Constitution

Varsity Community Garden

Constitution

Article 1:   Names

  • The name of the community garden shall be Varsity Community Garden, hereinafter referred to as
  • The name of the garden organization shall be Varsity Community Garden Club, hereinafter referred to as

Article 2:   Vision

The Varsity Community Garden (VCG) will be a welcoming environment where gardeners of all ages, cultural backgrounds, abilities, experience, and knowledge of gardening are welcome to fulfill their desire to grow fresh organic food, and to share their pride in self-sufficiency, with respect and appreciation of Nature’s beauty.

 

  • The VCG will be a volunteer-managed garden that promotes sustainable gardening practices, innovative garden-based learning, and environmental conservation.
  • The VCG will be a place for interaction, inspiration, and learning, and the centerpiece of Varsity’s gardening-based community programs. Although intended for Varsity community residents, students and other visitors to the VCG will also benefit from its learning opportunities. The VCG will host a variety of occasional garden-related events, including workshops, open houses, and socials.
  • The VCG will be supported by the Varsity Community Association (VCA) in partnership with a number of local schools, churches, civic organizations, businesses, and other environmentally-oriented organizations.  VCA will support the administrative, educational, and community aspects of the VCG.

Article 3:  Values

Members of the VCGC value:

  • Diversity and Inclusiveness: Community gardening should be accessible to everyone in the community
  • Health and Wellness: Community gardening should promote wellness and protect the health of families who use the garden and consume its products.
  • Environmental Conservation and Biodiversity: Community gardening should promote environmental conservation and biodiversity.
  • Learning: Community gardening should encourage gardening-based learning for people of all ages.
  • Quality of Life: Community gardening should enhance the quality of life of residents, community garden members, and visitors to the community garden.

Article 4:  Goals

  • For VCGC members to grow plants such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers for their personal use or to donate to charity;
  • For people to learn about gardening and experience the relationship between land, food and community; permaculture, composting, appropriate technology, organic gardening, garden art, alternative building technologies, and water wise gardening
  • For school children and teachers to sharpen their gardening skills that can be applied to schoolyard gardens, as well as learn how to incorporate horticultural and environmental education into the classroom;
  • For people to enjoy social events such as work bees, BBQs, potlucks, open houses, family picnics, and garden exhibits.
  • For people to enjoy a tranquil and aesthetic experience.

Article 5:   Membership

Who are eligible to be VCGC members?

  • Residents of the Varsity community and/or Varsity Community Association members.
  • VCGC members-in-good-standing from the previous year. The Executive will establish the criteria and determine the member’s standing.
  • Non-compliance with policies may result in having the membership suspended and/or have their assigned plot be given to the person at the top of the waiting list.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age. Younger gardeners may be considered under the leadership of a community group’s or a relative’s membership.
  • Membership is required whether or not the member rents a plot. Fees are waived for Garden Angels (see Article 14) and Friends of the Garden (FOG) who do not rent plots.
  • Garden Angels are people who regularly volunteer or donate their time, money, or other gifts to the VCGC. They are considered honorary VCGC members and are not expected to pay plot rental fees if they do not use any garden plots. They are entitled to vote during the AGM and be elected to an Executive position.
  • Friends of the Garden are people who are interested in VCGC and wish to be kept informed of the club’s activities. They will receive the VCGC email (excluding the membership list) and are not entitled to vote.

How will plots be assigned?

  • Plots will be assigned to a household on a first-come-first-served basis with priority given to Varsity residents. Members renewing their plots may exchange their raised plot for an in-ground plot provided that they register and pay for that plot or make alternate arrangements by the AGM.
  • The cost per plot, based on the number of square feet, will be determined by the Executive Committee.
  • Willingness to comply with the policies specified in the Membership Agreement must be indicated by signing the Agreement and paying the plot rental fee. To hold a plot, fees must be paid by the AGM or alternate arrangements agreed upon by the Executive.


