Barton Community Garden: Families Growing Together

2020 Grant Amount: $2,935.00

The Barton Community Garden (BCG) is a newly established community garden in the village of Barton, Orleans County, Vermont. BCG is volunteer staffed and community supported. BCG is a “giving” garden with the goals of growing food for our community, creating a space for community members to come together, and supporting aspiring, new and experienced gardeners to learn to grow their own food and, when possible, to grow food to share with the community.

Families Growing Together will bring families to the garden on a regular basis (weekly) to engage in gardening, art projects, science investigations and literacy activities. This program will bring community members together in a safe and engaging space and provide diverse ways for families to explore gardening and the natural world. The activities will be designed to excite a child’s imagination and provide practical information about the local food system. Families who participate will be encouraged to begin gardening at home or to cultivate a bed at the BCG next year. They will be invited to continue participation through the year through hands-on workshops, cooking demonstrations, movies and parent-child book groups.

BCG is located on a small portion of village land that Barton Village hopes will evolve into a welcoming community space. Having spaces for gathering (when we can again gather), nature paths to the river, are just some of the long-term possibilities of the space. Through the Families Growing Together program partnerships with the Barton Library and the local schools will be strengthened as they are involved in the activities in the garden and replicate them in their settings. As the garden expands families will have th opportunity to grow food for their family in assigned beds.

As restrictions on groups change over the next 1-3 years BCG will partner with the Village of Barton and community organizations to make the site a natural commons for the community. BCG will begin this year to offer hands on workshops on gardening and related topics and plans over the next year to develop a robust monthly schedule of events for community members, including continuation of the Families Growing Together program. Whenever possible, these will be in the garden. In inclement weather BCG will use the Barton Public Library, which is adjacent to the garden space or space in our local schools as part of school events. 

Families Growing Together will have four components:

Growing in the Garden – families will be introduced to the garden and have an opportunity to learn gardening skills and acquire information about growing food.

Creating in the Garden – families will use natural materials as well as art supplies for a variety of creative activities including to creating signs, painting rocks and designing garden plans.

Exploring in the Garden – families will explore the natural world in the garden including learning about plant life, identifying insects and their role in the garden and exploring the world of soil.

Celebrating in the Garden – families will come together to celebrate the joy of growing and sharing food. Families will be encouraged to contribute favorite recipes to a garden cookbook.

BCG is currently partnering or collaborating with the NEK Hunger Council, NEK Organizing, the Village of Barton, Barton Public Library, BASSI (senior services), Barton Graded School, St. Paul’s Catholic School,  COFEC Early Childhood Center, the Orleans Federated Church food shelf and the Community Seed Exchange. Future partnerships/collaborations will be explored with the Old Stone House Museum, Glover Farmers’ Market, Grater Barton Arts, and Green Mountain Farm to School.

Barton Community Garden is committed to providing members of the greater Barton communities to come together to grow food, enjoy a welcoming space, create community bonds, and learn skills that build resilience for food security. BCG members believe that food resilience is greatly impacted by decisions that are made at home with children and their families. Through the Families Growing Together program families will gain awareness of the local food system and be given information to inform their decisions about what food to grow, purchase and prepare.

The garden is located in the center of the village and activity in the garden will draw in folks walking by as well as the families involved. We hope that participants and observers alike will be part of the evolution of the garden into a community space. The garden itself provides a model for growing that may continue in individual homes and into the following growing season.

Parents and guardians are children’s most important teachers. As parents gain knowledge and confidence through work in the garden, they will be learning with their children and instilling knowledge that will support their children’s participation in the local food system in the future.