December Toolshed: Tips for Garden Leaders

A Call For Community

By Libby Weiland
Statewide Network Coordinator

The garden team at Avenue Apartments in Burlington

The garden team at Avenue Apartments in Burlington.

This post-election season stands apart from others I’ve experienced in my lifetime.  In addition to the usual groans or cheers or questions about what will come next, I’ve been hearing something refreshingly forward-thinking—a call to action.  This invocation to act is not just coming from the usual outspoken individuals, but from everyone who can see by just looking around them that what we need now more than ever is kindness towards our neighbors, an active civic response, and a vested interest in getting to know the people with whom we share our country.  What this sounds like to me is a call for community.

As community-based gardeners you are in a unique position.  These shared spaces are some of the few places in our society where community-building serves not only as a necessary tool for getting things accomplished; it’s often a reason why people get involved with community-based gardens in the first place—an opportunity to get to know one’s neighbors and build a sense of community cohesion. So I ask you: What are you doing to actively build ‘community’ in your community-based garden?  If you don’t know the answer, I would suggest taking some time to reflect this winter on the following questions:

  • How do people know that they are welcome in your garden community?
  • How do you actively reach out to new people?
  • In what ways do your fellow community gardeners get to know each other?
  • What do you do to uphold shared goals for your community-based garden?
  • How do you ensure that all gardeners feel comfortable sharing feedback and ideas about your garden?

You’re already a crucial part of the movement towards building community.  Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to create welcoming shared spaces!