As we face the constantly changing reality of life with Coronavirus, many of us are feeling anxious, isolated and uncertain of how to sustain our families, livelihoods and communities. Gardening has a long history of providing purpose, food security and resiliency during difficult times. It also gives us an outlet for physical activity and improves our mental health. Perhaps best of all, gardens invoke hope!
While we don’t know how long restrictions will alter our daily lives, we do know the gardening season is almost upon us. VCGN is working to create virtual resources and contingency plans for spring programs – all with the commitment to support new and experienced gardeners where they live, learn, work and play. Read on for some information and tools to use now, and continue to visit our website for updates. Please be in touch directly if we can help!
Michelle, Libby and Carolina
COVID-19 Guidelines for Safe Community Gardening
Sparked by a conversation between community gardeners from across the country,we’ve put together a document to guide community gardens as we work to get ready in the midst of this extraordinary time. These guidelines are based on current information we have on the COVID-19 virus (as of March 24, 2020) as well as creative ideas collected by garden coordinator, Hannah Traggis.
Click here to download a copy of the guidelines.For updates & details on the COVID-19 virus visit:
How is your garden addressing the current crisis? Do you have questions for others? Continue the conversation by joining VCGN’s Facebook Group!
Connect with online learning this spring!
In light of the need for social distancing, we are transitioning our spring workshops to an online format. Join community and school gardeners from across the state from the comfort of your home for an opportunity to learn strategies, get inspired by stories and ideas, and gather resources to boost your gardens and programs!
Stay tuned for final details on these free online events.
DAYS in the Dirt: Update
As this critical event provides funding and volunteer power to help sustain VCGN and the host site gardens throughout the year, we will reimagine instead of cancel it. Can the new fence wait until June? Will you need some weeding and harvesting help in August? How about putting things to bed in the fall?
Day in the Dirt sites can plan for projects later in the season and continue forming teams. Imagine the enthusiasm people will have to gather in a garden once this crisis is over! Some project dates may need to be determined, but in the meantime volunteers can join teams and raise funds online to support the gardens while they’re stuck at home. Plus VCGN will be able to assist with projects and garden site celebrations spaced throughout the 2020 season.
Interested in becoming a site? Find more info here.
A few spots left in our
Community Teaching Garden Course!
Our 6-month long course follows the rhythm of the growing season through weekly lessons and hands-on garden work. We meet every Wednesday evening and one Saturday morning each month. Visit our Community Teaching Garden page to learn more about how we are creatively adapting the course in the midst of concerns about the COVID-19 virus.
Ideas for Now
Even in the face of this current crisis, we keeping hearing from people that they are eager to get out and start gardening! It’s springtime and gardening is something people can do to be productive and get out for some fresh air. Here are a couple of recent articles to help you think about what you can do NOW:
Garden Events & Activities
Get the network involved by submitting your next event directly to our submission page (submit garden related events at least 2 weeks in advance). What’s coming up… a few highlights (Find these and more on our Statewide Garden Calendar)
VCGN Winter/Spring 2020:
- Screen Out! – (March 26, 4:30-8:00pm) – Event Cancelled
- Days in the Dirt – Statewide (throughout the 2020 season)
- Spring Webinars – Online – stay tuned for details
- Gardening for Health – Rooftop Garden on UVMMC’s Main Hospital Campus – June/July sessions cancelled; August sessions planned to continue
Upcoming Partner Online Events/Activities:
- Red Wagon Plants Workshops Via Video Conference: Beginner’s Guide to Planning the Medicinal Herb Garden (March 28, 10:00am-12:00pm), Growing Onions 101 (April 16, 5:30-6:30pm), Strawberries 101 (April 23, 5:30-6:30pm), Asparagus 101 (April 30, 5:30-6:30pm)
For registration and a list of all spring events offered by Red Wagon Plants go to: https://www.redwagonplants.com/events
- Climate & Community Resilience: Lessons from the Soil (March – May) Join us for a 6 event deep dive into building healthy soil and resilient communities! Events online until further notice and free and open to all.
- Best Management Practices for Community Composting Webinar (March 31, 1:00-2:15pm) This webinar is the second of a series on community-scale composting, focused on the nuts and bolts of community composting. Siting considerations, feedstock collection, choosing a system, determining site capacity, system management, and composting through the winter will be addressed. Registration is required. Questions? Contact Natasha Duarte, Composting Association of Vermont, email@example.com
- Raised Bed Gardening Webinar with Charlie Nardozzi (April 9, 7:00-8:30pm) Charlie will talk about the new types of raised beds you can buy or build, the best soil/compost to use, plus some novel growing techniques, such as straw bale gardens, hugelkultur and keyhole raised beds.
- Urban Farm Victory Garden Challenge 2020 Free gardening classes for 30 days (or as long as needed) offered in response to the Coronavirus so that people worldwide can feel empowered to take control of our health and food supply.
- Master Gardener Short Course Series (On demand, access any time) FREE Vegetable Gardening Online Course highlights sections from Oregon State University’s Master Gardener Online course, which allows you to study the specific fundamentals that you’re interested in.
Network Asks & Opportunities:
A phone conversation about growing food can be an antidote to social distancing! Maybe you used to work on a farm and now you garden, or vice versa? A UVM graduate student is studying how practices and values differ in various non-market food practices, including gardening, hunting, foraging, fishing, bartering, gifting, gleaning and other ways of producing and sharing food that is not for sale. To participate or learn more contact Sam Bliss at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 280-3194.
Fund your Garden
Need funding for your garden project? Go to VCGN’s Garden Grants page for a regularly updated list. Here are a few upcoming highlights. Visit our website for details, links and rolling deadline grants.
- COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding – The Grassroots Fund is working to get funding out as quickly as possible to groups addressing urgent needs to offer community responses to COVID-19.
- ioby – a crowd resourcing platform for funding neighborhood projects. The group combines “crowdfunding” (the pooling of small online donations for a cause or project) with “resource organizing” (a core tenet of community organizing) to organize all kinds of capital-cash, social networks, in-kind donations, volunteer time, advocacy-from within the neighborhood to make the neighborhood a better place to live.
- Vermont Community Foundation Grants – statewide and place-based programs to support community projects…coming up:
- Spark Connecting Community (statewide), March 30th
- Lamoille County & Beyond: The Green Mountain Fund, rolling
- Rutland County: Hills & Hollows Fund, rolling
- Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth, May 4
Connect with other Garden Leaders
Our closed Facebook group serves as a forum for your garden management questions, and as a place to post and request resources: Join the group!
Grow With Us!
The Vermont Community Garden Network is growing a healthier Vermont by helping people of all ages access the space and resources to grow their own food and connect with each other. We need your help now more than ever – please make a donation today!
Since 2001, the Vermont Community Garden Network has worked with hundreds of community and school groups to start, sustain, and grow gardens, building strong local food systems and vibrant educational sites.
Michelle Gates, Executive Director
Libby Weiland, Statewide Network Coordinator
Carolina Lukac, Garden Education Manager
802-861-4769 | www.vcgn.org
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Vermont Community Garden Network, 1 Mill St., Suite 200, Burlington, VT 05401