Garden Rules

The following general garden rules and policies apply in all COGS community gardens.

General Community Garden Rules [COGS Constitution – Appendix 4]

Code of Ethics:

It is the desire of COGS that the community gardens made available for COGS members will provide a display of the practical application of organic principles, and a splendid example of co-operative endeavour.

To this end, the garden committees are behoven to administer the gardens in a manner which promotes a spirit of harmony, fairmindedness and goodwill amongst garden members.  Likewise, individual plot holders are to conduct themselves in a manner which promotes this same spirit, a spirit viewed by COGS to be essential to a true sense of community wellbeing.

General Rules:

The rules set out below are to be used by all community gardens operating under the auspices of COGS to standardise the way in which gardens are to be administered. It is not the intention of COGS to micro manage the individual gardens, but it is the desire of COGS that the community gardens should by the use of these general rules, be able to provide a splendid example of co-operative endeavour and a good corporate image and to display the practical application of organic principles.

1. Garden members must be financial members of COGS.

1a. When watering in COGS gardens, all plot holders must abide by any rules relating to watering that are issued by the COGS Committee from time to time.

2. Organic garden principles must be complied with at all times in the community gardens.

3. All members holding a plot in a community garden must garden in that plot without the use of non-organic pesticides, herbicides or inorganic fertilisers.

4. The members of each garden must democratically elect a Garden Convenor (chairperson) and a garden committee, consisting of a levy collector (where appropriate) and such other members as may be necessary. The names of these people and the positions to which they have been elected should be given to the COGS Secretary at the time of the local election.

5. Garden convenors shall be informed of agenda items to be considered at meetings of the COGS committee which affect the community gardens and garden convenors shall be entitled to attend meetings of the COGS committee and may exercise a vote on garden matters.

6. Each garden must have a democratically agreed set of garden rules, which should be endorsed by the COGS committee and not be inconsistent with these general garden rules. A copy of current garden rules for each community garden should be held by the Secretary of COGS.

7. In the first instance, infringements of the garden rules should be dealt with by the garden committee. However, if unresolved these should be brought to the attention of the COGS committee by the garden convenor for resolution by whatever means the committee determines necessary, including use of a mediator where appropriate.

8. Garden convenors should act as mediator in resolving disputes in gardens where possible.

9. One garden committee member for each garden should be responsible for equitable plot allocation and keeping a register of plot holders, a list of vacant plots and a listing of applicants for plots and for the safe keeping and allocation of garden keys. All members must inform the plot allocator when plots are no longer required and ensure that their key is returned when they no longer have a plot in the garden. At no time can plots be transferred between members without the approval of the garden committee and the keys should never be given to non members.

10. Community garden rules may make provision for a maximum plot allocation and any
such restriction must be written into their garden rules. No exceptions shall be made
for individuals and all members should be treated equally.

11. Plot holders should not interfere with other plots or other members’ property.

12. Members may not remove tools, implements, hoses, etc (which are the property of COGS) from any garden without the express permission of the garden committee.

13. Damage to, or unauthorised removal of garden equipment should be reported immediately to the garden committee and, where necessary, reported by that committee to the appropriate authority.

14. Plot holders and other members are responsible for the actions of their children, pets and guests.

15. Garden committees shall make rules restricting the access of dogs and cats to community gardens.

16. COGS members should only be a member of one community garden unless they can establish that they are transferring from one garden to another.

17. Plot holders shall not grow produce for commercial sale or engage in other commercial activities at the garden.

18. Garden committees may determine specific rules in relation to appropriate matters, including:

  • levies, but note that no levies may be collected without prior notification in the COGS newsletter of the nature and amount of the specific levies;
  • disposal of rubbish;
  • cultivation of canes and other invasive species, including prohibition of particular plants;
  • maintenance, including working bees, and emergency procedures; and
  • use, cleaning, repair and replacement of garden equipment.

19. It is the responsibility of the last member leaving a community garden to lock gates and sheds, regardless of whether or not that member opened them or used garden equipment.

20.1 The plot holder of any plot which in the reasonable opinion of the Garden Convenor, in consultation with the Garden Committee, has been in an unkempt, derelict, overgrown or neglected condition, for a continuous period of not less than two (2) months, may be given written notice by the Garden Convenor by post or email that the condition of the plot must be rectified within a period of thirty (30) days from the receipt of the notice to the standard of a reasonable well-maintained plot. If the condition of the plot has not been rectified to that standard within that period of thirty (30) days the plot may be resumed by written notice from the Garden Convenor to the plot-holder, and no refund of the plot fees will be payable.

