Vermont Community Garden Network Bulletin

January 2013  



Happy New Year! Wishing happiness and good health to all during this refreshing time of year!


In This Issue
Welcome New VCGN Staff
Your Input Needed: Burlington Open Space Plan
Teaching Garden Program Expands with New Site at the Intervale
In the Garden: Planning and Preparing
In the Kitchen: Make Your Own Fat Bird Cake
Garden Grant Opportunities
Upcoming Events


Welcome New Staff!

VCGN is excited to announce the hiring of two new team members! We are thrilled to welcome Program Manager, Libby Weiland, and Events and Communications Intern, Hannah Aitken. 

Libby Weiland, Program Manager, joins VCGN with vast experience
working in community gardening and food systems.  She is a seasoned community organizer who has coordinated projects and workshops from youth gardening to garden leader trainings. Most recently she  completed her M.S. in Environmental Studies with a focus on Environmental Education from Antioch University New England. During her time there she co-developed a Community Garden Connections program where she lead workshops for new garden leaders, and developed a Garden Leader Education Program Manual. In addition to her work with Community Garden Connections, she also created a comprehensive website outlining the food system of Cheshire County, NH. Prior to her experiences in New England, Libby spent three years as a youth nutrition and gardening educator for the University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Extension, developing and implementing an after school gardening and nutrition program. Libby starts January 21st !

Hannah Aitken, Events and Communications Intern,
joined VCGN this month. She has been working at Bella Farm since 2011 and manages the farm's new CSA program. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2011 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, and a focus on Environmental Education. For her undergraduate thesis, Hannah developed and piloted a farm to school garden and nutrition curriculum for Brewster Pierce Memorial Elementary School in Huntington. While completing her work she fell in love with the community of gardening and nutrition champions reigning throughout Vermont. Hannah is ecstatic to join the VCGN team.

Join us in welcoming Libby and Hannah!

And we're hiring!  VCGN is looking for an experienced development professional to join our growing organization. The part-time Development Coordinator plays a key role in implementing the organization's fundraising plan, including identifying sources of support and funding, writing grant applications and reports, and managing community fundraising activities and events.


Burlington Seeks Open Space Planning Input


Thanks to an abundance of parks, community gardens, easy access to the lake and a healthy urban forest, Burlington is considered one of the "greenest cities" in the country.  The City is updating its Open Space Protection Plan and looking for input to help keep it that way! This is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of community and neighborhood gardens in our city. Four Neighborhood Planning Assembly meetings will be held in January to celebrate successes and identify the next steps for open space conservation. Please bring your ideas to the NPA near you:

  • Ward 1 and Wards 2/3: Jan. 22 in the McClure Lobby Conference Room at Fletcher Allen Health  Care, 111 Colchester Ave., 5 p.m.
  • Wards 4/7: Jan. 23 at Robert E. Miller Community Center, 130 Gosse Court, 6:45 p.m. 
  • Ward 5: Jan. 17 at Champlain College Miller Center, 175 Lakeside Ave., 7 p.m. 
  • Ward 6: Jan. 10 at the Greek Orthodox Church, 600 South Willard St., 7 p.m. More info and online comments.


CTGBuild Your Garden and Your Confidence: Enroll Now in our Community Teaching Garden Program!
Program expands with second site at the Intervale
The Community Teaching Garden is a fun, hands-on organic gardening program for adults. Participants learn how to plant, cultivate, harvest, and preserve fresh vegetables in a supportive learning environment. Classes are held twice a week from May through September at Ethan Allen Homestead and - new in 2013! - at Tommy Thompson Community Garden in the Intervale. The course fee includes garden beds, instruction, seeds, plants, supplies, water, use of garden tools, garden potlucks, and all the delicious fresh produce participants can grow and eat. Scholarship assistance is available to cover up to half of the course fee thanks to the Frank Way Memorial Scholarship Fund. The new site is in partnership with Burlington Area Community Gardens and a special instruction-only option is available for existing Tommy Thompson gardeners. For more information, visit our website or call (802) 861-4769. Enrollment is open until the March 22 deadline! Register here 



January in the Garden: Planning and Preparing
Well folks, it's that time again. Time to take a look back on the past year and make plans for the next! While cozying up with a hot cup and a good book during these short January  days, take advantage of the opportunity to comfortably prepare for the upcoming sun shining days in the garden. Here are a few tasks to consider for the month of January:

With a blanket of snow tucking us into the winter months, now is a great time to pull out some graph paper and a pencil to begin planning your garden! Make a few drafts, remembering to consider sunlight, water sources, and built structures. Get creative with bed design, and play around with companion plants. If you haven't received your seed catalog in the mail, check out local seed sources and start ordering your seeds.   

Keep up with any cleaning projects, such as washing empty pots, or sharpening hand tools, and take a minute to re-organize your shed. Keep posted on local workshops and indoor gardening opportunities to get inspired and thinking green!  


Speaking of green, indoor plants are especially vulnerable in the wintertime as indoor heating can cause plants to dry out. One method that helps promote humidity is to place indoor plants on a tray of pebbles. If you celebrated with a Christmas tree this year and haven't already disposed of it, consider recycling it by shredding it and adding to the compost bins, or saving to use as garden mulch. Another good use for your old Christmas tree is saving the branches to use as stakes for garden structures.


Now is the time to maintain winter brassicas by removing any dead or yellowing leaves, this will help prevent disease. And you can continue harvesting and eating kale -- its taste improves after the frost!   


Lastly, enjoy the season's bounty through those canned dilly beans or ginger carrots, and take in this restful winter break.  



