Seedsong Collective Garden

In a collective garden, a group of people work the land as a community, growing crops together and sharing the harvest.

Seedsong is a collective market garden where shared access to land and resources, intensive growing techniques, and a mentorship program empower members to grow a lot of food on a small plot of land.  A wide variety of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and small fruits are grown by and for garden members. The Vermont Garden Network oversees aspects of garden management such as sourcing materials, guiding the planting calendar, coordinating work days, and supporting members so that they can focus on growing nourishing food for themselves and each other. Designate garden mentors host weekly work shifts, monthly potlucks, and monthly Saturday workdays, weaving everyone together in such a way that the community aspect of Seedsong is just as nourishing as the harvests we take home. We have arrived at this model of collective community gardening after many years experimentation with different management styles. In the words of one garden member: 

“Collective gardening seems like the way we were meant to garden. Why do something individually when there’s so much to be gained from community knowledge, from the give and take of having many people to rely on, when you can share abundance and advice and inspiration more widely!”

Seedsong is located within the Tommy Thompson Community Garden, at the Intervale, in Burlington. We honor the indigenous people and seed stewards who came before us.  We cultivate soil fertility and save seeds with future generations in mind. 

We are inspired by organic farming, agroecology, permaculture, and market gardening movements to tend to our 2,000 square feet of production space. We are very fortunate to count on Burlington’s community garden infrastructure to facilitate our access to water, a picnic shelter, and perennial landscaping that includes fruit trees and pollinator habitat. 

Seedsong Garden Membership

There are many reasons to join Seedsong.  In a nutshell, you commit to 2hrs of weekly garden work in exchange for taking home harvest. Additional garden member expectations are detailed below. VGN takes care of all the logistics and material needs to have a productive and beautiful collective market garden.We asked past garden members why they value collective gardening and how they have grown as gardeners after a season of growing food collectively:

“It is wonderful to bring home food that was alive in the ground just hours earlier, and without a collective garden, I would not have much opportunity to do that. I cannot keep a personal garden going, and I have no space for one where I live. For me, the collective garden offers all of the benefits of gardening but with no stress around the work to be done.”
“I feel like I’ve grown tremendously. Having worked on a farm last summer, this was a much different environment. Where I learned a lot about production, efficiency, and tenacity working on a farm, I discovered new lessons at the Victory Garden [now renamed Seedsong] about ease, appreciation, and listening.”

Garden Member Expectations:

  1. Sign up for a 2hr weekly garden shift, every week from early April to late October. Show up ready to dig your hands in the soil.  We provide all the necessary tools and materials, you arrive with a collective spirit to jump in where you are most needed. All members must be able to consistently join at least one of these weekly shifts: Mondays 5-7pm (this shift is full for 2024), Wednesdays 5-7pm, Fridays 7-9am or Saturdays 10am-12pm.
  2. Take home harvest for your individual consumption.  When there is extra harvest (as the season progresses, there often is!), we encourage you to take home more harvest to share with your broader community.
  3. Participate in monthly community work days on the 3rd Saturday of the month.  April, May and June, are very busy garden prep and planting months.  In July, August, and September we typically gather for a make-and-take workshop to ferment a big batch of kimchi or make herbal remedies. In October we celebrate all that we have grown!
  4. Join monthly potlucks on the 1st Thursday of the month.  These are much-anticipated gatherings to share food, savor seasonal harvest, and weave together our garden community.
  5. Keep up with garden member communication, through group emails, a Shared Google Drive folder, and an (optional) group phone text thread.  You should expect weekly communication from the garden member team to confirm upcoming dates, share friendly reminders on systems we have in place, and many other timely announcements that help keep our collective garden running smoothly.
  6. Remember that it takes a village to sustain a collective garden.  If you hurt your back and cannot shovel another wheelbarrow of compost, speak up and someone else will do it.  If you will be traveling for the month of July and absent from weekly garden shifts, let us know so that we can plan accordingly.  If you would like to grow kohlrabi, add it to the garden wishlist shared document so that we can do our best to include it in the planting calendar.
  7. Contribute a garden membership fee.  See below for more details.

Garden Membership Fees:

Our sliding scale fee structure encourages everyone to contribute as much as they can, keeping in mind how much time & energy they dedicate to the garden, how much harvest they take home, and their financial position to support gardeners with more limited income.  

