Vermont Community Garden Network Bulletin

December 2013  

"A garden is never so good as it will be next year." ~ Thomas Cooper 

The holiday finally season is upon us! Celebrate this wonderful time of the year with friends, family, and good food. Also, take time to consider how important it is to give back. Support the growth of vibrant communities in Vermont and help more people grow fresh and healthy food for themselves and their communities by making a donation today. Also, come support the cause with a great night of laughs at Charity HILARITY!- an improv comedy show to benefit VCGN tonight at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington.

This month's newsletter includes some stories of success  from school and community gardens around the state that received GROW and SEED grants from New England Grassroots Environment Fund in partnership with VCGN last spring. Learn more about their plans for the future and be inspired to start planning a garden of your own! 


In This Issue
The Toolshed: Tips for Garden Leaders
Garden Grantee Success Stories
Save the date: NOFA-VT Winter Conference
Thank you, Jocelyn!


Charity HILARITY! Improv Benefit - Tonight in Burlington 


Spark Improv Troupe, Vermont's premier improv comedy team, presents its fun, freewheeling comedy show (in the style of "Whose Line is it, Anyway?") tonight in Burlington to benefit VCGN. And they'll be joined onstage by Spark Arts' brand NEW second improv troupe! Based on nothing more than suggestions shouted from the audience, the two teams will create sharp, witty comedy on the spot. Just $10, with great food and drink available.  


Doors- 7:00pm / 

Show- 8:00pm - Skinny Pancake, 60 Lake St., Burlington 



Let us know you're coming by joining the Facebook event page - and be sure to invite your friends to this super fun, high-energy, and interactive improv night!



toolshedThe Toolshed: Tips for Garden Leaders 
By Libby Weiland, Program Manager

Your December tip:  Remember that incredible brainstorm session you had with your garden group at the end of the season?  The one where you came up with a long list of ideas for the future of your garden?  If you haven't already taken action, now's the time to dust off that list and begin planning for next growing season.  Here are some steps to take:

  1. Divide your list into long-term (5-7 year), medium-term (3-5 year), and short-term (1-2 year) goals.   
  2. Zero in on your short-term goals -- this will tell you what you should be actively planning and fundraising for now.   
  3. For each goal, consider: what needs to happen, who will take care of it, how long it will take to achieve, when it should happen, and what resources are needed (people, supplies, funding, etc.).  
  4. Do the same for your basic operations, such as getting your garden prepped for the season, ordering seeds and supplies, outreach and recruitment, etc.   
  5. The end result should be an action plan for the next year or so that tells the story of what you intend to see happen with your garden and what you need to make it a reality.  This is a valuable place to start for planning as well as for raising funds for your garden.

Some resources and examples that you may want to use in this process:

Once your plan is complete, you can find upcoming and ongoing grants on VCGN's Garden Grants page.  To learn more about planning a budget and fundraising for your garden, join us for the 3rd Annual Community and School Garden Track at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference, Sunday, February 16.  More info coming soon!



growseedGROW and SEED Grant Follow Up

 We check in with the recipients of the 2013 GROW and SEED grants

By Jocelyn Morin
, Communications Intern

Bakersfield first graders with garden-fresh turnips.


Last spring, Vermont Community Garden Network partnered with New England Grassroots Environmental Fund and Highfields Center for Composting to support 20 garden projects around the state. The SEED grants provided $250-$1,000 for  new garden projects. The GROW grants, for established garden sites, provided $1,000-3,500 to increase capacity, collaborate, and leverage impact. These garden projects focused on everything from purchasing seeds and soil, to building raised beds, to funding garden coordinators.


The funded gardens are: Bakersfield Farm to School, Barre Community Garden at Metro Way, Atkinson Garden, Greater Falls Community Garden Collaborative, Y ASPIRE Community Garden in Bellows Falls, Mount Anthony Union Middle School in Bennington, Grow Team O.N.E and New Farms for New Americans in Burlington, Meadow Terrace Community Garden in Essex Junction, Haston Library in Franklin, Hardwick Community Gardens and Hazen Union Middle Level in Hardwick, Middletwon Springs School Community Garden Group, Fresh Start Community Farm in Newport, Poultney High School, Camel's Hump Middle/Richmond Elementary School Community Garden, Tinmouth Wellness Committee, Winooski Community Gardens, and WUHSMS Local Food Group in Winooski.


We are excited to share some of the inspiring stories of the growth and success of the funded garden projects.


Bakersfield Farm to School is still enjoying their harvest in the school lunch program and afterschool cooking activities. The school compost bins are hot and active and Bakerfield FTS is exploring new ways to expanding the school compost program to reach the larger community. Thanks to the grant, the school is able to fund a few hours a month of staff time to coordinate the compost program. Additionally, the school plans  to use some of the grant money to purchase fruit and nut trees for next spring. "This grant has solidified school and community commitment to our garden," said Rachel Huff.


