We have put together a collection of Frequently Asked Questions to paint a fuller picture of what it means to participate in the Thriving Gardens Course.  Photographs and quotes from course graduates are included to inspire you to join us this growing season.

Hands in the soil = healthy body, mind, and heart!

Name Change

The Thriving Gardens Course is officially the new name for the Community Teaching Garden Course. This change was inspired by other name changes we’ve made over the past couple years including the SeedSong Collective Garden and the Vermont Garden Network. Though we foster a wonderful community and much teaching is being provided throughout its duration, we wanted the name to better describe what this course entails; a hands-on season-long garden course where you, your community, and your garden will thrive.

Who teaches the Thriving Gardens Course?

Angela deBettencourt is the Lead Instructor for the Thriving Gardens Course. After apprenticing for the 2020 course with Carolina Lukac, she transitioned into the lead instructor position and taught the past three years. Before working with VGN and after graduating from UVM with a degree focused in sustainable agriculture, she worked within Vermont’s food system in a variety of ways including, vegetable farming (including organic, biodynamic, and hydro/aquaponics, and conventional growing techniques), hunger relief, garden education, and agricultural research.

Who has participated in the Thriving Gardens Course?

Over 280 people in the last 14 years! Students have included a soon to be mom who gave birth during the season : ), a paraeducator who eventually started a garden at his workplace, recent college graduates looking for more hands-on learning experiences, a handful of folks in their 20s and 30s who work office jobs, recent retirees excited to spend time in a garden, folks who have just moved to Vermont and want to connect to the community,  and recent homeowners hoping to gain experience to create edible landscaping on their property.

“It has been a great experience to have a harvest and go home to prepare a meal with everything that I grew, it made me feel energized and successful. I developed new relationships that have helped me feel part of my community as I am new to the area.”

Witnessing seasonal changes in the garden landscape can be quite magical. It is often hard to believe our garden oasis is so close to downtown Burlington.

Where do the classes take place?

The Thriving Gardens Course takes place on the unceded land of the Abenaki people at the Ethan Allen Homestead, off of Route 127 in the New North End.
Our garden site is one of many community gardens at the Homestead where you can also enjoy beautiful walking trails and a visit to the Alnôbaiwi and the Heritage Center.  For many students, the Homestead becomes a second home during the growing season.  Students are welcome to spend time in the garden from dawn to dusk, seven days a week, and it is common to run into other students in the garden on weekends, enjoying a picnic or a walk with their dog. The garden site is accessible via car off of Route 127 or the bike path that starts off of Riverside Ave in the Old North End.  There is ample parking and bathroom facilities.

What is the curriculum for the Thriving Gardens Course?

The class structure reflects the rhythm of the growing season, and thus, we follow a defined, yet fluid schedule that depends on what is happening in the garden.  When cucumber beetles arrive, we focus on integrated pest management strategies; when carrot seeds germinate, we demonstrate how best to thin seedlings. The Lead Instructor sends out weekly class emails with a preview of what to expect for the week ahead and follows up with resources relevant to weekly lessons.

Topics covered in the course include: Soil health, garden planning, direct seeding/transplanting techniques, proper watering, pest and disease management, weed identification/management, crop rotation, succession planting, harvesting, ideal tools, trellising, seed saving, season extension, pollinators and native plant species, small-scale composting, perennial management, container gardening, and so much more!

Wednesday evening classes: Weekly lessons, held in the garden, are interactive and hands-on. We make time for garden walks to observe what’s new, visit student plots to address specific questions, work together in shared garden spaces, and have solo gardening time in individual plots.

In early fall, we make a big batch of fire cider, our favorite garden-inspired immune-boosting tonic that keeps us healthy through winter.

Saturday workshops: Monthly hands-on workshops allow us to spend more time learning about culinary and medicinal herbs – and transforming them into food and medicine!  Students will learn how to make herbal infused oils, healing salves, tinctures, tea blends, fire cider, and a few other herbal goodies.  Students will also learn simple food preservation techniques such as drying, freezing, quick pickles, lactofermentation, pestos, and salsas. Another exciting workshop includes plant dyeing fabric with plants grown in the garden! 

Can two people share a garden bed?

Yes.  We have had a mother and daughter pair, two friends, and couples share a garden bed. Please consider signing up for a pair share registration if you:

  • Cannot commit to all of the 24 weekly classes. 
  • If you have already signed up for a CSA share and feel hesitant to go home with even more harvest.
  • If you simply want to share the experience with someone you love!

The individual fee for a pair share registration is $325 and each person must register individually.  If you are interested in the pair share registration option, please contact Angela– Angela(at)vtgardens.org

What happens if I need to miss a class?

We understand that participating in the Thriving Gardens Course is a big commitment, but please keep in mind that gardens are alive and continually need your attention!  You are responsible for keeping up with garden maintenance in your own individual plot.  Missing a few classes is understandable and we trust that you will find time outside of class to tend to the garden.  It is common for students to team up to water each others’ plot during the week.  Students can also ask a partner, relative or friend to tend to their garden in their absence.

Will I get a refund if I can’t complete the full growing season?

It depends…  Here is our official refund policy:

  • Participants who cancel before the course starts are refunded in full, less the $20 fee.
  • Participants who cancel during the first month will receive a 50% refund.
  • Participants who cancel after the first month will not be eligible for a refund.

Are scholarships available?

Yes!  We offer scholarships for individuals with limited possibilities of covering the course fee.

Five scholarships of $250 off the early bird registration fee will be offered on a rolling basis – we highly recommend you submit your request early!

Individuals who receive a scholarship must still be able to cover a $300 registration fee.

Monthly payment plans can be arranged.
You should expect to hear back from us within two weeks of submitting your request.

Please fill out a Scholarship Request Form if you are interested in being considered for a scholarship.

Have another question?

Email Angela @ angela (at) vtgardens.org

“I don’t tell people that I’m just taking a gardening class. I joke that this has become my therapy session, my workout space, a place for new friendships, a meditation space, and of course a place where I learn how to grow things.”

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