Vermont Community Garden Network Bulletin

September 2012 

It's harvest time!
In past years, we have held a Corn Roast and Veggie Ball at Ethan Allen Homestead to mark the end of the growing season and come together with great food, music, and company. This year, we are partnering with Burlington Area Community Gardens to celebrate BACG's 40th anniversary and the collaborations that have contributed to the city's vibrant and growing gardening culture.


In This Issue
BACG Celebrates 40 Years
Try the Food Warrior Taste Test Challenge
BYOBag to Grow Gardens!
Whimsical and Radical Change Agents
Garden Grant Opportunities


BACG40thCelebrating 40 Years of Gardening
& Community in Burlington! 



WHAT: Burlington Area Community Gardens 40th Anniversary Celebration 

WHEN: 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15

WHERE: Intervale Center Community Barn, 180 Intervale Road, Burlington

INFO: Join local gardeners and friends to celebrate four decades of community gardening in Burlington. 3-4:30 pm: Garden tours and fun family activities; 4:30-6 pm: Guest speakers, 40th Anniversary video, and community potluck. Bring a garden-inspired dish and your own plate and silverware to reduce waste.

FACEBOOK: Join the event! 

RSVP: On Facebook, at or contact


The Burlington Area Community Gardens 40th Anniversary Celebration will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Intervale Center Community Barn. This special event is an opportunity to celebrate the roots of the city's strong community garden system, highlight successes, and plant seeds for the future.


The celebration features garden tours, fun family activities, speakers, the premiere of a special documentary video by Jack Steele and Dan Cahill, and a community potluck.


Burlington has a long history of community gardening, dating back to the city's first garden at Cliffside Park (now Oakledge) in 1972, followed by a wave of gardens started by Gardens for All, a program of Garden Way. Much of this work was done by staff member Tommy Thompson, after whom the city's largest community garden site at the Intervale is named. By 1976, the city had 23 sites and nearly 1,000 plots. By the mid 1980s, there were 255 plots left in the city, with only 190 rented. The City of Burlington Parks and Recreation Department took over management of the remaining eight gardens in 1986 and the gardens have seen a steady increase since then.


The Burlington Area Community Gardens (BACG) program now encompasses 12 community gardens with approximately 500 allotment style plots. The city is also home to several independent neighborhood and group gardens, school gardens, and garden education programs.


The 40th Anniversary Celebration is sponsored by BACG and the nonprofit Friends of Burlington Gardens (FBG), which shares its roots with BACG and has supported the development of gardens all over the city since 2001. Its Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN) helps community and school groups start and grow their gardens throughout the state.


Join BACG, FBG/VCGN, local gardeners, and friends on Sept. 15 to celebrate four decades of community gardening in Burlington. The festivities start with garden tours and fun family activities at 3 p.m. Then at 4:30 there will be special guest speakers, 40th Anniversary Video premiere, and a community potluck. Bring a story to share and your favorite garden-inspired dish for the potluck. (Please bring your own plate and silverware to reduce waste).


Thank you to the Intervale Center and Sugarsnap for their support of this event!


For more information, contact Dan Cahill at 863-0420 or 



Happy Harvest Season!

What better way to enjoy a school garden's harvest than holding a taste test for the students and staff?!  Last week, Friends of Burlington Gardens held successful taste tests at Burlington High School and Hunt Middle School. Hundreds of students from both schools enjoyed tasting delicious kale pesto. All of the kale was grown and harvested by students at the Healthy City Youth Farm right behind Hunt! We added to the fun by creating a warrior theme for the tastings. 


Not only was this an opportunity for students to taste fresh vegetables that they helped grow, but it was a great way to publicize the school's garden club and gauge student interest in growing and cooking food. We also took this opportunity to increase student involvement in the gardens at the high school by making a photo collage of all of the taste test challenge participants. All of the students proved to be food warriors!

Try the Food Warrior Taste Test Challenge at your school:  


Kale Pesto Recipe

  • 2 cups firmly-packed fresh kale
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. to 1/2 cup olive oil


  • Place kale in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add pine nuts, garlic and salt. Pulse until kale is finely chopped.
  • Add cheese, and pulse until cheese is incorporated. Do not puree or over-process. The pesto should still be chunky.
  • Drizzle in olive oil, and continue to pulse until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.
  • Top with sliced  

 Adapted from:


BYOBag to City Market
and help grow gardens! 


