Vermont Community Garden Network Bulletin

December 2011



Growing and Giving


I had the pleasure of visiting with a fourth-grade class at Champlain Elementary School in Burlington recently. Along with representatives from COTS, Hunger Free Vermont, and City Market, we talked about hunger in our community. The students were fully engaged and asked thoughtful questions.


A week later, an envelope full of hand-made thank you cards arrived. Brightly colored, of all shapes and sizes, the cards echoed the enthusiasm that we saw in the classroom. One card in particular grabbed my attention: "My favorite part is when you told us how we could help."    


We can all learn a lesson from this student. This holiday season, look around you. Is there a neighbor who needs a warm meal, an event that could use a volunteer, or a cause you can support? Channel your inner fourth-grader and make a difference!


Happy Holidays and warm garden thoughts from all of us at Friends of Burlington Gardens and the Vermont Community Garden Network! 

- Jess Hyman


p.s. There are only 9 days left for our special Skinny Pancake challenge. Please make your new or increased donation now to help us meet our fundraising goal! 


In This Issue
78 New or Increased Donors Needed to Meet Challenge
New Grants for Flooded Gardens
Featured Garden: Burlington High School
More Garden Funding Opportunities
Upcoming Events


We Need Your Help!

 Williston Central School, Michele Schmidt photo  


This has been a year of incredible change, growth, challenge, and opportunity for Friends of Burlington Gardens and the Vermont Community Garden Network. We have increased our local garden education programs, provided technical assistance to garden communities all over the state, expanded collaborative networks, hired a new executive director, and added talented new board members. In partnership with Vermont Community Foundation and Sen. Bernie Sanders, we also funded 40 School Community Garden projects. This dynamic new initiative - our largest mini-grant program yet - created and enhanced vibrant garden communities and increased hands-on garden education for students.


In order to continue our work,
we need your support.


As a nonprofit organization, we depend on the generosity of individuals, businesses and foundations who recognize the importance of increasing food access and garden-based education. Over the next year we will expand our statewide presence, offer technical assistance to meet the needs of Vermont's evolving garden communities, continue the mini-grant program which has benefited more than 200 school and community gardens, and increase our networking opportunities for garden organizers - including a new Community & School Garden Track at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference. 


Your donation will give more people the knowledge, tools, support, and space needed to grow safe, local foods for schools, communities, and families. Please consider a gift to help us continue building a strong network of vigorous garden communities. Because of you, children and families will reap the rewards of fresh, healthy foods.




SkinnyPancakeSkinny Pancake Pledges Support to FBG!logo 


As we head into a new year, we are celebrating our the achievements of 2011 and looking forward to helping even more community and school gardens all over the state  in 2012. The Skinny Pancake, with catering and restaurants in Burlington and Montpelier, is taking steps to help us on this mission.  


Owners Benjy and Jonny Adler recognize the importance of a strong local food system. Their restaurants belong to the Vermont Fresh Network member and source food from more than40 local farms! Plus, Skinny Pancake offers grants to support garden projects.  


Donate by credit card or PayPal

This month Skinny Pancake is pledging support with a gift for donors and a special challenge: if we get 78 more new or increased donors by Dec. 16, The Skinny Pancake will donate $500 to the cause!


Please make your donation today to help us meet this exciting challenge. 


Garden Flood Relief in 2012
New grants will help flooded gardens rebuild    


Thanks to a generous Irene Recovery Fund grant from the Vermont Community Foundation, FBG will offer a new grant program  in 2012 to help rebuild flooded gardens.


This was a rough summer for farmers and gardeners who lost planting time and produce due to a wet spring and flooding from Topical Storm Irene. We have heard from community gardeners around the state lamenting the loss of food they were depending on for their families. One Hardwick gardener estimated that her lost fall harvest was worth more than $200. "We are noticing the pinch every time we shop," she said.


One of the most seriously flooded sites was in Burlington. At Tommy Thompson Community Garden in the Intervale, 150 households lost their crops. "The floods have been a test of our resilience," said Dan Cahill, Burlington Land Steward. "It was a significant blow to morale. At the same time people found a way to rise above it and look to the future."  


