Nurturing, Mentoring & Educating [New] Gardeners in Community Gardens


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Susan Schoneweis
Kansas Community Garden Conference, July 8-9, 2013

Community gardens often have a variety of participants ranging from gardeners of days of yore to those newly planted with the idea of having a garden. We will share ideas, projects and activities you can adopt and adapt for your own garden to help your members grow!

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  • If nothing else a garden id to be kept in the vehicle or tool bucket.Color code for newbies
  • MCG sends one quarterly to all gardeners; pdf copies are available online if you lose itLocal publications, radio & TVrecruiting gardenersPromoting your garden & activities
  • Local K-State Research & Extension (KSRE) agents may offer community classesencourage gardeners to take the classesExtension Master Gardener Volunteers – trained volunteers who work for KSRE.MGVs can be a good source of informationExtends your staff’s reach so they can make a bigger difference.Benefit of including extension personnel – research based information vs. testimonialIf others are teaching, recommend requiring research-based vs. testimonial informationEspecially when it involves chemicals and pest control
  • Nurturing, Mentoring & Educating [New] Gardeners in Community Gardens

    1. 1. Nurturing, Mentoring & Educating {New} Gardeners in Community Gardens Susan Schoneweis, MS, LD/RD KSRE- Fort Riley
    2. 2. Overview • All gardeners, whether in their 1st or 100th season, need nurturing as do their plants. • Community gardens often have a variety of participants ranging from gardeners from “days of yore” to those newly planted with the idea of having a garden. We will share ideas, projects and activities you can adopt and adapt for your own garden to help your members grow!
    3. 3. Mentoring New Gardeners • Mentoring can be a 2-way exchange – Informal meet whenever needed – Formal set up a number of times to meet – Types of information to share – Knowledge for (muscle) Power…. Knowledge is Power! • May want to trade info for grunt work help – Demonstrating methods, tips, general garden knowledge – Provide a friend/contact who can help get one another growing
    4. 4. Mentoring… • Provide a description of what you hope mentors will do – Demonstrate garden practices – Trade labor – Provide resource links – Other practices based on garden’s needs • Include information on your registration form or provide a separate form – May make initial registration more lengthy, but you can do matching right away – Or, wait and link gardeners after they (or the staff) know who may benefit from having/being a mentor
    5. 5. Mentoring…sharing knowledge Garden newbie - feeling clueless? New to the garden New to the area In need of physical help Strong & mighty, energy to share Food preservation specialist Experienced gardener Experienced in the location Long-term in the garden org. Crop Specialist (Mr. Potato e.g.) Mechanical wizard Computer/Social networking Other needs for mentors??? Matching endless possibilities
    6. 6. Mentoring… • Encourage mentors & mentees to share their experiences good and/or bad or indifferent – with the board/staff if bad, so if change is needed it is known – With the other gardeners if good! Encourage others to serve as or ask for a Mentor!
    7. 7. Mentoring…. • Some gardens have mentors who are similar to garden coordinators – Training similar to Master Gardener Volunteers – May be a Master Gardener Volunteer • Others have mentors who help individual gardeners. • What does your garden need?
    8. 8. Samples from around the country
    9. 9. Winston-Salem, NC • A Community Garden Mentor is someone who is knowledgeable about gardening, enjoys sharing that knowledge with others, and has been trained to support community development around gardens. – encourages best practices in the community garden, while providing moral support to new gardeners and their gardens. – commit to visiting their assigned garden on a regular basis during the growing season, to answer questions about gardening, to bring in the Community Garden Extension Agent when needed, and to encourage the gardens to participate in the Community Garden Resource Program classes and activities. – matched to gardens that will best suit schedules and personalities.
    10. 10. • Garden Mentors Needed! • Do you love to garden? Are you interested in helping new members of your community learn how to garden successfully in Utah? As a garden mentor, you will provide support to refugee families gardening in the Salt Lake City area. • The garden mentor works one on one with the family to ensure they are able to access and utilize their gardening space. This may include assisting with transportation, helping the family increase their gardening skills, and/or assisting elderly gardeners or gardeners with specific nutritional needs to get the most out of their gardens. • If problems arise, garden mentors will work with the Refugee Agriculture Coordinator to brainstorm solutions. Garden mentors meet with their family once a week for 2-hours throughout the gardening season, and will communicate with the Refugee Agriculture Coordinator monthly to give updates and receive assistance.
    11. 11. Samples from around the country • “Growing Groceries Mentors” – Vancouver, WA
    12. 12. AmeriCorps VISTA with Grow Food, Grow Hope – We invite avid gardeners and patient hobbyists alike to lend a hand with some of our garden families, many of whom just need a little encouragement and direction in order to become self-sufficient gardeners themselves. – Volunteer mentors are needed to attend Community Garden sessions for no more than two hours on either Tuesday evenings or Saturday mornings beginning in mid- May (the first garden session dates are yet to be determined). We have 40 plots at the community garden and would like to have a mentor for each participating family though some mentors may be asked to help more than one family if they are able.
    13. 13. Every gardener should be a caretaker & help build the community… Usually…. a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met….
