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Re: CYBERGARDENS: license questions and concerns

  • Subject: [cg] Re: CYBERGARDENS: license questions and concerns
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 09:48:19 EST


Greetings from the Clinton Community Garden! We were founded in 1978 and were 
the first NYC Community Garden to have a Parks Dept. license agreement 
granted to us in 1986 - seventeen years ago.  

It was very hard to "invent the wheel."  There is no reason for anyone to 
have to reinvent it.  Please feel free, if you like, to take whatever you 
feel you can use from our "play-book."

Representatives from our garden will be at the Green Thumb Grow Together at 
Hostos Community College, located in the Bronx at 450 Grand Concourse and 
149th street at the intersection of the #2, 4 and 5 trains on Saturday, March 
22nd, 2003. Please check the course schedule to see what seminar rooms and 
times the organizer's plug us into.  While Green Thumb will be telling you 
how to run a sustained garden from the organization's standpoint, we'll be 
there to tell you how it's done from the standpoint of folks who have 
actually done it - day, by day. 

Until then...
Having broken our collective rear ends and banged our heads in innumerable 
walls to make our garden work under that agreement, we offer our experience 
to you, as well as anyone who wants to use it, free of charge, on our website 
at: <A HREF="http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org/";>Clinton Community Garden
</A>  . If this AOL link doesn't work for you, take this URL:  
http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org , and paste it into your browser. 

The Clinton Community Garden webmaster, Faser Hardin, has laid out our 
garden, warts and all, for anyone to learn our history, methods of 
governance, by-laws and how to run, day-by-day, a multi-ethnic, 
multi-cultural garden serving 4,000 keyholders to the satisfaction of our 
neighborhood, Community Board 4, our elected officials and most importantly, 
our landlord, the NYC Parks department. 

The Clinton Community Garden is a proud member of the American Community 
Gardening Association, which we belong to as an organization, as well as 
several individual memberships. 

While all neighborhoods and gardens in this city are different in style, 
governance and composition of volunteers - some vary from block to block - 
there are some tried and true methods of organizing a sustainable and 
permanent community garden.  There are excellent models in terms of 
governance and organization on the link pages of the American Community 
Gardening Association website. Again, the HTML is typed below the link for 
cutting and pasting on your web browser:

 <A HREF="http://www.communitygarden.org/";>American Community Gardening 


 ACGA board members in New York City whom may know are:

 ACGA President, Ellen Kirby - director of Brooklyn Botanic Garden's 
Greenbridge program

ACGA Vice President, Gerard Lordahl - NYC Council for the Environment

ACGA Board Member, Edie Stone - Director NY Parks Green Thumb

ACGA Board Member, Doron Comerchero - NY Parks Green Thumb

The ACGA links include:

I. Community Gardens by State,Province,& Country
II. Community Garden Start Up Resources
III. Community Gardening Studies
IV. Gardening with Children
V. Gardening with Seniors and the Disabled
VI. Rooftop Garden Resources
VII. General Gardening & Horticultural Information
VIII. Farmers' Markets
IX. Food Security
X. Media
XI. Open Land Preservation
XII. Sustainable Communities 
XIII. Miscellaneous (Funding, etc.)
XIV. Other Sources of Information

Some thoughts: 

Advocating and struggling to save gardens is one task that most of us are all 
too familiar with, i.e., the business of saving your garden from the 
onslaught of bulldozers and the gentle mercies of developers. 

As a licensable community garden, you are in a different world - think of the 
transformation from caterpillar to butterfly - but unlike the butterfly, your 
garden can last for decades, instead of one glorious day. 

 While Community gardens are shared, public green spaces which are planned, 
designed, built and maintained by some volunteer community members for the 
use and enjoyment of their entire communities, it takes the grassroots 
acceptance of gardens by that community, as a citizen run amenities, i.e., 
the perception of their utility to seniors, kids, the community as a whole, 
and the political support of elected officials to make them viable.  

You are now in the business of running and maintaining a public facility, 
like a school, library or let's say Bryant Parks with organization akin to a 
volunteer fire house.  It's an honor to serve  the community in this way, but 
where before community gardens could run on an ad hoc fashion (remember they 
were supposed to be a temporary solution for stabilizing fallow public spaces 
until something "real" went into these spaces) now, as a licensee with the 
city, you have all the duties and responsibilies of NYC for a public park 
space without the city resources. 
Mind you, you will have technical assistance from Green Thumb and the 
occasional supply of some plants and soil amendments when there is money in 
the budget for that, but in all honesty, that won't be as often as they or 
you will like.  We need to advocate for more funds to be allocated to both 
Parks and GreenThumb, just like we advocate for libraries, hospitals and 
schools. Put it on your letter-writing to do list. 