To put it into perspective… 

Renting a full garden plot in Burlington’s community gardens costs $100.  That fee simply gives you access to land.  Add the cost of compost, amendments, straw, seeds, starts, trellises, gloves, pruners… and you are getting close to investing $300.  Now plan on watering daily during summer heat, keeping up with aggressive weeds, and knowing what to do when Colorado potato beetles devour your plants.  All that time and energy has a cost too.

A small CSA share at local farms ranges between $400-650.  Although you won’t get quite as much consistent harvest at Seedsong (we are small-scale gardeners, not market-focused farmers!), you will still take home a considerable amount of seasonal harvest, including flowers, culinary and medicinal herbs.


Pay-it-forward: $600 – Reflects the full cost of managing Seedsong as a collective market garden and allows us to offer a reduced fee for those who need it.

Fair share: $450 – Covers costs.  

Reduced fee for anyone who needs it: $300 – We have a limited number of reduced fee memberships to offer. We will post updates if/when they are no longer available.

Payment plan: $150 deposit required. We will be in touch to schedule your payments. The membership fee of $300-600 must be fully paid by July 1, 2024.


 

Garden membership gives you access to:

  • Materials
    • All gardening inputs, including: compost, soil amendments, seeds, plant starts, fertilizers, pest management sprays
    • An assortment of essential gardening tools, including: long-handled tools, hand tools, pruners, scissors, broadfork, watering cans, collapsible hose, quality watering wand
    • Helpful gardening supplies, including: trellises, twine, row cover, weed mat, low tunnel for season extension, harvest strainers
  • Mentorship
    • Garden mentors lead weekly work shifts to provide guidance in following the task list, support to answer questions, and maintain continuity between each shift.  
    • Learn by doing: members acquire gardening skills by working alongside each other, with hands in the soil. 
    • Members are invited to participate in many in-depth workshops facilitated at Seedsong as part of other VGN programming.  
“The mentors helped with their wonderful knowledge and direction – knowing what needed doing, organizing tasks, giving demonstrations as needed. Knowledge like “what is that plant” and “how do you know it’s ready for harvest”. Plus ways to store and cook various veggies. Absolutely invaluable.”
  • Harvest
    • Weekly: Most seasonal produce is harvested and distributed during weekly garden work shifts.  Members dedicate 2hrs of physical work in the garden in exchange for taking home harvest.
    • PYO: Some crops are available for pick-your-own on a flexible schedule.  Members can visit the garden anytime to harvest crops such as lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, culinary & medicinal herbs, and flowers.
    • Bulk: A handful of crops are harvested all at once and then equitably distributed among members during community work days or on a pick-up basis.  Storage crops that we commonly bulk harvest include: garlic, potatoes, fall root vegetables, and winter squash.
    • Food as medicine: During community work days, we make large batches of lacto-fermented vegetables and herbal remedies for members to take home.
  • Community
    • Monthly potlucks are much-loved gatherings to celebrate the harvest season, share recipes, and enjoy each other.  
    • A phone text messaging group keeps garden members connected and serves as timely communication for garden-related announcements.
    • Enjoy the benefits of collective gardening: flexibility, mutual support, friendships.  When many people share a garden space, we are each able to take time off and trust that someone else is taking care of the garden, we meet new people and form meaningful relationships while weeding, and we go home with nourishing food!

 

Interested in joining Seedsong for the the 2024 growing season?  Please email Carolina – carolina(at)vtgardens.org

 

What is “collective gardening”? 

Collective gardens, also sometimes known as “cooperative gardens” or “community farms,” are communal growing spaces where gardeners share the work of planting, tending and harvesting in one large plot together, differentiated from the traditional individually-tended community garden “plots.” Collective gardeners may be growing for themselves and their families or volunteering their time to share the food with neighbors or local food security support organizations, educational efforts or other endeavors. These growing communities have their own unique set of opportunities, challenges, and creative solutions. Collective gardening is a practice in resilience: empowering people to grow food for themselves and neighbors by helping to overcome the barriers to gardening like lack of land, start-up resources, tools, seeds, skill, confidence, or ample discretionary time.

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