A couple weeks ago the garden club had a critical discussion about the existing structure.

What was in place:

Two “co-heads” that ran meetings, dealt with administration, facilitated decision-making and sent emails. Members would come to meetings to have discussions about what had been done, ideas for what we should do, and plans for the next meeting or project.

Problems people identified with that system:

  • communication was ineffective
  • people rarely showed up to help with projects
  • initiatives were rarely completed
  • a lot of weight fell on very few people

We began the restructuring meeting with a round of “What is your goal for the garden?” Goals could be as idealistic or concrete as the speaker wanted. Some of the results:

  • Have cohesive group events
  • Get a real fence
  • Have a potluck
  • Create a greater presence on campus
  • Plant some things
  • More exploration activities/skill shares
  • Work on the watering schedule infrastructure- google spreadsheet
  • More effective communication
  • Start scheduled harvests
  • Have a community outreach component
  • Get people to actually show up and help out- community building
  • Have some garden skill shares to learn about gardening
  • Expand garden to more parts of campus
  • Come together and create garden plan for spring
  • Have a garden “training day”
  • Connect more with resources on campus- more partnerships
  • Research topics to share knowledge, planting schedules
  • Make an info sign and number the beds
  • Take inventory of the seeds we have
  • Institute dues?

We then discussed possible approaches to realizing these goals. We settled on the following structure:

Secretary – takes notes at meetings, sends out meetings, announcements, and reminders. Currently Micaela Belles with Stefanie Yeung apprenticing

Tufts Sustainability Collective liaison – attends weekly TSC meetings, relays information between the two groups, acts as Treasurer since this person will see the TSC Treasurer weekly. Currently Mae Humiston with Liz Stockton apprenticing

Meeting Facilitator: Sets agenda and guides meetings. Currently Alex Freedman. Anyone can offer to facilitate a meeting if they’d like to.

Working groups:

Construction: Headed by Ivan Rasmussen

  • Finds materials (recycled, salvaged, or store-bought)
  • Designs and works on work on shelves, fence, raised beds, etc.
  • Organizes construction days

“Seasonal” group: Headed by Stefanie Yeung and Perri Meldon

  • Researches information concerning winterization, watering schedules, gardening methods, plant properties, etc.
  • Brings this information to weekly meetings

Community Outreach: Headed by Minh Leu

  • Works with community groups including Eagle Eye Institute
  • Organizes events and opportunities for garden club members to get involved with like-minded groups outside the garden

Social team: Headed by Suzanne Lis

  • Organizes social events such as potlucks and group dinners/picnics

Harvest team: Headed by Liz Stockton

  • Monitors garden production
  • Informs group of harvest days/times
  • Distributes harvested produce

Each working group should have its own meetings or e-list to decide initiatives and approaches, and is responsible for letting the rest of the group know their plans and results and posting their progress on the blog. Working groups can call on entire group to help in initiatives.

We also decided to institute semester dues of $5. This $5, in addition to helping pay for garden costs, gives the payer a vested interest in the garden. We hope this will lead to more people being committed to the garden and turning out for work days and meetings. People with financial concerns can talk to the Secretary to work something out. Dues will begin Spring 2012.

Additionally, we have a Facebook group to help with planning and advertizing events.

Finally, we are trying to have consistent weekly work days. The timing of these is yet to be decided.

We are currently working with this structure and we have already found issues with it but hopefully continual self-reflection will help Tom Thumb’s Student Garden continue to be a sustainable Tufts group.