1) For starters,  you will have to get garden insurance, which you can 
purchase for a reasonable sum, on a yearly basis, through the Neighborhood 
Open Space Coalition (the nice folks who run this ListServ). Call  Toby 
Brandt at 1-212-352-9330, or 1-212-342-9332 for details.  To keep your 
liability low, you will have to make sure that everyone who gets a garden 
key, gardens or brings kids in the garden can read garden safety rules - we 
have ours in English, Spanish and Arabic in service to our community.  All of 
the 4,000 Clinton Community Garden Keyholders and our 108 back gardeners have 
read and signed our keyholder agreements. We keep these on file, and it 
essential to keep good records for liability purposes. New Yorkers are 
litigious- it is essential to cover your butt. 

2) You have to pay for this. Now Green Thumb is setting up a foundation for 
grants to community gardens, but there are many gardens for them to serve. 
When their grant guidelines come out, apply. But remember...charity begins at 

2a) The Clinton Community Garden is a 501(c0(3) not-for-profit corporation. 
Elect yourself steering committee for governance and get a volunteer attorney 
from community legal services, or one of the non-for-profits in your area 
organize your garden  as a 501(c)(3)  corporation in order to be able to 
apply for foundation grants, and give individual and corporate donors 
receipts acceptable for tax purposes.  You will need a bank account with 
signatories from your steering committee/board. Often large capital items, 
i.e., fencing, gardening equipment, plumbing, sheds, garden tools, or 
educational programming can be donated.  But having your own 501 (c)(3) is 
Again, go to the Clinton Community Garden's corporate bylaws under garden 
rules.  These by-laws, which we agonized over so long are all purpose -- your 
volunteer attorney can use them to quickly tailor by-laws to your needs. 

3) Go to the public library to get out books on grant writing. There are 
foundations out there whose job is to hand out money. But you have to find 
out who they are and write acceptable grants. All non-for-profits have grant 
writers, maybe one is a garden member? 

4) Communicate, communicate, communicate! To garden members and garden users, 
to community members, groups, the community board, elected officials and your 
landlord, the Parks Dept. or whichever land trust ends up owning the lease on 
your garden.  Have regular newsletters. Be sure that there is always a 
dedicated contact person to field queries, requests, demands, and garden 

Again, please go to the websites for information, and for specific questions 
after you have done the homework I've given you, go to the Green Thumb Grow 
together in March, contact Green Thumb or the Land Trusts you are working 
with, the Neighborhood Open Space Coalition, Partnership for Parks, or this 

Adam Honigman
 <A HREF="http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org/";>Clinton Community Garden</A>

Subj:    CYBERGARDENS: license questions and concerns
Date:   2/5/03 11:08:17 PM Eastern Standard Time
From:   mkgarden@yahoo.com (M'Finda Kalunga Community Garden)
Reply-to:   cybergardens@treebranch.com
To: cybergardens@treebranch.com (CYBERGARDENS Mailing List)

News from the CYBERGARDENS mailing list 

Hi, Fellow garden groups.

We're interested in hearing what others think about the legal document
(license) that we are being asked to sign  in order to be officially
registered with Green Thumb. this year.

Our particular garden is under the Parks jurisdiction, but we think that
there are licenses for all three (Parks/land trust/HPD) types of garden
registrations.    We went to the Green Thumb registration last Monday for
Manhattan gardens, and came away with a few concerns.  The registrations for
the rest of the city has been taking place since then, so more people might
have the same questions that we do.

Issues of ultimate responsibility for liability, waiving indemnification for
the Parks department and the city even though we ARE now parks, and so far,
no available translated versions of this document  for some of our members
and other garden group leaders to read are a few of the initial issues that
we'd like to hear from others about.

Since neither of our garden's co-chairs are lawyers, we aren't very
comfortable with signing it, at least not before a lawyer can advise us
about it.  But, like many of you, being a volunteer organization with
extremely limited resources, that leaves us kind of on our own.

Any ideas, suggestions, comments, would be helpful and appreciated.  You can
contact us directly at mkgarden@yahoo.com, or via this list.  Ideas about
volunteer lawyers; lawyers within other garden groups who might be willing
to share their services or other groups interested in pooling resources to
be advised en-masse....

Thanks very much,

Debra Glass and K Webster
M'Finda Kalunga Community Garden

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

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