Welcome to Midvale Community Garden! We hope you will enjoy gardening this coming year! Please call, or email, any of the Garden leaders if you have questions or suggestions.

So far, Midvale School and Gardens is the oldest continuing school-community organic garden in Madison. The garden is part of the School’s curricula, so keeping the garden in order helps learning and safety for the students. 

Because of COVID 19, distancing is to be respected but masking is not required in your plots or when you are alone or with family. COVID is not gone. Small groups have been working together effectively. Organic community gardens take a lot of work to run well, in plot and out of plot, and everyone is expected to participate in some fashion.

Some examples of group responsibilities have been maintaining paths and community areas, enforcing garden rules, communicating to all gardeners and organizing social events. From the work of many volunteers, each according to his or her ability and/or interest, Midvale Community Garden has survived, grown, and continues to thrive. 

The parts of the garden

Your plot: One of the 47 available plots that are must be planted using organic materials. Each plot is approximately 100 sq. ft. Most are 10 ft. x 10 ft. The rectangular plots are approximately 12.5 ft. x 8 ft. Plot creep and land contours effect actual usable area. 

Community managed areas:

  • Trees: apple, cherry, plum, serviceberry
  • “Low ground produce”: rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, blackberries
  • Herbs
  • School gardens
  • Walkways


Gardens must planted by the end of the first full week in June; otherwise they will be forfeited and offered to waiting list members or used a food pantry resource. 

Gardeners are required to attend an Opening Day. In 2023, the Opening Days are Saturday, April 22 (with rain date of Sunday 4/23) and Saturday, April 29 (with rain date of Sunday 4/30). Choosing “No-work day option” does not purchase release from Opening and Closing days. If you absolutely cannot attend, please contact Ground Crew coordinators listed below. These events also serve for meet and greet (particularly for new members), and to discuss policy issues and procedures. Bring your gloves, masks (optional, but be respectful of those who do distance), and thinking caps. If heavy lifting or moderate lifting is not your thing, then helping to feed and water lifters, tillers, “toters” and “bargers” is working with us, too. Showing up for these opening days helps us identify the plot owners and later, who are not. Closing Days, the work days that prepare the garden for the season and to close it down for the winter, are TBA.

Spring curbside pickup for those who need to clear out their plots of winter leftovers, (not garlic and other over- winter crops) will probably be in April 2023. (https://www.cityofmadison.com/streets/yardWaste/). Fall pick-up schedule determines Closing Days and plot final maintenance.

All gardeners, including returning gardeners, are expected to contribute time to the garden by participating in scheduled work days and/or volunteer opportunities (see the next page for a list of a few of the opportunities).

Continued maintenance of a plot includes weed control, controlling overshadowing other plots and using only organic materials in your garden. Weed control includes not just removing unwanted plants, such as creeping Charlie/ground ivy, bindweed, but also not planting perennials that spread by root, (e.g. mints), outside of pots. If you do plant in pots make sure the lip of the pot is at least one inch above ground. Planting tall, vines or bushy plants that will overshadow or climb into your neighbor’s plot is also an unfriendly no-no. If an experiment gone wild happens, contact the neighbor whose garden is being infringed upon. Maybe they will think that it is okay and will partner with you by accepting that share. Be considerate if they contact you first. Vines and tomatoes are the most common, and have to be trained and contained. Grass left in front of the plots after mowing and weed- whacking may have to be trimmed back to keep mice and vole populations down. Be sure to check your seed packets for the use of inorganic fertilizers and herbicides. Inedible flowers should not dominate your plot. Produce cannot be converted into any commercial product.

Maintenance of Shared Community Areas

Shared community areas include paths within our area, the communal plots with herbs, strawberries, grapes and rhubarb, and areas of the fruit trees and berry bushes. Keep in mind that we share these areas with the children at the school. Also, the school allows us to share the communal fruits among ourselves exclusively which includes the school classes. This calls for restraint among ourselves in that the communal fruits are limited and each plot has more people attached to it than a gardener. Also, the waste piles in the garden are NOT compost piles. Compost piles are regularly aerated and anaerobic bacteria controlled. Ours are not turned regularly and can turn into noxious, stinky, slimy messes, providing an attractant for small and medium sized critters and pests.

Closing Projects Days will begin in late October or in the days leading up to the last days of Fall curb pick-up for the Westmorland/Midvale Heights (https://www.cityofmadison.com/streets/yardWaste/). Vegetables that can winter well, like kale and garlic, do not have to be removed.

Water turn-on date: After the danger of freezing is past, generally by mid-May, as determined by school maintenance staff. 

Volunteer Opportunities

The following are the duties of the volunteer officers of the Garden Committee:

Garden Committee Chairperson: Calls and presides at meetings, approves agendas and is official spokesperson for the garden. 

Secretary: Takes minutes and emails copies to all members, notifies members of meetings and workdays and handles correspondence. Also reserves meeting space at the library.

Treasurer: Maintains all financial records. Deposits garden fees and other income into the garden bank account, and pays bills and reimbursements. Reports on the status of accounts at Committee Meetings and upon request of any committee member.

