A community garden can be a fun and effective way for ministry members to work with each other and engage the community at large. Careful planning can help ensure a gardening ministry operates safely.
Deciding where to plant the garden is a key step in the planning process. If the land is owned by someone other than the church, a land use agreement may be necessary.
Land use agreements typically include an indemnity/hold harmless clause. By agreeing to this clause, the ministry promises not to bring a lawsuit against the landowner and also promises to pay for any damages resulting from its use of the land. Review any land use agreement with a local attorney before signing. Also, it’s a good idea to confirm with your insurance agent that appropriate insurance coverages are in place.
A signed release form (or Activity Participation Agreement) can help protect the ministry when sponsoring a community garden program. Before they begin working, ask participants to release the ministry from legal responsibility, should any injuries or damages occur while in the garden.
Help participants stay safe by keeping the garden as neat and organized as possible. Keep walkways clear of debris to help avoid trip and fall accidents, and store equipment when not in use. Store tools securely to prevent minors from accessing dangerous equipment and to deter would-be thieves.
Chemical Issues (Pesticides, Fertilizers, etc.)
Take particular care with the use of chemicals in the garden. Common issues include:
If children or youth are present during gardening activities, be sure that they are properly supervised. Also, carefully consider which jobs minors will be allowed to do—it’s best to follow the same rules that apply to the employment of minors, even if minors are strictly working on a volunteer basis. If you plan to pay individuals to work in a community garden, be sure to review employment related laws that might apply. The Working Together guidebook provides additional guidance for employment-related questions.
Encourage gardeners to protect themselves against heat-related illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers responses to frequently asked questions about extreme heat.
As with any ministry activity, having the appropriate insurance coverage is essential. Make sure your ministry has liability insurance that protects in the event:
Also, verify that your ministry has coverage for tools and equipment owned by the ministry, and for tools owned by others left on the ministry’s property. Check your insurance policy for coverage when using chemicals, too—Brotherhood Mutual offers a pesticide/herbicide application liability coverage that provides protection for the gardening ministry. Your insurance agent can help identify what your ministry needs.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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