Gardens for All broadens its outreach - 1980

BACG History Post #31

In 1980, Gardens for All turned its attention to membership and outreach. GFA staff members developed gardening programs for senior citizens and people with disabilities, school children, and inmates at correctional centers. New program ideas were tested at community gardening sites in and around Burlington. 

Will Raap was hired by Gardens for All in 1980. He moved to Burlington from California after earning a BA degree in economics at UC Davis and a Master's degree in business and urban planning at UC Berkely. Raap oversaw outreach programs and conducted a campaign resulting in 15,000 paid members.

In a Burlington Free Press article published on August 17, 1980, Raap said that the Garden Way Company was providing 60 to 70% of the funding for Gardens for All. The goal was for Gardens for All to become self-supporting as it transitioned from local to national programming. 
Gardens for All story Burlington Free Press 1980

With an eye to global food challenges, Tommy Thompson continued his focus on developing community gardens in the Third World. Bruce Butterfield provided support for the garden program at the Chittenden Community Correctional Center and a retirement garden at the Cathedral Square senior citizens housing project. GFA staffers also worked with teachers at the Essex Junction Educational Center to develop courses centered around garden-based learning.

Author's note: JoAnne Dennee came to Vermont in 1980 with her husband Larry Sommers, who worked for Gardens for All. Dennee and Sommers were the first coordinators of the Intervale Community Garden.

Dennee graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BS degree in psychology and education. She has worked as an educator for over 40 years. Dennee is the author of a trilogy of curriculum guides for outdoor learning titled:  In the Three Sisters Garden, Exploring the Secrets of the Meadow-Thicket, and Exploring the Forest with Grandfather Tree.