Are you—or do you aspire to be—a gardener? The Seacoast Community Garden Network (SCGN), brainchild of Slow Food Seacoast’s very own membership coordinator, Jenny Isler, is now a live, interactive website of resources for gardens and gardeners. It’s a place to make connections:
- See what community gardens (more than 30!) in the Seacoast area are doing.
- Find or list a community garden plot, gardeners, or supplies.
- Share problems, solutions, and achievements.
- Get help starting a community garden.
You don’t even have to be a community gardener to benefit from the wonderful SCGN website, because anyone can
- Learn about composting, companion planting, canning, and more from the growing list of gardening resources.
- Consult the Calendar for an array of events related to gardening and sustainability and the Free Classifieds.
- Contribute to the Compost Pile.
For those of us who weren’t working behind the scenes for the past 4 or 5 months, building the framework for and decorating the virtual walls of this nonprofit interactive online community, SCGN seems to have have sprung straight from seed packet to vigorous seedling. But in reality, SCGN is an idea that has been germinating for a long time.
As long as 4 years ago, Jenny and fellow community garden coordinator Gail Wingate talked about connecting gardeners. They noticed that community gardens operated in isolation but faced many of the same problems—and as a result, each one was reinventing the wheel to solve them, duplicating efforts and wasting time that could be better spent working in the garden or enjoying the harvest! Their deep passion for vibrant community, local food resources, and the environment fueled their dream of making the Seacoast community garden movement stronger by bringing together the wisdom, experience, and vision of many gardeners.
Eventually, technology caught up with Jenny and Gail’s vision. A grant from the New England Grassroots Fund provided seed money, and the intrepid pair called together more than 20 community leaders to help define their vision. Bringing the vision to life were gifted community gardeners, artists, and Joomla! gurus Kathy Lombard and Donna Chick. Together, the four women met regularly from winter into spring, and the SCGN website went live on May Day, just in time for spring planting.
The resulting SCGN website—open-source construction, and free to anyone to use—features everything the focus group envisioned and more. And just like a garden, SCGN is self-managed: Anyone and everyone can contribute, update, and post to their heart’s content—planting their own seeds! Each community garden can create a Garden Page and even use it as their own website. Folks without a community garden (for now!) can contribute to the general forums and learn from the wonderful resources that the site provides.
Since Jenny and Gail’s initial conversation 4 years ago, the number of community gardens on the Seacoast has blossomed from 3 to more than 30. Many more gardens are yet to come, and SCGN is the place to learn, support, connect and share as our community garden movement grows stronger—together. Stop by the SCGN website to see what’s growin’ on!