Growing Wellness

This month's Garden Spotlight features garden leaders who incorporate medicinal plants and their uses into their community-based gardens and educational programming. Above, Good Food Good Medicine participants learn how to tie herb bundles for drying at Green Acres Apartments in Barre.

We have lots of news and resources to share this month - from an introduction to our stellar summer garden education team to tips for using medicinal plants in community-based gardens to an invitation to the American Community Gardening Association conference, and more! Read on, and we hope to see you this weekend at the 9th Annual Sweet Potato Slip Sale at Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg.   
~ Jess Hyman, Executive Director

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THANK YOU for everyone who contributed to VCGN during the recent Vermont Gives Day! You brought us $1,465 closer to our goal of raising $5,000 to earn a matching grant from the Sustainable Future Fund.
There's still time to help grow food and community all over Vermont:  

Garden Education Interns Nell Carpenter and Beka Bruner
Please join us in welcoming some new faces to the VCGN summer 2017 garden education team!

Garden Education Intern Nell Carpenter
is a junior at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in food, land, and community. She is passionate about food security and food sovereignty, and is currently doing research looking at food access initiatives in Burlington. Nell also interns with the Huertas migrant farmworker garden project and volunteers at Pine Island Community Farm.
Garden Education Intern Beka Bruner comes to us through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty organization. Born and raised in Idaho, she attends Centre College in Kentucky and is majoring in Environmental Studies with a social studies concentration. Her passion for poverty relief, healthy lifestyles, and sustainable food systems has driven her to pursue environmental classes and internships in the United States as well as abroad in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Thailand. Nell and Beka will work alongside Garden Education Manager & Community Teaching Garden Instructor Carolina Lukac, and
Community Teaching Garden Assistant Ehrin Lingeman
CTG Assistant Ehrin Lingeman, who joined the VCGN staff this spring. Ehrin became grounded in sustainable food systems, gardening, and community engagement during her studies in the Appalachian foothill town of Athens, Ohio. A food justice activist, she believes everyone should have access to food that is healthy for themselves and their environment and believes promoting garden education can realize her vision. Ehrin recently returned from Peace Corps where she served as an agriculture volunteer.
We are also happy to announce that Statewide Network Intern Sabina Parker is continuing to work with VCGN as a volunteer. She is doing a stellar job organizing and updating our garden directory. Stay tuned for a relaunch later this summer!
Read more about the VCGN team here.

The garden education team has had a busy start to the growing season. Read more here:
  • Beka shares experiences and lessons from her first week in the gardens with seniors at Ethan Allen Residence and families at the Family Room Garden in Burlington, Canal Street Veterans Housing in Winooski, and Harbor Place transitional housing in Shelburne. READ MORE HERE!
  • 2nd-Year Community Teaching Garden Student Hayley Shriner shares highlights from the two teaching garden sites, timely garden tips, recipes, and links to resources in her weekly blog. READ MORE HERE!


After a successful trial run, we're excited to bring back the VCGN School Garden Art Contest. Winners will have their art featured in our 2018 calendar. Art entries are due Sept. 29 and we are currently accepting business sponsorships for the calendar. 

gardensResources for Garden Groups
Processing calendula in the Community Teaching Garden, Burlington.

GROWING WELLNESS: Plants for medicinal use in garden education programs
Village School of North Bennington student gifting herb bundles made at Hiland Hall Garden, North Bennington.
This month's Garden Spotlight features three Vermont garden leaders who have (at least) one thing in common: they all intentionally incorporate medicinal plants and their uses into their community-based gardens and educational programming.

We spoke with
Joann Darling, a Food Justice educator at Good Food Good Medicine in Barre "Medicinal plants and culinary plants go hand-in-hand... These flavorful plants surprise and inspire; especially the kids"   ; Carolina Lukac, VCGN's Garden Education Manager and the lead instructor for the Community Teaching Garden "Broadening people's perception of what can grow in a garden and how gardens can provide not just food, but medicine"; and
Kristen Blaker, Director of Education at The Hiland Hall Gardens (HHG) in Bennington "Our emphasis with the herbs in our garden is to use them to benefit people in our community."  
Bee balm at Highgate Apartments, Barre.

Read the full spotlight
to learn more about these powerful programs and find a wealth of tips, resources, favorite recipes, and advice for gardeners or educators who want to incorporate medicinal plants into their gardens and garden programs.


One Week Left for Early Bird Price!
July 27-30 in Hartford, Conn.

Join us July 27-30 in Hartford, Conn.
T he American Community Gardening Association's 38th Annual Conference is coming to the northeast this summer!
It's the only gathering like it in the country - an opportunity to connect with fellow community and school gardeners, organizers, and advocates through loads of networking events, workshops and garden tours. This conference is a "must do" if your boots are in the school or community gardening movement.
More info including workshop and tour descriptions, schedule, and online registration can be found at
Early bird registration with reduced fees ends June 16. 

Grow your own delicious and nutritious sweet potatoes! Buy your slips this weekend at Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg.

Sweet potatoes are ideal for Champlain Valley gardeners with sandy, silty, or loamy soil. Each slip can produce up to five pounds of delicious Orleans sweet potatoes. Since 2004, VCGN has introduced thousands of area gardeners to the enjoyable experience of growing sweet potatoes in Vermont! Our plants are sold at just the right time for planting when the ground is warm and night temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. All proceeds support our garden-based education and outreach programs.
We will also have burlap coffee bags for sale, which are great for weedblock on your garden paths and sweet potato hills. The bags are generously donated by Keurig Green Mountain.

Sweet potato slips and burlap bags are available until they run out at Red Wagon Plants, and also at the VCGN office, 12 North Street in Burlington, after June 12. Go to or call (802) 861-4769 for more info. 
Thanks for Your Support!
The Vermont Community Garden Network is growing a healthier Vermont by helping people of all ages access the space and resources to grow their own food and connect with each other. We need your help now more than ever!
Thanks to a special spring donation challenge from the Sustainable Future Fund, we have the opportunity to earn an additional $5,000.  
Please make a donation today to help us meet the challenge goal for NEW and INCREASED donations and help us grow more gardens, gardeners, and garden leaders. Thank you.

Since 2001, the Vermont Community Garden Network has worked with hundreds of community and school groups to start, sustain, and grow gardens, building strong local food systems and vibrant educational sites.    
Contact us - we'd love to hear from you!

Jess Hyman , Executive Director
Libby Weiland, Statewide Network Coordinator 
Carolina Lukac, Garden Education Manager
Trish Laraja, Business Manager
Jennifer Fuller, Office Administrator
Sabina Parker, Network Development Intern 
802-861-4769 |

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