability of having a plot next year and beyond. Finally, the proposal
eliminate alumni and community members from the garden has created a
of disbelief and cynicism about how the University defines the
community," a feeling that is not limited to those who would be targeted
those policies.

If you feel the same way, if you value the gardens and your place in
here are a few things you can do to help.

1. Write to the Chancellor RIGHT AWAY, even during the holiday season.
him you are concerned about the unnecessary loss of nearly one-fifth of
Eagle Height Community Gardens and that the proposed new management
policies for the gardens would be a disaster. Tell him who you are
(student, community memember, faculty, etc.). Tell him why you love the
gardens, and what you feel you would lose if the proposed changes are
adopted.  Ask him to reevaluate the decision to eliminate so many plots,
and let him know you feel the proposed policy changes should be
or rejected.

 John D. Wiley
 Chancellor, University of
 161 Bascom Hall
 Madison, WI 53706


 (608) 262-9946

2. Share this note with all those who garden with you, as well as with
friends, colleagues and anyone who enjoys the gardens as a place to go
birding or walking. Ask them to write a letter to the Chancellor, too.
more people that are heard from the better our chances of maintaining
Gardens as we know them -- the oldest and largest continuously-running
community garden in the U.S.

3. If you are acquainted with community leaders or university
administrators, faculty, staff or students, talk to them about the
situation and ask for their support. Ask them to write a letter to the
Chancellor or use their influence to speak up for the Gardens. There is
well of support for the Gardens as a community institution and Madison
landmark, and the Chancellor needs to hear that.

4. Alumni can also contact the Alumni Association and let them know they
are worried about the University's treatment of alumni who garden at the
EHCG. It would be especially good for the Alumni Association to hear
alumni who have contributed money to the University or who are
their contribution because of this situation.

5. Let the Garden Committee know if you send something, so we can know
many of you responded.

-A paper letter is best but if an email is all you have time for, send
by all means!
-Send letters this week if possible, and BEFORE January 18th no matter
-Use your own words to state what you are concerned about or adapt
from this or other emails.
-Be sure to say what you want the Chancellor to do or support.
-Be clear about your affiliation (student, alumn, gardener,
city resident,former gardener, etc.)
-Sign or type your name clearly and include your contact information
(address, email, phone).

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

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