CONSTITUTION FOR THE OXFORD ROAD COMMUNITY GARDEN (ORCG)
Oxford Road Community Garden is a volunteer-run green space open to all residents in the area. This page sets out some of the governance and rules of the garden that we have been built up over the years since its start in 1996.
The garden is managed by volunteers from the area, and the committee welcome input and comments (we can always improve this document!). Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get in touch.
Description of the Garden
The Garden is about 1/8th of an acre and situated at the junction of the Oxford Road and Western Elms Avenue, near the centre of Reading. Access is by a locked gateway with members each having a key.
The space is divided into two areas. The larger part is an area of grass fringed with shrubs, a pond and a rockery. The smaller part comprises modest well-constructed allotments for general gardening. Within the grounds is a shed for hand-tools, a well-appointed cabin for shelter and a very basic lavatory.
While maintaining the allotments in very good order and keeping the general garden attractive and safe for general use, the Garden is overall kept informally enough to attract wildlife and to contribute generally to the ecology of the area.
Aims of the Garden
With this combination of lawn and allotments the aims of the Garden are:
- To provide a peaceful green space for any local resident. It could be very valuable to people living locally who have no garden of their own.
- To provide a play area for children under supervision.
- To use the facility for members’ personal events e.g. reunions, birthday parties and so forth.
- To give an extra resource for local groups in the area e.g. groups for the elderly or support groups for single-parent families.
- To give an opportunity for local people to have a smallholding where they can use simple gardening skills to grow their own plants and vegetables.
- To accommodate local organisations that might need a space for one-off events.
- To allow local schools a chance to include “the outside” in their curriculum.
Membership Catchment Area
There is a Catchment Area for the Garden and members need to live or work within its bounds. The borders of the area are Tilehurst Road and Portman Road to the north and south, and the IDR and Grovelands Road to the west and east. .
Method for Joining
An application providing basic contact details, together with an ID document (passport or driving licence) and a recent service bill (proof of address) is all that is needed.
A key to the Garden is a one-off £5, and the ongoing annual subscription is £5 per year.
When a member visits the Garden a very brief note is to be put in the diary, which is in a folder on the outside of the main shed. In this way we can see how well the Garden is being used.
In every summer month we have a minimum of two working parties (usually the first Saturday morning, and third Wednesday evening, from March to October).
Every member (keyholder) is committed to attending once per year and helping undertake a task in the garden. In this way we all share and benefit together. If the chosen working days are not convenient then any member may ask to contribute at another time.
Allotment Holder Responsibilities
The allotments are a precious resource and the Committee should ensure that they are put to full use. To this end all plot-holders will be contacted in February by mail; the response to this letter will confirm whether or not they are still committed to working their allotment. No reply after three weeks assumes that the person forfeits their holding.
In the last week of May the plots will be informally checked by the Allotments Officer and if any are not being worked to their reasonable potential, then the Officer has the right to end the holder’s occupation of that plot.
Giving up a plot does not annul the membership of the Garden as a whole. There is no additional charge for maintaining an allotment plot. A waiting list is held for those who are interested in becoming allotment holders.
The Management Committee
The Committee is elected once per year at the Annual General Meeting.
The Committee is made up of:
- Allotments Officer
- Membership Secretary
- Communications Secretary
Members of the Committee hold their posts for a year, but can put themselves up for re-election at the next AGM.
The Committee can co-opt another member in the case of replacement i.e. through ill health/retirement, or if specialist advice is needed for projects. Six months non-attendance at meetings annuls a post on the Committee.
The Remit of the Management Committee
The Committee should meet at least four times a year and also organise an AGM. Brief minutes shall be kept for all meetings.
Basically the Committee needs to carry out the “Aims of the Garden”.
The areas covered by the Committee therefore include:
- Encouraging membership
- Keeping the membership informed of what is happening
- Enthusing the members to make full use of their garden
- To maintain the hard structure of the Garden i.e. the entry and boundary walls, and also to look after the general appearance of the Garden i.e. pruning, mowing and planting
- Look after the various cabins and sheds
- To maintain the tools for the Garden and to buy/hire equipment as it is needed.
Finances of the Garden
The Garden is solely financed by members’ annual subscriptions and donations (our Borough does not cover any expenses). The Garden is a not-for-profit organisation and all income is used for third-party liability insurance and general maintenance of the Garden’s facilities.
A member’s attendance at one working party greatly helps with the housekeeping and saves the cost of hiring any labour.
Impromptu donations are always very welcome.
To this end:
- No member of the Committee can be paid a regular wage
- All sums of expenditure over £10 must have the prior consent of the Treasurer
- Cheques issued on behalf of the Garden have four available signatories: the Treasurer, and three appointed members of the Garden. Every cheque needs two signatures.
- The Committee can appoint its own signatories. (Because recording new signatories with a bank can be slow, those signing cheques in the previous year can continue to sign until the new arrangements have been made.)
If there is a donation to the Garden for a specific need then this is recorded in the accounts as a “Restricted Fund”, the money being restricted to the wishes of the donor. Any surplus from a Restricted Fund can only be put into the general fund with the donor’s permission.
Our Borough owns the Garden land but contributes nothing financially to its operation. The Committee does feel it should have recourse to the Borough for any major event where cost unreasonably exceeds any income that we might generate (e.g. a wall collapse).
An interim view of the Accounts is available on request.
Working Parties, Health and Safety, Complaints
All working parties have a leader. This leader is expected to allocate the work and to ensure that members are appropriately briefed and equipped to do that job. A simple first-aid kit is available.
The Garden has a full third-party liability insurance. Any injury will be recorded and that record kept for six years.
In case of any complaint any member involved will be notified. The situation will then be assessed by two committee members not involved. Their assessment, any moves taken to avoid recurrence and response to the complainant should all be completed within two weeks.
The Committee welcomes input and comments. Please write to email@example.com if you would like to get in touch.