March 2008 Meeting Minutes

Hollenback Community Garden


March 22nd, 2008


Meeting Notes


Welcome all and sundry to another exciting season at the eastern seaboard’s PREMIER community garden. 🙂







– The meeting got started with every gardener introducing themselves by name, their favorite flower and a demonstration of how they like to boogie. Words can not do justice to all the moves that were busted out. Let us just say that, in the spirit of the loyal residents of our compost, someone dropped The Worm in the middle of the circle.

– Off season gardener announcements included Kirk and Cara’s engagement, Allen’s departure for the West Coast, and Annabelle’s sabbatical for physical therapy to recover from her surgery.




– The Brooklyn Queens Land Trust held an event celebrating the founding members of its 34 gardens called Founders Day. Hollenback honored Gerturude Jefferson and Annabelle Walker. Cara went and said it was great!

– The BQLT Annual Membership Meeting just happened. Cara, Mark, Emerson and Charlie were in attendance. The BQLT membership elected new board members.


Education Committee Update


– Dave & Stephanie are coordinating this project. They are continuing to develop the relationship with P.S. 11 that was rekindled with last season’s “Tour of the Senses”.

– The Education Committee has been meeting together, and meeting with the teachers at PS.11. The thinking is that the garden’s involvement with the school will be two-fold. First, we’ll use the garden with the teachers as a classroom to support PS11. The Ed. Committee and the teachers at PS 11 have been going through the state science standards and seeing where the garden could fit in with making the lessons more organic with students. Just last week, Robyn the science teacher, brought a class into the garden. The garden also plans on supporting the school in their efforts to build/rebuild their own raised beds on the school grounds. That will occur as a joint workday between parents, students, teachers and any and all interested gardeners. It was approved that we would spend $40 of garden funds to get their soil tested for them.

– This move within Hollenback to roaden our role as bastions of gardening knowledge (as well as green space) cooincides with a similar push within all of the BQLT. Dave and Stephanie have attended BQLT sponsored Gardener/Educator meetings. This committee is moving out of its planning stages and into its implementation phase. If you were less interested in planning, and more interested in being a part of exploring the garden’s responsibility to our neighborhood gardeners of tomorrow, talk to Stephanie and/or Dave about how to get involved. A tentative date for the school raised bed building workday is May 17th.


Soil Testing


– The BQLT has instituted a land trust wide investigation of the soil in the 34 BQLT gardens, with a particular focus on lead content. This came out of a BQLT wide push to bring the community into each representative garden, and for the rising interest in donations of locally grown food.  Because of the urban, former abandoned lot reality of most garden sites it was decided to gather information to ensure safety. After one round of testing, the good news is that Hollenback passed. Charlie is very involved in the BQLT Operations Committee that is overseeing the soil testing. He explained first off, that lead is naturally occuring and all soil has some. He said that there are two numbers that are important to consider in terms of safety issues. The threshold for children is 400 ppm(parts per million). The threshold for adults is 1200 ppm. In soil samples taken from “native” soil (that is not from a raised bed), we rated at about a 369 parts per million for lead. Across the 34 BQLT gardens there were. predictably, very different results. Some were higher than ours (one was over 3000 ppm) and some that were lower. The BQLT Operations Committee is currently holding a second round of soil testing. This is an issue that we will continue to discuss as that committee gathers more information. Charlie has a lot of info/knowledge about this stuff. Bend his ear for a tick if you want to know more.






Bylaws and Membership Commitment



– At our last meeting of last season, we passed our new By Laws and Membership Commitment. There were five issues that came up for further clarification. Those were: What constitutes a quorum?, How much should garden dues be?, What should Open Hours be?, Emergency Sabbaticals, and Sharing Plots with Existing Members. It was proposed, seconded and passed to allow the membership committee to meet before next meeting to develop a proposal to deal with outstanding membership issues.. Maggie agreed to organize the meeting with Michael, Mike, Gabe, Emerson Charlie, Cara and Mark expressing an interest in working on the proposal. We’ll discuss and vote on their proposal in April.


