Lamplight Community Garden By-Laws
June 26, 2018
The following bylaws for the Lamplight Community Garden describe the structure, operations, and decision-making of the Garden. In addition, the Garden will comply with the property management rules of PARD and of the Sustainable Food Center. The Lamplight Community Garden is made possible through the efforts of the volunteer leadership of the Lamplight Community Garden; sponsorship by the Sustainable Food Center, Austin Parks and Recreation Department and Austin Park Foundation; through plot rental fees paid by gardeners; and through generous donations from neighbors and local businesses.
Section 1: Name
The name of the garden is Lamplight Community Garden and hereafter shall be referred to as “the Garden”.
Section 2: Purpose
We strive to serve North Austin by:
- Providing local gardeners with a reliable source of fresh, nutritious, organic, and affordable food
- Providing a community space for free educational and enrichment activities on a variety of topics related to gardening, healthy living and our community
- Creating a gathering space that brings together diverse neighbors to encourage cooperation, collaboration and friendship
- Creating a sustainable urban-nature ecosystem that provides a habitat for wildlife e.g. birds and bees and transforms an undeveloped space in a neighborhood park into a beautiful and useful community area.
Section 3: Values
- Inclusion/Diversity – Accessibility; affordability; elderly and intergenerational participation; appreciation of human and cultural differences.
- Building Community – Participation and empowerment of community members; sharing knowledge and skills; relationship with schools and community groups; decision-making through democratic process; cooperation among members; developing long-time friendships among neighbors.
- Site – Transforming the space; creating wildlife habitat; using sustainable practices; creating a living fence; practicing the “old ways” and promoting the use of heirloom seeds and plants.
- Food-related – Promoting locally grown food; increasing food security and diversity of food supply; supporting the community right to have enough to eat; promoting improved nutrition; providing education about food source, gardening, nutrition and environmental awareness.
Section 4: Location
The physical location is 12444 Lamplight Village Ave., Austin, Texas 78758. The mailing address is the mailing address of the treasurer.
Section 5: Physical Description of Garden and Plots
- There is a variety of communal areas that shall be shared by all Gardeners. The communal use is a principal purpose behind the existence of the Garden for harvesting and education for Garden members and non-members in the Community. There is a dedicated area for a Children’s Garden.
- Personal Garden plots have been established as eight 4’x 8’ raised beds which will be leased for a one year term. Additional in ground plots can be assigned to individuals upon the Steering’s Committee approval, as long as the total area allocated to personal plots does not exceed that of the communal plots.
- Locked tool shed, gathering space (e.g. picnic table under shade), composting areas, and sites for soil amendments will be located within the boundaries of the garden.
- Common amenities will be provided, including running water and a limited supply of mulch, compost, and basic tools for all gardens to share.
Section 6: Membership and Plots
All members shall have the following voting rights, privileges and obligations as outlined below:
- Eligibility- all persons 18 years of age and older are eligible if they sign and abide by the Garden Contract, the Rules for Garden Maintenance, and an SFC Liability Release Form and attend an orientation. Every member must sign a new Garden Contract and SFC Liability Release Form each year.
- Two (2) Categories of members:
- Personal raised-bed garden plot holders (and their gardening partners);
- Member volunteers using communal plots.
- A member is in good standing if he/she has signed a Garden Contract for the current year and has paid all plot rental/membership fees and missed work hour fees currently due.
- Plots are limited to one per household
- Dues are payable on January 1st of each year and must be paid before taking possession of a plot or voting on any garden issues. A plot holder who takes possession of a plot after July 1 shall pay reduced dues through the end of the year.
- Members who do not abide by the Garden Contract or the Rules for Garden Maintenance may have their membership revoked. A member may appeal revocation to the Steering Committee.
- Plots will be assigned on a first come first serve basis from the waiting list maintained by the Orientation Team: the Steering Committee will make every effort to reach out and encourage participation in the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods.
- Each member in good standing is eligible to one vote in the Steering Committee election at the Annual Meeting of members and on any other matter presented to the membership by the Steering Committee. All contract signatories are eligible for voting purposes if they are members in good standing.
