The Board has been working all summer to find a garden site for 2014. It has been a roller coaster of hope and disappointment.
Here is what we know:
--Redeemer Lutheran Church: The church has offered us a lovely site at the back of their property. The committee working with us are enthusiastic about us being there and have been very helpful working out details of the project. One of their requirements is that we have liability insurance. We have pursued every imaginable resource, but have been unable to find someone to carry us. Currently Winona Health provides a rider on their liability policy, which we pay for annually.This is not an option with Redeemer's insurer.
--Watkins property on 4th and Liberty: Same story. I worked with Danny Crawford on converting their employee garden to a community garden, reserving several plots for the employees. Again, all the pieces fell into place until the issue of liability insurance came up. Their insurance broker recommended against taking on the community garden due to liability concerns, and management has followed that recommendation.
--Part of our problem in finding insurance is that we are not a 501C3 organization (non-profit). Pursuing non-profit status has been on our agenda since the beginning, but it costs about $500 to set up and we have never had close to that amount in our treasury. Another option for non-profit status is to have another organization act as our "fiscal agent". This would involve an ongoing fee (exact cost not known). We are looking into this.
--The third avenue we have been pursuing is to establish a garden on a piece of city-owned land that is under-used or not being used at all. The advantage of being on city-owned property is the permanency. Any privately owned land is subject to development, requiring us to move again in a few years (as is the case with Winona Health). One idea the City offered us was the dog park on Prairie Island. This site would be something less than ideal, but we are starting to consider it. We have also identified 2 possible sites that would be within the city and suitable for a garden (more than suitable, actually). We are still talking with city representatives about these possibilities but nothing has been resolved yet.
Last spring our goal was to have a new site established by fall. Then we would hold one of our glorious work days, moving all our infrastructure over in November. I am frustrated that this is not the case. I am also so proud of the intrepid board members who refuse to give up. I'm throwing it out to you gardeners now. If any of this information triggers an idea, or if any of you have knowledge of or connections with a potential solution to our problem, please contact me.