Garden Documents & Terms

Virginia Avenue Community Garden Guidelines 

These guidelines establish the rules for the Virginia Avenue Community Garden (VACG). Their intent is to ensure a positive, safe, and productive growing environment for people and plants on Capitol Hill. By signing the Virginia Avenue Community Garden Agreement, you acknowledge that you have read and understand these rules, and you are required to abide by them. 

  • The VACG is managed by the Garden Board, which consists of members elected by the VACG members. 
  • Elections are held in the third quarter of each odd numbered year. Members of the Garden Board serve for a period of two years, subject to their resignation or departure from the garden. 
  • The Garden Board shall consist of at least the following elected members: ○ Garden Manager: Chair meetings and manage deliveries (compost, etc.) ○ Garden Coordinator: Interface with DC government and other groups ○ Membership Coordinator: Manage waitlist, swap list, guidelines, and plot assignment. 

○ Social Coordinator: Social media, website, work hour database management, and event notifications. 

○ Two Garden Maintenance Coordinators: Plot inspector and required participation task generator 

○ Treasurer/Secretary: manages finances and records for the garden, interfaces with the garden’s bank, handles bills, drafts budget 

  • Garden Board members receive up to 100 sq.ft. of plot space at no charge in exchange for their volunteer time. 
  • Membership in the VACG is open to those DC residents desiring to do organic gardening and agreeing to abide by the rules stipulated herein. Membership is attained when a plot is assigned. 
  • All plot assignments are on a first-come, first-served basis or, if the garden is full, on an as-available basis. A waitlist is maintained based on the date of inquiry. 
  • Dues are based on the square footage of your plot(s), at a rate of $.75 per square foot. Extra Large Plot (10X10): $75 

Large Plot (3.5X20): $52 

Small Plot (3.5X12): $31 

Extra Small Plot (3.5X10): $26 

If you have a “non standard” sized plot, you are required to measure the space you are gardening in and to the best of your knowledge, calculate the square footage you are using and pay accordingly. Garden beds that need to be rebuilt MUST be restaked by a member of the

Garden Board prior to the gardener rebuilding the bed.If you are found to be out of compliance with a rebuilt garden bed that was not restaked by a member of the Garden Board or was built outside of the approved restaked area you will be required to rebuild and revise the garden bed at cost to you. 

  • Dues must be paid by February 28th of each year for the following membership year, unless specified otherwise by the Garden Board. If the Garden Board specifies a deadline before February 28th, it shall provide at least 45 days notice. 
  • The garden accepts cash or checks or Venmo electronic payment @CommGarden – no credit cards. There is a $20 fee for returned checks in addition to any bank charges which may accrue. 
  • All dues are non-refundable. 
  • Your dues provide you with plot rental, access to the garden and all communal areas, compost and mulch (when available), community tools, mowing of common areas, 2-3x/year trash haul, fruit and flowers from community trees/plants, and use of the 

garden’s water source (the garden does not guarantee a water source if reasons beyond the control of the garden prevent provision of a water source) for a period of one year. Consistent with our mission, the garden also makes charitable donations on behalf of all members once per season. 

  • Groups and organizations may have group plots, but MUST assign an individual as the primary plot owner and contact of the plot. 

○ Note: Any individual interested in serving on the Virginia Avenue Community Garden Board must be listed as the primary plot owner for their plot. If you are interested in serving on the Garden Board and are not currently the primary plot owner, you may submit a request to become the primary owner, subject to the Board’s approval. 

