JUNE 19, 2021 HB Membership Meeting NOTES

Garden Contact for inquiries: hollenbackcommunitygarden@gmail.com

Listserv for educational opportunities, updates, etc.: hollenback_garden@lists.riseup.net

Hollenback Community Garden – Meeting Agenda June 19th, 2021 at 11am


NOTES: 35 people attend, icebreaker what’s your favorite fruit?

  • Gratitude to Y, Mark, Shana, Josh, and Sandra for being available for the GreenThumb lumber and soil delivery on May 23rd!
  • Gratitude to Winnie for cleaning out the toilet!!

Questions and Open Dialogue (Claire and Deema):

  • Chickens:
    • Due to some challenges with timing and community relations, we will not be able to proceed with the chicken coop in the garden. We understand that this is disappointing on a number of levels.  Nonetheless, it is necessary to proceed in this way at this time.
    • NOTES: Claire and Deema discuss that they went to BQLT for mediation but they could not get back to us in a constructive manner. Apprentice asks: Curious are we asking for forgiveness and not permission. Deema said they were confronted with a conflict and didn’t feel like it was a smart idea to proceed. We didn’t get the help we needed from BQLT, we didn’t want to bulldoze ahead and proceed given the heat.
  • Bees:
    • We will still be moving ahead with having a hive at the garden, however it is too late in the season to split a hive and set up one at Hollenback. Rest assured that bees will happen next spring!
    • NOTES:  Claire: we will have a hive. We voted on it last meeting, will rewalk the space for the optimal positioning. Will split a hive of bees and put half the bees here, next year in the spring.  Robert Moskel asks Do neighbors know about the bees? Joyce questions not telling neighbors, asks how other gardens with hives deal with the community. Mark says Telling them isn’t the same thing as asking permission. Shana says we need to tell the school. Claire says we’ll put it where they can fly straight up. Winnie aks what are we doing with the lumber. Ernesto says We have other priorities but we’ll get to it. Rose says where the coop was, was the original bee location.
  • Rats:
    • See email from June 13th: New guidelines for garden cleanliness
    • Rats a city-wide problem and not specific to Hollenback
    • BQLT will send an exterminator in the coming days (Thanks to Eric for spearheading!)
    • NOTES: Claire said everyone needs to pick up their BBQ food scraps from the ground. Take the trash can to the front only, no cans in the back. Look into a more secure trash container purchase. Remind people that rats are bad since Covid bc of closed restaurants, construction next door, school food trash, and rats moved from restaurants to our compost. It’s only been a problem in the last year, it’s not that we are bad stewards of the space. BQLT will send an exterminator this week. Eric asks about problems w chemical baits. Shana says watch for cats eating dead rats. Ernesto wants to find out metrics exterminator works under. Apprentice says at the other garden she was at Clifton Garden by Meckelburgs, they put down poison then they had dead rats, also new live rats, plus poison. Shana says rats will eat veggies, roots and even moss if no scraps. She found burrows and says stuff them w old cat litter. Claire says we’ll scout for them today, empty compost bins and look for burrows by school and by Don’s fence, line compost bin with chicken wire, look for holes and clean behind it. Rose says Ick factor, dead rats worse than live. Apprentice asks will it get rat junk in our crops. Christina said read on BBG they can spread diseases. Joyce says they DO spread diseases.
  • Misc:

Membership Committee (Rose and Emily): 

  • Garden Open Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-4pm
  • Bylaws signing
  • Garden Guidelines
  • New members & Apprentices to gather after meeting
    NOTES: After meeting, apprentices meet up on bluestone patio where Emily will run an apprentice orientation. Rose says that the New Member cutoff date is actually May 31, not June 15. Reminder that Open Hours folks must keep the gate open for everyone to enjoy. Reminder to people to reach out to Rose if they are having problems meeting requirements; they will help you make up credits. Update: don’t cover the woodpile in the back with the tarp anymore. Firewood for fires to be stored under the wooden table at the bluestone patio to keep dry.

