April 2008 Meeting Minutes

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Meeting at 459 Vanderbilt Avenue


In Attendance:

Mark, Cara, Leslie, Marisa, Roma, Mei, Emerson, Vlada, Michael, Lon, Suzanne, Charlie, Frank, Pat, Kriko, Kate, Gabe, Andy, Christine, Dave, Ingrid, John Ryan, John Spinks, Stephanie





Money Spent so far this season:


– $40 to test for lead and heavy metals in the soil at PS11

– $35 for the Hollenback Compost lead test – we are considering selling our compost as a fundraising effort at the Fort Greene Park Farmers market, and so as a priliminary step, we tested the compost. We also started talking about how much to sell the compost out, with a basic figure of $5 for a gallon bag, and $15 for a 5 gallon bag. There was some discussion of the nuances of selling compost – for example, if we sell it for a one time fundraiser, do we still give it away for free when people come by the garden and ask for it? And if we do give it away for free is there a limit to that? In light of all of the decisions to be made at this meeting, it is proposed and seconded and voted to table this conversation.

– $50 for a consultation on the solar panel with a solar panel expert


Workday with PS 11


– There is a tentative save-the-date for May 17th


Compost Parade


– We are supporting our local Clinton Hill Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, by donating some tools, labor and compost for the planting beds that they have in front of the library. The date is Friday, April 25th at 10am. We were approached by a group called the Friends of the Clinton Hill library for this project. We are also planning on working with them later in the season for a reading series of nature themed books in the garden.


The New Composting System Location is a Go!


– Charlie spoke to Don, our neighbor, and he gave a supportive thumbs up – though if you’ve been to the garden, you probably already know this from the work done at the first work day.





May 10th the morning


There is a conference at the UN (yes, that UN) on Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Development happening the week before and and the week after after Saturday May 10th. On that Saturday, 60 delegates signed up for a tour of four community garden/urbans farms – fellow BQLT garden Hattie Carthan Community Garden, East New York Farms, Bed-Sty Farms and our very own Hollenback! We are the first garden on the tour, and we are expecting the delegates (and their translators) in the 10 to 11 o’clock range. They are interested in seeing our rainwater harvestor, our compost system, our composting toilet. And they are very interested in meeting our dedicated garden membership. If you can, please save the date and come to the garden to meet people with similar passions from all over the world!


May 10th the evening


Later that very same day (!), we are having our first community BBQ event to celebrate the unveiling (the awesome power of the now fully operational battle station known as) the composting toilet.

In terms of the toilet, we talked about getting a hand sanitizer pump, which Emerson said that he would look into. Mark is also planning on having some kind of a garden library in the toilet house. Kirk is working on getting a photo book together of the process.

In terms of the event, it was proposed that we open the floor for sugggestions about the shape of the event and then form a planning committee to make the final decisions. Some of the ideas suggested were: having just a regular BBQ, having some kind of ribbon cutting (maybe done by the Park Avenue Co. who donated their trucks to bring us the 700 pound tub), having a raffle to determine the first toilet user, making a mini educational presentation and then have a person standing by the toilet with talking points throughout the rest of the event, seeing if the block association wanted to be involved, using some of Kirk’s photos of the process on the invitations.

God bless Kriko and Vlada who stepped up to oversee the planning committee. They need help and are looking for recruits. If you can do anything to help out, no matter how small, let them know – krikomichaels@hotmail.com and vlada@vladatomova.com. It’s like that 700 pound tub under the toilet. For a few people, it is incredibly heavy. For a couple dozen of us, we can tip it over, carry it halfway across the garden and lower it into a six foot deep hole.


The Amendments to the Hollenback By Laws and Membership Commitment


– At our October meeting last fall, the garden voted overwhelmingly to support a new By Laws & Membership Commitment. There were a few issues that were brought up for fine tuning. Those were dues, quorum, emergency sabbaticals. This being our first season with our new by laws and commitment, there were a few more issues that have already come up this season: friends joining, wait list rank, keys and open hours.

– The Sunday before the meeting, all interested garden members met at Mike’s house to discuss these issues. In attendance were Maggie, Mike, Michael, Charlie, Kate, Cara, & Mark.

– At the April garden meeting we broke into groups and the the members of the Membership committee sat and answered questions. We came back together and discussed any concerns or additional fine tuning and then voted. The vote was 24 in favor of adopting the new amendments and no abstentions or votes against. We said that we would leave the vote open one week, until the following Thursday the 24th, for any members not present to vote.

– The Post-meeting Update: After the additional week for members not at the meeting to vote, the proposed amendments passed.  The final count was 35 votes in favor of adopting the amendments, 2 votes opposed, and 6 gardeners abstained from voting.


