Operating out of Spring Green, Wisconsin, River Valley Area Community Gardens, Inc, or "RVACG," is a non-stock, nonprofit, charitable corporation with tax exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Our purpose is to operate a non-commercial community garden devoted to developing a love of gardening, teaching gardeners and community members how to grow healthy food by using organic gardening techniques, providing plots to families or individuals who do not have access to garden plots, and to beautifying the green space it inhabits. It further cultivates and distributes produce to area food pantries. To that end, the RVACG has the following mission statements:
To provide garden plots to River Valley residents and other authorized persons who do not have access to adequate land upon which to grow, nurture and harvest healthy and nutritious food.
To distribute surplus production from individual and community garden plots to food pantries and otherwise to families and individuals in need.
To provide educational opportunities pertaining to sustainable gardening, gardening techniques and harvesting.
To provide through gardening, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle throughout the community.
To improve the quality of life of the community by giving its members the opportunity to participate in and appreciate the gardening experience.
To preserve and improve the beauty of the area through planting of native and nonnative plants.
2. Is community gardening for me?
You may be considering the potential delights of having your very own garden plot, but are unsure as to whether you are suited for the efforts ahead or have the time to maintain it adequately. Below are a few reasons why you should, or indeed should not, develop a garden Five reasons to take up community gardening:
Exercise. Time spent digging, sowing, hoeing, watering and harvesting will exercise muscles that you never knew you had - but at a fraction of the cost of a gym membership. Remember, you can always share the work and rewards with a friend or family member to lighten the load.
Being outdoors. There are many benefits of being out in the garden throughout the course of the growing season. Fresh air, sunshine, tranquility, break from the daily routine and enjoying the birds, plants, and creatures of nature are some benefits. The park area offers a chance to relax under the maple tree with a book, a lunch or a cool soda. The Garden is adjacent to two retention ponds which are frequented throughout the season by many species of birds. The sunsets at the Garden are magnificent. Cloud watching on a summer's day is delightfully relaxing as long as they aren't storm clouds..
Growing and eating your own produce. You decide what you like to eat and manage your garden accordingly. Fruit and vegetables fresh from the garden always have a taste far superior to any purchased at the supermarket. Growing fresh vegetables without the use of harsh fertilizers is healthier for you and your family. Or maybe growing a flower bed for cut flowers in your home is more your style.
Social networking. There is a common bond that develops between community gardeners, and new friendships have blossomed at the Garden. It also provides an opportunity to share views and experiences of your gardening successes and failures as well as learn new skills. Sharing the abundance of your harvest with family and friends is also a benefit.
Just doing something productive. Growing a garden let's one do something productive. There is something satisfying about watching seeds transform into yummy produce or beautiful flowers. Eating the fruits of your labor at family picnics or winter dinners is a reward in itself.
Five reasons NOT to take up community gardening:
Exercise. Gardening can be hard work, particularly at first when you are establishing your plot(s). But after the work, comes a time of growing and then the harvest.
Time commitment. As in all hobbies, you get out what you put in. Gardening requires some time but is not all consuming. Plan on stretches of time throughout your week to check the garden after it is planted. It will need to be mulched to prevent major weed growth and watered depending on the weather. And, of course, it will need checking to see the progress of plants growth and the transformation of the produce.
Problematic weather. The sun does not always shine in Wisconsin! You may get wet, cold and dirty on occasion.
The imperfections of gardening. Produce does not come out the ground ready washed, in perfect shapes or free from pests. It also takes time to prepare vegetables for the table or for storage.
Disease, pests, and weeds! These all come with gardening. We haven't had a lot of damage from critters but insect pests and diseases can be a problem based on the weather. Weeds can get ahead of the best gardeners if it rains for days on end.
3. What is expected of me as a community gardener?
Every community gardener shall:
Complete a registration form and submit it to the Treasurer. Forms may be requested through the Contact Form on this site or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Attend the Registration meeting held prior to the Garden opening. Gardeners will sign paperwork, pay fees to the Treasurer, learn about the organization and discuss expectations for the growing season. A tour of the site is available weather permitting.
Comply with the established rules. Gardeners receive a copy of the Gardeners Guidelines which are reviewed at the Registration meeting
Respect their neighbors.
Participate in the maintenance of the garden site. Every gardener, or their family members, are asked to contribute time to help maintain the Garden during the growing season. Gardeners will receive a calendar of scheduled work days at Registration. Emails will inform Gardeners of changes in the schedule.
Participate in fund raising and social events
Have fun and celebrate success! There will be failures to learn from also.
At the end of the season, Gardeners are invited to attend the Annual Harvest Potluck to celebrate a well-deserved harvest, good food, and good company.
4. What can I grow?
Gardeners may grow any annual vegetable or ornamental plants that are not considered invasive. Perennial plants need to be approved by the Board for tilling reasons
5. Where are the community gardens located?
The Garden site is located at the junction of North Westmor Street and Locust Drive, on public land in the 900 block of Spring Green. Please refer here for more detailed directions.
6. How do I register for a garden plot? When can I register?
Garden registrations are accepted throughout the year. You may request a registration form at any time. Registration forms will be emailed as soon as they have been approved by the Board after the January meeting. Returning gardeners have priority over new gardeners in having their registrations processed first. They also may request to keep their plots from year to year. Registration form may be requested via our Contact page or through email at email@example.com
The predominate soil profile on the RVACG community garden site is Sparta variant loamy sand, a well-drained, nutrient-available soil with a pH of 6.2 - a growing medium ideal for general fruit and vegetable production. This specific soil is common to the outwash floodplains of the Lower Wisconsin River Valley. It does need some augmentation. The Board is providing compost for all the plots each year. Gardeners are encouraged to add additional compost if desired.
8. Are donations tax deductible?
The RVACG is tax exempt under section 501(c)(4) - instead of the usual 501(c)(3) - of the Internal Revenue Code. Therefore, any donations made, while accepted in kind, are not tax deductible. We apologize for the inconvenience. We are currently investigation reapplying for a 501(c)(3) status.
9. Are there opportunities to volunteer?
We are always looking for volunteers both in the Garden and on our Board of Directors. Volunteers receive notification of work days and are invited to participate in all garden activities. They may also work in the Garden on their own time. If you are interested in being a volunteer, or joining our Board of Directors, please contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the Contact Form on this site.
10. How many meetings are gardeners required to attend per year?
Gardeners are asked to attend the spring Registration Meeting held before the Garden opens. Gardeners are also asked to donate some time on Work Days and at our fund raising events. Gardeners and Volunteers are invited and encouraged to attend board meetings, workshops, fundraisers, and social interactions