The Community Teaching Garden (CTG) is a program of the Vermont Community Garden Network, a nonprofit organization that supports community and school gardening across Vermont. The Community Teaching Garden sites at Tommy Thompson Community Garden at the Intervale and the historic Ethan Allen Homestead, offer unique hands-on educational experiences for beginning organic vegetable gardeners. Participants learn how to plant, cultivate, harvest, and preserve fresh vegetables in a fun and supportive learning environment. Each class meets twice each week and there are monthly potlucks which bring together the two classes and give us a chance to share garden fresh recipes. With the program running for 22 weeks, there is lots of time to learn, gain friends, and enjoy good food from start to finish.
About this Blog
This blog is written by teaching Garden Apprentices Kaila Pennock and Kate Eiseman, two recent graduates of the environmental studies departments of two Vermont colleges. We love bicycling, beets, carrots, and learning in community. We will post each week with highlights from the two teaching garden sites, timely garden tips, recipes, and links to resources. Click on the “Follow” link at the bottom of this window to get new posts delivered directly to your email and keep an eye on the VCGN Facebook page for updates.
About the Class of 2016
Our two classes are made up of twenty-two excited students, two eager apprentices, one ambitious teacher, and one sturdy chocolate lab. Our students are both men and women, young and younger, those who have gardened and those who’ve never gardened before. Many are new to Vermont. Most are new to growing food in community. Our lead teacher, Carolina, comes from Mexico City. There she spread urban rooftop gardens as fast as urban rooftop gardens can spread. Carolina joined the VCGN team as the Garden Education Specialist in February 2015 and assisted with the teaching of last season’s CTG. We, Kaila and Kate, are recent graduates of the environmental studies departments of two Vermont colleges. As this season’s apprentices, we will support the Teaching Gardens and offer a weekly update for students and community members alike.
The Burlington Area is home to over a dozen community gardens, two of which comprise the Teaching Garden.
First, found a few minutes down Intervale road, is the Tommy Thompson Community Garden. A lively and lovely site, Tommy Thompson is one of 14 community gardens managed by the city of Burlington’s department of Parks Recreation and Waterfront. It is surrounded by several independent farms. On any given day there is likely to be another gardener or farmer working nearby. Therefore, spending time at Tommy Thompson means you will see the surrounding land cared for and watch it bring to being much life and sustenance.
Now, if you can pull yourself away from the weeds to be pulled, the happy pollinators and sturdy picnic table of the Tommy Thompson site and continue down Intervale Road, you will find yourself at the Intervale trail. This trail winds its way along the Winooski River, by oaks and over moss, past ferns and fields of dandelions. The trail ends at Ethan Allen Homestead, the museum and many fruitful gardens. One of these is the other Teaching Garden site, the Ethan Allen Homestead Community Garden.
Fortunately, the meandering (and possibly muddy) Intervale trail is not the only way to get to Ethan Allen. The site is right off of VT-127 and the bike path, thus there are options for bikes, cars or anyone up for a long walk.
The garden itself is made up of triangular and rectangular beds, those for individual students and those to share. There are a variety of perennials such rhubarb and raspberries, as well as many annuals in the process of being planted. On each side of the back of the garden, sits square compost sections. One of which will be cleared to make space for a supportive fruit tree. The other will stay to be decomposed by the many microbes, worms, insects and fungi who find it, and eventually become nourishment for the to-be fruit tree and the rest of the life grown on this site.
Registration for the 2017 Community Teaching Garden Course opens in December 2016. More information and registration.