Operations Committee Update (Ernesto and Y): 

  • Workday plans
  • Compost: read the rules, cover your food!
  • NOTES: Claire asks, should we stop composting? Rose says there are rat feces in the compost if we don’t discard the existing compost. Joyce has plot next to compost, suggests we get rid of all of it, don’t use the compost for 30 days, have to make it hard for rats. Start fresh, reset the compost and do education. Mark agrees w that, says first priority is the health of the garden, compost is not improved with drop-offs, let’s just use only clean browns/greens of garden waste, and deal with core issues first. Shana says rats poop everywhere, not just in compost. If we get rid of the compost, they’ll eat our plots. We’ll still have rats until we tackle where the rats are coming from. Compost stop is a band-aid on the problem. Find out when the school is finished with construction. Rose: if we decide to pause the compost it’s a good time to do it bc everyone’s planted already. Suggests creating a hinged compost cover with screening, because hopefully we can kill them but the are not going away forever. Sarah says we should keep the compost and use it as a source to trap them, that way we will know whether it’s the source. Throw away contaminated batch, use a different technique like Bokashi. Eric: I think the compost is attracting them bc it’s warm. I’m on the side of resetting, bc I’m not comfortable touching the compost. Christina says we should pause and restart with a thoughtful approach. Educate people, and don’t shame people for eating in the garden. Shana says let’s also get rid of the pile of rotten wood next to the browns and greens, that it’s a ‘rat condo.’ She seconds Sarah’s suggestion of Bokashi compost with a long explanation of the Japanese composting method that you do at home with fermented sweet barley settled in home bins for one month so there’s no bugs or mice. Eric says the food from the school cafeteria is another source bc rats don’t choose to eat vegetables unless there’s nothing rotten to eat. We must turn compost more often and seal the bins, I am happy to do that. Robert asks if pest control guy will answer questions, says we need a ‘rat expert.’ Barak says let’s use the workday to take compost bins apart and rebuild them. Says it’s important to have compost as part of organic gardening. We could buy or craft a big tumbler instead. He says being able to get together and do grilling is an integral part of social garden life, but we need the infrastructure to support it. A thorough cleanup today will go a long way. Helen says we need solid construction, at her last garden they had big plastic bins with lids and no rat problem. Andrea says a rat’s nest was found at her last garden, they lined the bins w fine wire and make a lid, an no rats came again. Sarah said there should be a laminated checklist, which Claire and Deema already made as part of this agenda. Bob said let’s just dump the food scraps bin out. An apprentice said we need to have mesh so it can breathe, and tether the lid closed with bricks. Claire said rats can chew through plastic, reminds people they love meat especially. If we take the rats out, new rats will come in. Deema said let’s vote to remove the compost, line the bins, pause collection of scraps for 30 days. Throw away scraps, make a lid, get exterminator in here. Eric says what about the two bins of ‘dirt’ (breaking down compost, actually)? Can we keep them. Barak said let’s check the greens and browns and throw it away if it’s bad. Let’s leave the empty bins exposed and dismantled for the exterminator to bait, maybe it will give us time to think up a new system. Ernesto said last time they turned the compost there were no rats in there. Joyce gets mad and leaves, (Ernesto follows to talk to her, says he told her that he was not against her suggestion, just that he wanted facts and solutions, not just another person to say ‘I saw rats,’ bc we all saw rats.) Shana said we should do all our votes online. Rose said to dismantle the compost bins is a bad idea, her proposal is to ditch the food scraps and line the bins w chicken wire, then get into long-term plans later. Mark said he’d prefer not to have the commitment to restart, but few support that. Winnie suggests we vote instead to ditch all the compost scraps and pause drop-offs for 30 days, but not dismantle or rebuild compost until exterminator examines it and advises. Rose calls that proposal up for a vote, the vote is 27 in favor. Claire said today we will clean it out and throw it all away, look for burrows, turn the other piles and look for infestations, and move all the donated dirt into the way back.
    Claire suggests also discussing no longer allowing people to have food in the garden. It’s important to keep up with the trash, especially meat. Let’s get new bins. Winnie suggests we table this lengthy discussion for next meeting, people agree and we move on.