  • Members (primary plot owners) may designate up to six family members or friends (“the assigns”) to participate in the maintenance of their plots. Through signature of the member to these guidelines, their assigns also agree to comply with these guidelines. 
  • Renewal is automatic, provided you pay your dues, and sign the yearly agreement by the due date of February 28. Your plot will be available to you as long as you are in good standing, or until you notify the Garden Board by email or in writing that you no longer wish to use it. 
  • A gardener may have up to 100 sq. ft. of gardening space. A gardener in good standing may request up to an additional 100 sq ft garden space. Additional space will be assigned to such gardener the same as any other new member (being placed on the waitlist if there is one). 
  • The Garden Board will maintain a “swap list” for gardeners who would like to exchange their current plots for other plots in the garden. When plots become available, the first name on the swap list will have the option of trading his/her current plot for an available one. Vacant plots will be offered to the swap list first, then to the waitlist.
  • The garden is open all year round to members. 
  • Garden wide clean up work days for 2023 will be held on the 6 following dates, weather permitting: Spring: March 11th & 12th, Summer: June 11th and August 12th, and the Fall: October 28th & 29th. We highly recommend that all gardeners come to the spring cleanup to meet their fellow gardeners and to sign up for required participation tasks. (See Section 23 for details on required participation). All gardeners are required to participate in at least two of the official cleanups. Gardeners will no longer be permitted to do an individualized make up task.
  • All gardeners are expected to have their plots cleaned and weeded by April 1. ● All gardeners are expected to have begun planting for the new season by May 15.
  • All plots must be kept weeded and maintained year round. Gardeners are responsible for weeding their own plots and the south and east adjacent pathways as well as the corner areas. If you are on the edge, then you maintain the north and west pathways as well. 
  • Owners of plots on the perimeter of the garden near a fruit tree/brambles are required to water the tree/bush closest to your plot. This counts toward your required participation hours.
  • All gardeners are expected to address diseased/infested plants IMMEDIATELY. If the problem cannot be contained with organic gardening methods, the diseased or infested plant(s) should be bagged and removed from the garden. DO NOT USE THE TRASH BINS IN THE PARK. Diseased/infested plants should NEVER be placed in compost. 
  • Pathways around plots should be kept neat, weed free, and clear of all debris and tools for the safety of all gardeners and the beauty of the garden. 
  • All gardeners are expected to keep their plots harvested and free of overripe or rotting vegetation; this prevents pests, disease, and vermin. 
  • If you are unable to harvest your plot for any reason, post to the GOOGLE group as a signal to other gardeners that they may harvest it for their own use. 
  • If a plot has excessive amounts of overripe produce that is clearly not being harvested, please be aware that the produce may be harvested by the Garden Board. ● The garden recommends crop rotation, but does not require it. 
  • All weeds must be put in the compost (if not gone to seed) or carried off site, but not placed in the park trash cans. There are many weeds in our garden that are able to regenerate, consider removing unknown weeds completely from your plot rather than turning them under. Weeds are easiest to maintain if you keep up with them and pull them while they are not well established. 
  • All plots are subject to inspection on a regular basis (at least once per month). 7. USING WATER RESPONSIBLY 
  • Plots include access to the garden’s water source. Water is provided by the District Government and gardeners are expected to use water in a responsible manner. Water should be used only to water plots and clean gardening implements. Use of the water

source for non-gardening use is not permitted. Unattended watering, such as irrigation systems, is not permitted. (For example, sprinklers are not allowed.) This excludes systems installed by the Garden Board. 