- General Membership Meetings: An Annual General Membership Meeting of members for election of Steering Committee members/officers shall be held at a date, time, and place designated by the Steering Committee, with notice of the meeting provided to all members at least 14 days prior to the meeting. The Steering Committee may also schedule additional membership meetings with the same notice requirements. Each notice of a membership meeting shall state the purpose or purposes for which the meeting is called. A quorum for a General Membership meeting shall be defined as at least 20% of the current membership. For members unable to attend the meeting, the option of voting by e-mail will be made available with a voting window of one week. Members voting by e-mail will be counted in the quorum. The Steering Committee is also authorized to hold Internet Votes and Surveys, which shall be as binding as General Membership votes provided that a minimum interval of one week is allowed for voting.
Section 7: Steering Committee
The direction and management of the affairs of the Garden organization and the control and disposition of its properties and funds shall be vested in a Steering Committee, as described below. The steering committee is complemented by the Garden Operations Leadership Group described in the next section.
- The number of Steering Committee members consist of 4 members upon the Garden permit being granted by the City but before the Garden is operational and shall consist of 6 members by the time the garden is operational:
- Before the Garden is operational the following 4 Roles make up the Steering Committee: Site Design & Construction Coordinator, Treasurer & Garden Sponsor coordinator, Fundraising Coordinator, Neighborhood Outreach planning Coordinator. It is the responsibility of each Steering Committee member to provide both written and verbal plans for the Garden startup.
- When the Garden becomes operational the following positions will constitute the Steering Committee: Steering Committee Facilitator, Site Manager; Treasurer; Secretary; Outreach/Orientation Liaison and Membership Liaison. The description of each role is addressed below in a separate sub-section.
- The Steering Committee may create up to 2 Ad Hoc committees to address pressing problems of the garden. The members of the Ad Hoc committee shall be appointed by the Steering Committee and consist of garden members.
- The Steering Committee is responsible for recruiting and appointing members to staff the Garden Operations Leadership Group
- The Steering Committee shall be elected at the Annual Meeting of members. Steering Committee members shall serve for 1 year or until a successor is elected.
- All members in good standing are eligible to be candidates for the Steering Committee.
- All members in good standing are eligible to vote for the members of the Steering Committee.
- All decisions of the Steering Committee shall be by 2/3 majority vote after reasonable efforts to reach consensus.
- The Steering Committee meetings shall be held monthly at a date, time, and place designated by the Steering Committee at a previous meeting or by the Steering Committee Facilitator, with notice of the meeting provided to all members at least 7 days prior to the meeting. Each notice of a Steering Committee meeting shall include an agenda describing any matter that may be considered for decision at the meeting.
- Any garden member may attend and participate in a Steering Committee meeting but only Steering Committee members are entitled to vote.
- The Steering Committee may declare a Steering Committee position vacant if the member holding that position has missed more than three consecutive meetings or a total of six meeting during the year without good cause.
- In the event of a vacancy on the Steering Committee, the Committee will solicit and fill the position with an alternate gardener by 2/3 majority vote of the Steering Committee.
Sub-Section 7-1: Duties of Steering Committee Members
- Steering Committee Facilitator shall be responsible for scheduling and creating an agenda for monthly Steering Committee meetings, as well as arranging for facilitation of the meetings.
- Treasurer, collecting plot fees and payments in lieu of work hours, notifying gardeners about non-payments, receiving money from fund raising projects, keeping financial records, preparing monthly financial statements and preparing an annual budget. The Treasurer or Steering Committee Facilitator shall serve as the SFC Garden Liaison.
- Site Manager shall coordinate all aspects of caring for and maintaining the physical site and shall notify PARD about needs and problems related to the site. The Site Manager is also the Steering Committee’s principal point of the contact for Garden Operations Leadership Group.
- Secretary shall be responsible for maintaining the membership list and assist the other committee members in their roles. The Secretary shall take minutes of meetings and make them available to Steering Committee members. Minutes from previous meeting will be submitted for approval at the following meeting.
- Outreach/Educational Liaison shall recruit new gardeners, coordinate outreach in the community, recruit volunteers, coordinate classes/education. This is primarily an outside- looking role.
