Fall 2020 Garden Meeting Minutes

Thank you to all our community members who attended last week’s annual fall meeting via Zoom. If you were not able to attend or would like to review the content, here are the minutes:

Minutes, Newark Street Community Garden Fall Membership Meeting

October 10, 2020

Due to the pandemic, the annual fall meeting was conducted through Zoom, and was recorded for the benefit of those unable to attend.  President Maureen Spagnolo began the formal meeting shortly after 10:00 AM, after a quorum had joined.  People continued to join the meeting as it progressed. The maximum attendance was approximately 48.

Maureen followed the agenda which had previously been distributed to the membership.  After welcoming everybody, including new gardeners and temporary gardeners who stepped in to help, she introduced the current officers and board members.

Committee reports:

Membership:  Beth Kaplan, membership chair, worked with Lynn Rothberg, who assigned plots to new gardeners.  She also worked with Jane Brookstein, treasurer, to move the membership process into Quickbooks, which was much more efficient than the old system.  Beth reported she closed the waiting list at the end of September, because it had gotten to 266.  This much higher than the same time last year (136), due to the pandemic increasing interest in gardening. During this year, 46 new gardeners got plots (similar to last year), and 32 others dropped off the wait list because they were no longer interested or were duplicates.  Nearly everyone who was on the waitlist in 2019 [at the start?] has now gotten a plot or declined.

The membership fee was raised from $15 to $30, and the non-work fee was raised from $20 to $50. One hundred forty-six people paid the no-work fee this year, compared to 138 last year.

Lynn Rothberg works with new gardeners to help them get started as they are assigned plots.  Volunteers have been very helpful in getting abandoned plots into shape before they are reassigned.  The new gardeners really appreciate this.

Treasurer:  Jane Brookstein briefly summarized the financial report. The major expense this year was $800 for Quickbooks, which has greatly simplified the administrative side of the garden.  There is a balance of about $35,000 in the bank, a large portion of which will be used for the replacement of the water system, see below.

Rules: Bill Bonner reported that because of the pandemic, things were different this year.  From mid-March to the end of June, there was no plot monitoring and people were given a pass on the planting deadlines.  After that, monitoring focused on issues that could affect other gardeners, such as weeds, especially flowering and invasive weeds, and fruit on the ground that could attract rats.  Rats have been a problem this year, and the city has been slow to respond, so Bill recommended self-help, such as dry ice.

Volunteer coordinator: Arisa Koyama reported that the usual monthly workdays had been cancelled this year, due to the pandemic, but lots of gardeners have stepped up to do smaller tasks.  She used Google sheets to record hours worked.  We were able to organize one food donation this year, and hope to increase that next year.

Special projects:  Jon Mormino reported on the status of the pipe replacement project. There were a lot of hurdles which were successfully cleared.  But the final one was a “right of entry” permit we sought from DC General Services.  Unfortunately, DC General Services is refusing to issue the permit until the new city-wide community garden agreement is finalized.  That document is in the hands of DPR.  Josh Singer is working to push it forward and hopes it will be completed soon.

Miscellaneous:  Susan Akman mentioned the delays we had with the recent bulk pick-up. Previously, she had a direct line to DPW, and the materials were collected right after we put them out, but now she needs to go through Josh Singer, which adds weeks to the process.  She is trying to figure out a work-around.  Care of Trees has continued to deliver wood chips to both drop-off locations.  The quality of the chips depends on what they have been cutting down in the neighborhood.

Hillary and Jennifer helped with the children’s garden, and invited children from the playground.  Children came in at 15-minute intervals to harvest. 

Peggy Lewis, who manages the beautification areas was not present, but Maureen thanked her and her helpers for all their efforts and great results.

Tom Lore reported that the new compost system seemed to be working well, and thanked all the volunteers who helped.  He has filled 4 sections, and hopes to harvest in March.  People should not put long stalks, e.g., sunflower stalks) in the compost because it makes it hard to turn.  Cut in one-foot lengths or dispose of them elsewhere.  There was discussion about whether to put tomato plants in the compost because of the possibility of disease contamination.  Tom thought that the new system would probably get hot enough to take care of that, but he couldn’t guarantee it.  He encouraged gardeners to drop weeds on top and at the back.

Paul Basola reported on the separate kitchen waste compost system.  Many more people are using it this year, thanks to the efforts of Elana Goldstein, and the quality seems better.  He   reminded gardeners that there would be training after the meeting ended.

Elana and Ryan have been taking care of the trees as needed. Rachel Ussery will be heading up an education effort and Jennifer Baxter heads up social activities.

The bees are doing okay – we have two active hives now.

Elections:  Maureen explained that the positions to be voted on were three board positions, currently held by Lynn Rothberg, Jane Brookstein, and Arisa Koyama (latter as a temporary fill-in), and the presidency.  In turn, each current board member was nominated, the nomination was seconded, and a vote was taken via a Zoom survey, and each was unanimously reelected.  

Maureen asked if anyone else was interested in running for president, and no one stepped up.  After someone explained that citywide rules superseded any term limits, Maureen was nominated for another term, the nomination was seconded, a vote was taken.  The result was 97% in favor, with 3% abstaining, so Maureen was reelected.

Winterizing: Someone asked about winterizing.  Bill Bonner said that the deadline was November 30 (reminders will be sent out).  By that deadline, you should have cleaned out your beds and removed, or laid inconspicuously, your poles, cages, etc.  You are allowed hoops and covering for over-wintering plants, maximum of three feet.  Usually hoses are collected after the October meeting, but this year they can stay out longer due to the warmer weather.  If you collect a hose to go in the shed (because you and your neighbors have finished gardening for the season), be sure to label which faucet it came from.

You can get bales of straw from American Plant Food for $13.

There being no further business, Maureen adjourned the meeting at 11:00.

Respectfully submitted,

Cathy Winer



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