City Market donates 5 cents to local non-profits each time a bag is reused. FBG/VCGN is the September recipient of the Change for Local Non-Profits program. We are so grateful to City Market for the opportunity to participate. 


Using your own bag saves resources AND supports community and school gardens. Thank you!


Come see us at City Market from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, and pick up some free seeds. 


Recognizing Community Gardens as Whimsical and Radical Change Agents Working Within Vermont's Local Food Revolution 
Source: The Daily Green: Eat Right
By Andrew Schlesigner 
VCGN Outreach & Communications Intern 
If you are reading this article, chances are you probably garden. Maybe this is your first year gardening or maybe it is your 20th consecutive garden season. Either way, you have probably begun living with the benefits of gardening in your life and in your community. 


Community gardening receives a lot of press for the expansive array of personal and social benefits that it bestows upon individuals and neighborhoods. In an age where technology and work seem to steal away every second of free outdoor time from an individual's daily schedule, community gardening forces people to take a metaphorical (and all-natural) "chill pill." Whether it's putting down the cell phone or the computer for a half hour to get out and water your garden plot or spending a portion of Saturday afternoon introducing more starts and mulch to your bed, gardening puts people in charge of caring for their little piece of nature. And when we surround ourselves with neighbors who equally enjoy growing their own seasonal food, we gardeners begin to cultivate a community of caring individuals, renewed from our daily routines by the magical dirt of our raised beds and garden landscapes.


Then something really interesting starts to happen. Community gardens transform into sites where politics, neighborhood visioning, skill sharing, and creative dialogues unfold. These growing spaces become change agents in their community. This transformation can happen over a growing season or several years as the roots of the garden culture establish themselves and the yields of the garden surpass strictly edible ones. In communities across Vermont and the United States, these gardens have proven they grow way more than food.


And this is what interests me, exploring the role that community gardens will play in an age when resiliency and the localization of communities are necessary topics to address. Thankfully, I am not alone in this exploration. Many neighborhood leaders and planners throughout the country and abroad have identified that in the age of peak oil and climate change, the task of localizing food systems will be one of the exciting challenges facing communities and countries over the coming decades.  


On a national scale, Cuba has demonstrated how government and community can successfully work together in transforming an oil dependent food economy into one independent of fossil fuels. In 1989, Cuba lost the majority of its oil supply overnight and responded by turning every square inch of green or open urban space into cooperative farms and garden space. The population now generally enjoys a much healthier diet, that out of necessity is almost entirely organic. More importantly, the success of Cuban citizens in overcoming the adversity of recreating their entire food system post oil has led to a revitalized sense of community and national pride. This success story is outlined in the 2011 documentary, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.  


Imagine Vermont residents and government working together to make such a revolution a reality today. Thankfully, Vermont is well on its way. According to the 2012 Strolling of the Heifers Localvore Index , "Vermont currently has 99 farmers markets, 164 CSAs, with a population of fewer than 622,000." That puts the Green Mountain State as the leader in the local food movement for this country.


As for a strategic statewide local food resiliency plan, that also already exists. In 2009, the Vermont Legislature passed the Farm to Plate (F2P) Initiative, which directed the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, in consultation with the Sustainable Agriculture Council and other stakeholders, to develop a 10-year strategic plan to strengthen Vermont's food system. The Farm to Plate Strategic Plan, provides statistics and detailed analyses of Vermont's food system, from soil-to-soil. It contains 33 goals and 60 high priority strategies that will lead to job creation, greater economic output, and increased access for Vermont and regional consumers to healthy, fresh food. 


But how does this plan tie back to community gardening? And what will be the role of community gardening in future decades as food consumers and food communities find it increasingly more beneficial and reliable to grow their own food? The Strategic Plan cites food system education and access to fresh, local, affordable food as a few of the highest priorities for strengthening Vermont's food system. Community and school gardens are mentioned in the Farm to Plate plan as a means to achieve Vermont's food education and food security goals.  


Vermont Community Garden Network's Garden Map displays a strong visual of the state's growing community garden movement. This map displays hundreds of community and school gardens that already exist throughout the state. The really exciting news is that the number of community gardens continues to grow each year! And this number does not even account for the informal neighborhood garden spaces and home gardens that thousands of Vermont residents eat from each year. 