  • If you are going to be absent during the growing season, notify the garden by posting the details on the Garden Google ( group. If you ask someone who isn’t a garden member to tend your plot, let the Garden Board know that person’s name in advance – this is for the safety of all gardeners. 
  • If you or your assigns plan to be away longer than a month, you should contact the Garden Board with a plan in place to maintain your plot in your absence. The garden board may require you to sublet or relinquish your plot depending on the circumstances.
  • If your plot is not maintained in your absence, the Garden Board will make two attempts to contact you. Failure to respond to the second attempt may result in your plot and privileges being revoked and your plot being reassigned. 
  • Gardeners who are planning to be gone for a season, but expect to return and want to keep their plot, may sublease their plot for 1 year only. If the gardener does not return the following season, the plot will go back into rotation. 
  • Gardeners should attempt to find their own sublessor but may ask the Membership Coordinator for help if necessary. The sublessor will be responsible for signing the garden agreement and following the garden guidelines. 
  • If the sublessor fails to comply with the guidelines, every attempt will be made to contact the owner of the plot to notify them of the situation and to discuss a course of action. 
  • The garden prohibits planting any of the following in individual plots: trees, ivy, kudzu, any plant with a mature height greater than 5’ that would shade adjacent plots, plants with thorns or stickers, and any illegal substance. 
  • All invasive plants, including but not limited to, mint, morning glories, vinca vine, and certain begonias, are expected to be contained in a responsible manner, to avoid having them take over pathways or interfering with other plots and communal areas. 
  • Trees and tall crops may be planted in communal areas and plots, with agreement by the Garden Board, and in a manner such that they do not shade an individual gardener’s plot in a detrimental way. 
  • Fertilizers and other soil amendments are permitted, provided they conform to the garden’s organic requirements. If you are uncertain about whether or not a substance is organic, contact the Garden Board before using it. (Please see Section 11 for more information on organic guidelines.) 
  • The garden allows only untreated wood and non-toxic materials to be used in plots and in communal areas. Pressure treated wood is prohibited.
  • Gardeners can use non-plant materials and decorations provided they do not contain toxic materials or other materials that could potentially leach into and negatively alter the soil. 
  • The Garden is an organic garden. This means ONLY ORGANIC gardening methods may be used – this includes weed and pest control. CHECK WITH THE GARDEN BOARD BEFORE USING ANY SUBSTANCE IF YOU ARE UNCERTAIN AS TO WHETHER IT IS ORGANIC! 
  • Plants with diseases or pests that cannot be addressed through organic means will be pulled by a member of the Garden Board, destroyed and disposed of appropriately. Before pulling any such plant, the Garden Board will make every reasonable effort to contact the gardener affected. 
  • Use of non-organic materials or chemicals will result in immediate termination of your plot and privileges, without reconsideration. 
  • Children 16 or under are not allowed in the garden unless accompanied by an adult. ● Gardeners bringing children 16 and under to the garden are responsible for supervising those children while they are on the premises. 
  • Pets of any kind are not allowed in the garden per DPR regulations. 
  1. TOOLS 
  • The garden includes a tool shed which is accessible to all members and which contains the tools and equipment necessary for maintenance of the common areas and individual plots. 
  • The garden is not responsible for the gardener’s personal tools left at the garden or shed. 
  • If available, gardeners may use the garden’s communal tools. Communal tools should be cleaned prior to returning to the shed. Gardeners must return cleaned tools to the shed and safely lock up the tools when they are finished. 
  • Tools should always be used in a safe manner, and kept in a secure and out of the way location while in use. 
  • Report damaged communal tools to the Garden Board or maintenance coordinators for repair or replacement. 
  • Combination locks are used on the gates, shed and water spigots. New members will be given the combination at the first spring garden cleanup if one has not already been provided. You are expected to keep the combination secure and not to share it with anyone outside of the garden. The combination or lock may be changed as needed based on turnover and security needs.
  • Gardeners must lock the gate when they leave the garden for the security of the garden’s resources. 
  • Gardeners have access to the garden at any time. However, the Garden Board strongly recommends using the garden during daylight hours if you can, using a buddy system when arriving or departing after dusk or early in the morning, and carrying a cell phone with you when you visit the garden if possible. 
  • Suspicious or illegal activity should be reported immediately to the authorities and the Garden Board should also be notified. 
  • Failure to maintain these security measures could result in revocation of your plot and privileges, without reconsideration. 
  • Theft and vandalism are fairly common in community gardens. Gardeners should report any theft or vandalism immediately to authorities and to the Garden Board. ● All gardeners should help with repairs and replanting as needed if the garden or any gardeners’ plots are damaged by theft or vandalism. 
  • If your plot is damaged by theft or vandalism, contact the Garden Board to inquire whether assistance is available to help you with repairing and replanting. 
  • All gardeners are expected to take their trash with them when they leave. DO NOT PUT ANY TRASH IN THE PARK TRASH CANS and do not leave trash at the gate. ● The garden maintains a compost pile for gardeners’ use. Only approved items should be placed in the compost pile. If you need help deciding whether something may go in the compost, contact the Garden Board or the leader for the Compost group. ● Diseased or infested plants should be removed from the garden immediately, bagged and removed from the premises, and should NEVER be placed in the compost pile or in the park trash cans.. 
  • Gardeners are allowed to help themselves to the purchased compost dump or the garden produced compost in amounts equal to that needed for their plots. ● Please note the “kitchen compost” locked bins are a separate system that is part of DPR’s compost co-op. This system is available for use after an individual has completed a training given by one of the co-op trainers. Please contact the Garden Board for more information. 
  • You may bring food to the garden with you. To avoid pests and vermin, all gardeners are expected to remove food and all trash. 
  • Cooking and barbecuing are allowed for garden-sponsored and community events, and may be allowed for individuals or smaller groups of gardeners with the Garden Board’s permission. 
  • All gardeners are expected to behave in a courteous and considerate manner toward both fellow gardeners and the surrounding community. 
  • Smoking is not permitted in the garden – it is a fire hazard and extremely toxic to certain plants. 
  • Noise levels must be reasonable, and all gardeners must observe the noise ordinances in place for the District’s residential neighborhoods. 
  • You may bring your bike inside the garden for safekeeping while you are gardening, but no bike riding is permitted in the garden itself. 
  • Rollerblades, ball and frisbee playing are not permitted inside the garden. 20. PARKING 
  • The garden does not have designated parking. Gardeners may park on the adjacent streets but are expected to obey all posted parking signs at all times. 
  • All gardeners are required to provide a valid email address on their agreement and will be added to the garden Google group. If your email address changes, please contact the Membership Coordinator. This is where important garden communication will occur.
  • Numbers and email addresses to contact the Garden Board will be posted on the Google group site. 
  • The Garden Board will keep gardeners informed via the Google group, email and periodic meetings. Phone and mail will be used as necessary. 
  • Gardeners may use the Google group, email, meetings, phone or mail to communicate with the Garden Board. Please contact the Garden Board in writing when appropriate, or as noted in these guidelines. Email is the preferred method of communication, unless noted otherwise in these guidelines. 
  • The Garden Board reserves the right to remove material it deems inappropriate and offensive from the bulletin board or any other venue related to the garden. 
  • All gardeners must participate in the ongoing upkeep and daily maintenance of the garden. See section 23
  • Common areas are defined as ALL areas not defined as an individual assigned plot, and include the fruit trees, pathways, gates, fences, sheds, sitting areas, entryway, fence plantings, and common plots for flowers. 
  • The harvest from common areas is to be shared among the gardeners and can be donated to charitable organizations at the discretion of the Garden Board. ● Gardeners may harvest reasonable amounts from common areas, but should not take an amount that substantially reduces the plant or total amount of the herb, flower or fruit. ● Gardeners are expected to attend meetings of the garden when possible. The Garden will occasionally hold group activities such as happy hour or cookouts; participation in these activities is voluntary. 
  • All garden members, including members of the Garden Board, are required to complete 5 hours (per family/plot owner) of work service per season to help maintain the garden. These hours are SEPARATE from 3x/season (or more) scheduled clean ups, however, if a gardener attends more than 2 of the clean up days, those hours may be counted towards the required service hours. Gardeners should have at least 3 of their 5 required hours completed by August 1. 
  • Work hours should be logged on the VACG website. If gardeners fail to complete work hours, gardening privileges will be revoked. 