Gertrude Jefferson Memorial Herb Garden



– It was proposed and passed that the garden create a memorial herb garden in the vecinity of Gertrude’s plot. The idea is that we memorialize Gertrude’s contribution to the community, as a founding member of the garden from its conception. Mark and Cara have been speaking with Anna Jefferson and she is very interested in the memorial. The garden is looking at different inclusive possibilities, including having some sort of memorial plaque that would honor all of the community gardeners who have passed away recently and for the future. The herb garden will be on the south side of the central path, in the front of the garden, just past the brick path that leads to the composting toilet. A committee will be formed to come up with the specifics for the herb garden.


Our Compost Consolidation Showcase



– Last year there was an issue with one of our neighbors and the occasional smell produced by our compost system. At that time, we arrived at the temporary solution of moving the “working” (read, “smellier”) piles into the chain-link cyclones behind the apple tree.

– At our March 2008 meeting, there was an in-depth and creative solution proposed to our composting scenario. The solution involves a more permanent solution/location. We voted to move the compost bins and cyclones to a newly designed compost area that would be situated between the water tank and the toilet. This would consolidate the compost operation. It would also create an open space behind the apple tree and open up the entire back of the garden as a community space. To make space for this, my (Mike) plots would be eliminated, as would Gertrude’s existing plots. Annabelle’s 2 double-high raised beds would be moved along the path (for me and Michael). The major contingency is the participation/assent of our neighbor, Don. Charlie will be talking to Don about the plan’s greatness. The garden felt strongly that if Don agrees, we will move ahead with the passed proposal. If Don has serious reservations, we will revisit the topic at our next meeting. (The real-time update is that soon after the meeting, Charlie did talk to Don and Don agreed. Joy!)











– Not only does this day mark the end of International Compost Awareness Week, but it also marks the mid-way point in a UN (yes, THAT UN) conference on food, agriculture, and sustainability. We’ll be visited by a UN delegation sometime in the morning/early afternoon. We’re one of 4 Brooklyn gardens/urban farms that will be a part of their tour.

– Later on this same day, we will be unveiling the Composting Toilet and having some sort of BBQ 2008 season kickoff celebration!

T-shirt Committee

– There was a call for volunteers to help Sarah and John Spinks. Deema and John Ryan answered the call.


Rain Water Harvester Decorating Contest & Committee


– The Water Resource Group, the organization that brought us our rain water harvester, has decided to sponsor a contest of all of the green spaces that have helped build rain harvesters. We voted to take part in the contest. We will be making an effort to conceal, or at least colorfully celebrate in some non-white plastic way, our rainwater harvester. Join the fun! A committee was formed to spearhead this project. The current volunteers are Ingrid, Marisa, Cara, Mark and Vlada (who volunteered to helm this garden beautifuication project). Join the fun! If you are interested in helping out on this project, contact Vlada.







Positions Filled:

– Open Hours Coordinator (Ingrid)

– Workday Coordinators (Mike, Kate, Kriko)

– New Member Coordinator (Emerson)

– Charlie’s Angels (You know you want to join the fellowship) – Maggie, Gabe, Dara, Jacoby, Kriko, anyone else want to learn from the master?

– Welcome Gardens Water Master: Deema

– Food Security Coordinator (Deema is thinking about it)



Positions We Need to Fill: (especially if you were not at the March Meeting, please take a look at these open poisitions and let Mark or Cara know if you are interested)

– BQLT Operations Committee Representative (2): nobody yet… this could be you

– BQLT Communications Committee Representative (2): Sarah volunteered, so we only need one more person

– Water Barrel Key Masters (4): Gabe and Carmen volunteered, so we only need two more people

– Trash Master (1): We are looking for a volunteer to take out the papers and the trash (to clarify this is a volunteer position and includes no “spending cash”)

– Tree Pruner (2): Gabe volunteered, so we only need one more person

– Phone Tree Calling Buddies: (Gardeners who have access to e-mail to serve as a phone tree buddy to a gardener who does not): Dara, Kirk and Andy volunteered, so we only need three more people



OUR NEXT MEETING IS THURSDAY APRIL 17th at 7p.m. (459 Vanderbilt Avenue)


Dutifully submitted by Secretary Mike (with a few additions & elaborations by Mark)



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