City pulls plug on contract for Langley Community Garden

The city of Langley is getting out of the garden business.

Langley officials have been told by the Washington State Auditor’s Office that the city needs to stop acting as the banker for the Langley Community Garden, the grassroots P-patch that sprouted in spring 2010 on the Anderson farm.

Langley officials have been told the city cannot operate a “pass through” revenue/expense account for the community garden, because the set-up violates state regulations. The garden operates on private property near Fairgrounds Road.

The city signed a three-year agreement with the owners of the Anderson farm for the community garden in May 2010. Under the agreement, Langley agreed to act as the garden’s sponsor and provide financial reports and oversight of the garden’s account for user fees, cash donations and payment of garden expenses. The city also agreed to process plot applications and pay the garden’s water bill.

Organizers of the community garden were given 30 days’ notice in early November that the city was ending the agreement, effective Dec. 8.

The Langley Community Garden has earned widespread praise for turning untilled land on the Anderson farm into productive patches for local families. A portion of the property has hosted more than a dozen plots, and growers have reported great success over the past two seasons. City officials also said there is a waiting list at the garden.

The association set up at the time of the garden’s creation, however, will now be the official caretaker of funds for the project. The city has asked that a separate bank account be set up by the association so it can handle its own finances.

Langley handled $4,970 in P-patch fees in 2010, according to city budget records, and $2,105 in fees this year.

The city council is expected to signal its ongoing support for community gardens at its meeting on Monday.

Council members will be asked to approve a resolution that would direct the city’s Parks and Open Space Commission to come up with ways to support community gardens, both public and private, in the city. The work would encourage shared gardens through new policies and procedures and Langley’s zoning rules.

Recommendations covering community gardens would be due to the city council by June 30.