Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Putting "Community" in Community Gardens

Did you have a chance to attend Friday's Advanced Training session on Community Gardens? There were wonderful bits of experience mixed in with new ideas at the day-long training held at the Extension office in Henry County.

We heard from Glenda Garris, Director of the Community Gardens of Henry County. Glenda shared piles of tips on building a community garden, gaining support, building partnerships, and of course, stories about the gardeners who grow there.

Jennifer Davidson, ANR Agent in Columbus, GA (Muscogee County), talked about multiple garden projects that are part of the Columbus Community Garden Network, highlighting Extension's role and the benefits to local residents. She had great ideas for getting things done without expending money, like her fabulous website.

Ted Wynne, ANR Agent in Newton County, demonstrated the importance of planning and forethought in his presentation on community gardens in Newton County. He shared how Newton County developed a long-range plan for 2050, identified health and greening components, and looked to Extension for meeting elements of that plan. He highlighted the successes of working with local college students and other volunteer groups, but emphasized the need to be prepared to direct these groups. His take-home advice was to not own the garden -- be a resource, but not the owner.

MGEVs share experiences with each other as they work on class activities.
 One of the most fascinating tips I took away from the training came during our first class activity before lunch. MGEVs divided into small groups and began identifying the successes and challenges of their community garden projects. They also identified what they needed to know more about. During this session, a MGEV indicated that one of their successes at bringing "community" to their community gardens came from a blog. The blog serves as a place of exchange among the gardeners at the community garden. It was creating conversation and engaging the gardeners at the site!

Thank you to Frank Hancock, ANR Agent in Henry County, and the MGEVs in Henry who planned and hosted this Advanced Training! Participants left with ideas and contacts for community garden development. We look forward to hearing their success stories!


  • March 5, 2013: Leadership: Building a Dynamic MGEV Network; Advanced Training in the “Required” Course Options. Hosted by Gwinnett County Extension and the Gwinnett County Master Gardener Association. 9:30 am – 4:30 pm; Cost: $25. Registration Deadline: February 26, 2013. Contact local Extension agents for registration information.
  • March 22, 2013: Sustainability in the Garden: Comparing Conventional and Organic Garden Management (SGL), Athens, GA (prior to GMGA spring conference); This six-hour training is designed to give Master Gardener Extension Volunteers in-depth training in the differences between conventional and organic garden management. During the session management techniques and products will be examined and pros and cons will be weighed. Registration is now open; contact your Extension Agent for a registration form.
  • April 29-May 4, 2013: Cultivated Spaces (YCG) as part of our bus trip to St. Louis, MO titled “Cultivated Spaces Tour: The Gardens of St. Louis.” Registration is now open; Tour Information and registration.
  • June 7-8, 2013: Master Gardener University; The Georgia Center, Athens, GA. Multiple sessions offered. This will be an on-line registration through the Georgia Center and is expected to open for registration by March 1.

1 comment:

  1. Be a resource not an owner of the community gardens. I am old school and this concept--education--was the motivation behind my MG volunteer hours. My county MGA main function has evolved into a group that plans, plants and maintain gardens or raises money to enlarge the bank account. While the idea of creating the love of gardening is a great concept. That great garden will not materialize without education. I encourage you to preach the word of education in our community. Thank you.