A Little Help From Your Friends

By Elle O’Casey

Despite the snowflakes that fell this week, Spring will be here soon enough so this final column in our March series looks at sustainable living via local gardens and local food production. Last week we focused in on Sustainable Woodstock’s community gardens. This week, we’ll look at a few different resources, networks and events that can help new and seasoned gardeners looking to begin their spring plantings.

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A few useful networks include:

  • The Vermont Community Garden Network — This network offers opportunities for “gardeners to build their skills and knowledge in the garden” to ultimately build communities more engaged in local gardening. VCGN wants to make sure “every Vermonter has access to the space and resources needed to grow their own food in community, and the information and support needed to be successful.” The network offers a seemingly endless supply of resources for gardeners of all levels . The site features tips on garden design, lists best practices, and shares advice for site selection. VCGN even includes a “Garden Organizer Toolkit” for people wanting to help start or support community gardens.
  • For those with questions, the University of Vermont has a Master Gardener Volunteer Help Hotline that is there to assist Vermonters by “providing science based information about home horticulture issues.” They also offer an array of resources including factsheets on composting, planting schedules depending on your USDA zone, pest issues and solutions, and more.
  • More broadly, there is the Northeast Organic Farmers Association. This Association can be a great resources of people looking to either support local farmers or become a local farmer. They also offer several yearly events including an annual farmers market conference.

Get involved with these gardens or visit them when they’re in bloom:

  • Sustainable Woodstock offers community gardening plots. For more information on these, visit the Sustainable Woodstock website.
  • If you’re looking for gardening inspiration this summer, stop by local area gardens including the Woodstock Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Kelly Way Gardens and the flower gardens at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. The Kelly Way Gardens are an excellent example of a farm-to-table food system managed by Master Gardener Benjamin Pauly. This 2.5 acre garden boast over 250 varieties of veggies and flowers. For a trip back in time and a spectacular floral display, visit Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park’s flower gardens managed by Kim Murray.

A few garden-related events to keep in mind include:

  • Green Drinks: A look at community gardens. This Thursday, March 16, from 5-6pm, stop by Worthy Kitchen to hear Cassidy Metcalf, SW Community Garden coordinator, and other Sustainable Woodstock community gardeners talk about the upcoming season and how to participate.
  • On April 22, the Woodstock Inn and Resort will host the 13th Annual Great Gardeners and Landscape Symposium featuring a variety of classes and lectures.

Get started growing your own garden or get involved with another local food operation this season. Whether you plant a garden or help support local farmers, there are a variety of ways to join your community in a path toward greater sustainability and self-sufficiency.

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