Treasurer (Mark):

  • Contact Mark at hcgbk.treasurer@gmail.com if you have any dues or PayPal issues or questions. 
  • Email garden related purchase requests directly to Deema and Claire for approval (send to Hollenback email above) prior to making any purchases. Once approved and purchased, send reimbursement materials to Mark at hcgbk.treasurer@gmail.com. Reimbursements are paid out via PayPal.
    NOTES: It’s our responsibility to follow the garden benchmarks we’re supposed to meet, as custodians of the space. Let’s not take advantage of infinite good will of our neighbors. Don’t be here after the 9 pm curfew. Abiding by the bylaws are the responsibility if all members of the garden. He reminds people that dues were due a couple of days ago, send them $10-50 sliding scale at PayPal at @HCGBK. NO MORE GMAIL. Check the Master Document rose will resend this week and see if you paid. If you truly can’t afford it, email Mark privately. 80% members paid.

Events Committee Update (Andrea and Maria):

  • Gauge interest and solicit volunteers for Next Plant Give-Away, potentially 6/27, 12pm-2pm
  • Solicit volunteers for giving Educational Talk before next workday (7/17)
    NOTES: June 27 from 12-2 is a plant giveaway, Amanda, Marc, Alicia new and Audrey volunteer. Please bring houseplants to share and put them on the propagation table next to Don’s fence. There will be a plant talk by Winnie on Edible/Non-Edible Weeds 11 a.m. at the July workday.

Garden Guidelines

Open Hours

We keep the garden open to the public from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturdays & Sundays throughout the growing season. 

Please sign up in advance for the Open Hours that you intend to staff and remember to sign in when you arrive in the Blue Membership Binder in the Compost Toilet so we can record your hard work. When staffing open hours, we ask that members welcome members of the community, tell them a little about the garden, and answer any questions they have, directing them to our website (hollenbackgarden.wordpress.com) or the Hollenback steering committee email (below) for more information.

Enjoying the Shared Space

  • The garden and our tools are shared resources! Remember to clean off and put away any tools after you’re done using them.
  • The garden is open to the community when a member is present—keep the gates OPEN when you come to water, tend your plot, or have a BBQ, and kindly welcome visitors if they wander in. 
  • The garden closes at 9pm. Please clean up and be out of the garden by 9 pm.
  • When using the fire pit, please make sure it’s out before you leave, clean out the ash into the ash can, and invert the pit so it doesn’t collect water.
  • If you’re going to grill or use the fire pit: there are no reservations, but please inform folks via the listserv if you are planning a group gathering and be inclusive—all are welcome. Additionally, please pack out your food trash to help avoid attracting rats. Be sure to pick up any food that may have dropped to the ground during your event. Be sure to scrub the grill to remove all meat residue.
  • If it’s a trash night, please bag and take out the trash to the curb!  Sun., Tue., and Thurs. evenings (+ Recycling on Thursdays).


Our compost doesn’t get as hot as commercial compost like NYC’s, so please DO NOT add:

  • Animal products (meat, fats, fish, bones)
  • Paper, wrappers
  • Oily or cooked foods, including bread
  • “Compostable” plastics or wrappers
  • Large pits (e.g. avocados, peaches, nectarines)
  • Pernicious weeds (we use the compost in our plots and these will regrow there: e.g. bindweed, Japanese knotweed, Virginia creeper)
  • Thorns (we turn it with our hands and these hurt)

Appropriate things to put in the compost include raw fruit, vegetable and plant scraps.

After adding your compostable material to the first bin on the left, please turn it and cover it with a handful of greens and a handful of browns from the bins behind you. We do not accept compost contributions from non-members.

Contact the Garden

Questions, concerns, proposals, ideas, just want to chat? Email the steering committee at: hollenbackcommunitygarden@gmail.com

Please only email the shared listserv with garden events (no non-garden business) and refrain from replying all, as it goes to a large audience.

Season schedule:

A.              Garden Meeting/Workday schedule:

1.     Sat. 6/19 at 11am. Meeting and Workday

2.     Wed. 7/14 at 6pm. Meeting

3.     Sat. 7/17 at 11am. Workday

4.     Sat. 8/21 at 11am. Meeting and Workday

5.     Wed. 9/15 at 6pm. Meeting

6.     Sat. 9/18 at 11am. Workday

7.     Sat. 10/16 at 11am. Meeting and Workday

8.      Sat. 11/20 at 11am. Closing Workday