Community Gardens are for Everyone!

By Amy Wheeler, Community Garden Coordinator

The first time I came across a community garden was many years ago in a different town and state, but I still remember being struck with the notion of what a beautiful act of unity and hope a community garden is. I recall the colorful hand-painted signs, the shaggy lines of sunflowers shining their joyful faces to the sun, and the people—old and young and in-between—hunched over the rows of veggies exclaiming with delight at their bumper crop of carrots and helping each other carry baskets full of tomatoes and zinnias. 

Setting aside a little patch of land for community members to tend together is a gift we can give to ourselves and each other; a gift that has its own kind of magic. To be part of a community garden is to make space for getting to know each other and our local environment in the open air, sharing the delight of pulling those first few slender green beans, or the disappointment when some hungry critter munches those beautiful heads of broccoli you were looking forward to eating for dinner. It’s sharing recipes together and pulling weeds together before they go to seed. It’s all part of caring for the earth, and caring for one another.

I’ve had the pleasure of working as the Sustainable Woodstock Community Garden Coordinator for the last two seasons and have been lucky enough to be a part of this kind of community garden magic right here in Woodstock. 

My job is to help manage two community gardens. One is at King Farm–in partnership with the Vermont Land Trust–where the plots are on the smaller side but the views can’t be beat. The other garden is on land managed by Billings Farm, where there are bigger plots, more gardeners and a picture-perfect river to dip your feet into after a sweaty garden session, if you’re so inclined. They are both beautiful spots of respite where folks can go for a little time in nature and a chance to put their hands in the dirt and grow beauty and bounty to share. 

I love walking the rows of the gardens and seeing everyone’s own style and personality come through in what and how they choose to grow. Some folks grow a riot of color and their plots are filled with perennial flowers and herbs with veggie plants tucked here and there. In other plots, there are tidy rows with every weed pulled and, in most plots, there is something in between. We strive to be a no-till garden which has many benefits, especially for promoting biodiversity and reducing carbon released from the soil, but it tends to produce a few more weeds which can be a challenge for some, myself included!

The best part of my job is working all season long to grow fresh veggies to donate to the Haven and the Woodstock Community Food Shelf. So far this season, we have grown and donated around 100lbs of fresh vegetables. When I bring in those heavy bags of freshly picked cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, celery, and herbs, I feel incredibly grateful to live in this generous community and to be able to connect to the local food system in a sustainable way. 

If any or all of this piques your interest in trying out community gardening, please join us! You are most welcome. You can reach me at if you’d like to volunteer or get on the list for a plot next season.

1. A recent harvest of produce grown at Sustainable Woodstock’s Community Garden at Billings Farm. Produce is donated to the Woodstock Community Food Shelf and the Haven. 

2. Flowers attract pollinators to the garden, feeding the insects and promoting fertilization of crops.”  (Photos Amy Wheeler) 


Learn more about our Vermont Standard articles.