FBCG By Laws 02/2016
The following bylaws for the FBCG describe the structure, operations, and decision-making of the Garden. In addition, the Garden will comply with the property management rules of PARD and of the Sustainable Food Center. The Festival Beach Community Garden is made possible through the efforts of the volunteer leadership of the Festival Beach Community Garden; sponsorship by the Sustainable Food Center, Austin Parks and Recreation Department, and Austin Parks Foundation; through plot rental fees paid by gardeners; and through generous donations from neighbors and local businesses.
Section 1: Name
The name of the garden is Festival Beach Community Garden and hereafter shall be referred to as the “Garden”.
Section 2: Purpose
We strive to serve East Austin by:
- Providing local gardeners with a reliable source of fresh, nutritious, organic, and affordable food.
- Creating a gathering space that brings together diverse neighbors to encourage cooperation, collaboration and friendship.
- Serving as a source of regular food donations to nearby food pantries.
- Providing a community space for free educational and enrichment activities on a variety of topics related to gardening, healthy living and our community.
- Creating a sustainable urban-nature ecosystem that provides a habitat for wildlife and transforms an underutilized space into a beautiful and useful community area.
Section 3: Values
- Inclusion/Diversity – Accessibility; affordability; elderly and intergenerational participation; appreciation of human and cultural differences.
- Building Community – Participation and empowerment of community members; sharing knowledge and skills; relationship with schools and community groups; decision-making through democratic process; cooperation among members; developing long-time friendships among neighbors.
- Site – Transforming the space; creating wildlife habitat; using sustainable practices; creating a living fence; practicing the “old ways” and promoting the use of heirloom seeds and plants.
- Food-related – Promoting locally grown food; increasing food security and diversity of food supply; supporting the community right to have enough to eat; promoting improved nutrition; providing education about food source, gardening, nutrition and environmental awareness.
Section 4: Location
The physical location is 35 Waller St. in Austin, TX 78702. The mailing address is the mailing address of the treasurer.
Section 5: Physical Description of Garden and plots
- Garden plots have been established as approximately 8’X18’ which will be leased for a one year term.
- A number of plots shall be set aside for use by youth groups, education or charitable organizations at no cost as determined by the Steering Council.
- There is a variety of communal areas that shall be shared by all Gardeners.
- Locked tool sheds, composting areas, and sites for soil amendments will be located within the boundaries of the garden.
- Common amenities will be provided, including running water and a limited supply of mulch, compost, and basic tools for all gardens to share.
Section 6: Membership and Plots
All members shall have the following voting rights, privileges and obligations as outlined below:
- Eligibility- all persons 18 years of age and older are eligible if they sign and abide by the Garden Contract, the Rules for Garden Maintenance, and an SFC Liability Release Form and attend an orientation. Every member must sign a new Garden Contract and SFC Liability Release Form each year.
- Categories—There are three categories of members: 1. Garden plot holders; 2. Gardening partners of plot holders; and 3. Member volunteers. A member is in good standing if he/she has signed a Garden Contract for the current year and has paid all plot rental fees and missed work hour fees currently due.
- Plots are limited to one per household, except in the situation where an individual is reserving a plot or plots for a specified organization and serving as the signatory.
- Plots reserved for an organization must have one main contact. A list of authorized users must be provided to the Steering Council. All authorized users must sign and abide by the Rules for Garden Maintenance, the Garden Contract, and an SFC Liability Release Form.
- Dues are payable on January 1st of each year and must be paid before taking possession of a plot or voting on any garden issues. A plot holder who takes possession of a plot after July 1 shall pay reduced dues through the end of the year. Special arrangements for payment plans/scholarship will be made available by decision of the Orientation team based on need.
- Members who do not abide by the Garden Contract or the Rules for Garden Maintenance may have their membership revoked. A member may appeal revocation to the Steering Council.
- Plots will be assigned on a first come first serve basis from the waiting list maintained by the Orientation Team. The Steering Council will make every effort to reach out and encourage participation in the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods.
- Each member in good standing is eligible to one vote in the Steering Council election at the Annual Meeting of members and on any other matter presented to the membership by the Steering Council. All contract signatories are eligible for voting purposes if they are members in good standing.
- An Annual Meeting of members for election of Steering Council members/officers shall be held at a date, time, and place designated by the Steering Council, with notice of the meeting provided to all members at least 14 days prior to the meeting. The Steering Council may also schedule additional membership meetings with the same notice requirements. Each notice of a membership meeting shall state the purpose or purposes for which the meeting is called. A quorum for a General Membership meeting shall be defined as at least 20% of the current membership. For members unable to attend the meeting, the option of voting by e-mail will be made available with a voting window of one week. Members voting by e-mail will be counted in the quorum. The Steering Council is also authorized to hold Internet Votes and Surveys, which shall be as binding as General Membership votes provided that a minimum interval of one week is allowed for voting.
Section 7: Managing body of the Garden
The direction and management of the affairs of the Garden and the control and disposition of its properties and funds shall be vested in a Steering Council, as described below:
- The number of Steering Council members shall be eleven. A meeting quorum will be six members.
- The Steering Council shall consist of the following: Steering Council Facilitator; Treasurer; Secretary; Site Manager; Communication/Technology Liaison; Outreach/Educational Liaison; Membership/Orientation Liaison; Fund Raiser/Grants Liaison; and three Stewardship Team Liaisons.
