About the Community Teaching Garden

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. A beginning level course meets twice a week at the Ethan Allen Homestead, while an advanced course meets weekly at the Tommy Thompson Community Gardens. Both classes meet for monthly potlucks that bring us together and give us a chance to share garden fresh recipes. With the program running for the entire growing season, there is lots of time to learn, gain friends, and enjoy good food from start to finish.

About this Blog

This blog is currently maintained by Hayley Shriner, a participant in the Community Teaching Garden advanced course at the Tommy Thompson Community Garden. Hayley was a student in the beginner level class in 2016, and is deepening her skills in both production and design this season. Her favorite garden activities include building trellises, creating tinctures, salves, and preserves, and observing and interacting with the changes that occur in the garden over the course of the season. She posts each week with highlights from the two  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 2017

People

Our two classes are made up of 27 excited students, one eager teaching assistant, and one ambitious teacher. Our students are men and women, ranging in age from early 20s to mid 60s, with a mix of gardening experience and comfort. Many are new to Vermont. Most are new to growing food in community. Our lead teacher, Carolina Lukac, 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 began teaching the community Teaching Garden Course in 2016. Our teaching assistant, Ehrin Lingeman, is an aspiring garden leader with a diverse background including serving as an agricultural volunteer in the Peace Corps in Cameroon. 

Beginner Gardeners
The beginning gardeners at the Ethan Allen Homestead…
Tommy Thompson Class photo.JPG
And the advanced course gardeners at the Tommy Thompson Community Gardens.

Place

The Burlington Area is home to more than a dozen community gardens, and the Teaching Gardens are two of these vibrant sites.

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. 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, all part of the Winooski Valley Park District. One of these gardens is the other Teaching Garden site.

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. 

This program has a tremendous impact on the lives of participants. In addition to gaining valuable skills, students increase their confidence, overall health and wellbeing, and connection to the community. Donations to the Community Teaching Garden scholarship fund are much appreciated. To make a contribution, go to www.vcgn.org/donate-now. Thank you!

Registration for the 2018 Community Teaching Garden Course opens in December 2017. More information and registration.

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