But there is still more to be said about the role that community gardening will play in this movement. A single garden may not be able to feed entire communities, but it can grow more than just food. An example can be found in studying the success of Montview Farms, one of the first no-till, community farms founded in the Northeast. Montview Farms sits in the midst of a suburban community in Northampton, MA. At peak production, the three acre site is capable of feeding approximately seven families from spring through late fall. But Montview Farms does much more than just feeding these families. The community farm created a place for neighbors to gather and socialize while also offering a space to host skills courses on organic gardening and oil independent, reskilling alternatives. In many ways, Montview Farms has become the core of a community movement to redefine the outmoded suburban norms of Northampton. Community farms and gardens such as Fresh Start Farms in Newport, VT are creating similar vibrations of change throughout Vermont. 


This is the beauty of community gardening and farming. On any given day, gardeners frequent their growing spaces to care for their plants and pluck some food for that night's dinner. But over time, the whimsical moments spent in the garden compound and radiate outwards into the surrounding community. The carefree experiences laughing and appreciating the magical qualities of one's garden space emerge as a force for local inspiration and locally focused change. It is these unintended offshoots that make community gardening so revolutionary, so exuberantly radical and all the same, so apparently commonplace - bringing a whole new meaning to the term "food for thought."


Garden Grant & Funding Opportunities!


National Gardening Association KidsGardening Grant - NGA's grant and award programs are funded by generous corporations and foundations that share NGA's vision of a greener future and school garden. Follow this link for an easy registration to begin the application process. More info 


New Small Grants Program for PC(USA) Congregations Doing Faith-Based Initiatives to Transform the Food System - The Presbyterian Hunger Program is offering grants from $100 - $1000 across the country to bring resilience to our food system, and health to people and community. More info  


Awesome Foundation's Food Chapter - The Awesome Foundation's Food chapter is now taking applications for its $1,000 micro-grants to further food awesomessness in the universe. Every month, one microgrant will be given for an awesome idea involving food. The more inventive, the better. Grants awarded every month. More info  


The Donald Samull Classroom Herb Garden Grant

The Herb Society of America, as a recipient of a bequest from the estate of Donald Samull, has established herb garden grants for teachers in grades 3 through 6. Mr. Samull was an elementary school teacher who used his love of herbs in the classroom with his 3rd-6th grade students. These grants will ensure that his tradition of using herbs with students will continue for years to come. Deadline: Oct. 1, 2012. More Info   


New Small Grants Program for PC(USA) Congregations Doing Faith-Based Initiatives to Transform the Food System

The Presbyterian Hunger Program funds faith-based initiatives that engage people of all ages, result in greater food security, give people decision-making power over their food, increase healthy eating, create jobs and local economic growth, support local family farmers, use land ecologically, raise awareness about local and global hunger and poverty, and encourage a view of food as a right for all people. Grants are for $100-$1,000 with a total of $20,000 available for the year. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. More info


Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)

The primary objective of the VAPG program is to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based, value-added products. Matching grants of up to $100,000 are available for planning, and working capital matching grants of up to $300,000 are offered. Independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer or rancher cooperatives, or majority-controlled producer-based business ventures are eligible to apply. Deadline: October 15, 2012. More info.  


 More grant opportunities available from theAmerican Community Gardening Association.

Selected Garden and Food Systems Reading List:  

Please visit the websites of our friends and partners listed below for lots of fun fall events.   


Burlington Permaculture events and workshops   

City Market workshops   

Red Wagon Plants workshops and events 

NOFA-VT events and workshops 

Perry's Perennials events listing 

Friends of the Hort Farm 

Rutland Area Farm and Food Link events 

Addison County Relocalization Network events 

UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture events 

Center for an Agricultural Economy events 


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

We'd love to hear from you!
Jess Hyman, Executive Director
Sam Smith, Program Director
Anne Marie Santos, Healthy City Program Coordinator
Ann Pearce, Admin/Bookkeeper
Denise Quick, Community Teaching Garden Instructor
Jessie Mazar, Garden Educator Intern
Andrew Schlesinger, Outreach & Communications Intern
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