garden community

Last night, with a few rows of garlic planted and a few moments of gratitude, my garden was put to bed for the year. It’s a bittersweet time for me. I love my time in the garden and all of the abundance it brings to my life, but I also love the changing seasons and begin to crave the rest and rejuvenation that the winter time brings.

As I’m reflecting on this season, I thought it would be nice to share with you the special kind of gardening community I have been growing with over the last two years. I have been fortunate to be a part of the Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN)’s Community Teaching Garden (CTG). VCGN is a wonderful organization (and a friend of KidsGardening!) that supports and grows our home state’s vibrant network of community and school gardens.

The CTG class is an immersive, 1-2 year experience in which you are provided with all of the resources and knowledge you need to get started as a gardener. The first year is intended for beginners. We each had our own plots, as well as some shared space to grow special items like potatoes and beans. I had wanted to garden for years but I didn’t know where to start. This class was perfect for me because it gave me everything I needed and walked me through an entire season. We met for two hours in the evening twice per week for 22 weeks. It was a big commitment, and totally worth it.

This year, I took the Advanced CTG course, and we had a bit of a different model. Instead of each having individual beds, we had shared space that we were responsible for caring for collectively. This model allowed us to learn to care for a much larger-scale garden and learn about different growing and pest-control techniques that are much more effective when you can plant, say one row of tomatoes all together, rather than a mixed bed. It was also nice to have a group of people with which to share watering, weeding, and other responsibilities. Many hands make light work!

But perhaps one of the most profound things I have gained from being a part of this class over the last two years is a community of people, from all walks of life, who I love and adore and might not otherwise have ever interacted with. There is a special kind of bond that’s formed when you are working together – especially over a long period of time – to deepen your connection to the earth and meet one of our most basic instincts: to nourish our bodies with healthy foods.

I’m so grateful for all of you who are growing these garden communities for youth in your schools, homes, and organizations. I know it’s impacting their lives and leading to a brighter future.

Blog by: Kristen Wirkkala

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