- The Steering Council shall be elected at the Annual Meeting of members. Steering Council members shall serve for two years or until a successor is elected. Steering Council terms shall be staggered. Initially for the first election, the Steering Council Facilitator, Secretary, Communication/Technology Liaison, Outreach/Educational Liaison and two Stewardship Team Liaisons shall be elected to two year terms. The Treasurer, Site Manager, Membership /Orientation Liaison, Fund Raiser/Grants Liaison, and one team liaison shall be elected to one year terms.
- All members in good standing are eligible to be candidates for the Steering Council.
- All members in good standing are eligible to vote for the members of the Steering Council.
- All decisions of the Steering Council shall be by 2/3 majority vote after reasonable efforts to reach consensus.
- The Steering Council meetings shall be held monthly at a date, time, and place designated by the Steering Council at a previous meeting or by the Steering Council Facilitator, with notice of the meeting provided to all members at least 7 days prior to the meeting. Each notice of a Steering Council meeting shall include an agenda describing any matter that may be considered for decision at the meeting. Any garden member may attend and participate in a Steering Council meeting but only Steering Committee members are entitled to vote.
- The Steering Council may declare a Steering Council position vacant if the member holding that position has missed more than three consecutive meetings or a total of six meeting during the year without good cause.
- In the event of a vacancy on the Steering Council, the council will solicit and fill the position with an alternate gardener by 2/3 majority vote of the Steering Council.
- No later than March of each year, the Steering Council shall name a Nominating Committee to determine and organize the nominees for Steering Council positions to be elected at the upcoming Annual Meeting of members. Any member in good standing may self-nominate for a Steering Council position.
- The Steering Council shall be responsible for developing a grievance process that will allow for removal of a gardener or member of the Steering Council who does not abide by the values of the garden as stated in the by-laws or fails to meet the terms of the gardening contract or violates rules for garden maintenance.
Section 8: Duties of Steering Council Members
- Steering Council Facilitator shall be responsible for scheduling and creating an agenda for monthly Steering Council meetings, as well as arranging for facilitation of the meetings. Either the Steering Council Facilitator or the Treasurer shall serve as the SFC Garden Liaison.
- Treasurer shall be responsible for maintaining the membership list and the all-members e-mail list, collecting annual contracts, maintaining a data base of plot assignments, collecting plot fees and payments in lieu of work hours, notifying gardeners about non-payments, receiving money from fund raising projects, keeping financial records, preparing monthly financial statements and preparing an annual budget. The Treasurer or Steering Council Facilitator shall serve as the SFC Garden Liaison.
- Secretary shall takes minutes of meetings and make them available to Steering Council members. Minutes from previous meeting will be submitted for approval at the following meeting.
- Site Manager shall coordinate all aspects of caring for and maintaining the physical site and shall notify PARD about needs and problems related to the site.
- Outreach/Educational Liaison shall recruit new gardeners, coordinate outreach in the community, recruit volunteers, coordinate classes/education series with the library, arrange for non-English interpreters as needed, and provide regular communication to garden members.
- Communications/Technology Liaison shall maintain the garden website/calendar, email list/Google, manage social media, and maintain an accurate garden map.
- Membership/Orientation Liaison shall maintain the garden waiting list, schedule orientations for rental of plots, assign garden plots, arrange payment plans or scholarships as needed, assist in obtaining signed yearly contracts, monitor abandoned plots in conjunctions with Site Manager and arrange for transfer of abandoned plots as needed, monitor the data base of plot assignments, maintain current map of plot assignments and coordinate with the work hours team.
- Fundraising/Grants Liaison shall oversee fund raising events and seek out and apply for relevant grants.
- 9, 10. and 11 Stewardship Team Liaisons (3 positions) shall divide responsibility for communication with garden teams. Shall communicate with team leaders for input prior to meetings of the Steering Council and report actions of the Steering Council back to team leaders.
Section 9: Finances, expenses, and dues
- The treasurer in conjunction with the Steering Council will prepare and approve a proposed Operating Budget each year. The budget will consider required capital outlays, maintenance costs, utilities, and any other anticipated expenses for the coming year. In addition, this proposed budget will outline expenditures that are optional or contingent on fundraising efforts.
- Recurring cost, such as utilities and basic operating expenses, are expected to be covered by plot rental fees. Rental fees may be adjusted annually based on water usage fees and operating expenses.
- Plot rental fees are non-refundable.
- Gardeners who do not meet the monthly work requirement will be charged a fee in lieu of work. This fee will be set annually by the Steering Council. Gardeners who fail to complete more than 6 monthly work requirements annually, without waiver by the Steering Council based on extenuating circumstances, will be subject to plot release.
Section 10: Limitation on Liability for Steering Council—No Steering Council member shall be liable to the Association or its members for monetary damages for any action or inaction, unless that member engages in intentional misconduct or knowing violation of the law.
Section 11: Garden Operation Guidelines: Festival Beach will abide by rules that are established by the City of Austin for Community Gardens located on city owned property.
Section 12: By-laws should initially be approved at a general membership meeting by majority vote. By-laws can be amended by 2/3 vote of the steering council with at least ten days’ notice given to the general membership of the proposed by-laws change.