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How it works

25 October 2023

The vision of UC's community gardens is to create an attractive, living campus that's transitioning into a resilient, edible biophilic landscape. Our mission is to nurture a community of people who grow and share food, and use their knowledge to influence campus design and policy. Find out how it works.


UC Community Gardens Stakeholders and their roles

The following parties have an interest in the UC Community Gardens

UC Sustainability OfficePromotes gardens, provides administrative and managerial support, employs UC Community Gardens Coordinator, runs events, raises and manages funds.
UC Community Gardens CoordinatorManages planting and maintenance schedule, maintains soil and plant health, coordinates working bees, runs workshops, educates gardeners.
Compost ClubStudent gardening club with an interest in composting and growing foods – promotes community gardens to students, runs events and workshops, liaises with other clubs and UCSA.
UCSARefers students to gardens through Welfare Coordinator.
UC studentsVolunteer gardeners and undertakes specific roles in the gardens if interested.
Local community residentsVolunteer gardeners and undertakes specific roles in the gardens if interested.

Garden Guidelines

Code of Conduct

UC Community Gardens is a place where gardeners and volunteers are strongly encouraged to respect each other’s self-respect and dignity. Our community gardens are safe spaces where anyone can relax and be able to fully express, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability. A safe space is a place where people encourage each other to:

  • embrace or celebrate individual differences
  • be compassionate
  • be inclusive

Each member will take responsibility to manage his or her own behaviour so that everyone enjoys the garden. This includes

  • Avoiding personal criticism of other members.
  • respecting the right of everyone to express their own views in a congenial and constructive manner at meetings.
  • Opinions on practice and procedure will be supported with well researched facts and should be presented in a non-judgmental manner.
  • If a dispute or conflict does arise, volunteers and gardeners pledge to settle it through calm discussion and goodwill with the assistance of a mediator if necessary.


New volunteers will be introduced to the gardens with some simple information about

  1. roles; who does what and key responsibilities.
  2. Where tools are found and where they are returned to after use
  3. health and safety hazard register and their responsibilities as volunteers to comply to the Health and Safety Act (1992)
  4. how to keep in touch with the gardens
  5. UC Community Gardens Guidelines

The purpose of this is to provide clarity about how the gardens work and help new gardeners feel more comfortable in a new situation.

UC Community Gardens Guidelines

Copies are held in the shed, new volunteer gardeners invited to read them during afternoon tea time.

Gardeners must be made aware of the Health and Safety Plan and will always undertake to be aware of their own safety and that of others.

  • All new volunteers are verbally made aware of basic potential hazards (trip hazards, working with tools), and required to read the Health and Safety plan.
  • Coordinator and volunteers must actively minimise, isolate, or eliminate any hazards as identified in hazard risk assessment and management schedule, particularly during community events.
  • Copies of the Health and Safety Management plan for each garden to be held on site.
  • Each monthly meeting must include the opportunity to raise discussion about a ‘health and safety moment’.
  • First aid kit audited every year.
  • The Health and Safety Hazard Register and Management Plan must be fully reviewed and updated every six months by the
    • UC Community Gardener
    • Volunteers
    • UC Sustainability Advocate and UC Sustainability Projects Facilitator.
  • One community garden meeting every three months must be dedicated to a substantive discussion of any health and safety issues arising.
  • Emergency contact details for volunteers working outside standard working bee hours must be listed at each garden, including a statement that a first aid kit can be sourced from Security if necessary.


  • Children are welcome at the gardens, however children under 14 must be supervised by parents, caregivers, or teachers at all times.
  • Parents and/or teachers are to be made aware or relevant hazards and safety issues, particularly during events

Special needs gardeners

The UC Community Gardens Coordinator is not resourced to provide additional supervision for special needs gardeners. Gardeners who need extra support to work in the gardens are required to be accompanied by a designated caregiver who is familiar with his or her needs. The caregiver should be familiar with the Gardening Guidelines and the Health and Safety Register.

Companion animals

No animals will be allowed in the garden other than registered companion animals.

Garden sheds or buildings

UC Community Garden sheds or other buildings will be tidied/spring cleaned once a year, usually during winter.

Pia Oven

Any groups using the pia oven must have on hand at all times a bucket of water which can be used to extinguish any fires. The pia oven and the shed must be left tidy after use.

Found materials

Any materials brought onto the grounds needs to be made safe beforehand (e.g. nails and sharp objects removed).

Volunteer work = harvest!

