Everyone can have a garden - Spring 1973

BACG History Post #9

By March 1973, Gardens for All had grown from a marketing concept into a nonprofit organization. The nonprofit was one of six businesses under the umbrella of Garden Way Associates, based in Charlotte, VT. Lyman Wood served as president of the board of directors. 

Free Garden Plots ad - Gardens for All - 1973Garden Way Manufacturing, based in Troy, NY, was the financial backbone for Garden Way Associates. Three hundred employees worked at the Troy factory making and marketing Troy-Bilt roto-tillers. From 1961 to 1972, roto-tiller sales doubled each year. 

A portion of the profits from roto-tiller sales were put into promoting gardening as a way of life. Developing home and community gardens was central to Lyman Wood's vision of a self-sufficient lifestyle centered on food production.

B.H. "Tommy" Thompson knew how to community organize. He arranged meetings with private landowners, church and neighborhood leaders, and with municipal, school, and university officials. Thompson was able to secure commitments from landowners to host new community garden sites. These sites were in addition to the Cliffside and Shelburne Farms community gardens started by Gardens for All in 1972.

Tommy Thompson - rototilling garden - 1973

Preparation of the community garden sites began in April, 1973. The Burlington Free Press photo shows Thompson at work roto-tilling a new garden site off North Avenue in a field owned by the Presbyterian Church. 

The church owned a five-acre parcel* opposite the entrance/exit to the Burlington beltway (Rt. 127), which connects North Avenue to Manhattan Drive.   

Other community garden sites begun in 1973 in Burlington included: 
  • UVM Admissions off South Prospect Street
  • Baird School off Pine Street
  • Catholic Charities site behind St. Joseph's Center off North Avenue
  • Champlain School site near the bus barns
  • Orchard site on UVM land off East Avenue
  • Appletree Point site on Peisch land off Staniford Road
  • Northgate Apartments site on Gambero land
  • The Mount St. Mary's Convent site off Mansfield Avenue
* Author's note: The community garden opposite the entrance to Rt. 127 lasted through the 1977 season. In 1978, the Presbyterian Church sold their land off North Avenue to the North Avenue Alliance Church. The Alliance Church broke ground at the North Avenue site in 1983 to construct a large church and school facility.