Hi just wanted to leave a note to let people know that the previous manager has moved on. I'm not sure if I will use this blog very often, but I will try to post information in as many places as possible.
Second, there is a new procedure in the plot fee payment arrangement. The financial analyst, Carolyn, in the front office has graciously offered to collect fees and keep records for us. The plot assignor and I readily took her up on the offer because handling money and keeping accurate records has historically proven to be difficult and burdensome on us as volunteers. We appreciate Carolyn for doing this. The procedure for new gardeners will be as follows: The plot assigner makes arrangements with the prospective gardener to view the available plots. If the new gardener wishes to have a plot then they fill out a plot assignment form and take it to the office where they give the form to Carolyn, pay her the appropriate fees and receive a garden key. For continuing gardeners, we will post or e-mail an electronic copy of the 2011 renewal form. Beginning February 1, 2011, you can print the form, complete it, and bring it to the office to pay the appropriate fees. 2011 will be our trial run of this new procedure.
Third, our guiding constitution “recognizes that some gardeners are not residents of University Village or affiliated directly with the U.C. Berkeley campus. It is also recognized that these individuals are important, valuable members of our community who provide a valuable body of knowledge and continuity of presence…” Under current rules, any current gardener may continue to renew their plots for an unlimited length of time even after they move out of University Village. In reality, there are very few gardeners who have hung on to plots for many years after they have moved out and even fewer who have never lived in the Village at all. New rules from the U.C. Village administration state that any gardeners who do not live in the Village will need to become an official Village “volunteer.” The volunteer process will necessitate a detailed application and criminal background check. In short, my understanding is that the Village administration is accountable to the larger U.C. system and, in a way, responsible for the Village residents. Thus, they wish to have information on everyone who is allowed keys to the U.C. Village Garden. The 2012 season will be the first year in which this will take effect.
If anyone has any questions please feel free to e-mail me and I can do my best to answer them or direct you to someone who can. Happy Holidays!
The growing season is well under way and the garden looks great! Crops are ripening and people are already enjoying the blackberries. The waitlist for garden plots is nearly down to zero and new gardeners are still being added. Welcome to all the new gardeners.
I will take this opportunity to address some of the issues or questions that gardeners have approached me with. First, there have been some issues regarding taking materials from other people’s plot. Please know that there is one small area in the north end of the garden near the green waste to place materials (such as wood or tomato cages) for others to take on a first come first serve basis. Other than that, taking materials that we did not bring into the garden or that were not explicitly given to us is considered theft. This includes taking from a plot that appears un-claimed and taking fruit from a tree that is not on one’s own plot. I believe that some theft in the garden is intentional and some is by non-gardeners or maybe even friends and family members who are not aware of the rules. Please help your fellow gardeners by making sure your guests know the rules and by speaking up when you suspect that someone is claiming materials or produce that does not belong to them.
A common question this season has been about wood chips for their plots. Generally we buy chips to cover the main trails around the garden and gardeners will use some of these chips for trails in their own plots. This season I bought four yards of redwood chips at a cost of about $200 including delivery fees and the whole pile was taken by only a handful of individual gardeners for personal use within a very short amount of time. The fact is we don’t have enough money to spend this much to benefit so few people so we will not be using garden funds to buy mulches for personal use. I am told, however, that free chips are available to all during the Berkeley free compost give-away at the Marina on the last Friday of each month.
Currently, we are not accepting cash or checks for plot fees or key deposits. We are only accepting money orders made out to “VRA Garden Community.” Money orders may be purchased for about a dollar at the US Post Office, Safeway, the liquor store at the corner of Gilman and San Pablo and many other local businesses. Cash will not be accepted because, as managers, we are a group of volunteers who wish to have the highest degree of transparency and accountability as possible. Remember that we are dealing with between $1500 and $2000 each season. Checks are not being accepted because any returned checks will add an extra time burden on an already busy volunteer treasurer.
Happy gardening everyone and, as always, please feel free to approach me by e-mail or in person to talk about garden concerns, questions, or just to chat.
First of all, I would like to acknowledge our co-Administrative/Technical Assistants for putting this website together. As many of you know, the Yahoo group was outdated and unreliable. Thank you to Abby and Matt for bringing the garden into the 21st century! I have unsubscribed from the Yahoo group and would like others to feel safe to do the same.
Second, I wish to thank everyone for their patience as we complete the current garden management transition. Unfortunately, this change did not come without some tension. However, all were in agreement with the decision to move away from placing the full responsibility of the garden management on the shoulders of only one or two people as in recent years.
A copy of our new constitution which details the new structure will soon be posted on the website. In short, the management of the garden is based on a working relationship between 1) the Executive Committee, 2) the General Committee, and 3) the U.C. Village administration. All gardeners are encouraged to share in the management of the garden by serving on a committee and/or participating in the garden meetings.
The Executive Committee consists of five members: Garden Manager, Plot Assignor, Administrative/Technical Assistant, Treasurer, and Maintenance/Tool Supervisor. All five Executive Committee positions are elected for one year terms and all positions are currently filled.
The General Committee consists of up to seven gardeners who are responsible for developing garden policy and rules. They meet once per month to review rules, review needed projects, and discuss the affairs of the garden. Currently the General Committee has three openings, including a chairperson. This committee could use some additional leadership and would welcome anyone willing to provide input on garden issues.
Various members of these two committees have working relationships with staff members in the U.C. Village administration including the Program Director, the Residential Services Coordinator, members of the financial staff and the maintenance department. My intention is to continue to cultivate such relationships as a way of securing the long term viability of our garden community.
Finally, I want to welcome new gardeners and thank so many people who came out on the 23rd for our first garden work party of the year. It was nice to see so many people working together for the common good and I enjoyed meeting everyone. We all get our plots with the agreement that each family will contribute at least 6 hours per year doing this type of work and we had more than 20 people sign in that day. I would like to add that if anyone is unable to meet on a scheduled work day to please feel free to contact me. I am willing to work with a limited number of people arranging a time to fit busy schedules. There is always work to do this time of year. In addition, some creative gardeners contribute their hours by designing and carrying out various projects. Some of the projects that have either been proposed or are under way are a communal healing-herb garden, a native plant garden, a grape trellis, and a communal fruit tree area. Work and expertise in these areas and the proposal of new ideas are always welcome.
I wish everyone a good growing season and welcome people to e-mail me or approach me in person with their gardening questions or concerns.