A minimum standard for how much work a gardener could do before they harvest produce from the UC Community Gardens is one hour a week. This is a general guideline - the rule of thumb is “take what you give”. If gardeners work a lot, they can take more than people who don’t work a lot. In general gardeners will be trusted to take the amount of produce that reflects how much work they do.

Harvesting during working bees

Harvested produce will be measured and recorded every week for research purposes.

Produce to be harvested will be listed every working bee.

Harvesting will be completed by 3pm during working bees – all of it gathered into a central point and shared across gardeners who have usually done a minimum of one hour of work. It can be useful to find out if different gardeners have a particular preference for different kinds of produce.

The volumes of produce harvested can change on a seasonal basis:

  • Some produce can be harvested at once in large volumes and shared out over time (e.g . apples and quinces)
  • Some days will be big harvest days because there is plenty of produce to go round (e.g. Autumn)
  • it will be ok to take more on these days.
  • If there is an abundance of a particular plant, the Community Gardener will tell people to help themselves.

Volunteering and harvesting outside working bee hours

Emergency contact details for volunteers working outside standard working bee hours must be listed at each garden, including a statement that a first aid kit can be sourced from Security if necessary.

Tasks will be listed every week on a blackboard so that gardeners working outside working bee hours know what to do.

A list of food that can also be harvested will also be noted on the blackboard.

Both gardens have a notebook which is used to record gardener work/activity outside working bee hours. This includes all activities including:

  • Watering (date and # hours watered)
  • Sowing seed
  • Transplanting

Keeping this notebook up to date will help to prevent work being unnecessarily replicated.

Many people would like to work in the gardens but cannot attend the standard working bee times. The advantages of encouraging work in the gardens outside working bees include;

  1. Increased voluntary labour, keeping the gardens tidy and flourishing
  2. Increased community engagement and awareness of the gardens.

However providing open access to the gardens to people who are not aware of the general processes and seasonal requirements of the gardens raises the following issues;

  1. Theft
  2. Inappropriate harvesting, use of tools, or use of sheds.
  3. Inappropriate or unsafe work undertaken in the gardens.

Gardeners new to the gardens and wishing to work outside working bee hours need to be introduced to the gardens and other gardeners so that gardeners get to know and trust each other, and that new gardeners understand what needs to be done, why, and how. Ways to achieve this could include:

  • New gardeners are taken through an introductory process, and they are required to attend at least one working bee (at a standard time) before they are shown where the keys to the sheds are.
  • Experienced gardeners familiar with the gardens open up the sheds at times other than the designated working bee hours, and gardeners are encouraged to come at these other times. This could be a voluntary service provided by the experienced gardener and may or may not be available on an on-going basis.

Volunteer roles

Gardeners are welcome to volunteer for particular roles that may interest them. This could include:

  • Introducing and working with new gardeners
  • Seed saving
  • Looking after tools
  • Harvesting
  • Teaching/running garden group workshops
  • Looking after compost
  • Keeping sheds tidy

Spending money and reimbursement

Purchases for the community gardens will in general be discussed at community garden meetings prior to the purchases made.

Purchases made without prior discussion or consultation with the Community Gardener or Sustainability Office staff may or may not be reimbursed, depending on the nature of the purchase and funds available to reimburse.

Sustainability Office staff will undertake to keep gardeners regularly informed of funds available.

Found materials

Found/recycled/repurposed materials are important for the gardens. However the introduction of found materials needs to be managed in order to avoid unnecessary clutter or accumulation of unsafe materials.

  • if anybody found something they thought might be useful for the gardens, email the coordinator to check if it is ok to bring it onto the grounds, or discuss at the next meeting before bringing it into the gardens.
  • If you think we need something, let everybody know at the next. meeting, because we might be able to source it through our networks.
  • Any materials brought onto the grounds needs to be made safe beforehand (e.g. nails and sharp objects removed).

Pia Oven

Users are encouraged to donate a koha to help with the costs of running and maintaining the oven.

Wood to run the oven comes from a variety of sources including

  • Through the Grounds Department
  • Wood harvested from prunings
  • Donations from users

Volunteer gardeners are encouraged to enquire about use of the pia oven for private functions.

Any groups using the pia oven must have on hand at all times a bucket of water which can be used to extinguish any fires.

If the wood is required to be split, a designated user must have prior experience at splitting wood with an axe.

Community Gardens Guidelines 2014

Download (application/pdf, 667 KB)
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