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Re: garden management sustainability

  • Subject: Re: [cg] garden management sustainability
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 16:56:29 EDT


Old time saying:" One mother may ably raise 10 children, but 10 children can't take care of one mother easily."

Most of our community gardens are set up by one or more charismatic, hardworking people who get folks involved, and do more of the work of running a community garden than they should.  And because human nature is what it is, the gardeners are more than happy to let that charismatic, hardworking person/people carry them while they "just garden."

It is very easy to take the work of others for granted, especially when it's presented in a gracious, selfless way.

Sometimes, "mother" is sweet, othertimes she/he is authoritarian and doesn't want to let go because "it just won't run right."

The "mother" at the Clinton Community Garden was a remarkable lady named Mallory Abrahmsen who had the good sense to set up, with the help of Green Thumb and the Trust for Public Land, the CCG steering committee. Part of this was necessary because we incorporated as a 501(c)(3) corporation and had to set up a board of directors, and a gardener board was best. Also, Mallory was a theater artist, and realized that collaborative leadership and work was necessary to keep the "show playing."  So although the steering committee was pretty strongly dominated by Mallory during the early years (she was most times right, a maddening thing to deal with if you have an ego) , the steering committee was a democracy - so when Mallory got cancer, the business of running the garden day to day and the ownership of decision making, for right or wrong, belonged to the garden's duly elected steering committee.

All of the Clinton Community Garden's bylaws, rules and governance is on our website and have been used in part or whole by other community garden groups (with and without acknowledgement <lol>) for over 20 years.  Please feel free to share it with your burnt out guy and tell him to copy whatever he wants.  Clinton Community Garden

The plan: He tells the other gardeners that there is a big deal mandatory meeting that all gardeners must attend. If he can, he should get you or someone else to moderate the meeting, because he's going to be laying some heavy stuff on alot of gardeners who have been taking his work for granted for many years.

1) He's been doing this for over 20 years, and he's tired.

2) He wants to transition to an elected steering committee so the gardeners pick up the work and do it faithfully so he can "let it go."

3) Stating concerns that he has with the garden, namely that it could disappear if they steering committee is not vigilant.

4) That he will serve on the steering committee, but cannot do the bull work anymore - if they want a garden, they will have to learn to pick up the slack and keep it going - the word is sustainability. 

5) Get reasonable commitments. Show them a governing structure ( you can pass out the CCG's structure, or a version of it that you think will fly.)

6) If the gardeners don't want to do the work of maintaining their own garden, they have not gotten the "community " part of community gardening, and need to accept a paradigm change - i.e., being ready for self govenrment - or look at the very real possibility that their garden may, alas,  fall into serious decline or disappear if they don't get on the stick and start running their own garden.

Old time saying:" One mother may ably raise 10 children, but 10 children can't take care of one mother easily."  Adulthood is hard to deal with, but it's best to learn the job before you lose your mother.

Adam Honigman
Clinton Community Garden

Subj: [cg] garden management sustainability
Date: 9/24/04 9:54:33 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: gregor@postoffice.ag.ohio-state.edu
To: community_garden@mallorn.com
Sent from the Internet


I would love to get some feedback on a dilemma on which I am currently trying to advise the Garden Leader at one of our larger garden sites:
The volunteer Garden Leader puts in many, many hours of time to manage this garden that has 95 plots and over 100 participants.  The Leader has done this for quite a while (over 20 years?? - maybe a bit less).  The plot fees were recently raised to $20 per plot and that was difficult to do because they did not want to make the cost prohibitive.  The money goes to regular maintenance and event costs.  The Leader has a team of people who helps them and gardeners need to do 10 - 20 hours of community time each year.  However, the Leader is getting burnt out and there isn't exactly people knocking on the doors to become leader. 

I discussed with the Leader the possibility of paying someone to do some of the duties (as another garden in Cleveland does).  Does anyone have any suggestions on setting up a more sustainable structure for the management of this garden?  Incidentally, the garden is under pressure from the surrounding neighborhood that has gone through somewhat of a gentrification and is one of the most desirable neighborhoods.  Therefore the Leader expressed some fear that if they stepped down there would be condominiums being built on the garden site in a few years.

Thank you in advance for your time and any ideas shared.

Lynn Gregor
Program Coordinator
Community Gardening
Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga Co.

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