Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stoddart Avenue Community Garden Rules of Conduct

In order to participate in the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden (the “Garden”), you must agree to comply with the following rules:

1. Be a good neighbor.
2. Do not create any extra expense, annoyance or work for the Garden Manager.

Anyone who violates these rules will be expelled from the Garden and forfeit all produce. The Garden Manager is the ultimate interpreter and judge of all disputes and compliance with the rules. While she is generally reasonable, flexible and fair, she does not guarantee reason or fairness when the temperature is above 90 degrees or she is hungry or sleep deprived. Technical and occasional lapses may be overlooked in exchange for chocolate ice cream.

Because some people might find these simple rules a little vague, here are some guidelines and other food for thought based on imagined and actual experiences in other community gardens. Please take them in the jovial spirit with which they are intended.

1) Please stay on the Garden paths or your own garden plot and do not walk on someone else’s plot (or let your guests, children or your dogs wander onto someone else’s plot). It would be prudent if everyone put a fence around their own plot to keep out rodents and trespassers, but it is not required. None of our gardeners should have to worry about their garden plot soil being compacted or their tender bean or corn shoots being trampled by their inconsiderate neighbors or others. This also means that your garden should not grow into your neighbor’s plot. (If your plants grow into your neighbor’s plot, your neighbor is completely justified in pulling it or eating it at his or her discretion. Wars have started based on less than errant tomatoes and overgrown zucchinis).

2) Please keep the weeds in your plot under control. Rampant weeds are unsightly for the neighborhood and a nuisance to your fellow gardeners who don’t want your weeds encroaching into their plots or spreading their seeds. Luckily, weeds are only likely to be a significant problem during the rainy season. Because the Garden will be tilled in April (for those gardeners who want to grow early Spring crops, like spinach, potatoes, radishes, etc.), May gardeners might want to consider putting a tarp or other covering over your plot to keep weeds from growing and to kill whatever weeds were not killed by the plowing.

3) Please do not use any herbicides, Preen or other weed killers in the Garden. Despite the greatest of care, even the slightest breeze could spread some of the weed killer to your neighbor’s plot and kill their prized tomatoes or eggplants. This means that all weeds will have to be pulled by hand or demolished by tools of plant destruction (like a hoe). Poison (for rodents) is also discouraged, but careful use of EPA-approved or organic insecticides is permitted (as long as you don’t kill too many bees or other beneficial insects like praying mantises). Remember, bees are a gardener’s best friend.

4) Please do not litter. Take your trash with you. Feel free to create a compost pile in a corner of your plot and bring a trash bag with you to haul refuse away when you leave for the day. Tidy gardeners get brownie points and may receive unexpected goodies courtesy of the magic Garden Gnome.

5) Please do not engage in any criminal or unlawful behavior or otherwise make a nuisance of yourself to other gardeners or the neighbors. This includes your family and guests as well. Guns and lethal weapons are banned from the Garden. Profanity and anger is highly inappropriate in the absence of personal injury. Gardeners should remember that young children and my aging ears are highly sensitive to swear words and angry threats. Violators of this guideline risk, among other things, having their face and the embarrassing story posted all over the internet. If you have no shame, other methods of dissuasion shall be pursued.

6) Please do not hurt yourself or anyone else. Gardening can be dangerous. There are sharp tools, repetitive motions, heavy lifting, unexpected storms and wilting heat. Bring water to hydrate yourself and maybe even a chair for rest breaks. If marauding gangs of thugs, lightening, tornados or packs of vicious dogs unexpectedly visit the neighborhood or the Garden, please put off gardening until another day or hour and quickly return to a safe place. Do not be a hero, remember the Alamo or imitate Charles Bronson. On the other hand, the Garden is not for Chicken Littles who always think the sky is falling. In short, failing to be prudent in protecting yourself or suffering from frequent bouts of paranoia could lead to the Garden Manager having sleepless nights.

7) Please clean up your plot and remove anything you want to keep by October 31, 2009. Any items left in the Garden on October 31 will either become the Garden Manager’s personal property or be donated to Rumpke. For that matter, you probably should not leave anything in the Garden which you cannot live without. Because the Garden is free, there is no budget item to pay for Blackwater or other security guards to keep out vandals, raccoons, terrorists or space aliens. Each gardener is free to bribe the City’s fine police force (out of your own funds) or to build your own scarecrow to keep out aggressive birds and squirrels. (However, while creative scarecrows are encouraged, please do not create an eyesore for the neighbors.)

8) Each gardener is responsible for supplying his or her own water for their plot. Large buckets or rain barrels are permitted to collect rain water. However, please place screens over standing water in order to deter mosquitoes. The Garden is not insured for diseases like malaria, yellow fever or West Nile virus.

Complaint or concerns about violations of the Rules or suggestions for new rules should be directed to the Garden Manager at

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