Thankfully, only a handful of community and school gardens around the state suffered major damage from the flooding, but the impact is devastating to the households who lost their food and to those faced with the task of rebuilding - or relocating - their gardens. Many more sites lost topsoil and need to rebuild the nutrient base of their gardens. 


The grants will help community and school gardens affected by flooding rebuild safe and secure food production sites. Mini-grants will range from $100 to $1,000 to cover soil testing, soil amendments, replacement fencing, infrastructure for new garden sites, and technical assistance.


The Garden Flood Relief grant round will open in January. Application information will be posted on the FBG website. For more information, contact Jess Hyman at  


Featured Garden: 

A Good Thing at Burlington High School

By Russ Elek


The vegetable garden at Burlington High School was in a new location this year, growing for all to see just to right of the main entrance.   

The garden was moved due to drainage issues at the established site behind the school. The new garden did well, said Henri Sparks, BHS Family and Student Services Coordinator and the person who oversees the garden.  


Friends of Burlington Gardens Intern Jessie Mazar helped install the new teaching garden, working alongside BHS Summer Transitions Program students. The Transitions Program helps 8th graders transition into their next school year. While educating the students about gardening, Jessie learned how to better engage students to make learning fun. She noted that for some students, "it was a mentality shift. It was easy to teach them how to grow. It was harder to teach them how to use the things they grew."  


 Part of the reason for this struggle came from something that Mazar hadn't expected. "There was a social stigma attached to eating healthy," she said. However, by the end of the summer program, Mazar said students had "developed a sense of pride in the garden which allowed them to overcome that social stigma of taking home healthy food."


BHS Principal Amy Mellencamp sees that pride in other students at the school as well. "I'm very pleased that the students have been respectful. They recognize that the vegetables are intended for use and they are interested in how they grow. It's caused a sense of consciousness about where our food comes from, from start to end. It's a good thing."


Not only has the garden sparked student interest and conversations, but the produce from the garden is being used in the cafeteria. Additionally, the Culinary Tech Center's after school program, the Gourmet Caf�, is teaching teens how to cook with the fresh produce.


Students are clearly benefiting, but what about the teachers? "The teachers are also taking some produce home," Sparks said. The garden has also inspired another teacher, who is working with a University of Vermont class to create an international garden at the school, noted Mellencamp.


With teachers leading discussions with universities, food stigmas being reversed, students learning how to garden and cook, college interns getting experience teaching students, and fresh produce being used in the cafeteria and at homes, Mellencamp is right: "It's a good thing." 


Garden Funding Opportunities 


Youth Garden Grants sponsored by Home Depot

Who May Apply: K-12 teachers, educators, coordinators, and parents. 

Details: Applicants must plan to garden with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18 years.Schools, youth groups, community centers, camps, clubs, treatment facilities, and inter-generational groups are eligible. Priority will be give to programs that emphasize one or more of these elements: Educational focus or curricular/program integration, nutrition or plant-to-food connections, environmental awareness/education, entrepreneurship, and social aspects of gardening such as leadership development, team building, community support, or service-learning.

Amount: 95 $500 awards, 5 $1,000 awards    

Deadline: Dec. 12, 2011

More Info:  


2012 Project Orange Thumb Grants, Fiskars

Who may apply: Non-profits in U.S. and Canada

Details: The Project Orange Thumb� Grant Program is intended to recognize projects that will make differences in their communities through unique community garden initiatives while demonstrating and communicating how a small group of people can make changes that affect and involve the entire community. Project Orange Thumb� is intended to promote new garden space; therefore the applicant's effort must involve a new garden, meaning that a garden must not have previously existed in the space(s) identified in the application.

Amount: $3,500 and Fiskars items totaling $1,500

Deadline: Dec 5, 2011

More Info:  


Captain Planet Foundation Grants

Who may apply: Schools and organizations with less than $3 Million annual operating budget

Details: Grants are made for activities that conform to the mission of the Captain Planet Foundation which is to: promote and support high-quality educational programs that enable children and youth to understand and appreciate our world through learning experiences that engage them in active, hands-on projects to improve the environment in their schools and communities. Preferential consideration given to applicants who have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their program.

