Growing Gardens for Body and Mind
(Page 7 of 7)
• Receive a mentor who has committed to working with the new home gardener for at least one full season. The mentor will make four visits to the home garden during the growing season and also ideally will attend the garden installation. Growing Gardens is trying to create networks of home gardeners in the same neighborhood, so they can share seeds, recipes, and ideas and spread the community spirit. In addition to offering mentorship from program staff, they also try to link experienced gardeners with first-year gardeners.
• Receive seeds on a monthly basis for planting the next month. In the second and third year, participants receive seeds for the entire season at once.
• Receive a monthly newsletter with tips and advice.
• Are invited to a “plant distribution day,” where plants grown by volunteers are distributed. First-year gardeners receive basic supplies, such as bamboo poles, tomato cages, plant starts, hoses, and even raspberries and blueberries. Second- and third-year gardeners are also welcome to take plants, after the first-year gardeners have finished.
Most unusual, Growing Gardens offers a series of “Learn and Grow” workshops, some of which are offered in Spanish. Originally the workshops were intended for people in Growing Gardens’ home gardener program, but soon the program learned that others in the community wanted to attend as well. So Growing Gardens has opened the workshops to the broader community, and to ensure that money is not a barrier, they use a sliding-scale “donation” of $5 to $20. Also, participants in workshops can work in others’ backyard home gardens in lieu of paying a workshop fee.
Another key feature is that Growing Gardens grows its own volunteer program by encouraging home gardeners who have graduated out of the three years to volunteer as mentors, help install other gardens, grow starts, and more.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Reclaiming Our Food, published by Storey Publishing, 2012. Buy this book from our store: Reclaiming Our Food.
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