Vermont Community Garden Network Bulletin

November 2013  

"Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there." ~Thomas Fuller

With the growing season behind us and the the first frosts of winter arriving, we have time to look back on the successes of the growing season. Many gardeners across Vermont made huge strides this season growing bountiful harvests and healthy communities.

We joyfully support the new and revitalized garden projects included in this month';s newsletter, as well as the work of hundreds of community and school garden groups around the state. You can be a part of this nourishing work, too! Please make a generous, tax-deductible donation today to help more people grow fresh, healthy food for themselves, their families and neighbors.

This newsletter includes some inspiring stories from VCGN's Garden Flood Relief Grant recipients. Read about how these gardens have flourished and their plans for the future. We also hear from Community Teaching Garden graduate and VCGN intern, Dave Littlefield, about a new garden sprouting in Burlington.


In This Issue
Grow It! Thank You
The Toolshed: Tips for Garden Leaders
Hurray for Bonnie Acker
Join the Movement
From Garden Student to Garden Leader
Flood Relief Grantee Follow Up


Grow It! 2013 Thank You

Connecting over food: A shared meal at Mount Anthony Union Middle School in Bennington, prepared by teachers and students.  Grow It! workshop participants were joined by students from the Garden Club and their families. 

It's been an incredible year of Grow It! Garden Leader workshops, connecting more than 150 garden leaders to timely resources - and each other - through 19 sessions around the state. Thanks to all of you who participated in this valuable experience. 

We are also grateful for our wonderful Grow It! partners, funders and sponsors. All of these individuals, organizations and businesses are committed to improving food security and creating healthy and positive change in our state. We are proud to partner with them on this important work.


A huge thank you to Charlie Nardozzi for collaborating and co-facilitating with us on the entire workshop series, offering his expertise, positive energy, and commitment to the work of community gardens.  Thank you also to Joseph Keifer of Food Works at Two Rivers Center for touring the state with us this summer, contributing more than 20 years of experience and insight to our activities and discussions.  Thank you to Highfields Center for Composting for providing expert staff and resources during the series, Betsy Johnson for presenting and sharing resources, and UVM Extension Master Gardeners (EMG), for promoting our work and involving EMG interns in the workshops. We are grateful for our partnership with NOFA-VT that enabled us to launch the series as a part of our Community and School Garden Track at the NOFA-VT winter conference.


For each workshop we partnered with local and regional partners to ensure outreach and help coordinate logistics locally.  Please click here for full list.  


The Grow It! series was made possible with generous support from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Windham Foundation, Ben & Jerry's Foundation, New England Grassroots Environment  Fund, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. 


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

Your November tip: Take the time to send out personalized thank yous to all of the individuals, groups, institutions, and businesses that made your garden possible this season.  As you well know, these volunteers, gardeners, advocates, and donors are what center your garden in the community, what makes the work of your garden fresh and relevant, and what often keeps your garden afloat.  Include in your thank you pictures from the season, any updates or developments they may be unaware of, and a brief note on how their contribution benefited the garden. Simple gestures can go a long way, such as a hand written note signed or written by the gardeners.  Consider hand delivering your note with jar of pickles from your garden's harvest (food can also go a long way in saying "thank you").  If possible, also find a way to publicly thank them, in the local newspaper, on your Facebook page, or in-person at a community gathering, so the broader community understands all that it takes to make your garden possible.  Additionally, this recognition lets contributors know that they are a part of something bigger that they want to continue to support and see grow.


Hurray for Bonnie Acker!
Bonnie Acker is an inspirational artist, activist, school food advocate, and school garden champion! She was celebrated November 4th at The Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler in Burlington with stories, music, art, photos, and an official proclamation by Mayor Miro Weinberger that November 4th, 2013, is "Bonnie Acker Day." Thank you, Bonnie!


Help Grow Vibrant Gardens and 
Healthy Communities!

Community and school gardens feed tens of thousands of Vermonters.  No other activity increases food security, gets people outside, fights poverty, builds healthy soils, and strengthens community spirit - all at the same time.


You can help more people experience the health and community benefits of growing together. Please make a donation today and join our effort to raise $25,000 by the end of the year.    

VCGN cultivates strong local food systems, one garden at a time.  Studies show that people who learn to grow their own food make healthier life choices overall.  The state's garden leaders say they want more of what we offer.  Please make a contribution today to help us meet the growing demand!


It's easy to donate online with a credit card or PayPal.  Any amount helps. Thank you


bcgardenFrom Garden Student to Garden Leader 


David Littlefield is a Burlington College senior studying film production, the student body president and leader of the college's new garden club. He graduated this fall from VCGN's Community Teaching Garden program.  


Burlington College is a place where a wide range of student interests in life and academia unite. From film or photography to tranpersonal psychology, woodworking, creative writing, and expressive arts, the range of studies here are vast. Adding to this, Burlington College is considering in their long term plans to develop a Sustainable or Urban Agriculture program. To get students aware and excited about gardening, I made it my goal to begin a garden there as soon as possible. With my freshly learned gardening skills as a result of Vermont Community Garden Network's Community Teaching Garden, I did just that. My hope is that the garden will incorporate students of all disciplines to create a garden site that is an enjoyable and stimulating gathering place for all. 