Amount: Limited to $2,500 and

Deadline: Dec. 31, 2011 

More info:  


Whole Foods Foundation School Garden Grant

Who may apply: Nonprofit organizations or nonprofit K-12 schools developing or currently maintaining a school garden project that will help children engage with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Details: Garden projects may be at any stage of development; planning, construction or operation. For cases in which an applicant facilitates garden projects in more than one school, multiple garden grants may be requested under a single application. In occasional cases, additional funds may be awarded for special projects. In selecting grant recipients, priority will be given to both limited-resource communities and to projects that demonstrate strong buy-in from stakeholders. There is a limit of one garden grant per school.

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: December 31, 2011

More info: 


Windham Foundation Grants

Who may apply: Non-profits with active programs in Vermont

Details: Since its founding in 1963, the Windham Foundation has provided more than $10 million in grants to non-profit organizations to serve its mission of "promoting Vermont's rural communities". Particular emphasis is given to projects which enhance the unique qualities of Vermont's small town life, support its natural and working landscape, sustain Vermont's social, cultural and natural resources or preserve Vermont's history and traditions while enhancing day-to-day community life.

Amount: $2,000-$3,000,compelling projects with larger requests considered

Deadline: February 17, 2012

More Info:


Mantis Tiller Grants  

Who May Apply: K-12 teachers, educators, garden coordinators, parents, and interested parties.  

Details: In the past, winners have included schools, churches, correctional facilities, parks departments, youth camps, community gardens, and many others. Applicants must operate a charitable or educational program that is not-for-profit. The tiller may not be used as a prize for fundraising (e.g., auction or raffle).

Amount: 25 programs will each receive a Mantis Tiller/Cultivator with border/edger and kickstand, and their choice of gas-powered 2-cycle engine or electric motor. Total value  $349.00.  

Deadline: March 1st, 2012

More Info: 


Healthy Living Grants, Cabot Creamery

Who may apply: Schools with matching funds seeking to improve kids' health through exercise, nutrition and/or information.

Details: Cabot is an enthusiastic supporter of our communities' efforts to improve our kids' health through exercise, better nutrition and lots of fun knowledge. Cabot created the matching grant process to encourage schools to reach out to their own local businesses, cooperatives, parent clubs and others. Doing this supports sustainability for the initiative, provides awareness about a school's new healthy living idea and encourages participation by community members.

Amount: matching funds of up to $200 for any qualifying program

Deadline: open, requests due at least 6 weeks before funding is needed

More info:






Save the Date - Feb. 12: Friends of Burlington Gardens is presenting a special Community & School Garden Track at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference. With a great lineup of workshops for beginning and established community and school garden organizers, this new conference track is not to be missed! More info coming soon.   


Stone Wall Workshop Jan. 14: These introductory stone wall building workshops for homeowners and tradespeople promote the beauty and integrity of stone. The one-day, hands-on workshop focuses on the basic techniques for creating dry-laid walls with a special emphasis on stone native to Vermont. Workshops are held inside warm greenhouses at Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg. The first workshop date is Saturday, January 14, 2012, and workshops continue through March 2012. The one-day workshop is $100. Space is limited. Click here for complete schedule and registration information, or contact Charley MacMartin at (802) 318-2411.





Additional Events:

Garden Organizing Through the Winter Experts Panel: Dec. 20. Tips and techniques for organizing through your garden's dormant period. Open to ACGA members. 

Winter Farmers Markets have started!  Find one near you! 

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. Don't forget to send in your garden news and events to share with our growing network of more than 1,300 school and community gardeners all over the state. Please include a web page link to help direct readers to the information source.

The Vermont Community Garden Network is hosted by Friends of Burlington Gardens, a nonprofit organization supporting school, community and neighborhood gardens in Burlington and across Vermont. For more information, visit our web site at
or contact FBG at:
  Friends of Burlington Gardens
  180 Flynn Ave Studio 3
  PO Box 4504
  Burlington, VT 05406-4504
  (802) 861-4769

We'd love to hear from you!
Find us on Facebook          Follow us on Twitter