Garden Rules

Guidelines for plots

The North Cass Community Garden (NCCG) is a membership-based allotment-style community garden where participants rent their plots for the year. The NCCG is operated and maintained by Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) on land owned by MDI. We all must respect the interests of our fellow gardeners and the community that we share our gardening space with. To promote this and to ensure that the needs of the NCCG and relevant City of Detroit ordinances are met, the North Cass Community Garden requires all gardeners to agree to and abide by these rules.

1. Composting Orientation

All gardeners are required to attend a composting orientation led by the Garden Manager, if they have not attended one in the previous gardening year. A composting orientation can be scheduled anytime and can also be conducted on a scheduled work day or workshop. Our goal is to communicate the information you need in 30 minutes or less. It is recommended that gardeners schedule a time as early as possible with the Garden Manager. The orientation must be completed before work begins in garden plots. If gardeners do not complete a 2024 orientation, you will not be allowed to garden in 2024—you will be put on the waiting list. Exceptions will be made to gardeners who attend composting workshops sponsored by other gardening organizations like Keep Growing Detroit, MSU Extension, etc. Proof of attendance will be required.

2. Agreement + Fee

You must submit your completed, signed agreement and all required fees and forms by the due date on the application form.  If these are not postmarked by the final due date, your plot will be reassigned. By signing and returning the agreement, you agree to these rules.

3. Detroit Residency

You must be a Detroit resident to participate in the North Cass Community Garden. First preference is given to those residents who live in the Midtown, New Center, or Woodbridge neighborhoods. If you are not a Detroit resident, you must partner up with a Detroit resident who would then serve as the primary contact for the garden plot. MDI reserves the right to request proof of Detroit residency and employment, if necessary.

4. Service Commitment

You must perform 4 hours minimum in service to the garden during the year. One garden plot, regardless of size, requires 4 hours of service. For example, if you maintain 1 garden plot, you are required to give 4 hours of service during the year. If 2 people maintain 1 garden plot, you can divide up the 4 hours between the 2 gardeners, however appropriate. These hours can be done as part of organized work events at the NCCG or can be done on your own time. You are responsible for reporting your hours to at MDI by the end of the garden season, December 1.

If you are not able to complete your volunteer hours at the garden, hours completed in service of another Detroit nonprofit organization or neighborhood-based event are acceptable. A letter from that organization verifying your hours needs to be provided to MDI. If you do not complete your service hours, you will not be allowed to renew your plot for the subsequent year. MDI will be keeping track of everyone’s service hours through your self-reporting. It is very important that you document and submit your service hours.

5. Use of Chemicals

You agree never to use unapproved pesticides or herbicides in the garden. Use of unapproved products is grounds for immediate forfeiture of privileges and your plot, no refund. Only organic fertilizers, compost, well-composted animal manures, cover crops, and mulches can be used to improve the soil.  When in doubt if a soil amendment or pesticide is allowed, please ask for clarification.

6. Visitor Access at the NCCG

The NCCG has had a significant impact on the urban agriculture movement in Detroit, nearby neighbors, and the community as a whole. It is a garden of interest, and naturally attracts visitors who want to explore its grounds. Because this garden was funded by philanthropic dollars as a gift to the community, MDI is naturally sensitive to issues of community access. Therefore, members from the community are welcome to visit and walk through the NCCG while gardeners are present or during Garden Open Hours. If you are the last person to leave the garden and someone asks for permission to tour the NCCG, please direct them to the MDI office or the Garden Manager to schedule a tour. Do not give out the combination to non-gardeners or tell them how to access the garden.

7. Contact Information

Make sure MDI always has your current address, phone number, and (if possible) e-mail address. (Call MDI at 313.420.6000 to provide updates.) Optional: provide contact information for a substitute to manage issues regarding your plot if you are unavailable.

8. Transferability

You may not transfer or sublet your plot to someone not listed as an active gardener of the plot. If someone is going to help you tend your garden, please let MDI know or add them on as a “secondary contact” of the plot on the application. If unexpected extenuating circumstances prevent you from taking care of your plot, please contact MDI immediately.

9. Drip Irrigation Systems

Systems that connect to the garden spigot system are not allowed.

10. Expected Conduct

To retain your gardening privileges and plot, you agree to:

  • Act in a manner considerate of the rights, needs, and safety of other gardeners and the community at large and with courtesy toward others.
  • Tend your plot regularly to control weeds and provide an attractive, cared-for-appearance, keeping all plantings within your plot boundaries. No plot may be consistently or excessively weedy, untended, or filled with debris nor contain weeds taller than 8″. Any plot with numerous weeds 2′ or taller or that shows no obvious maintenance for 3 weeks will be presumed abandoned and is subject to immediate forfeiture without refund.
  • Maintain your half of the path around your plot regularly. Paths must be kept free of personal garden equipment, weeds, hoses, and all obstacles, including encroaching or overhanging plants.
  • Planting trees and raspberries, or other woody plants, non-native grass, or known invasive plants in your plot is prohibited. As an example, raspberries are very invasive and roots with new shoots will show up in your neighbors’ plots and the pathways. PLEASE NOTE:  There are already raspberries planted along the south side of the garden available to all gardeners. If you want to plant members of the mint family in your plot, you are encouraged to keep them in containers as they are extremely invasive and can make their way to the pathways. It is prohibited to plant or trellis in any way that it shades out adjacent plots. If an adjacent plot’s gardener complains of excessive shading by anything in your plot, you must come to an agreement or remove it.
  • Pick and remove your ripe produce promptly to avoid encouraging theft and waste. If ripe produce is left unharvested in your garden, you will get an email stating that if it is not harvested within 2-3 days, it will be picked and donated.
  • Put compostable materials only in the compost areas. Never dump debris or garden materials anywhere else on garden property.
  • Do not use motorized vehicles in the garden area.
  • Respect the garden’s property and assets. Use equipment and tools owned in common responsibly and treat them with care. Please clean and return all tools when you are done with them. Keep tools neatly organized.
  • Do not meddle with others’ plots except with permission or on garden business, nor allow pets or unsupervised children to do so.
  • Always keep dogs leashed and under your control, and always clean up after them. Vicious dogs are not allowed in the NCCG.
  • Do not share the combination to the garden with others. If you are the last person in the garden, you are responsible for locking the garden when you leave—please check both entrances to ensure they are locked.  PLEASE NOTE:  MDI reserves the right to provide garden privileges to non-gardeners on a case-by-case basis.
  • Children under 16 years old are never to be in the garden unsupervised. A parent, teacher or guardian must always remain in the garden.

11. New Rules May Need to be Developed

MDI reserves the right to create new rules to help manage and maintain any new assets to the garden site.  New rules may also need to be created to address unforeseeable situations. The cooperation of all gardeners is needed to ensure that the North Cass Community Garden runs smoothly and that we can maintain our obligations to the City of Detroit and neighbors.