The Poultney High School Garden purchased weed suppressant and trellising equipment as well as much of their set-ins. As a result they had a good harvest of tomatoes, peppers, carrots, peas, beans, garlic, herbs, cucumbers and squash. They were able to continue to supply the local community and school with vegetables and are looking into expanding the garden to provide an area for community plots.



New Farms for New Americans 
Although many crops were affected by early summer flooding,
New Farms for New Americans
still made strides in improving the garden plots and strategizing for next year, said Alisha Laramee, program specialist with AALV.
"What is wonderful, is to see so many kinds of people growing familiar and unfamiliar plants and to see people wanting to trade seeds for varieties not found locally," Alisha said.  


Many of the gardeners coming from subsistence farming backgrounds and NFNA decided to expand the plot size to accommodate the needs of their gardeners and develop a different type of management plan for the site. NFNA worked with VCGN on this project. "VCGN helped us to think the process through from January-November, not just the growing season," Alisha said. "This has also developed into an important partnership between our organization and other key players in the county."   


Since transportation is a significant issue for many of the gardeners, NFNA is looking into hiring someone in the New American community who will be trained to drive a 14 passenger van for next season.  


WUHS students building their new greenhouse


With more than 350 pounds of vegetables harvested for the school cafeteria, the Woodstock Union High School & Middle School Local Food Group had an incredible season and has started to focus energy on the construction of a new greenhouse.


The greenhouse project has provided many connections for students including aspects of alternative energy, passive solar, permaculture design, and soil regeneration. The school has also started an on-site composting initiative. The greenhouse provides a valuable place for students to experiment and learn. "It's been really neat to see all of the ways we can connect with the new greenhouse before we've even started growing anything in it!" said Kat Robbins, the school's place-based education coordinator



Camel's Hump Middle/ Richmond Elementary School
had a fantastic fall growing season and plans for harvest through the winter. With the grant, the school constructed low tunnels on all 16 of the raised bed gardens and worked with UVM students this semester to research season-extension practices. Science classes will be monitoring the growth and temperature in the low tunnels and are even creating a stop-motion video of the planting. Older students teach younger students about the garden. Fourth graders were "garden ambassadors" to their kindergarten buddies, showing them around the garden to taste what was growing. These two groups of students eating out of the garden alongside each other truly exemplify how the garden is becoming a part of the school culture.   


"I think knowing that we wouldn't have to scramble for funds this season allowed us to dream bigger than we might have, and I've been thrilled by how many people want to get involved when they see that amazing things are taking place in the garden," said Garden Coordinator Joanna May. "We've had more teachers bring their classes to the garden this fall than any other year, more community volunteers, and more kitchen staff & kids picking from the garden to supply the salad bars in both schools."

These school and community gardens were able to implement valuable projects providing education and fresh food to schools and communities and made huge strides towards success for next season. Congratulations to all of the garden leaders who make these community centerpieces a possibility!

garden groups can apply for a New England Grassroots Environment Fund SEED grant at any time; the GROW grant deadline is March 15, 2014. More info. 


Save the Date!  NOFA-VT Winter Conference
University of Vermont, Burlington 
February 15-16, 2014 
VCGN is pleased to present the3rd Annual Community and School Garden Track at the 2014 NOFA-VT Winter Conference. The special track brings together garden groups from around the state for a day of skill-building, story sharing, and networking.

This year's workshops are:
  • Summer Success with School Gardens and Connecting to the School Year
  • Community Garden Leader Discussion: Strategies for Lasting Gardener Engagement
  • Diverse Fundraising Strategies for Community and School Gardens
  • Starting a Community-based Garden.  

All workshops will be held on Sunday, Feb. 16. There will also be a fun Vermont Community Garden Network Gathering and Garden Showcase at lunchtime and with lots of ways to connect to other garden leaders. 


Stay tuned for more information about the conference and how you can be part of the garden showcase!  Registration opens in January.


Thank you, Jocelyn!
This newsletter marks the end of Jocelyn Morin's internship with VCGN. We were so happy to have Jocelyn as part of the team this semester and appreciate the thought and creativity she brought to her work. Please join us in thanking Jocelyn and wishing her the best for the rest of her senior year at UVM!  ~ VCGN staff and board


See our website for Garden Grants and Garden Events from around the state.

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 2,000 school and community gardeners all over the state. Please include a web page link to help direct readers to the information source.

Since 2001, the Vermont Community Garden Network (formerly known as Friends of Burlington Gardens) has worked with community and school groups to start, sustain and grow gardens, building strong local food systems and vibrant educational sites.

For more information, visit our website 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
Libby Weiland, Program Manager
Ann Pearce, Volunteer Coordinator/Admin
Denise Quick, Community Teaching Garden Instructor
Jocelyn Morin, Communications and Outreach Intern (newsletter editor)

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