I discovered the Vermont Community Garden Network this past Spring as I was searching for community members and organizations to interview for a research paper that was centered around the creation of a garden club at Burlington College. By the end of my interview with Jess Hyman (Director of VCGN), I not only had some excellent quotes, but also an internship position documenting the program and creating promotional videos for the Network. In exchange for my video work, I received free tuition for the Community Teaching Garden class, as well as free access to their Grow It! Workshops.


The experience I had participating in the Community Teaching Garden class was much more profound and far-reaching than I had anticipated. Prior to this class, I had very minimal exposure to gardening. Now, at the end of the season, I feel confident in how to plant seeds and starts, which plants require trellis or support, how to gauge soil condition, and which pests and diseases to look out for. We also learned how to preserve using lacto-fermentation, medicinal herb-usage, how to make pickles, and how to prepare a garden bed for spring without tilling (layer-composting). Aside from the skills and tactile aspects of gardening, I also received a lesson in community building. Through this class I met a new group of people from different ages and backgrounds. By working together, sharing foods during potlucks, and meeting up outside of class, I have forged good bonds of friendship. Also, I was able to bring some of my vegetables home to friends who were delighted to have fresh food. One friend crafted a beautiful sweet potato pie, and another baked zucchini bread using vegetables from my garden. Since this class, I have felt more deeply connected to the people and earth here in Burlington.


Layer composting on the site of the new Burlington College garden.

Looking down the road, a personal goal is to help make Vermont food secure and food independent. Burlington College can play an effective role modeling the benefits of gardening and showing the community ways in which it can fit into and improve all of our lives as individuals and as a community at large. The Vermont Community Gardening Network is already taking great strides in helping to support garden infrastructure across the state. I feel lucky to have become a part of this healing organization and I eagerly look forward to learning more about gardening and how it can improve the overall health of individuals and communities in Vermont.




We check in with the Garden Flood Relief Grant recipients who worked hard in the wake of disaster to restore their gardens


By Jocelyn Morin 

"The 2013 season went quite smoothly, and I think that is because we were able to recover so quickly in 2012. With all the warm weather, the hardest part has been getting people to close their gardens down."  - Sally Miller, Sustainable Woodstock
All summer the students of Children's Early Learning Space in Waterbury ate fresh vegetables from their garden on the upper playground. The Yellow Farm Barn provided vegetables for the School Summer Lunch programs in Arlington, Sunderland, and Sandgate while still providing enough bounty to feed the family of Cynthia Browning, the gardener on site. Who would have guessed that only two years ago these gardens were destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene.
The Quechee Community Garden pre, during, and post-Irene

During the spring of 2012, VCGN provided Garden Flood Relief Grants to these two gardens as well as eight others across the state that were damaged or destroyed by tropical storm Irene in August 2011. The grants were made possible through an Irene Recovery Fund grant from the Vermont Community Foundation and the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.


These grants were open to any community or school whose garden was damaged by the flood. The grants of up to $1,000 covered soil testing and amendments, replacement fencing, infrastructure, and technical assistance. Gardener's Supply also donated tools to each garden site. The recipients of these grants said they are all grateful to be able to continue providing a place for community building and education as well as fresh and nutritious food for community members. During the first growing season post-Irene, we heard from gardeners about their rebuilding process. With the help of these grants, and a lot of hard work and determination from community members, there were stories of success across the board with big goals for the future. We checked in with some of the gardens again at the end of this growing season to see how they have met their goals, and to hear what's next. 


Hardwick Community Garden- new raised beds

Since 2012, the Hardwick Community Garden has relocated, built and filled 24 raised bed gardens and worked with third and fourth graders in growing food for their school kitchen. The raised beds are a lot easier to use and maintain and the new location in view of the farmer's market has attracted a lot of attention from community members. In the past, there has been at least one bed that washed away in the flooding, but this past season not one was damaged. There is now a waiting list for garden plots and the Hardwick Community Garden is considering expansion.


 The Quechee Community Garden added four plots during its rebuilding and had a successful season this year. Two of the plots were dedicated to providing fresh food to the Haven Food Shelf.


The Center for Sustainable Practice Luscious Garden used the grant they received to put in new fencing, move and expand the vegetable garden out of the flooded area, and work on remediating the soil that was contaminated by the floodwaters. There are many soil amendments being added to the flooded area and next growing season, there are plans for growing a perennial herb garden on the site. 


"The most positive and potentially surprising result was to see the community coming together and focusing energy on growing food together and maintaining healthy soil. There is always an element of community building that happening in the face of disaster." 

- Karen Ganey, The Center for Sustainable Practice Luscious Garden



At Vermont Community Garden Network, we are happy to see community gardens coming back bigger and better in the face of hardship. Since Irene, these gardeners have focused on rebuilding their gardens, while simultaneously improving the resiliency and strength of the communities they support.


Garden Flood Relief Grant Recipients:

Center for Sustainable Practice Garden, White River Junction

Children's Early Learning Space, Waterbury

Gardens for Learning, Montpelier

The Grateful Garden, Chester Andover Elementary School

Hardwick Community Gardens, Hardwick

Mellishwood Garden, Woodstock

Quechee Community Garden, Quechee

Riverside Mobile Home Park Community Gardens, Woodstock

Sustainable Woodstock Community Garden, Woodstock

Yellow Barn Farm, Arlington



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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