Starting a Food Garden: A Resource Guide for Strata Corporations

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This guide was written to help strata corporations navigate the legal processes and agreements necessary to establish food gardens on their private property.

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  • Sailview Garden: Strata G

    arden Established 2013

    by owners of Seaview

    and the Edible G

    arden Project

    Starting a Food GardenA Resource Guide for Strata Corporations

  • table of contentsso youre considering a garden...

    choosing your site

    building your garden

    4whattobuild

    5whattoplant

    5gardenmanagement

    the legal stuff...

    7BCStrataAct

    8thingstoconsider

    Appendix A: sample resolution

    12

    4

    6

    9

    Strata Guide, 2013 Edition Writers:HeatherJohnstone,EmilyJubenvill,KristiTatebe

  • 1table of contentsso youre considering a garden....Gardensareagreatwaytobringpeopletogether,growhealthyfoodandflowers,andcanbeautifyyourhomeaswell.Forthosewholiveinstratabuildings,itisoftennotaseasyassimplydecidingtoputagardenin,gatheringafewsuppliesandplantingaseed.Carefulconsiderationmustbegiventoyourparticularsite,yourneighboursandhowyourprojectfitsintotherulesandregulationsthatgovernstratacorporationsintheProvinceofBritishColumbia.

    Werenotlawyersorpropertymanagers;werejusthopingtogetyouthinkingaboutsomeofthethingsthatyouwillneedtonavigateifyouregoingtostartagardenatyourstrata,andtoguideyouthroughafewinitialsteps.Ifyouneedmoreinformation,havequestionsorarenotsurehowtoproceed,talktoyourstratacouncil,yourstratamanagementcompany,orseeklegaladvice.

    It turns out that growing and sharing food also grows our neighbourhoods.

  • 2Dreamingaboutagardeniseasybutitcansometimesbechallengingtopicturewhatthatgardenmightlooklikeonceitsintheground.Theseareafewthingstothinkabouttoensurethatyourgardenthrives:

    Solar exposure: Theaveragevegetablegardenneeds6-8hoursofdirectsunlightaday.Sunisoneofthosethingsthatyoujustcantcheat.Ifyouwanttohaveaproductivegardenoverthelongterm,youllneedtositethegardencarefully.Ifyoudonthaveasitewith6-8hoursofsun,youcanstillplantagarden,butwillneedtoberealisticaboutwhatkindsofthingswillgrowwell(greenandleafy)andwhatwont(tomatoes!).

    Water:Yourgardenneedsaccesstowater.Ifyoudonthavemanyoutdoortaps,thinkreallycarefullyaboutwhereyouputthegardenthecloserthebetter.Waterisheavy,anditcanbeverytimeconsumingtowaterwithawateringcan.

    Soil:Youdontneedtostartwithperfectsoilinordertohaveaproductivegardeninfact,youcanevenbuildagardenontopofconcretesodontletthatconstrainyourgardenlocation.Youcanbuildsoilnaturallywithlasagnegardeningoryoucanpurchasesoilandbringitin.Theformertakesalittlemoretimeandeffort,whilethelattercanbemorecostly.Vegetablesneedanaverageof12-18inchesofsoildepth.Consideryouroptionscarefully.

    choosing your site

    sun

    water

    soil

  • 3after

    before

    If you are considering a garden on your rooftop, you need to make sure that the building is structurally sound, and designed to handle the additional weight of both the soil and water be sure to consult a structural engineer. You may also need to consider liability issues.

    rooftop gardens

    Under-used spaces on common property can be ideal sites for your garden.

    Here, a fallow planting area on a parking garage roof was transformed into a beautiful, bountiful, food-producing garden.

  • 4what to buildSomecommonstylesinclude:

    In-ground garden beds

    Thesecouldbeornamentalflowerbedsthatareconvertedtoincludesomefoodproductionaswell,orcouldbenewbeds.Youcandigoutgardenspacefromlawns(orjustbuildsoilrightontopofthegrasswithsheetmulching/lasagnegardening!).Thistendstobethemostcosteffectivewayofstartingagardenyoucansimplyusewhatsalreadythere.Beawarethattheseareeasyforpetsandpeopletowalkthrough,sobesuretomarktheareawell.

    Raised beds

    Raisedbedscanhelptodefinethegardenarea,whichcanbehelpfulinkeepingpeoplefromwalkingingardenslocatedinpublicareas.Raisedbedsarekeyforgardenslocatedonpavedsurfacesandcanbeusedforrooftopgardensaswell.Whenbuildingraisedgardenbeds,avoidusingpressuretreatedlumber(typicallythishasagreenorbluishtint).Thisistreatedwithcopperbasedpesticidesandisnotrecommendedforuseinvegetablegardens.Roughcedar,thoughmoreexpensive,willlastthelongest.

    building your gardenIn-ground bed image

    Thereareasmanydifferentopinionsonhowtobuildagardenastherearegardeners.Whenapproachinggardendesigninacommunity,solicitingtheinputandadviceofallofyourneighbourscanbeaveryproductiveprocess.Youmayneedtoletgoofyourspecificideasaroundwhatagardenshouldlooklike,butyoumaygetsomeexcellentinputfromthecommunity,whilebuildingsupportfortheinitiativeatthesametime.

    In-ground beds use existing resources Raised beds help define garden areas

    Organizing a garden building bee is a great way to connect with your neighbours!

