Community Gardens Have Plots Available for 2016

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Spring is here, and Sustainable Woodstock is gearing up for another exciting growing season in our area community gardens. Our gardens provide many different functions. For some people, a community garden is a place to grow food, flowers and herbs in the company of friends and neighbors. For others, it’s a place to reconnect with nature or get physical exercise. Some use community gardens because they lack adequate space at their house or apartment to have a garden. Other gardeners enjoy the opportunity to learn from more experienced gardeners.

At Sustainable Woodstock we are always looking for ways to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint. Local food, and growing your own food, greatly reduces the greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation of food. Food in the United States travels an average of 1300 miles from farm to fork, changes hands half a dozen times, and typically consumes 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce a single calorie of supermarket food. Additionally, fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets spend as many as 7 to 14 days in transit. During this time, almost 50% of the transported food is lost to spoilage. Growing your own food gives you more control over these factors.

Woodstock’s first community garden was created at King Farm in 2009 and was a 30-foot-by-100-foot patch with room for 10 plots.  In the past six years, that first garden has grown beyond King Farm and now includes plots in Pomfret and at Billings Farm; these gardens have served dozens of families and organizations. Every garden has a core group of gardeners who have been returning for five or more years, but we also encourage new gardeners each season.

Each garden has its own personality and attributes. The King Farm garden has only 10 plots and most of the gardeners have been gardening together for several years. Gardeners at King Farm enjoy the farm animals kept by the King Farm caretaker who also maintains the electric fence.  These gardeners have been sharing a communal meal at the garden a couple of times each summer.

The Chipper’s garden is located on Pomfret Road just north of the Pomfret Elementary School and is primarily gardened by Change the World Kids. The CTWKs plant for food justice which is the affirmation that everyone should have accessible, fresh, and affordable healthy food that is produced in a fair manner. The CTWKs plant their crops to support the Woodstock Food Shelf and to help fill their root cellar. Their harvest allows produce to be offered to patrons of the Woodstock Food Shelf year-round.

In summer of 2015 we had 14 families with plots at the Billings Farm garden. The basic plots are 4′ x 32′, but many gardeners use several plots. A beautiful site, it comes with its challenges, as water is obtained via hand pumps from Barnard Brook. Billings’ gardeners usually have several get-togethers in the garden during late summer to share tastes from their gardens and trade advice and gardening stories.

We are very grateful to our community partners who make land available for our use – Chippers, Billings Farm and Museum and the Vermont Land Trust at the King Farm location.

Sustainable Woodstock is a member of the Vermont Community Garden Network whose work is rooted in the understanding that community and school gardens have food security, health, social, economic, and environmental benefits. Our relationship with VCGN ties us into the larger statewide and regional discussions about how we feed ourselves. We are happy to be a sponsor of the 2016 Spring Grow It! Workshop for Garden Leaders in Thetford on May 17th. The workshop is presented by VCGN in partnership with Charlie Nardozzi and is focused on exploring strategies for recruiting and engaging gardeners and volunteers. Go to vcgn.org/events for more information.

Plots are still available in all of our gardens this year. There is a $40 annual fee, which can be waived in cases of financial hardship. Each gardener agrees to maintain his or her own plot and to help maintain the garden as a whole by committing to two work days during the season.  To learn more contact Sustainable Woodstock at sally@sustainablewoodstock.org or call 802-457-2911.

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