Changes at Gardens for All - 1979

 BACG History Post #27

Community Gardens Aid Your Growth
Gardens for All went through a passage in 1979. The nonprofit organization expanded its mission from cultivating the community garden movement to research, publishing, education programs and becoming a national membership organization for gardeners.

In January, Gardens for All established a new headquarters at 180 Flynn Avenue in Burlington. During the course of the year, the GFA staff grew from six to fourteen employees.

By August, Jack Robinson was elected president and treasurer of Gardens for All, with Judi Loomis as secretary. Elected as vice presidents were Tommy Thompson (community gardening), Emma-Lou Gale (projects), and Dave Schaefer (communications). 

Jack Robinson was the son of Ed and Carolyn Robinson, who were contemporaries of Lyman Wood. The Robinsons wrote the "Have More Plan," the 1947 book that helped launch the post-World War II back to the land movement.

The building at 180 Flynn Avenue provided space to house new staff and grant-funded programs. Nancy Flinn was hired by Gardens for All as director of horticultural therapy. Flinn worked with UVM and the Chittenden Community Correctional Center to develop a garden program for inmates. The garden was located off Swift Street, a quarter mile east of Shelburne Road.  

Gardens for All membership dues were $10 per year. Members received the quarterly Gardens for All magazine and a quarterly booklet on growing garden crops.

Gardens for All officers 1979
At 62, Tommy Thompson was the senior member of the Gardens for All staff. As new hires began shaping projects, media, and publications, he remained focused on community gardening. 

Thompson mentored Bruce Butterfield, who joined Gardens for All in 1978. Butterfield provided support for the twenty community gardens in Burlington and surrounding towns that Thompson had worked with since 1973. 

Tommy Thompson and visitors from Honduras

Thompson hosted several international visitors in 1979, who came to Burlington to learn about Gardens for All and the community gardening program. 

A group from Honduras discussed with Thompson the possibility of developing a cooperative gardening and nutrition program with Vermont, under a sister state program developed by the Alliance for Progress.