Intervale Community Garden 20-year lease -1985

BACG History Post #53

Burlington Area Community Gardens held its annual meeting on December 11, 1985 at the Fletcher Free Library. Agenda items including the election of board members and the approval of a 20-year lease with the Burlington Electric Department for the Intervale Community Garden site. The involvement of city government with the community gardens was also discussed.

Established in 1983 as an independent nonprofit, BACG was governed by a board of directors who held financial responsibility for the organization. Each BACG gardener attending the annual meeting had a vote in the decision-making process. Board chair Don Miller wrote the letter below to BACG members in late November, 1985, inviting and encouraging member participation.   

Clean up deposits and garden awards - 1985

 BACG History Post #52

Printed and mailed newsletters were the mainstay of communications for 20th century nonprofit organizations. Each newsletter article had a job to do, whether it be to inform, acknowledge volunteers, or call gardeners to action.

With limited pages, words were chosen carefully. Effective use of white space created a sense of structure and organization. Hand drawn artwork set a grassroots tone. The weed 'em and reap theme celebrated the rewards of gardening know-how coupled with timely effort.

Weed 'em and Reap newsletter - October 1985

The October 1985 Weed 'em & reap newsletter was released just in time for the annual cleanup of individual garden plots. The closing date was set for October 12. After cleaning up their plot, gardeners were given the opportunity to carry over their $5 deposit to the next gardening season or receive a refund by mail.

The fall newsletter acknowledged the Zucchini Festival volunteers, along with three community garden sites which won group awards. The Intervale and Catholic Charities sites received honorable mention in the American Community Garden Association's contest. The Orchard site was a prize winner for its community garden table display at the Champlain Valley Fair.

Weed 'em and Reap newsletter October 1985

Zucchini Festival in City Hall Park -1985

 BACG History Post #51

Megan Humphrey brought energy and creativity to her work as BACG's Administrative Assistant. The Zucchini Festival debuted on the Saturday after Labor Day, in City Hall Park. The event was a partnership between BACG and the Burlington Farmers Market.

"There were prizes for Best Dressed Zucchini, Zucchini Toss, and Largest Zucchini," said Humphrey. "Kids came with dressed up zucchinis and adults came wearing silly zucchini earrings. Governor Madeleine Kunin judged the zucchinis and gave out the prizes. I had Ben & Jerry’s make zucchini ice cream for us."

Burlington Zucchini Festival Poster - 1985

Burlington kids at Zucchini Festival - 1985

Graphic design and garden coordination - 1985

 BACG History Post #50

BACG Administrative Assistant ad
The BACG board hired Megan Humphrey early in 1985 to coordinate the community garden program. 

"I LOVED running BACG," reflected Humphrey about her two years of service as BACG's administrative assistant. 

"I was able to organize garden site sign-ups, plan events, do marketing, connect people with resources, use my graphic design skills, and do administrative tasks.

BACG Gardeners Can Pick their Plots
"The BACG office was upstairs next door to what is now Penny Cluse CafĂ©, then Ben & Jerry’s," Humphrey said. 

"I shared attic office space with Ron and Arnie Koss as they began their Earth’s Best baby food business. They had lots of energy and I enjoyed the vibe." 

"We had wonderful board members, site coordinators, and local resources for things like hay bales, plants, etc. The smell of the B & J’s waffle cones wafted up constantly, though—I still can’t stand the smell of those cones after all these years."

Humphrey applied her organizational and graphic design skills to the BACG newsletter, "Weed 'em and Reap." The newsletter helped to draw the eight BACG community garden sites into a more cohesive program. 

Weed 'em and Reap newsletter July 1985

Weed 'em and Reap newsletter July 1985

Gardening interests trend toward leisure - 1984

 BACG History Post #49

Doug Routley was a plant science professor for the University of New Hampshire. During the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote a newspaper column called The Yankee Gardener. The column reprinted below appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer on July 28, 1984. 

Routley wrote about the changing home and community gardening trends between 1974 and 1984. The growth of farmers markets made high quality local produce more readily available. Fewer people were interested in fighting weeds and insects to grow their own vegetables.

"Backyards which once grew potatoes, tomatoes, and corn now grow grass, and in many places, swimming pools occupy what once was gardening space," he wrote. "Stability in the price of gas, more energy efficient vehicles, and high employment have stimulated the buying of recreational vehicles and boats. People have become mobile again."

Routley identified a declining interest in horticulture among young people. Careers in engineering, computers, and biotechnology were on the upswing. Fewer older adults grew vegetables, in part due to the improving economy. Recreational gardening and ornamental plants became more popular. While there were exceptions to these trends, interest in renting community garden plots was waning in some areas.

Gardening remained the number one leisure activity in America, according to the 1984 Gallup Poll. Eight of ten Americans participated in some type of indoor or outdoor gardening (which included growing a lawn). Four in ten or 34 million households were involved in vegetable gardening. 

Interest in food gardening was highest among married couples and people over age 50. The article below was published in the Brattleboro Reformer on October 13, 1984. Gardens for All and the Gallup organization cooperated on the annual National Gardening Survey.

Gardening with the Youth Employment Program - 1984

 BACG History Post #48

Bernie Sanders created the Mayor's Youth Office during his first term as mayor of Burlington. The city department teamed up with the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) to sponsor the Burlington Youth Employment Program, which started in 1983. The program is described in an article published in the Rutland Herald on August 8, 1983.

During the spring and summer of 1983, a cooperative community garden was established on an experimental basis at the Intervale Community Garden site. A total of 37 youths rotated through 20 slots in the garden program, which was funded through the Comprehensive Employment Training Administration (CETA).

The Cooperative Garden Project continued in 1984. Funded by public and private sources, the Garden Project provided youth with the opportunity to grow vegetables, flowers and herbs on more than an acre of fertile land. 

The youths learned plant identification, transplanting, harvesting, and marketing. Produce was sold to local grocers, restaurants, and through local Farmers Markets. 

Ten percent of the produce grown was donated to the Food Shelf. A quarter of the youths involved in the Garden Project were able to work off community service hours assigned through the court diversion program.

The Burlington Free Press story below, published on July 22, 1984, describes the garden component of the Youth Employment Program.

Youth Employment Garden Project - Intervale