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Vermont: Community garden tour in Burlington

  • Subject: [cg] Vermont: Community garden tour in Burlington
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2006 14:33:55 -0700 (PDT)

(Ed. note: Jim Flint is Executive Director of Friends
of Burlington Gardens, an active ACGA member, and
co-author of a lovely book on Burlington's Community
Gardens, "Patchwork: Stories of Gardens and
Community." (ISBN 0-9713583-3-8).

Free Press, Burlington, Vermont
Saturday, August 26, 2006

By Eve Thorsen

To some, the Queen City seems like an urban jungle
with its densely packed houses and network of busy
roads. On Sunday, however, there's a chance to see the
softer, more pastoral side to city living with the
annual garden tour organized by the Friends of
Burlington Gardens. 

The tour takes participants on a 2-mile walk that
includes eight community and privately owned gardens.
At the same time, it's a fund-raiser that supports the
development of other community gardens. 

"The idea is to celebrate the gardens and celebrate
the fresh food at this time of year in a unique way,"
said Jim Flint, one of the organizers. "I like the
sense of discovery about this tour. There's a real
kind of sense of 'Oh, wow!' You're walking down the
street in a very urban part of town and then you go
down the driveway and into the back yard and it's a
kind of wonderful, magical experience." 

This is the fourth year that the Friends of Burlington
Gardens has organized the walking tour and each year
has been a little different. The first, in 2003, began
in Flint's Burlington back yard with a dinner prepared
by volunteers from the New England Culinary Institute.


"We harvested a huge amount of food from the gardens
and had donations, and then NECI turned that into a
fantastic dinner," Flint recalled. "Everyone was
totally amazed, including those of us putting on the
event." 

That night the group of garden lovers went out to
visit their gardens in the community: Starr Farm, the
Farrington gardens and the Community Gardens at Ethan
Allen Homestead. Even though they traveled by car, the
tour ended up in the dark, Flint said. So the next
year, the group went on the tour first and then had a
dinner made from food harvested from local gardens.
That year they also pioneered the idea of taking small
groups on walking tours instead of setting off en
masse in cars. 

"What we discovered that year was just how much people
enjoyed walking in the Old North End, looking at
gardens and just being in a setting where you could
enjoy the sights and sounds of an urban neighborhood
in a totally different kind of way," Flint said. The
group also decided to take turns between the city's
Old North End and the South End, where the tour moved
in 2005. This year it's back in the Old North End,
with a couple of different locations from the 2004
tour. 

What's new this year is the food element. Instead of
sitting down to a meal at the beginning or the end,
guests are invited to eat their way around
Burlington's gardens. 

"People will eat at each of the garden stops so it
will be like a progressive dinner," Flint said. The
meal will start with appetizers, progress to soup and
bread, and culminate with a vegetable stir fry at the
Lakeview Community Garden. 

"It's kind of crazy but it works," Flint said. "People
have really had a good time with this over the past
few years. You have to have a little sense of
adventure but it's a nice way of tying together the
community and gardens." 

If you go

The Old North End Taste of the Gardens Tour takes
place 4-8 p.m. Sunday beginning at the Lawrence Barnes
Elementary School parking lot on North Champlain
Street in Burlington. The route is approximately
2-miles long and takes about two hours. Tours depart
every 10 minutes. Cost is$25 per person. Information
at 658-5733, or e-mail info@burlingtongardens.org. Old
North End Taste of the Gardens Tour Route The garden
tour starts at Lawrence Barnes School parking lot on
North Champlain Street where people can register and
form a small group with a tour guide. Guests will tour
the following gardens: The Richer Garden: The Richers
are Burlington natives who have been married 45 years.
They have lived in their current home since 1965.
Their whimsical backyard garden features a gazebo and
pond on the left side of their home. Their berry patch
is on the Myrtle Street side of their home. The Sumner
Garden: Enjoy the greenbelt garden in front of the
Sumners' home and the backyard garden with creative
touches. This garden is one of several featured in
Vermont Life. Appetizers will be served. The Jan
Levasseur and Eileen Slusmon Garden Backyard garden
with Japanese influences: Buddha statues are scattered
around the garden paths. Jan has worked for Gardener's
Supply Co.; Eileen, who is retired, is a self-taught
stone mason. The garden is a wonderful haven for
wildlife. Jan can share with visitors the significance
of the red dot on the shed. Soup and bread served. The
Corey Garden: This garden won Gardener's Supply's
Burlington Blooms Award 2003 Grand Prize for
"Outstanding Front Yard Garden and Drive-by Color."
Lemonade and iced tea will be served. Lakeview
Community Garden: With four plots, the Lakeview
Community Garden is the smallest of the eight
Burlington Area Community Gardens sites in Burlington.
The garden is on the property of the Catholic Diocese
of Vermont adjacent to the Lakeview Community Care
Home, which is managed by Howard Community Services. A
main course of fresh stir fry and rice will be served.
Sara Holbrook Center Garden: This neighborhood
children's garden features murals created as part of a
two-week Garden Day Camp, sponsored by Friends of
Burlington Gardens in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The garden
project was recognized with a 2005 National Gardening
Association Youth Garden Grant Award. Restrooms are
available at this stop. Dessert will be served. The
Czina Garden: Historic neighborhood with gardens on
both sides of the street. The Peace Garden and
Community Mural, Lawrence Barnes Elementary School: At
the end of the tour, Friends of Burlington Gardens
will provide participants with a complimentary copy of
either Vermont Life magazine or "Patchwork: Stories of
Gardens and Community." 

RAIN NOTICE: In the event of showers, food will be
served at the Winooski Valley Park District picnic
shelter at Ethan Allen Homestead following each tour. 


______________________________________________________
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