I would like to hear if you have a required work commitment as part of membership at your community garden. If so, how does it work? If not, do you ask your members to volunteer? How do you get members to help maintain the common areas of the garden such as flower beds?
We don’t and we think it’s not productive to require a work commitment. We believe volunteering to maintain the garden premises and renting garden beds are 2 different market segments. This is not to say that sevral gardeners do not volunteer to help with the maintenance. We are still learning on the maintenance issue. Our successful endeavors in this area have been with scheduled volunteer days where we hire day laborers to help with the heavy work alongside our volunteers. In the end, we are seeing that you have to find a rental amount that is both easy to find garden bed renters and has enough income to pay for heavy maintenance, while building a community volunteer organization.
We require 15 hours of volunteer time per year. This can be any activity related to the community garden: officer, festival staffing, garden maintenance, website, facebook, photographer, newsletter, meeting program, mentoring, media, rototilling, fall sales, food bank plot, composting, social committee, marketing, etc. Members submit their hours and one person maintains the list. We are a large community garden (150 plots) and are actively involved with the community.
HEP: That seems like a good balance, and similar to what we have found works in our garden.
Gardeners are only required to keep their bed(s) cleaned at the end of the season. They are asked (not required) to weed the area 12" around their bed. Many have volunteered to cut grass and pick up trash (not much) and are very proud of the community garden. We show appreciation to those who volunteer to go the “extra” mile by small thank yous at the end of the year (which is October 31st).
Most gardens have fun days were the gardeners get together and maintain the common spaces. They might also share a meal or a snack. Some gardens have a building wall where a movie can be shown. That is a nice way to reward the volunteers.
Some gardens have people on the waiting list. They can certainly be invited to share in the common work. Best, Cordalie (New Haven, CT)