- Membership Liaison shall maintain the garden waiting list, schedule orientations for rental of plots, assign garden plots, work with the Treasurer to arrange and assist in obtaining signed yearly contracts, monitor abandoned plots in conjunctions with Site Manager and arrange for transfer of abandoned plots as needed, monitor the data base of plot assignments, maintain current map of plot assignments and maintain the record the volunteer work hours of members.
- Ad Hoc committee members (up to 2 positions at a time). These members are appointed to address specific issues or projects that need to be addressed e.g. expanding the garden size or expanding membership. These positions are created/dissolved on an annual basis.
Section 8: Garden Operations Leadership Group
The Garden Operations Leadership Group is made up of gardeners who volunteer to take on extra duties to help the garden run smoothly. The Leadership Group may be made up of Steering Committee members, but their roles differ. While the Steering Committee is focused on planning for the establishment of the community garden and its administration, the Garden Operations Leadership Group’s roles handle planting & growing operations, watering schedules, organizing and teaching gardening classes, mulch & compost preparation etc. Specifically, the Leadership Group is empowered to operate the garden on a daily and weekly basis without a need for the Steering Committee meetings and decisions and as such operates independently but within the rules established by the Steering Committee.
Site Coordinator: Responsible for executing the duties listed for ‘Site Manager’ on the Steering Committee and is there the same person making decisions on a daily/weekly basis. Primary point-of- contact for overall garden operations.
Communal Plots Coordinator: This person is the primary responsible individual for overseeing and managing the communal plots e.g. what crops will be planted and when they will be harvested.
Plant/Seed Sales Coordinator: Responsible for planning and executing plant/seed sales and therefore works closely with the Site Coordinator and Steering Committee to ensure that enough sales revenue is planned to cover expenses of the communal plots.
Membership Coordinator: responsible for executing the duties listed for the ‘Membership Liaison’ on the Steering Committee and is therefore the same person making decisions on a daily/weekly basis.
Tool Coordinator: Ensures that equipment is properly maintained and updates inventory report annually. Makes recommendations for tool purchases to be funded from the treasury. Organizes activities on work days for tool maintenance and repair.
Compost Coordinator: Ensures that compost area is properly maintained. Orients new gardeners to the compost procedures. Organizes activities on work days for compost maintenance and processing
Section 9: Finances, expenses, and dues
- The treasurer in conjunction with the Steering Committee will prepare and approve a proposed Operating Budget each year. The budget will consider required capital outlays, maintenance costs, utilities, and any other anticipated expenses for the coming year. In addition, this proposed budget will outline expenditures that are optional or contingent on fundraising efforts.
- Recurring cost, such as utilities and basic operating expenses, are expected to be covered by plot rental fees and through food and plant sales. Rental fees may be adjusted annually based on water usage fees and operating expenses.
- Plot rental fees are non-refundable.
- Gardeners who do not meet the monthly work requirement will be charged a fee in lieu of work. This fee will be set annually by the Steering Committee. Gardeners who fail to complete more than 6 monthly work requirements annually, without waiver by the Steering Committee based on extenuating circumstances, will be subject to plot release.
Section 10: Limitation on Liability for Steering Committee
No Steering Committee member shall be liable to the Association or its members for monetary damages for any action or inaction, unless that member engages in intentional misconduct or knowing violation of the law.
Section 11: Garden Operation Over-arching Rules
Lamplight Community Garden will abide by rules and guidelines that are established by the City of Austin for Community Gardens located on city owned property as well as the rules/guidelines of the Sustainable Food Center. In particular for PARD, as outlined in City Code and relevant City Ordinances below:
- Chapter 14-7, 14-11, Title 25 and Title 30
- Ordinance No. 20110210-017 and Ordinance No. 20110210-018
- Charge of support in Council Resolution No. 20091119-065
And for SFC the protocol outlined in “SFC Sponsor Guidelines for Community Gardens”
Steering Committee members are required to be familiar with these guidelines.
Section 12: By-laws Establishment and Amendments
By-laws should initially be approved at a general membership meeting by majority vote. Bylaws can be amended by 2/3 vote of the steering Committee with at least ten days’ notice given to the general membership of the proposed by-laws change.