By Aaron DaCosta
On a gorgeous Saturday morning April 30, hundreds of volunteers at 16 community and school garden sites around the Burlington area came together for a day of work and community building.
Day in the Dirt is part of the Dirty Weekend, a celebration of soils, spring and community spirit. The three-day event also included the Dirt Ball Karaoke Contest and Green Mountain Compost’s CompostFest. The city-wide volunteer day was a product of months of hard work and planning by VCGN staff, a student team from the UVM Public Communications Capstone class and several other UVM service learning classes (read more about them here), event partners Green Mountain Compost, Burlington Parks Recreation and Waterfront, the Intervale Center, and more than 280 volunteers who were willing to get their hands dirty.
This great day would not have happened without the support of our many generous sponsors who provided employee teams, supported community teams and donated food and volunteer prizes including: title sponsor Gardener’s Supply, University of Vermont Medical Center, City Market, ArtsRiot, Burton Snowboards, Dealer.com, Red Wagon Plants, Redstone, Seventh Generation, UVM Rubenstein School, Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, Bibens Ace Hardware, Urban Moonshine, Vermont Edible Landscapes, UVM Living Well, American Flatbread, Burlington Hearth, ArtsRiot, Boloco, Rhino Foods, Farrell Distributing and many others.
UVM student Spencer Morrow carpooled with some of his friends to help out at the Intervale site. They were prepping a garden for indigenous seed growing and saving. The team worked quickly and efficiently to remove stumps and last years garden fabric. The first-time Day in the Dirt volunteer certainly enjoyed his experience, “It was beautiful out today and I’ll definitely be back next year” said Spencer. Volunteers from many sites echoed Spencer’s enthusiasm “My favorite part of the day was meeting all of these wonderful people” said a participant at the Champlain Elementary school site.
In addition to growing closer to their fellow community members and gardeners, volunteers had the opportunity to learn and teach throughout the day. At the UVM Children’s center site, volunteers included the children in their project and helped them construct new garden structures and beds. Teams worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from classics like weeding and moving dirt, to challenges like building new raised beds, digging ditches and building fences.
After several hours of hard work, teams came together at the Intervale for a delicious celebratory picnic lunch, which featured flatbread, burritos, and salads. Based on the number of smiles and laughter that could be observed at the Intervale, it safe to say everyone is looking forward to next year.