Membership Agreement

VCGC members are expected to sign a Membership Agreement every year in which the following expectations will be explicitly stated. Compliance with the mandatory expectations will be enforced. Serious cases of non-compliance may result in loss of membership and plot privileges.

The annual membership period shall be from April 1st to March 31st of the following year.

Mandatory

  1. Use organic gardening principles and techniques. (To minimize disputes, Club members need to agree on an operational definition of what they considered organic. All members will be provided information about what are best gardening practices, recommended products to use, and other helpful guidelines.)
  2. Make the garden physically accessible, open and welcoming.
  3. Will not plant “Mint” in rented plots but may plant in containers outside of their rented plots.
  4. Will not plant any illegal plants in rented plots.
  5. Use water wisely.
  6. Compost organic waste from the garden.
  7. Maintain individual and communal plots (e.g., weeding, cleaning), sitting/eating area, and other common spaces
  8. Share in the maintenance of tool shed and tools.
  9. Promote safety (e.g., keep pathways clear).
  10. Protect the security of the garden (e.g., report vandalism).
  11. Recycle, reduce, and re-use materials and tools.
  12. Respect other gardeners’ plots and practice common courtesy (e.g., no littering; no structures, tall trellises that shade their neighbors’ garden). Do not harvest plants, flowers, fruit or vegetables from other gardeners’ plots unless given permission by their plot renters.
  13. VCGC members and their guests will use the garden at their own risk and will hold the VCGC and the VCA harmless in the event of accidents.
  14. Planting and clean-up must be completed by the dates indicated in the current membership agreement.

Voluntary

  1. Join a Varsity Community Garden team.
  2. Assist other gardeners (e.g., mentoring).
  3. Donate used tools, seeds, plants, artwork, the use of personal vehicles, and other gifts to the Club.
  4. Donate food to charity.
  5. Run errands (e.g., get compost, new soil, purchase tools).
  6. Add art, ornamentals, decorations, and paintings to enhance garden.
  7. Give talks during organized social events (e.g., harvest dinner, canning workshop)
  8. Fundraising (e.g., finding donations, free compost, seeds, supplies, recycling, bottle drive)
  9. Serve on the Executive Committee in a specific position (President, etc.) or as a “Director-at-Large”.

Article 6:   Varsity Community Association (VCA)

VCGC acknowledges and will abide by the Varsity Community Association policies. VCGC also acknowledges the role of the City of Calgary, specifically, the Parks Department, that owns the land on which the community garden is located.

Article 7:   Executive Officers and Their Duties

Executive officers of the Varsity Community Garden Club include several active garden members, who are elected to the Executive Committee during the club’s Annual General Meeting at the start of the season (spring AGM and no later than March 31st). All executive officers are required to attend at least six meetings per year. All terms are one year, renewable.

The Executive Committee is expected to meet regularly. The Executive Committee members will designate who among them will assume the following positions.

1. PRESIDENT

General Function Specific Tasks
Chief executive officer Define and assign roles, delegate tasks, and coordinate the work of other garden officers.
Club spokesperson Represent the club (e.g., liaise with VCA and Community Garden Resource Network).
Financial management Implement approved budget, authorize purchases; has bank co-signing authority with Secretary-Treasurer.
Interpreter of club guidelines Clarify and enforce guidelines; disciplinary action.
Convener of meetings Prepare agenda, call, and chair AGM and Executive meetings.
Conflict manager Manage disputes among members.
Reports Coordinate report writing.

2. VICE-PRESIDENT

General Function Specific Tasks
Take over the President’s role as necessary Assume the responsibilities of the President as required.
Records management Assist Secretary-Treasurer in maintaining centralized records of the VCGC.
Reports Assist President in report preparation.
Grants Help prepare budget proposals and all financial reports.

 3. SECRETARY

General Function Specific Tasks
Meeting organizer Maintain minutes of all meetings.
Records management Responsible for organizing club’s official files, archives, and coordinate with VCA in managing financial records.
Reports Assist President and Vice-President in the preparation and presentation of reports.

