BENNINGTON — About ninety people from the Bennington area, a third of them children, gathered at the Community Gardens one recent Saturday morning for help with growing gardens of their own.
Some came to experience beekeeping with Jeanne Davis, others to grow pollinator plants, and many to grow their own vegetables. They selected free veggie and pollinator plants with which to start their gardens, and enjoyed healthy veggie snacks from Head Start family support worker Linda Darlington. Kimberly Griffin from Bennington County 4-H worked with children to make bee robots and puppets.
Master Gardeners Megan Herrington and Heather Hamilton provided gardening how-to and advice in the first of a series of free workshops at the Community Garden. A number of people were visiting the garden for the first time.
Cindy Hudson-Knapp and Michael Mishkind passed out beautiful veggies raised by Clear Brook Farm, Chris Callahan of Bennington Area Makers (BAM), and Michael Wajda. New and experienced gardeners took home worm castings donated by BAM to fertilize their gardens. Bennington Rotary provided funding for garden spaces and plants and promotion. Master Gardener Becky Manning and her daughter helped people select pollinator plants donated by Clear Brook Farm to nourish bees and other helper insects.
Volunteers from Second Congregational Church and Bennington Rotary set up and took down equipment, registered people, and gave a helping hand wherever it was needed.
The idea for the event began with a conversation between Cindy and Marsh Hudson-Knapp and Jeannie Jenkins about combining a gardening celebration that the Bennington Area Makers were organizing at the Community Garden with requests from folks in the GBICS Food Fit program for a class in gardening.
Soon they were talking with a small army of folks who love gardening that included Bennington County 4-H, UVM-Extension Master Gardeners, Clear Brook Farm, BAM, the Town of Bennington, GBICS, Shires Housing, and HeadStart. CAT-TV provided the sound system for the gardening workshop, and filmed the event for broadcast.
“The best part of the day was children and parents and elders all growing and laughing and visiting together, learning from each other savoring life together as a community,” Marsh Hudson-Knapp said.
“One couple who had moved to Bennington a year ago remarked at how wonderful it has been for them to move to this community, ‘People reach out to care and help in so many ways!’ This is Bennington at her best!”