Garden Maintenance Responsibilities include but are not limited to the tasks below: Pruning fruit trees

All necessary duties involving the pruning, watering and mulching of all fruit and specialty trees in the garden. 


Responsibilities include creating all-weather signs detailing composting rules, repairing current compost bins (light carpentry work), building compost piles with garden waste and leaves and turning piles on a monthly basis. 

Flower plot and Herb plot 

Watering and weeding the pathways surrounding the common flower and the common herb plot. 

Bramble maintenance

Trimming, mulching and watering brambles. 

Shed and tool maintenance 

Cleaning shed and tools, keeping an inventory, notifying the board of lost/broken tools. Hose/water maintenance 

As needed. 

Front gate garden, pergola garden and shed 

Weeding, watering and planting the common areas at the front gate and under the pergola and around the shed. 

Fenceline weeding and clearing 

Weeding and digging out roots along the fenceline surrounding the garden. 24. FAILURE TO ABIDE BY THE GUIDELINES

  • Failing to abide by the guidelines (e.g., plot/path maintenance, required participation, weeding, guests, etc.) will result in a warning. If after 7 days the violation is not corrected or if the gardener fails to respond to the warning, a second warning will be issued. If after a second, 7 day period, the violation still has not been corrected, gardening privileges will be revoked and the plot will be reassigned.
  • The Garden Board will make every reasonable attempt to contact the gardener. Notification will occur in writing via email, at a minimum. 
  • If infractions continue after a gardener receives 2 warnings for violations of these guidelines over the course of the season, gardening privileges will be revoked. ● The following are grounds for immediate termination of plot use: any action that endangers or jeopardizes the safety of other gardeners; any action that deliberately or through negligence damages the Garden itself, its assets, or the property of other gardeners; the use of chemicals and non organic pesticides; possession of firearms, possession of an illegal substance, or any other illegal activity. In these events, the gardener’s plot and privileges are revoked immediately; no warning is required and no reinstatement considered. 
  • The garden is located on public property managed and maintained by the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. Gardeners are bound by DC Parks and Recreation rules and DC law at all times. 
  • The Garden Board shall resolve all disputes as to the interpretation of these rules in its reasonable discretion. 
  • The Garden Board shall enforce these rules and shall have discretion to enforce or waive any rule on a case-by-case basis. No individual gardener or any other individual shall have the right to enforce any rule. 
  • Gardeners agree to submit grievances regarding other gardeners and garden policy to the Garden Board for consideration and review. Gardeners agree to abide by the decisions of the garden board following its review of the grievance. 
  • Efforts to settle grievances outside of the Garden Board review or failure to abide by the Garden Board’s decisions may result in revocation of your plot and your privileges. ● The Garden Boiard will conduct all votes of the membership. 
  • The garden is a permissive occupant of the land upon which the garden is located. The DC Department of Parks and Recreation or any landlord may revoke this permission at any time without notice or compensation. Gardeners release any future claims arising as a result of the loss of access to the garden or the plants located therein. 
  • Gardeners agree to use the garden at the gardeners’ own risk, and further agree to defend, hold harmless and indemnify the garden, the Garden Board and the garden’s officers, volunteers or assigns, and the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation, and the city of the District of Columbia, from any cost, liability, damage, loss,

or claim that occurs now or in the future relating to or arising out of participation in and use of the garden by gardeners’ family members, guests or assigns. Gardeners further acknowledge full responsibility for gardeners’ own actions and the actions of gardeners’ family members, guests or assigns at all times.