Community Teaching Garden

at Ethan Allen Homestead and Tommy Thompson Community Garden

Online registration for the 2017 gardening season will open soon!  If you are interested in joining the class, please email carolina@vcgn.org 

The Community Teaching Garden (CTG) is a hands-on, adult beginner organic gardening course.  Participants learn how to plant, cultivate, harvest, and preserve produce from their own plot and from shared garden space in a cooperative learning environment.  The 22-week long course follows the rhythm of the growing season from May to October.  The CTG course runs at two sites in Burlington and class is held twice a week at each location.

Group 2015 #1

Students at the Ethan Allen Homestead site harvest kale from a shared garden bed.

What we offer

  • Weekly class instruction in a hands-on, cooperative and fun learning environment
  • Each student is assigned an 80 square foot individual plot to maintain throughout the course
  • Shared garden space is available for select vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers
  • Seeds, plants, compost, tools, and all the equipment and supplies you might need
  • A copy of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible and many other educational resources that will be used as references
  • Special guest talks on specific garden topics, field trips to other unique garden sites, and monthly potlucks
  • At the end of the course, all students receive a VCGN Community Teaching Garden graduate certificate
  • With the program running for 22 weeks, there is lots of time to learn, make friends, and enjoy all the delicious fresh produce you can grow and eat!

Why participate?

The CTG course is designed for adults interested in learning all aspects on how to grow their own food in a fun, supportive, and cooperative learning environment.  First-time gardeners will learn the basics and gain practical, hands-on experience in growing a variety of edible plants in a small-scale organic garden. Individuals with some gardening experience will benefit from learning how to increase the productivity of their garden, deepen their understanding of garden ecology, and gain confidence in more advanced topics such as garden planning, identifying pests, and season extension.  Additionally, this is an extraordinary opportunity to grow a significant amount of fresh vegetables to supplement your diet or to share with your neighbors!  You will take home generous harvests during the peak of the growing season and even learn food preservation and simple herbal remedies to keep enjoying the harvest once the course is over.

The Community Teaching Garden Team

Carolina Lukac will be the Lead Teacher for the Community Teaching Garden in 2016.  Carolina assisted long-time CTG Lead Teacher Denise Quick during last year’s course, and originally joined the VCGN team as a Garden Education Specialist to coordinate local garden-based learning programs for children, adults, and seniors.  Her formal qualifications include: Permaculture Design Certificate (2006), Teaching Permaculture Creatively Certificate (2009), Holistic Healing and Traditional Herbalism training (2015), and Master Gardener Certification (in process).  Prior to moving to Vermont last year, Carolina gardened year-round on rooftops and urban community gardens in Mexico City.  She co-founded the city’s first urban agriculture training center and spent the last 8 years facilitating hundreds of workshops on organic gardening and whole foods cooking for adults and children of diverse backgrounds.  Carolina believes that plants are our finest teachers and looks forward to facilitating opportunities for students to learn through the dynamic course design of the Community Teaching Garden.

The Lead Teacher will be assisted by two CTG Interns who provide valuable logistical support, help document the course, and support students during class.  Additionally, guest teachers are scheduled throughout the season to offer lessons in their area of expertise, including nutrient-dense farming, forest gardening, and community herbalism.

Locations

Classes are held at two garden sites twice a week, from the week of May 9th until graduation on October 8th.  Students are encouraged to consider their proximity to each location and the scheduled class days when registering for their preferred CTG site:

  • Ethan Allen Homestead site: classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 6:30 to 8:30pm. The site is located in the New North End, accessible by car from Route 127 and by bicycle from the bike path.
  • Tommy Thompson Community Garden site: classes are held on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30pm and Saturday mornings from 10:00am to 12:00pm. The site is located at the Intervale, accessible by car or bicycle from Riverside Avenue.

Course Structure

The weekly rhythm of the CTG course includes instruction on the first class-day of the week and garden work with mentoring on the second class-day of the week (e.g. at the Ethan Allen Homestead garden, instruction is on Tuesdays and garden work with mentoring is on Thursdays).  On instruction days, the Lead Teacher shares a lesson on a specific garden-related topic.  A few classes are lecture-style lessons.  The majority of lessons are interactive, hands-on opportunities.  On garden work days, the Lead Teacher and/or interns guide activities to tend individual plots and shared garden space.

