The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network has been working with local government and new community garden groups to formulate community garden management plans.
What follows is a set of common topics that community gardeners have found useful in devising a management plan. This is followed by link to examples of community garden management plans.
The plans are proactive and need not be complicated. Their advantage lies in setting up decision making, conflict resolution, communication and planning processes before garden development starts. Time spend in developing management plans is seldom wasted.
Devising a management plan should be the second activity undertaken by a new community garden groups, following the formation of the core group and before applying for access to land (which includes submission of the management plan and draft design). Once access is given and legal details are finalised, then you can start the design and construction of the community garden.
Formation of core group > development of management plan > gain access to land (submit management plan and draft design with application ) > approval and legal details > detailsed design process > construction > ongoing maintenance and management.
The process of developing your community garden management plan:
- ensures that your group discusses topics that have arisen repeatedly in the starting and operation of community gardens and has processes to deal with them
- demonstrates to local government or other landholder that your group has the organisational capacity and persistence to manage an area of land.
Examples of plans of management…
- Eora Community Garden Plan of Managment – Ashfield, NSW
- Groundswell Community Garden – Frankston, Victoria: download the membership guidelines
- Torquay and Jan Juc Community Garden Management Plan, Victoria
Management plan template for garden teams
This Management Plan template is about the governance of your community garden…. it’s about social design rather than site design although it does cover management of the site in general.
The Plan was developed through participatory processes with the cooperation of teams setting up new community gardens. As a participatory design process developed over a number of years, approaches adopted in its development included World Cafe, the Workshop Method , structured conversation and strategic questioning.
The need for establishing governance processes for new community gardens has been evident for some time. It has become apparent over the years that the lack of clear means of dealing with conflict and with dominating personalities in community gardens can drive away gardeners and even lead to the abandonment of gardens. The need for establishing some kind of agreement among gardeners about conduct, decision making processes and resolving disagreement is a learning of community gardening.
Another reason for developing the Plan was that some local governments ask for a plan of management as part of their application for assistance in community gardening process.
The Plan will be reviewed from time to time and changes made. We welcome your feedback on using the plan so that timely changes can be made.
Topics in the ACFCGN template management plan:1. Vision 1.1 Purpose of our community garden 1.2 Objectives of our community garden? 2. Management of site 2.1 Managing waste on site – organic and non-organic waste 2.2 Will our garden use organic gardening practices? 2.3 Outline our proposed organic gardening practices 2.4 Water management 2.5 Use of sustainable materials on site 2.6 Garden tools and storage 2.7 Site safety 2.8 Allocation of plots 2.9 Management of shared areas 2.10 Dealing with common objections to new community gardens 3. Management structure 3.1 Roles in the community garden 3.2 Code of conduct/gardeners agreement 3.3 Decision making process 3.4 Resolving disagreement 3.5 Communication 4. Policies 4.1 Access and acceptance 4.2 Alcohol, smoking and drugs on site 5. Funding 5.1 Membership fees 5.2 Applying for grants 5.3 Fundraising activities 5.4 Other 6. Training 6.1 Start-up phase – planning and construction 6.2 Recruiting and induction of new gardeners 6.3 Ongoing training workshops 7. Partnerships and community engagement 8. Contacts 9. Other information that might be applicable
Contents of a simple management plan for your community garden
The topics that follow are a guide. You may have additional topics to consider or, perhaps, you may not need all of these.
- purpose — your overall aim in setting up the community garden
- objectives — things we would like to accomplish.
2. Management needs
- management roles (eg. president, treasurer, secretary etc)
- conduct — what will be your member’s responsibilities to other gardeners and to the community garden? (eg. behaviour, site safety and orderliness, treatment of visitors etc)
- how you will make decisions together ?(eg. consensus, majority rule)
- how will you resolve disagreement?
- how you will communicate between the management team and membership and with the landholder/public/media?
3. Safe gardening
- how will you manage safety and health in the garden ?(eg safe use of tools)?
- outline the training process for new garden members related to safety in the garden.
4. Policies/agreementsTo ensure that new members understand their rights and obligations, and to ensure that behaviour in the community garden is acceptable to the group, some community garden teams have devised a gardeners’ agreement that new members accept as a condition of membership.
- management of the whole site (eg waste management, pest management, soil improvement, water
- water management — runoff and drainage, harvesting of water
- types of sustainable materials brought on site and their safe storage
- access (eg opening times, will the garden be locked at night, when can interested people enquire about joining, disabled access)
- acceptance of a range of people and of children
- allocation of plots
- management of shared areas
- alcohol, smoking and drugs onsite
- dogs onsite
5. Funding the continued operation of the community garden
- membership fees
- applying for grants.
- what will be your process of inducting new gardeners?
- how will you familiarise new gardeners with accepted practices ?(eg. compost production, organic gardening methods such as pest management etc)
- what initial training will be needed in the start-up stage of the garden?
- potential partnerships with other organisations
- how the garden will involve the local community?