BACG board transitions to Parks and Recreation - 1987

BACG History Post #60

Following its final annual meeting on December 3, 1986, BACG's board of directors drafted a proposal for the City of Burlington to run the community garden program. 

Ike Isley volunteered to approach Sid Baker, the superintendent of Burlington Parks and Recreation. Baker was a staunch supporter of community gardening.

"Things were not going well for BACG," remembered Charlie Nardozzi, who joined the board in January, 1986. "Community gardens in other cities were run by Parks and Recreation departments. There was a sense of relief when Burlington Parks and Recreation offered to take the gardens in."

Nardozzi worked with Gardens for All from 1980 to 1982, first as a summer intern during his senior year at UVM, then as staff horticulturist. From 1982 to 1985, he served in the Peace Corps. 

Nardozzi returned to Vermont in the spring of 1985. He worked at the Four Seasons Garden Center in Williston for a year. In the fall of 1985, he was offered a teaching assistantship at UVM. He earned a Masters of Extension Education degree in 1987.

Lisa Halvorsen joined the BACG board in the fall of 1986. She was recruited by Nancy Crane to serve as board secretary. Crane, who served as a reference librarian at UVM, helped to preserve BACG archives as part of Special Collections at the UVM Library.   

Halvorsen moved to Burlington in 1975. She worked as a news editor and media specialist with UVM Extension. She enrolled in graduate courses, earning a Masters degree in Extension Education. Halverson began community gardening at the UVM Jughandle in 1976, during its final season.

"There were 200 gardens on a slope," remembered Halvorsen. My first garden plot was under water. The coordinator helped me relocate to an abandoned plot. We all shared a water spigot on the old Ag Engineering building. UVM was cranky about the water usage. They closed the Jughandle site after one year, saying it was too distracting for drivers."

Halvorsen relocated to the Orchard Community Garden off East Avenue. The soil was rocky, with gardens in between the rows of old apple trees. Gardeners watered their plants by dipping jugs into an underground stream covered by a manhole. UVM students occasionally foraged in the community plots when they returned to campus in August, to the dismay of the gardeners.

Barbara Prine served on the BACG board as a representative for Chittenden Community Action, where she was employed. By going through Community Action, limited income gardeners were able to qualify for reduced garden plot fees.

Isley, Nardozzi, Halverson, Crane, and Prine formed a core volunteer team to transition BACG from an independent nonprofit organization to a recreation program under Burlington Parks and Recreation. There were just a few weeks to get new registration forms ready for the 1987 community gardening season. 

Ray Tanguay headed the recreational services division of Burlington Parks and Recreation. He turned to a new city employee, Maggie Leugers, who was hired in 1986. Leugers coordinated after school programs for the City.

"I put a new proposal on your desk," Tanguay said to Leugers. "You've done some gardening, haven't you?"

Leugers came to Vermont in 1979 from Cincinnati, Ohio. Her bachelor's degree was in Community Urban Recreation. She and her husband, Mike Leugers, worked as dorm parents at Pine Ridge School from 1979 to 1986. She also served as a physical education teacher and summer program leader at Pine Ridge.

While working with the summer program in 1980, Leugers contacted Tommy Thompson at Gardens for All.

"Horticulture was an extracurricular activity at Pine Ridge," said Leugers. "We planted flowers on campus with the students. Tommy was lovely and helpful in giving us advice."

Nardozzi helped to facilitate the BACG board's transition to an advisory board under Burlington Parks and Recreation. The advisory board met monthly with Leugers at the Leddy Park office for Parks and Recreation.

Halvorsen took on the editor role for BACG's newsletter, Weed 'em and Reap, which continued under Burlington Parks and Recreation. Crane served on the BACG advisory board until 1992. Nardozzi and Halverson stayed on the board through 1994 and 1997, respectively.