Friday, February 20, 2015

Proposed Garden Rules

The Leadership Team, NeighborSpace, and the gardeners who attended the potluck have all worked on updating the rules for the Howard Area Community Garden. The latest version of the proposed rules are below. Please let us know what you think!

Rules for Participation in the
Howard Area Community Garden
(revised 2/2015)

As a gardener in the Howard Area Community Garden, I agree to abide by the following rules:

1. I use this garden at the sole discretion of the Howard Area Community Garden Leadership Team. I agree to abide by its policies and practices.

2. The fee for the use of the garden is $15 per plot, per year, payable on or before May 1 of each year. There are no refunds. (Fee waivers are available in hardship cases.)

3. Gardens must be cultivated and planted before June 1 (or within two weeks of assignment, if after that date). Gardens must be cleaned and "put to bed" by Dec. 1.

4. I understand that each gardener is asked to donate labor towards the betterment of the entire garden. This service may be done during the scheduled workdays, or on my own as arranged with a member of the Leadership Team. There are many jobs to choose from, and if we all pitch in, the work will be spread out fairly and no one volunteer will get burned out.

5. I understand that the Howard Area Community Garden is an organic garden. Only organic fertilizers, compost, and manure may be used in the garden. Non-organic and other chemical fertilizers or pesticides are prohibited. Painted wood or posts are not allowed. Dyed mulch is prohibited.

6. I will keep all my plants within the limits of my garden plot and will not allow any plants to grow more than six feet high. I will do my best to keep my plot free of weeds, pests, and diseases.

7. I will keep my plot, paths, and surrounding areas clean and neat. I will put kitchen waste and plant material into the compost, and weeds/diseased plants/litter into the trash cans. Anything I bring from my home, I will take back home. I will not bring household trash and leave it at the Howard Area Community Garden.

8. Only one plot per household. If I adopt an abandoned plot during the season with permission from the Leadership Team, I understand that I must relinquish it for the following year.

9. The water hydrant is provided by NeighborSpace, the owner of the property, and is to be used ONLY for watering gardens, not to wash cars. I will conserve water and be considerate of other gardeners who are waiting for their turn. Water is turned on by NeighborSpace in mid-May, and turned off mid-November.

10. I understand that illegal plants, smoking, alcohol, illegal drug use, gambling, weapons or pets are not permitted the garden.

11. Guests and visitors may enter the garden only if I accompany them. They must follow all rules stated above. I will supervise my children at all times when they are in the garden. I understand that I am solely responsible for the behavior of my guests.

12. I will do my best to attend the regular garden member meetings, educational programs, and workdays.

13. I will not make duplicate keys of any locks at the garden, or give my key or lock combination to another person. If I lose a key, I will pay $2 for a replacement. If I am the last person to leave the garden, I will make sure all locks are secure.

14. I will never take food, plants, tools, or anything else from other gardeners’ plots. I will not take anything from the garden that is not rightfully mine.

15. If I intend to return to my plot the following year, I will notify the HACG Leadership Team by phone, email, or mail before April 1. If I do not do this, I understand the plot will be reassigned.

16. I will respect other gardeners. I will use appropriate language and refrain from discriminating against others.

17. I will work to keep the garden a happy, secure, and enjoyable place where all participants can garden and socialize peacefully in a neighborly manner.


The Howard Area Community Garden Leadership Team is the highest governing authority at the Howard Area Community Garden. I understand that breaking any of the above rules is cause for loss of my plot privileges.

Breaking Rule 10 or 14 will result in immediate loss of garden membership.

In the event of a violation of the remaining rules:

1. The violator will receive one verbal/e-mail reminder from the garden coordinator.

2. If no response or correction has been made within two weeks, the violator will receive a written notice mailed to their current address.

3. In another two weeks, if no response or correction has been made, the violator will receive a written final notification that they have forfeited their gardening privileges and plot. The plot may be reassigned and no fees will be returned.

4. The violator may be allowed to reapply for another garden plot the following year, at the discretion of the Leadership Team.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Notes from the potluck

The Howard Area Community Garden held the Annual Member Potluck/Meeting on Feb. 7, 2015, at Just Harvest on Paulina and Jonquil.

The following gardeners attended: Katje Sabin and her husband Bill Gilliland, Jill Bjork and her son, and Geraldine Williams. Robin Cline from NeighborSpace also joined us, and Anthony Boatman from Just Harvest dropped in briefly.

Besides chowing down on all the yummy food everyone brought, we discussed a few ideas for our garden.

