Friday, May 18, 2012

GCGC: No Trespassing Signs Deter More Than Unwelcome Guests

On May 10, GCGC met at Christ Lutheran Church in Bexley. It was a sparsely attended meeting, but there were a few points worth passing on.

First, I gave a presentation about the SACG, complete with picture slides. I pointed out that our strawberries are already ripening and I had eaten one the night before. I’ve included a picture of some of the neighborhood girls which came by to poach strawberries. (When I left last night, the boys had only then discovered that the strawberries were ripe. If they spent more time at the Garden than on the basketball court or skateboarding they would not have missed out on a week’s worth of berries). Now, all of the children’s questions are focusing on when our blueberries will be ready to eat . . . .

Second, Roger announced that Local Matters was offering some seminars on backyard gardening for residents of Weinland Park and the Near East Side. (I haven’t been able to find any more information about it on Local Matter’s website to link here. I’d like to know the boundaries of “near east side”). You can sign up on Local Matters’ website or email questions to

Third, there was a discussion about the website which some volunteers at Otterbein College are putting together for GCGC. Volunteers are needed to help develop content for the new GCGC web page.

Then, it was announced that Roger was stepping down from the steering committee after two years. Anyone interested in joining the steering committee should contact Peggy.

Next, Roger made a presentation about liability issues facing community gardens. He had help from retired attorney, Louise Annarino. Very few of us (if any) had posted no-trespassing signs at our gardens because we think they are ugly, unwelcoming, and would deter neighbors and potential volunteers from approaching gardeners. However, a few good points were made about the benefits of a no-trespassing sign. First, the police are unlikely to do anything about trespassers or loiterers without a sign. Second, if a trespasser gets hurt on garden property without a sign, it is more likely that the garden could be held liable than if a sign had been posted. Generally, a landowner owes no duty of care to a trespasser, but you have to show the person is an unlawful trespasser. (This is difficult to do without a sign or locked fence/gate). A duty of warning of latent dangers is owed to individuals, like guests, who are invited onto the property. A much higher duty of care is owed to individuals with a business relationship with you.

Roger then led a discussion about what kinds of rules gardens should adopt and how those rules should be adopted. He felt that the neighbors should have input into the rules. He also raised a good point about the need to keep MSDS (i.e., Material Safety Data Sheets) at the garden which contains information on all of the chemicals and agents used at the garden (including organic products like blood and bone meal). Someone could get something in their eye or mistakenly ingest or breathe something and require emergency medical assistance. Having a binder onsite with information about the contents and dangers of all such chemical and other agents would be important to have in a crises. He also raised a concern with using blood and bone meal from cows which could have “mad cow disease.”

Michael (from Kossuth Garden) volunteered to arrange for a standard sign that community gardens could use for rules and no-trespassing.

I passed out a general risk management assessment worksheet and a handout about risk management issues involving volunteers.

There was a discussion about places which sell seeds in bulk. There was a strong recommendation for Zettler’s downtown (i.e., at Third Street and Main). I pointed out the Oakland Nursery and Dill’s also sell seeds in bulk. I’ve also found them at some rural feed stores (which might volunteer to donate some seeds at the end of the season if you start telling them about your community garden, etc.).

I then made available to the attendees the Botanical Interest seeds which had been generously donated to the SACG by CLC member, Linda. This may have been a small group, but they pretty much cleaned us out and very few seeds were left by the time I kicked them out at 7:50 (so that I could rush home to watch the second-to-last showing of the now-cancelled Missing). There will lots of happy planting in Central Ohio this year. A gentleman from a new community garden near Rome-Hilliard Road also brought a flat of vegetable seedlings to share. Patrick, Derek and I divided them up:)

The next GCGC meeting will be at the community garden at Epworth Methodist Church on Karl Road on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Food was on everyone’s mind because I didn’t feed anyone. The next meeting will be a simple networking and social gathering. Everyone is asked to contribute to a potluck dinner and you can bring whatever you like. There was also a discussion about having a seed swap of sorts.

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