The meeting ran a little over and we ended with a vote to change our May meeting from Saturday May 24th to Thursday May 22nd. This was due to the fact that no one noticed that Saturday May 24th is Memorial Day Weekend. 


There are still some unfilled jobs that need dedicated volunteers just like you…

Water Barrel Key Masters – We have 3 and need one more.

Trash Master – We need one.

Tree Pruner – (this is a learning job, so don’t ask yourself if you know how, ask yourself if you want to know how) – We have one , we need one more

BQLT Communications Committee Rep – We have one and we need one more

Phone Tree Calling Buddies – We have three and we need three more (this job involves people with internet access being matched up with people who don’t and passing on information)


Please email Mark/Cara to let us know if you can help out with any of these jobs.



These minutes were respectfully submitted by Mark.



Come Celebrate With Us

Come celebrate with us!   Sat May 10th @ 3:00   After nearly 18 months of hard work put in by garden volunteers, the Hollenback Community Garden is proud to unveil its Clivus Multrum M54 Trailhead Composting Toilet.  We are so excited!   This toilet will replace the costly, smelly and chemical filled port-o-potty we used to rent for the summer months.  This composting toilet is chemical free, flushless and sustainable.   With only basic maintenance of occassionally adding woodshavings and a srinkling of water, this system will turn our human waste into harmless, nutrient rich compost that is safe to use on our trees and flowers.    Click here to learn more about how the toilet works: M54_PlanMan[1].pdf   Click here to learn the full toilet story.   PRESS RELEASE              FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: MIKE DIMPFL PHONE: 718 288 3509   HOLLENBACK COMMUNITY GARDEN HOSTS UNITED NATIONS VISITORS AND UNVEILS COMPOSTING TOILET   May 1, 2008 – On Saturday, May 10th, Hollenback Community Garden in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn will play host to a delegation from the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Adding to the excitement, the garden will unveil a new composting toilet, adding to the significant “green” activities already underway at the Clinton Hill oasis.    Standing on the sight of the old Hollenback Family Mansion, the Hollenback Community Garden has been a green oasis in the city for more than 25 years. Currently, 40 active garden members work the land, growing vegetables, recycling tons (literally) of community food and garden waste into compost, harvesting rain-water from the rooftop next door, working with P.S.11 students to teach them about growing food, and being an active part of the Clinton Hill and urban gardening communities.    Last year, the garden installed a composting toilet, the first of its kind in a community garden in Brooklyn. Won via eBay auction from the Battery Park Conservancy, it took an almost insurmountable effort by garden volunteers to then get it delivered, installed, and ready to turn the community’s collective poop into brown gold! This year, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD) is taking delegates around the state to visit urban gardens, farms, and other green spaces being used to sustain and build local community.    On Saturday, May 10th, to mark the occasion, and to share our experience as an urban garden with some of our international friends, Hollenback is hosting one part of a larger tour sponsored by WHY (World Hunger Year) for the attendees of the conference held by the UN CSD. 60 international visitors will be touring the garden from 10:30-11:30 a.m. to see our space and talk about our efforts to be not only a good neighbor, but to actively improve the community in which we live.     That same day at 3p.m., we will be hosting the Ceremonial First Flush of the composting toilet followed by a free community barbeque.    Please join us as we mark not only a notable visit from international guests seeking to engage communities in questions of green urbanism, environmental remediation, and ongoing sustainability, but also the equally momentous opening of the first composting toilet in a community garden in Brooklyn.   Contact Mike Dimpfl at 718 288 3509 for more details or with questions.    *          *          *


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)