The garden is currently full, although we haven't heard back from a few members... so we might have a couple of spaces opening up. The entire waiting list from past years has been emptied, and new applicants will go onto a new waiting list. To apply, call or email the garden for an application form (

We have seven new gardeners this year! Please welcome Emily Deja, Fagin Prak, Derek Schumacher, Derek Barton, Arianna Soloway, Anastassiya Suslik, and William Garvutt to our garden!

We are very happy to welcome back the Howard Area Community Center's youth gardeners, led by HACC's youth program director Robert Conlen and nutritionist Katherine Wong. They will work one plot and the three raised beds, as well as assisting one of our elderly gardeners with her spot.

We also have a returning gardener, Chester Kos, who built our wonderful compost bin system. Welcome back!

The Leadership Team (currently Katje Sabin and Gina Carpenter, with help from Neighborspace) has been working on updating the garden's rules. There is a new application form, and a Gardener's Contract. Every gardener will receive a copy of the updated rules, along with the 2015 calendar, contact list, and plot map, around April (once each gardener has confirmed that they are returning for the 2015 gardening season).

If you had a garden in 2014 but didn't pay your fees, please don't worry... you won't lose your spot. But if you CAN pay now, please consider doing so. Fees go towards garden repairs, improvements, equipment, and administrative costs like paper, copying and mailing. The annual fee is $15, and you can mail it to:
Howard Area Community Garden
c/o Howard Area Community Center
7648 N. Pauline St.
Chicago IL 60626
(P.S. you are also welcome to pay your 2015 fee before the May 1 deadline!)

Bartlett Tree Service, the same company that donated 12 cubic yards of mulch last fall, has also volunteered to remove the large dying elm on the north edge of the garden. When they come in, we'll have about a week's notice... and we will need help to temporarily remove some fencing so they can have proper access. That should happen some time in February or March... stay tuned!

If you need the combination for the lock on the north gate, or a key for the west gate, please email

The Spring Opening Party is scheduled for Earth Day (Saturday, April 25), at 10 a.m. We will be doing some cleanup, share some snacks, have a seed swap, and hold a quick gardeners meeting.  We may also organize a cooperative seedling order from Garden Harvest Supply (they are willing to give us wholesale prices... check out this page to start thinking about which things we'd like to order:

One of the improvements suggested was a dog poop bag dispenser... we've all noticed the GIANT turds on the devil strip, and it would sure be nice if people cleaned up after their mutts. Something like this:

Our garden has officially joined the Rogers Park Garden Group (, an organization that gives out public walkway grants each year), the Chicago Community Garden Association (we're signed up for their annual conference; would anyone like to come with me?, and we've applied for a grant from Kitchen Gardeners International ( We're looking at other grants as well. Would anyone like to help with this?

Would someone be willing to translate our proposed rules into Spanish?

We'd like to look into worm bins (vermiculture). Does anyone have experience with this?

The whole garden had a problem with tomato blight last year, a fungus that kills the healthy plant at the peak of production. We'll be looking into organic ways to get past this, but for now... just be aware that we have it in our soil right now and that we need to plan on working together to get rid of it.

Robin said that NeighborSpace might be able to help us figure out a way to set up online membership payments and donations. And she also suggested that we start up a Friends of the Garden group, for people who can't garden but want to help support our efforts. Would anyone like to work on this project?

Donald Johnson has volunteered to arrange bringing a rototiller to the garden. Stay tuned for more info, and thank you, Donald!

We had a gardener give their space to someone outside the garden without informing the Leadership Team. Please don't do this! We have an established waiting list for folks who have asked to join the garden. If you don't want your space any longer, that's not a problem... just let us know so we can give it to the next person in line. And if you know someone who wants to join the garden, please ask them to send an email to for an application so they can get in line. Right now, there's only one or two people on the waiting list, so it won't be long. And we've had a number of people who have come to garden work days even though they were still on the waiting list... sweat equity. Let's keep things fair and honest; everyone can be involved even if they don't have a plot yet!

If you have any suggestions or would like to pitch in with any of the above projects or ideas, please drop a line to Many hands make light work!

Now we just need to wait for spring...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Our annual potluck is THIS SATURDAY!

Our garden with 20 inches of snow… Hope you all are staying warm and dry!

Saturday, February 7
From noon - 3:00pm

A Just Harvest
7649 N Paulina St, Chicago, Illinois 60626

Bring something delicious to share for a potluck lunch, while we discuss our hopes and dreams for our beautiful community garden in the 2015 growing season. We will hear from our Leadership Team, and we'll have a chance to review our updated rules. Bring books, magazines, catalogs, and any other garden resources you'd like to share. See you soon!