Managing garden-to-table gardens
From: Melanie Mindlin (
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2017 13:45:08 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Marci,
At Ashland Cohousing, we have a community garden of about 4,000 square feet in 
a community of 13 homes.  Some of this space is taken up by fruit trees along 
the periphery, garden shed and tools, compost bins and delivery area for 
imported materials.  We have 10 beds of about 4’ wide by 20’ long.

Although it greatly surprised me, our community decided from the start (10 
years ago) that the community garden should be run by whoever was willing to do 
it and the produce should be available to anyone who wanted it, but prioritized 
for the community meals.  We have revisited and renewed this intention every 
few years.  The community pays for all expenses: water, soil amendments, mulch, 
tools and seeds.

I have been the “convener” of the Garden Team since the beginning because I 
love to garden.  We are all expected to be on two committees or convene one, 
but the actual time it takes to do the work of the committees varies greatly.  
We also have a chore chart where everyone signs up for tasks for 2 hours/month, 
and there are 2-3 people who have put down Garden as their task.  We also have 
a Workday once a month, which generally is about 2 hours long and a few people 
will get assigned to the garden if I ask for them.  In practice, I spend 
uncountable hours on our community garden (average about 1/2 hour per day 
during the growing season which is about 7 months here, as well as growing 
starts on my windowsills during the winter, and some other people spend a 
couple of hours/month either during the workday or doing a few tasks I suggest 
if it is their Participation job, or just picking up the slack if I’m out of 
town.  Also, people harvest for the community meals.

I emphasize the amount of work involved because this is the most important 
issue when you do it together.  No money is exchanged in our community for 
garden produce or garden work.  However, those who work in the garden are the 
most aware if there is a small amount of something available to eat, and only 
the larger production moments are advertised to the community as a whole for 
harvest.  We try to do this in a timely manner for meal planning for our 
community meals which happen twice a week.  Sometimes we go door to door to 
give away produce when there is an abundance as others in the community are not 
tuned in to the times when harvesting is needed.

Our committee makes decisions, which really amounts to getting together once a 
year to talk about what we want to grow, draw a garden plan and prepare a seed 
order.  If someone wants to buy something, they check with me to make sure I 
agree about the need and can offer input about their intentions.  We have a 
budget for the year, and we haven’t deviated from it much in terms of what it 
costs to run the garden.  If we want to do a big project (build something), we 
need to plan ahead and request the money during the annual budgeting process.  
I contact people who are involved in the garden work when something specific is 
needed and ask them if they’re willing to do it.  If not, I ask someone else.  
If nobody wants to do it, it goes undone unless I decide to do it myself.  
Sometimes the folks who are gardening as their Participation task will ask me 
what needs doing when they have some time available.  There is a general sense 
in our committee that I do most of the planting, one other person does most of 
the weeding, and another keeps their eye on the harvesting.

We have a new member moving in who is reputed to be an avid gardener, and I am 
looking forward to a shift away from carrying so much of the responsibility 
after 10 years.  However, just to be clear, it is my love of gardening that has 
kept the project afloat so far.  As a permaculture teacher, I am motivated to 
keep my hand in the activity, to experiment and to eat from the garden.

Hope this helps,

Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2017 23:23:22 GMT
From: "mburkel [at] <mailto:mburkel [at]>" <mburkel [at] <mailto:mburkel [at]>>
To: cohousing-l [at] <mailto:cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ Managing garden-to-table gardens
Message-ID: <20170827.162322.16600.0 [at] 
<mailto:20170827.162322.16600.0 [at]>>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252

Winslow Cohousing is being forced to reorganize our garden layout for our 
community meals.  We are looking for information from other cohousing groups 
who are growing produce.Questions:= How big is your garden?= Who eats from the 
garden?= How is it managed?  = Who makes decisions?= If there is a manager, are 
they from within community?  = Are they paid?= Do you have a meal system, and 
is the garden produce used for community meals?= Challenges= SuggestionsIf 
anyone out there sees this message and has information, please let me know and 
I'll contact youdirectly if you'd prefer. I think we have Songaia and Rosewind 
covered. Marci Burkel

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