  • 5Therearemanydifferentwaysthatagardencanbemanaged(i.e.allotmentgardenvs.communalgarden).Thinkcarefullyaboutwhatyouandyourneighboursarehopingtogetoutofthegardenandhowyouwanttoworktogether.

    Allotment plotsaregardenbedsassignedtoindividualsorfamilies.

    what to plant

    Cucumbers

    Beans

    Broccoli

    Lettuce

    Tomatoes

    (cherry)

    Kale

    Carrots

    top 15 gardenvegetables

    Eachplotismaintainedbytheassignedgardenertypicallytheycanplantwhattheywish,andcanharvestwhattheyplant.Differentgardenershavedifferentstylesofgrowing,andwillhavedifferentaesthetics.Besuretoestablishaclearunderstandingofwhattheresponsibilitiesandexpectationsareforgardeners.Thereare

    garden managementmanysampleagreementsavailableonline.

    Communal gardensareareasthataremaintainedbyagroupofgardeners.Theyworktogethertotendtheareaandtheharvestissharedamongstthem.

    Whatyouplantdependsuponyourparticularsite(hoursofsun,microclimate,soildepth,moisturelevels).Vegetables,non-invasiveherbs,andsomeperennialbushescanworkwell.

    Whenchoosingplantsforyourgarden,trytosticktothosewhichareeasilycontrolledandthatdonttendtotakeovertheentiregarden(asplantslikeraspberriesandmintsometimescan).Placetallgrowingplantswheretheywontshadethegardenandpreventothercropsfromgrowing.

    Consultaplantingchartforapproximateplantingandharvestdatesinyourarea.Ifyouliveinthelowermainland,theWestCoastSeedsplantingchartisanexcellentresource(seeresourcesonp.8).

    Think carefully about how you and your neighbours will work together.

    Beets

    Garlic

    Radish

    Peas

    Potatoes

    Strawberries

    Pumpkin

    Zucchini

  • 6the legal stuff...

    strata corporations in British Columbia are governed by the following pieces of legislation:

    The British Columbia Strata Property Act

    ThesearetheregulationsestablishedbytheProvincialGovernmentthatoutlinehowstratacorporationsshouldoperate.NochangestotheActcanbemadebyastratacorporation.

    Registered Strata Plan

    ThisdocumentisregisteredattheLandTitleOfficeandidentifiestheboundariesofthestratalotsandthecommonproperty.

    ChangestotheRegisteredStrataPlancanbemade,butitisaslowanddifficultprocesslegaladviceisrecommended.

    Bylaws

    Bylawsgoverntheconductofstratalotowners.Therearestandardbylawsavailable,thoughtypicallythesearetailoredtomeettheneedsofthespecifictypeofstratacorporationandbylawsforeachStrataareunique.

    Youwillneedtoreviewyourbylawsandidentifywhetherthereareanyrulesthatyouwillneedtoconsiderwhenbuildingyourgarden.

    a rooftop garden at a North Vancouver strata building

  • 7parts of the Strata Act that you need to consider when putting a garden on common property:

    Strata Property Act Chapter 43Part 5 Property

    Division 1- General Property MattersChangeinuseofcommonproperty

    Section71.Subjecttotheregulations,thestratacorporationmustnotmakesignificantchangeintheuseorappearanceofcommonpropertyorlandthatisacommonassetunless

    a. Thechangeisapprovedbyaresolutionpassedbyavoteatanannualorspecialgeneralmeeting,orb.Therearereasonablegroundstobelievethatimmediatechangeisnecessarytoensuresafetyorpreventsignificantlossordamage.

    Division 2 Limited Common Property and Exclusive Use of common propertyShortTermExclusiveUse

    Section76.(1)Subjecttosection71,thestratacorporationmaygiveanownerortenantpermissiontoexclusivelyuse,oraspecialprivilegeinrelationto,commonassetorcommonpropertythatisnotdesignatedaslimitedcommonproperty.(2)Apermissionorprivilegeundersubsection(1)maybegivenforaperiodofnotmorethanoneyear,andmaybemadesubjecttoconditions.(3)Thestratacorporationmayrenewthepermissionorprivilegeandonrenewalmaychangetheperiodorconditions(4)Thepermissionorprivilegegivenundersubsection(1)maybecancelledbythestratacorporationgivingtheownerortenantreasonablenoticeofcancellation.

    The Translation:

    If you want to create a new garden space, you will need to vote on a resolution at an AGM or Special General Meeting. of strata owners will need to support the motion in order to be able to go ahead. You will need to write a resolution that reflects the location of the garden, how it will be managed, and indicates the roles and responsibilities around finances and liability.

    If the garden will be the responsibility of one or more strata owners, you will also need to go through the same voting process to grant permission for Exclusive Use. This can only be granted for 1 year, and will need to be renewed annually. Youll have to make sure to include this in your AGM agenda annually if the garden will be used longer term. This can be included in your garden resolution.

  • 8Liability:

    Youwillwanttocheckwithyourinsuranceprovidertomakesurethatyouarecoveredforthisnewuseofcommonproperty.Generally,gardeningisconsideredalow-riskactivity.

    Thisisparticularlyimportantifyouarelookingatrooftopspacebuildingmembranesarecostlytorepair,andyouneedtohaveappropriatecoverageinplace.SomeStratasmaywishforinterestedgardenerstoassumeliabilityrelatedtothecommunitygarden.

    things to consider

    Financial implications:

    Youwillneedtodecidewhoiscoveringanycostsassociatedwiththegarden.Thosecanincludestart-upcosts(i.e:m