October 2007 Meeting Minutes

**Hollenback Community Garden Notes for the Final Meeting of the 2007 Season October 18th, 2007** **In attendance**: Mark, Cara, John Ryan, Maggie, Mariana, Chad, Frank, Pat, Roma, Ally, Kirk, Suzanne, Stephanie, Charlie, Sarah, Pete, Kate, Andy & Mike —————————————————————————————- ”Gardeners! Welcome to Fall. My apologies for the long and unnecessary delay in getting out the notes to what was a very productive meeting for the HCG. They follow in as close a form to the original as I can recall/translate from my own poor hand-writing.” Here we go: **Memories. All alone in the moonlight…** – ”Gardeners love gardening. And other things. When asked what one of their favorite memory of the season was, this is what HCG members had to say:” – **John Ryan** liked building his plot on the first workday. **Maggie** loved her first tomatoes, ever. **Mariana** loved out on the first sugar snap peas. **Chad** liked it when people stop by to say hi, remembering a “bad” kid who’d come into the garden, loved it and had come back with his mother. **Frank** liked digging the hole for the composting toilet. Teamwork! **Ally** liked moving the steaming compost piles and then discovering that the smell really doesn’t really wash out (Perhaps “liked” is not the word, perhaps “learned”?). **Roma** had a blast at the Triple Threat BBQ. **Stephanie** was glad to introduce her nephew to the garden (Hi Joe!) though soon discovered it was no the punishment she had intended, **Suzanne** loves the stone sitting nook over by her plot, **Charlie** remembered that breathed sigh of satisfied relief when the 800 pound compost tub hit the gravel at the bottom of the pit, and everyone stepped back and it was fine. And no one got hurt. **Sarah P**. liked Kirk’s photographs documenting our summer together. **Peter** was excited by the evening of covert gardening that resulted in our new front welcome garden landscaping. **Kate** enjoyed the bike tour and feeding our visitors with bounty from our garden, including her first taste of our delicious figs. **Mike** enjoyed digging the pit and was saved from what began as a horrible day by the Triple Threat BBQ. **Mark** will always treasure a vision of Emerson in his biking track suit from the BQLT biketour and loves it when without fail the garden works together and challenges what he things is possible (like excavating giant holes) Whoo hoo! **Hollenback T-shirt Update** – There was then some talk about the t-shirt design. We figure it’ll cost about $1,000 to get t-shirts printed. It was decided that garden members will buy their own t-shirts at cost for whatever it is we decide to get. We’ll sell the remainder at a marginal profit to help the garden make some money. We will also, as voted at our previous meeting, to use the money raised in the Triple Threat to extend its fundraising power by supplementing the purchase of the t-shirts to sell. John Spinks and Sarah will continue their owrk on the design over the winter. Any one interested in being part of the design process should contact Sarah. **Thank Yous all around** – Our friends at Battery Park Conservancy and Parkside Building Supply LOVED our cookies and thank you note, so a special thanks to Sarah, Lorne and Ally for making them feel the love and our gratitude for their help with the toilet project. **Hollenback and the BQLT** – There was recently a Mid Year BQLT Membership Meeting, attended by Mark, Cara and Sarah. There is a bit of a vacuum of inspiration at the BQLT right now. Like our garden, the BQLT is a purely volunteer run organization, save for one paid Executve Director. The agency is going through a transition, seeking to make the gardens responsible for their own finances, etc. as independent 501(c)3 non-profits. However far away this is from becoming a reality, BQLT is made up of gardeners like us and there was a general acknowledgment that if we as gardeners want to do something about BQLT (which we do) it is incumbent upon us to do so. Currently, nominations to the board are a big issue. There was talk of sending a garden member to each BQLT committee meeting. The meeting times will be posted in the garden shed. **Already Thinking about Next Season!** – There was talk about having a compost/plant sale or a “replant your houseplant” type event where we could share or sell our compost with community members in the beginning of next season and do more outreach early in the season. **Our Money** – Our end of the season balance in our account is $2519.52 There was some discussion at the meeting as to what should we do with it? Think about it over the winter. **Membership Rules** – After much discussion, a very productive Membership Committee presented their ideas for instituting membership rules for the garden. The gardeners present at the meeting decided to approve the proposal (with a vote of 17 in favor and 2 opposed). The deadline for the final vote was extended until Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007 for members not in attendance at the meeting to have their voices heard. The final vote for the adoption of the new By Laws & Membership Commitment was overwhelmingly positive with 33 votes in favor of the proposal, 3 opposed and 4 abstentions. All current members are grandfathered in to the current rules and our new by laws and membership commitment will first go into effect at the start of the 2008 season. —————————————————————————————- There was concensus at our meeting to return to the following four points: 1) Quorum: what constitutes a quorum at garden meetings? 2) Open Hours: what will our open hours be, specifically? 3) How much money does it cost to be a member? (i.e. do we want to keep it at $10 or institute some kind of a sliding scale?) 4) Sabbatical: we need to work out some of the details of the sabbatical clause in the membership rules to have there be a process in place for emergencies. —————————————————————————————- – All in all, this is a huge step for the garden. We had previosly been governed by an old set of vague and generic guidelines given to us by an outside party. For the first time in our history we are now operating under an identity and membership commitment that we have generated and defined for ourselves. See you all in the spring (and at the grocery store as the case may be) and thank you all for your part in another amazing season at the Hollenback Community Garden. In Hibernation, winter restoration and sunshine Mike D. (with some additions from Mark T.)

Hollenback Community Garden – Brooklyn Community Garden serving Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy and Beyond!