    14. 14. Who are you & what are you doing in our garden???? • Consider providing nametags that can be worn in the garden – Get to know others by name – Good for pretending you remember names • Large font to read from a distance • Test colors for reading from 15’ away • First name, (last name optional) • Official garden design, laminate to waterproof
    15. 15. Ways to Nurture, Mentor & Educate via Communication
    16. 16. Garden Socials & Work Days • Don’t forget name tags! – Important if you don’t have permanent tags • Share the work in common areas • Share a meal - “Greet, Meet & Eat” – Promote pot luck dishes which include garden produce – Celebrate diversity! Encourage recipe sharing!
    17. 17. Direct Mail Newsletters • Benefits – a paper copy to keep forever! –Information worth saving- plant culture, garden rules & regulations, upcoming events, committee assignments, etc. • Challenges – postage & paper costs –Writing & assembling… start a newsletter committee
    18. 18. E-Mail Newsletters • Anyone can get an e-mail address and access it at a public computer – libraries, some extension offices, schools, etc. – Allows for more frequent postage-free mailings – e.g. Dr. Chuck Marr of Manhattan Community Gardens (MCG) sends a weekly news brief; I adapt it and send to Fort Riley Gardeners • Recruit gardeners to help non-emailers set up an account
    19. 19. Garden Website &/or Listserv • Volunteer position perhaps… • Link to county extension website or other parent organization • KISS…so it’s easy to update • Potential for everyone to get the same info at the same time
    20. 20. Social networking- different styles for different age groups A. Facebook – now it’s for “old” people B. Twitter - College age & younger use it most C. E-mail – communications specialists say young people don’t use it; personal experience shows older folks may not have it or be comfortable using it . D. Snail Mail – costs may limit use
    21. 21. Which to use? E. All of the above A variety of communication methods will help keep everyone in touch & at least one method should work for everyone. Help your gardeners feel connected!
    22. 22. Everyone Can Be an Educator with Social Media
    23. 23. Facebook • Used at the Fort Riley Community Victory Gardens – Most gardeners are on it – The list is closed so others can’t see postings – Many gardeners get postings on their phone so it’s quick if one is working in their plot – Share successes, losses, hot tips, problems, requests for help, photos of bugs & weeds – Beginner or new gardeners get answers fast
    24. 24. Facebook…. Fun, helpful, handy • Does anyone have any green tomatoes, that you care to spare? Willing to pay. I'm pregnant and craving fried green tomatoes. Back home they sell green ones in stores but not here :( • Like · · Follow Post · Share · June 29 at 7:14pm via mobile • Seen by 55 • Reply - I'm not there right now, but you can check my garden. It's plot 10d, next to the opening of the compost. If there are any you can take 1 or 2. • June 29 at 7:25pm via mobile · Like · 2 • Reply back…… Thanks
    25. 25. • Hey I am needing someone to water and weed(as needed) my plots 2d and 3d... from the 3rd of july to the 16th if anyone is willing to help it would be greatly appreciated!!! • Like · · Follow Post · Share · June 10 at 10:18pm • Seen by 69 • &&&&&&& I can water for you and I will try to keep up with the weeds the best that I can. • June 10 at 10:21pm via mobile · Like • %%%%%% - i saw your plot this morning on my way in. Just fyi, you have about 10 tomatoes that are ready and will be over ripe if they go more than another day. • July 4 at 7:30pm via mobile · Like • &&&& - Just go ahead and pick them... Enjoy!!! • July 4 at 7:31pm via mobile · Like
    26. 26. What’s a Tweet? • 140 max character message • Sent to subscribers • May be good for hot tips or problems • Not everyone knows how to use it or access it • Kids like it! – Consider holding Twitter lessons to help people get started. Ask a teen to teach!
    27. 27. #NewRoots is growing good from the ground up – creating secure, sustainable communities. Find out how from @theIRC:
    28. 28. Nurturing by Networking… • Help people keep in touch • Gardeners’ Directory – Consider having a place on your registration forms indicating if people are willing to be in the directory – Include names, plot numbers & e-mail address • Phone number – optional • Twitter accounts for those interested
    29. 29. Education is for everyone! • Grow connections with your local K-State Research & Extension office • Community gardening classes may be offered – encourage gardeners to take the classes • Extension Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) – trained volunteers who work for KSRE • MGVs can be a good source of information and may want to garden with you! – Extends your extension staff’s reach • Benefit of including extension personnel – research based information vs. testimonial – If others are teaching, recommend requiring research-based vs. testimonial information – Especially when it involves chemicals and pest control
    30. 30. No MGVs or Hort Agents? No Problem! • There are many “canned” horticulture PowerPoint presentations available online • Many more extension horticulture publications available for your area • The key to research- based info? ext and edu! – When you Google or use other search, always include ext and edu in the search to locate research-based information!
    31. 31. Educating Gardeners • Don’t forget Family & Consumer Science agents • Nutrition lessons may be as important as gardening lessons – Family Nutrition Program a.k.a. Food Stamps – Provides nutrition education for low income – Vision card can be used to purchase vegetable seeds and plants
    32. 32. What to do with all you grow? • Food preservation classes – Taught by KSRE staff and Master Food Preservation volunteers – KSRE & USDA food preservation info available online… remember ext & edu when searching! • Think of canning as a long-term investment when buying supplies • Freezing & dehydrating are other options • Food Banks often need fresh produce