4. TREASURER

General Function Specific Tasks
Chief financial officer Prepare and monitor budget; disburse monies; has co-signing authority with President.
Reports Submit financial reports at Executive meetings.
Grants money administrator Assist in preparing budget proposals and financial reports.

5. COMMUNICATIONS/SOCIAL DIRECTOR

General Function Specific Tasks
Communication strategy Develop and implement Club’s communication strategy. (See Article 12).
Website manager Coordinate design and updating of Club’s website.
Public relations Organize PR projects, such as writing of monthly Varsity Voice article; liaise with Community Garden Resource Network (CGRN); keep VCG profile on CGRN website up to date.
Facilitator Facilitate internal and external communication.
Program development Plan the year’s garden-based social events. (See Article 16.)
Plan, implement & coordinate events Organize workshops, garden visits by guests, work bees, parties, Executive retreats/strategic planning meetings, etc.
Facilitate learning Assist members in finding web-based and face-to-face learning resources or workshop opportunities.
External learning opportunities Bring external learning opportunities to members’ attention.
Report Prepare and present reports re special and learning events.

6. GARDEN ANGELS COORDINATOR

General Function Specific Tasks
Leader Recruit and lead the team of Garden Angels. (See Article 14.)
Plan, implement & coordinate volunteer participation Work with other Executives in matching their needs with the interests and skills of the Garden Angels.
Facilitate learning Orient, coach, and motivate new Garden Angels.
Track Club volunteer hours Record the volunteer hours and types of assignments taken on by Garden Angels.
Report Prepare and present reports re Garden Angels accomplishments.

7. PLOT ADMINISTRATOR

General Function Specific Tasks
Membership and Plot Administer Administer membership and plot applications and assignment policies and procedures.
Records Maintain Membership Lists

8. DIRECTOR-AT-LARGE (2-5)

General Function Specific Tasks
Governance Participate in the governance of the club in a variety of ways.

 

 

Article 8:   Executives’ Terms of Office

  • The term of office for all Executive positions shall be from April 1st to March 31st of the following year. This is also the 12-month membership period for all VCGC members.

Article 9:   Executive Elections

  1. The election of a new club Executive must take place at the AGM to be schedule no later than March 31st of each year to ensure a smooth transition from outgoing Executive to the incoming Executive.
  2. In case an Executive officer resigns before his or her term expires on March 31st, the other Executives will determine how and when the vacancy will be filled. An announcement of the decision will be made to all VCGC members.

Article 10: Transition of the Executive

  1. During the period from the date of the AGM until the first day of April, when the new Executive will assume office, it is the responsibility of the departing Executive to orient the newly elected executive officers to their jobs. This includes teaching the incoming executive about VCGC and VCA policies and procedures, transitioning custodianship of club records and materials (including office and mailbox keys and locker combinations, if any, and all passwords to all club email accounts), and preparing the new Executive to be effective in their roles for the next year’s work.
  2. It is the responsibility of the departing President to ensure that all club requirements, including submission of any annual reports and the removal and transfer of all club records and materials from the club office and locker, have been fulfilled before the incoming Executive assumes office.
  3. It is the responsibility of the departing President and Secretary-Treasurer to bring all accounts up to date to the end of the fiscal year, and to prepare any required financial statements of the club. In addition, the outgoing President and Treasurer must arrange with the respective incoming Executive for the transition of the club financial accounts into the incoming President’s and Secretary-Treasurer’s names. These tasks are to be completed and their outputs delivered to the new Executive no later than the last day of April.
  4. It is the responsibility of the incoming Executive to assume custody of all club records and materials and accountability for all financial activities of the club commencing with the first day of April.

Article 11: Meetings

  1. Spring Annual General Meeting (should be held no later than Mar. 31st)
  • Election of new Executive officers
  • Approval of annual plan (and budget planning, if possible)
  • Fund-raising strategy planning
  1. Executive Committee Meetings
  • Monthly or less frequently. Open to all Club members (as observers).

