Emily Frost, Denver Urban Gardens Events and Garden Leader Coordinator
Denver Urban Gardens envisions a network of closely-knit community gardens whose gardeners regularly engage with and support one another. The purpose of the Garden Leader Round Tables is to provide an opportunity for DUG’s network of over 300 volunteer community garden leaders to connect on a more intimate level. This program brings together a small group (10-15 leaders or steering committee members) around a particular topic of their interest or expertise, to collaborate in finding solutions to common problems that exist across the larger DUG network of community gardens. Round Tables provide garden leaders an opportunity to not only share expertise and ideas, but to engage with other community leaders who are experiencing the same challenges and joys that come with managing gardeners. Consistent with DUG values, these take place over a shared potluck meal. We’ve long known that gardeners are the best cooks!
In 2013, DUG hosted four Garden Leader Round Tables, addressing how to start a food donation program in the garden, increasing gardener engagement, effective communication strategies for conflict resolution, and how to raise funds and write grants. Here is what some of the garden leaders who attended have to say about their round table experiences:
“I always look forward to attending the leadership round tables that DUG hosts quarterly. They provide an opportunity to see the challenges in our garden from a fresh perspective and to learn what works, and doesn’t work, for other gardens.”
“Although issues faced within my garden may be new to me, they are not new to the network of DUG gardens, and the round tables are one place I can go to find support and guidance. I always come away inspired by the insight and creative ideas that are shared at these events.” – Amy Beck, garden leader at Rosedale Community Garden
“Using the information that Abbie and Emily shared with us garden leaders, my garden obtained a grant from the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association Foundation to help pay for a garden arbor. This was a sorely needed addition to the garden.”
“Two years ago Megan Bradley from Cooking Matters talked to a group of us garden leaders at a Round Table about food donations and hunger in America. One fact she shared that I still vividly recall is that over 275,000 people in Colorado are food insecure. That staggering number reinforces the potential benefit that can come from donating any amount of the produce that may be discarded from your garden to a food bank or other worthy organization. We dedicated an entire plot to Project Angel Heart this year and it produced an estimated $400 worth of vegetables for them.” – Len Lingo, garden leader at TAXI Community Garden
“As a brand new garden leader at Ruby Hill Community Garden, I found that it was easy to be consumed by the details, needs and challenges of both plants and people at our specific garden alone. In August, I attended a round table discussion regarding communication in the garden. The opportunity to step out of the Ruby Hill Community Garden into the larger network of other gardener leaders was an enlightening experience! Not only did I feel a supportive environment and have an opportunity to network, but I no longer felt alone in some of those “unique” challenges. I left the round table discussion with an abundance of ideas and the courage to step out and implement them.” – Sharona Thompson, garden leader at Ruby Hill Community Garden
Thank you to all of the attendees who have come out to share their wisdom and collaborate with other garden leaders. We are excited to continue this program and provide more opportunities for garden leaders to connect with one another across the network. Learn more about 2014’s Garden Leader Round Tables, and how to register, at www.dug.org/gl.
Do you have an idea for a Garden Leader Round Table topic? We’d love to hear it! Please contact Emily Frost at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.292.9900.