Welcome to Midvale Community Garden! We hope you will enjoy gardening this coming year! Please call, or email, any members of the Garden Committee 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 and operating well, helps learning and safety for the students. 

The last years were a challenge because of COVID 19, but we modified our planning by ending community workdays and instituting a list online where members could schedule and then execute needed community projects, individually or distanced while working with the different coordinators. Distancing is respected and 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 Gardens 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, and are encouraged to, attend an Opening Day, usually on the second or third weekend of April, a Sunday afternoon; 1 pm to 3 pm, and the following Saturday, 1 pm to 3 pm. In case of rain another day/s will be announced. This is to make it easier for members, returning and new, to attend. Choosing “Non-work days” does not purchase release from Opening and Closing. If you cannot attend, please contact Ground Crew coordinators listed on page 4.  In 2022, April 24 and April 30 will be the Opening Days. Closing Days are TBA. These are work days that prepare the garden for the season and to close it down for the winter. They also serve for meet and greet (particularly for new members), and discuss policy issues and procedures, bring your gloves, masks (optional, be prepared for 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.  And, showing up for these opening days helps us identify who the plot owners are and later, who are not.  Non-work day option fee does not cover Opening and Closing Days. 

Spring curbside pickup for those who need to clear out their plots of winter leftovers, (not garlic) will be the weeks of April 10 through April 24. (https://www.cityofmadison.com/streets/yardWaste/).  Fall pick-up determines Closing Days which means plot final maintenance. 

All gardeners, including returning gardeners, are expected to contribute time to the garden by participating in scheduled work days (when we have them again) and/or volunteer opportunities (see the next page for a list of a few of the opportunities) or provide other types of support for the Garden’s communal benefit. 

Continued maintenance of a plot includes weed control, controlling overshadowing other plots and keeping to the use of organics in your garden.  Weed control includes not just removing unwanted plants, such as creeping Charlie, also known as ground ivy, or the several types of bindweed, but also not planting perennials that spread by root, i.e. mints, outside of pots. If you do plant in pots make sure the lip of the pot is at least one inch above ground. One person’s wild perennial can become several persons’ weed very quickly. 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. And be considerate if they contact you first. Vines, tomatoes are the most common, have to be trained and contained. Grass left in front of the plots after mowing and weed-whacking may have to be trimmed back as well to keep mice and vole populations down.  Be sure to check your seed packets for the use of inorganic fertilizers and herbicides.  Uneatable flowers in plot have been kept to a kind of “a hat, not a whole outfit” level. Produce cannot be converted into any commercial product. 

Maintenance of Shared Community Areas

Shared community areas start with the paths within our area and extends to the communal plots with herbs, strawberries, grapes and rhubarb, and areas, the fruit trees, berry bushes.  Keeping in mind we share these areas with the children at the school. Also, the school, because we are the plot “owners” 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. 

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 do not have to be removed. Kale is a common veg that can do well in winter and certainly, garlic. 

*Midvale Community Garden Committee Meetings are normally the 2nd Monday of the month at 6 pm starting April 12 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. 

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.

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.
  • Assisting with the kids’ garden plots by maintaining one of the school plots during the summer.
  • Helping to organize a social or educational event for the Gardens.
  • 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: 

Garden Committee for 2022

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

Committee Chairperson: Charlie Bylsma 233-3967 ChasByl@sbcglobal.net

Treasurer: Ann Knapstein 238-4574 afknap@charter.net

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

Ground Crew Coordinators: 

Kate Dalby 285-5193, dalbykate@gmail.com

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, wodyn@sbcglobal.net

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

At-Large Members


2022 Garden Return/New Application Information

Primary gardener is the individual whom we are more likely to contact about new information and issues. Secondary gardeners are usually members of the Primary’s family, 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, then sign and initial the application form.

Rototilling is not meant to substitute for regular weeding. Often it only breaks up ground ivy and other rooting plants and 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 17, 2022. 

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

Mail or hand-deliver your completed application and fee/s [in an envelope, of course] to the news box #230 in the lobby of 555 next to the Sequoya Library in the Sequoya Commons parking lot by April 18 to: 

Mark Horan, Registrar; 555 S Midvale Blvd #230; Madison, WI 53711

Checks are made out to:  MIDVALE COMMUNITY GARDEN