Community Teaching Garden 2010

“I appreciated being in a shared space — laughing, weeding, learning, and listening with a group of people who were giving it their best shot. There is something about gardening that can bring people together across a lot of communities that is pure joy.” – CTG Participant

A preview of topics covered during the CTG course includes: soil health, garden planning, permaculture design principles, crop rotation, companion planting, plant care, garden insects, disease prevention and treatment, small scale composting, weeds, tools, trellises, succession planting, perennials, harvest and storage, food preservation, herbs and flowers for food and medicine, cover cropping, seed saving, and season extension.  The full week-by-week course content is shared with students on the first day of the course.

Every month there is a potluck gathering for both classes to spend time together and explore the uniqueness of each CTG site.  Three dinner potlucks are scheduled on Thursday evenings and two brunch potlucks are scheduled on Saturday mornings.  Guest teachers and field trips are also scheduled on a monthly basis.  The full schedule of potlucks, field trips, and other special events is provided on the first day of the course.

To complement class time, the Lead Teacher suggests readings and provides links to websites and useful information throughout the duration of the course.  We encourage students to take advantage of all class time, special events, and resources shared in the unique setting of the cooperative learning environment of VCGN’s Community Teaching Garden.

Course Fee

IMG_2567

“We look at the produce that we purchase and consume in a whole different way! We have our own garden now. It’s something we will do forever.” – CTG Participant

The course fee is $500 for participants with a full garden bed (~80 sq ft) and $450 for a half garden bed.  This covers 22 weeks of classes, use of individual plots and shared garden areas, seeds, plants, supplies, tools, a copy of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, and all the veggies you can grow!

The course fee represents approximately half of the actual costs, thanks to the generosity of the Sid and Cecelia Lance Family Foundation, the Lattner Family Foundation, the Serena Foundation, and the Harris and Frances Block Foundation.  Limited income applicants may apply for additional scholarship assistance to cover a percentage of the CTG course fee thanks to the Frank Way Memorial Scholarship Fund and other community support.

Community Teaching Garden Year 2 Program (CTG.2)

The CTG.2 program is a service-learning opportunity for graduates of the Community Teaching Garden.  The purpose of the program is to provide CTG graduates with an opportunity to hone organic gardening skills while actively contributing to community-based gardens.  Participants in the CTG.2 program are mentored by the Lead Instructor, and in turn, they are encouraged to interact with and share gardening knowledge with first year students.  Each participant will tend a full plot at either the Ethan Allen Homestead or the Tommy Thompson Community Garden site.  As a group, CTG.2 participants will have additional responsibilities for maintaining shared garden spaces.

If you are a CTG graduate and would like to learn more about the CTG.2 program, please contact Carolina – carolina@vcgn.org

 

Registration 

Registration for the 2017 growing season will open in February. If you have a question about the CTG course, please email carolina@vcgn.org 

 

Maintaining a garden through the growing season is a large commitmentPlease consider whether you have time to commit to garden work weekly from May to October before submitting your registration.  Participants are strongly encouraged to commit to a maximum of 6 absences during the 22-week long course.  We understand that summertime is a busy time for everyone and we remind you that tending a garden is a season-long commitment.  If you know ahead of time that you will be out of town for an entire week or more, we ask that you meet with the Lead Teacher for any special arrangements needed.  And most importantly, if you must be absent, please ask a fellow classmate, friend or family member to tend your garden by watering, weeding, and harvesting in your absence!

 

To learn more about the Community Teaching Garden program, check out the Community Teaching Garden blog and more videos

Questions?  Contact Carolina at carolina@vcgn.org or call (802) 861-4769.  

Trio #2

More Community Teaching Garden photos and videos:

CTG videos on YouTube
CTG Blog
Community Teaching Garden Alumni Story Project, Part I: Equal Parts Garden and Community
Community Teaching Garden Alumni Story Project, Part II: New Direction
Community Teaching Garden Alumni Story Project, Part III: Gardening for Life
2013 CTG photostory (pdf)
2011 CTG photo story (pdf)