In the fall of 1992, four Burlington Area Community Gardens board members, Karen Halverson, Lisa Halvorsen, Charlie Nardozzi, and Jim Flint, formed “Friends of Starr Farm Community Garden” to establish and coordinate a one-acre community garden in Burlington’s New North End.
Its mission accomplished, Friends of Starr Farm Community Garden evolved into “Friends of Burlington Area Community Gardens” (FBACG) to support the expansion of community gardening in Burlington. From 1996 to 1999, the grassroots group helped found the Children’s Discovery Garden, Rock Point Community Garden, and the Wheelock Farm Community Garden.
Friends of Burlington Area Community Gardens incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization in November 2001, hired Jim Flint as executive director, and began working formally to strengthen community gardening in Burlington.
In 2003, FBACG shortened its name to “Friends of Burlington Gardens” (FBG) and expanded outreach to include community, neighborhood, school, and accessible gardening projects in Burlington. The Community Teaching Garden at Ethan Allen Homestead was founded in 2003 as a model service-learning program teaching beginning adult gardeners how to grow fresh organic produce from planting to harvest.
In 2006, FBG launched the Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN) to support community and school garden projects across Vermont. Since then, the organization has awarded more than $90,000 in mini-grants benefiting 260 community, school, and neighborhood garden projects.
In 2009, FBG adopted the Healthy City program from the Intervale Center, which allowed the program to serve a much broader student population from directly on school grounds. The program is now fully integrated in the Burlington School Food Project, which took on management of the Healthy City Youth Farm in 2013.
What started with four friends and a New North End garden has grown into a statewide organization offering community gardening training, technical support, and funding to Vermont’s garden leaders. In 2013, the organization changed its name from Friends of Burlington Gardens to the Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN) to better reflect the scope of its work.
VCGN builds upon the joint resolution passed by the Vermont legislature in 2004 to support the expansion of community, youth, and school gardening movement statewide.