20.2 Any plot which in the reasonable opinion of the Garden Convenor, in consultation with the Garden Committee, has been abandoned may be resumed by the Garden Convenor by giving written notice to the plot-holder at the plot-holders’s last know email or postal address.  Resumption will take effect upon the giving of the notice.

21. All activities in community gardens, including but not limited to lighting of fires and burning off, must be undertaken in accordance with all relevant laws.

In the use, administration and enjoyment of community gardens members should note that it is good policy to leave gardens in a better organic condition than you found them.

COGS Community Gardens Policies

Garden members responsibilities

  1. Garden members must at all times comply with the COGS General Community Garden Rules as set out in Appendix 4 of the COGS Constitution and the local garden rules in place in their garden.
  2. Members plots must be maintained throughout the year. Unattended or neglected plots may be resumed according to the conditions set out in the local garden rules.
  3. Garden members are expected to contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the communal areas of a garden. This involves regularly participating in activities such as working bees and mowing/whipper snipping/weeding communal areas.
  4. Garden members are expected to attend garden meetings and participate in the electing of garden convenors and committees and in the determining of local garden rules.
  5. Garden members must comply with any ACT Government water conservation measures in force as notified by ICON Water  https://www.iconwater.com.au/my-home/saving-water/when-can-i-water/permanent-water-conservation-measures.aspx.
  6. Members are responsible for their private property left in gardens or a gardens’ sheds.

Water Conservation

In the interests of water conservation, the COGS Committee does not permit the use of sprinklers in community gardens at any time.

Herbicides in gardens

The COGS Community Garden Rules (clause 3) do not permit the use of herbicides on garden plots. The COGS Committee allows the use of organic herbicides registered by the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) in common areas of a community garden (eg pathways) provided their use is approved and supervised by a garden committee and consistent with the restrictions on these products imposed by the ACO standards; that is, they are only used as part of an integrated weed management program, which includes physical controls such as cultivation.

Livestock in gardens

Apart from bees, Garden members are not permitted to keep livestock in a COGS garden.

A garden committee may approve the keeping of bees by a garden member providing:

  • the member is a registered beekeeper in the ACT and the hive(s) is also registered;
  • the number of hives is limited to that agreed by the garden committee;
  • hives are kept in a location that minimises any hazard to people in the garden; and
  • the member beekeeper complies with the ACT Government’s Code of Practice for Beekeeping in Residential Areas of the ACT.

Wildlife-friendly netting 

The only netting permitted in COGS community gardens is material that is wildlife-friendly and properly secured to prevent birds, mammals, reptiles or other wildlife becoming trapped with serious risk of injury or death.  Information on approved material and safe methods of installation can be found on the site: Wildlife Friendly Netting

COGS banned the use of thin nylon mono-filament netting in 2014.

The use of CCA and Creosote treated timber in gardens.

The use of timber treated with copper chromium arsenate (CCA) or Creosote is no longer permitted in any COGS garden.  The COGS Committee has in specific cases allowed this treated timber to remain in a garden where it was installed prior to 2007. 

Structures permitted in COGS gardens.

Garden rules in individual community gardens may set specific conditions for erecting structures in individuals plots such as: 

  • compost bins;
  • those which support growing plants eg trellises; and
  • those which support approved bird netting to protect crops, provided that concrete footings are not used.

Structures in communal areas which do not require specific individual approval by the Committee are:

  • a communal lockable shed;
  • pergolas;
  • green/glasshouses;
  • trellises and bird netting support for communal crops.

Sheds, pergolas and green/glasshouses must comply with the appropriate Australian Standards, eg footings for pergolas must comply with AS2870 and timber members must comply with AS1684.2.

Where local garden rules permit, structures to house livestock may be built on individual plots or communal areas provided both the following conditions are met:

  • the structure complies with the appropriate ACT legislation, eg the current ACT Public Health Regulations for poultry;
  • before construction begins, the COGS Committee approves both the building plan and the building materials.

Any structures, other than those listed above, require approval by the COGS Committee before construction begins. All structures must be safe and must not pose any risk to other gardeners or the general public.

All structures must be of an aesthetic standard appropriate for the surrounding neighbourhood and of sufficient standard not to bring COGS or the garden into disrepute. The final arbiter of the acceptability of the aesthetic standard of any structure will be the COGS Committee.

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