Article 12: Communication

  • Premise: Effective communication is an essential ingredient for a successful garden and its long-term viability. It will help increase participation and enjoyment. It is also important in building political and community support.
  • Who: At least one person should be assigned the role of Communication Director. There could be a small group that develops the communication guidelines.
  • With whom: Communication will be with the following stakeholders: garden members, garden committees/executives, Varsity Community Association, Community Garden Resource Network, Varsity residents, and the larger community.
  • How: website, Varsity Voice, pamphlets, newspaper, information board (on the enclosed garden bulletin board for protection from the weather and to restrict its use to club members), public communication board, telephone, regular meetings, e-mail.
  • What: (For VCGC Members) – garden guidelines, tasks to be performed, contact list. (For others) – garden updates and developments, announcements of social events, such as open garden days, learning events, workdays, and harvest celebration.

 

Article 13: Signage

  • Garden signage includes a garden logo, a main entrance sign, plot and plant identification, garden guidelines, toolshed guidelines, and a bulletin or information board (with area or box for suggestions).
    Plans and signage-related projects will be the responsibility of the Signage Committee.

Article 14: Garden Angels

  • Garden Angels are people who regularly volunteer or donate their time, money, or other gifts to the VCGC. They may be community residents, businesses, youth volunteers, retirees, or philanthropists who are appointed by the Garden Angels Coordinator or officially voted as Garden Angels by the Executive Officers. They are considered honorary VCGC members and are not expected to pay plot rental fees if they do not use any garden plots. They are entitled to vote during the AGM and be elected to an Executive position.
  • They could assist teams when required; mentor and conduct workshops; help with donations and fund-raising; look after ornamental plants; help maintain tools and shed; write stories, take photos, create photo albums; help look after or maintain plots when owner is away; put away tools left outside by forgetful members; and be Garden Ambassadors to schools, neighbours, etc.
  • All VCGC members are encouraged to take turns helping out, especially with ongoing tasks like tool maintenance or clean ups. They are also encouraged to share stories, photos taken of the garden, as well as personal garden wisdom and experience.

Article 15. Garden Design and Construction

  • The layout of the entire garden will be coordinated with other Varsity Park representatives, such as those for the Pleasure Skating Rink and Hockey Rink users to ensure that each area’s designs are compatible and that they optimize the use of scarce and shared space.
  • VCG planning and construction will be done in phases beginning with Phase 1, the construction of raised beds on the asphalted pad, and then an extension of the garden onto the bare ground after the Pleasure Skating Rink has been reconfigured.
  • Planning the layout and implementing the construction projects will be the responsibility of the Design and Construction Committee.

Article 16: Socials

  • The Social Team is responsible for planning and carrying out all social events held by the Varsity Community Garden Club.

Article 17: Money (Budget)

  1. VCGC Executives will authorize a garden start-up budget (for the first year) and, subsequently, an annual operating budget.
  2. Revenues will be from annual VCGC memberships (or plot rental fees), grants and donations.
  3. The Executive will set the rental policies governing plot fees, deadlines, and rental procedure that will be implemented by the designated Executive Officer.
  4. VCGC will apply for grants for special projects. The conditions of most grants usually stipulate that grant money may only be spent on materials and supplies, not labour.  VCGC members and volunteers are expected to provide the labour and project management.
  5. VCA will collect the fees on behalf of the Club.  VCA will disburse the funds on approval of the President and/or Treasurer, and supply the Treasurer financial statements when requested.  Any surplus/deficit created by the VCGC will be rolled over to the next year.  No separate bank account for the VCGC will be allowed.
  6. VCGC will make use of locally sourced, recycled, and donated materials whenever possible.

 

Article 18: Varsity Community Association

  • Users of VCG facilities are covered under the VCA liability policy unless otherwise stated.

Article 19: Amendments

  • This Constitution shall comprise the policies and operating procedure of the VCGC. All amendments to this document must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the club membership.  A copy of the amended constitution must be submitted to the VCGC within two weeks of ratification.