Registrar: Maintains membership list that includes mail and email addresses; assigns plots, organizes spring registration and collects registration fees; maintains waiting list for plots, maintains records for workdays and acts as the principal guide to garden policy and practice.

Midvale School Liaison: Channels all communication with school personnel and keeps board members informed of relevant information. Represents the community garden membership, issues and concerns to school and school garden personnel. Keeps both the school garden and community garden up to date on activities.

Officers at large: Members who accept specific responsibilities for tasks that maintain the orchard, common area and infrastructure of the garden.

In addition to the above duties, each of these individuals regularly monitor the state of the garden for violations of rules, potential and actual problems, and progress of special project and general maintenance.

Midvale Community Garden Committee Meetings are held monthly at Sequoya Library. Meetings are subject to changes in hours and location (when there is one) as well as cancellation, check the website or your email for any of these changes.

The following are essential volunteer roles that may be performed by members of the Garden Committee or any other interested gardener: 

Work Day Coordinators: Determine the tasks to complete for each work day, and lead Work Days.

Web Manager: Maintains our website.

Grounds Leader: Makes sure that paths, common areas, hoses, fences, compost, etc. are in order. Coordinates the work of volunteers who help with mowing and grounds maintenance.

Fruit Tree Maintenance Coordinator: Oversees maintenance of the fruit trees planted at the Garden.

Herb Gardens Coordinator Helps plan, execute, maintain and keep members apprised of the state of the community herb garden. 

Fruiting Shrubs, Raspberries and Vines Caretaker: Helps care for our fruit-bearing shrubs, raspberry bushes and vines.

*Tool Caretaker: Keeps the tool shed tidy and notifies the garden committee when tools need repair or replacement.

*Security: Works on strategies to minimize theft and vandalism.

Potluck Organizer/s: Usually for the second Sunday in August/September, 1 pm – 3 pm 

Other Opportunities

In addition to leadership opportunities with the Midvale Community Gardens, you can be involved in other ways, including:

  • Attending Garden Committee meetings.
  • Making sure neighbors feel welcome at the Garden and understand how it works. This is a chance to explain that individuals care for plots and then harvest the vegetables they grow, since some people assume that a community garden is a free resource for anyone to harvest from.
  • maintaining one of the school kids’ plots during the summer.
  • organize a social or educational event for the Gardens in general or help mentor or guide new gardeners
  • Setting up bins in the shade so that excess produce can be put there for fellow gardeners or people in the community to use. 

Contact any member of the Garden Committee for more information: 

The following have agreed to lead Midvale Community Garden in 2022. Please contact them with ideas, questions or to get involved. 

Committee Chairperson: vacant — looking for volunteers!

Treasurer: Ann Knapstein 238-4574 afknap@charter.net (Outgoing) / Incoming: Joann Brown, bensmomjo@gmail.com

Registrar: Mark Horan (608) 334-5630 mrk6hrn29@gmail.com

Ground Crew Coordinators: Marsha Zelmanski, 279-0213, (pixbyz@aol.com)

Fruit Tree Maintenance Coordinator: Corinna Wells, 556-0010, corinna.wells@gmail.com

Herb Gardens Coordinator: Elisa Graffy (608) 235-4728 (eagraffygmail.com)

Asparagus, Fruiting Shrubs, Raspberry & Vines Caretaker: (Ground Crew Coordinators coordinate with the Chair)

Web Manager and Secretary: Kate Wodyn, (608) 516-1559, kate.wodyn@gmail.com

Midvale School Liaison: Kara Westmas, (608) 630-6290, kwestmas@medicine.wisc.edu 

At-Large Members: You?

2023 Garden Return/New Application Information

Primary gardener is the individual we are to contact about new information and issues. Secondary gardeners are usually members of the Primary’s family, but sometimes not. If the primary leaves the garden membership, the secondary can take up the plot as primary, if they wish. Both gardeners will be contacted by the Registrar about renewing, both must read this document (including the following school agreement and waiver), and sign and initial the application form.

Rototilling is available, but not encouraged. It is not a substitute for regular weeding. Often it only breaks up ground ivy and other rooting plants and merely spreads them around more evenly in a plot. Rototilling too often can degrade the soil structure as well. Most of the garden has been shovel managed since 2007.

An early email allowed us to identify continuing gardeners and those who would like to change plots, thank you for responding. Those changes have been made. We currently have seven open plots. Please contact Mark Horan immediately if you want to change plots or have decided to release your plot. The application deadline for continuing gardeners is April 16, 2023.
Annual Fees:
• Fees cover your use of the land for the growing season as well as water, compost and one marsh hay bale. A portion of plot fees also supports activities of the Midvale Elementary School Garden.
• Fees for plots are on a sliding scale according to your household income or households incomes as follows:
Annual Household Income Plot Fee per Year
Up to $38,000 $20
$38,001-$59,000 $35
Over $59,000 $50
Checks are made out to: MIDVALE COMMUNITY GARDEN
Mail or hand-deliver the completed application form and check (no cash) to: Marsha Zelmanski, 489 Togstad Glen, Madison, WI 53711 for arrival on or before April 16, 2023.