January in the Kitchen: Fat Balls, Bird Cakes
Photo: todayshomeowner .com

Whichever name you give them, making these delicious bird-treats is a fun and easy winter activity. It bring the birds to your yard through the winter and encourage their return in the spring where they may enjoy a new diet of pests in the garden.


Tools you will need: Old plastic yogurt cups or small Tupperware, twine or thick string, scissors, saucepan, and a spoon.


Ingredients: Lard* and any combination of the following: oats, bread/cake crumbs, grated cheese, sunflower seeds, wild birdseed, unsalted peanuts, dried fruit. 


Preparation: Make a slit in the bottom of your yogurt container and feed twine through until 1 inch or so shows, cut the other end of the twine a few inches above the opening of the container. Leave enough room to tie a loop for the fat cake to hang from your trees or porch!


Depending on the size and quantity of your Tupperware or yogurt containers, be sure to use this ratio: 1 part lard to 2 parts dry ingredients.


The recipe is easy; simply melt the lard in a sauce pan, add the melted lard to the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour mix into container, being sure to hold the twine or string taught keeping the end out of the mix. Set in the fridge overnight.  


To remove the container, either cut and peel it off, or place in a warm water bath until the outer fat layer of the cake melts and pull container off. Tie a knot at the bottom of the cake and hang for the birds!


*It's best to avoid using turkey fat, as it can harm the bird by coating its feathers. Also avoid using vegetable oil as it doesn't set well. 


Garden Grants

Sow it Forward Grant - Seeds, supplies, online garden planners, books, and small grants from Kitchen Gardeners International. Application deadline January 11, 2013. More info  


Building Community in Community Gardens - This grant from Gardener's Supply and ACGA is for established or developing community gardens. Grants of up to $1,000. Application deadline Jan. 18, 2013. More info   


Lowes Toolbox for Education Grant - Lowe's Charitable Educational Foundation funds projects ranging from gardens, and nature trails. Application deadline Feb. 15, 2013, but may close early if 1,500 applicants are reached. More info    


New England Grassroots Environment Fund SEED Grants -  Grants to help volunteer groups launch and build their community-based, environmentally focused project(s). Grant range $250-$1,000. Rolling application deadline. More info 


National Gardening Association KidsGardening Grant - More info 


Small Grants Program for Congregations Doing Faith-Based Initiatives to Transform the Food System - The Presbyterian Hunger Program offers grants from $100 - $1000. More info  


Awesome Foundation's Food Chapter - Every month, one $1,000 micro-grant will be given for an awesome idea involving food. The more inventive, the better. More info  


* NEW GRANTS TO BE ANNOUNCED IN FEBRUARY 2013: VCGN is partnering with New England Grassroots Environment Fund and Highfields Center for Composting on a new grant round for community and school gardens and community compost projects. Look for more info in February! 

EventsSave the Date:    


Enroll Now for VCGN's Community Teaching Garden Program! See above for details. 


January 14: Milton Community Dinner and Discussion. 4-7 p.m. at Milton Elementary School. Film screening of HBO series "Weight of the Nation" at 4:30 and 6 p.m. Info at 802-893-3215, Ext. 1164 and   

January 18: Registration is due for Extension Master Gardner Course 2013. The course runs from February 5 - April 30 in multiple locations around the state. More info 


January 20: Indoor Gardening at City Market in Burlington 11:00 - 12:30. Part of the Grow Your Own series, participants learn how to keep greens throughout the winter and go home with a tray of their own. More info about this workshop and other gardening, cooking, and herbal workshops.  


February 2: The 6th annual Jr. Iron Chef competition convenes at the Champlain Valley Exposition 9:00-3:30. Check out the best of Vermont's cooking youth compete for the title, or sign up to volunteer. More info 


February 16 & 17: NOFA-VT Winter Conference with special Community and School Garden Workshop Series. This series of workshops are designed for  garden organizers and educators, where national and local garden experts are brought together to discuss topics related to community-based food production. Scholarships are available: Deadline Jan. 25!  


April 27: Day in the Dirt!  Teams of volunteers get their hands dirty with community and school garden projects all over Burlington then gather for a celebratory BBQ and prizes. Contact Jess at (802) 861-4769 for more info or to sponsor a team.    


The VCGN Bulletin provides garden-based news, resources, and events for community, school, and neighborhood gardeners and garden organizers all over the state on a monthly basis. For more frequent updates and a fun way to post your own news, garden photos, videos, and events, check us out on  Facebook and  Twitter.

We welcome comments and suggestions for the VCGN Bulletin. Send your garden news and events to share with our growing network of more than 1,500 school and community gardeners all over the state. Please include a web page link to help direct readers to the information source.

Since 2001, Friends of Burlington Gardens has worked with community and school groups to help start, sustain and grow gardens, building strong local food systems and vibrant educational sites. We are changing our name to the Vermont Community Garden Network, which has been the name of our statewide program since 2006. The name change reflects our mission to support the hundreds of garden communities across the state. This means more resources, technical assistance, grants, training and networking opportunities that meet the growing needs of local garden leaders. Meanwhile, our established local programs will continue to provide fun, hands-on garden education for youth and adults in Burlington and offer models for the rest of the state and beyond.

For more information, visit our web site or contact us at:

12 North St. Suite 5
Burlington, VT 05401
(802) 861-4769

We'd love to hear from you!
Jess Hyman, Executive Director
Ann Pearce, Admin/Bookkeeper
Denise Quick, Community Teaching Garden Instructor
Hannah Aitken, Events and Communications Intern

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