Garland, Burnett write article for Produce Grower, quoting Witt

Katherine Garland, a horticultural professional with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and Stephanie Burnett, an associate professor of horticulture at UMaine, co-wrote an article for Produce Grower about community gardens. The article also quoted Amy Witt, a horticulturist with Extension. The article stated how community gardens are becoming more prevalent, but can require a lot of time and energy to become successful and fully integrated into the community. Garland and Burnett listed some initiatives for commercial horticulture enterprises to help community gardens become and remain a key resource. One of the easiest ways to support community gardens is to promote them on websites and social media to increase awareness, the article states. This includes creating video and photo content for Facebook and Instagram on a variety of topics, and tagging accounts of your business and the garden. Another suggestion is for greenhouses to donate surplus seed and plant material to community gardens, consulting the local Cooperative Extension office to connect with those in need. Retail garden centers can create gift registries and encourage customers to donate items to community gardens. Other recommendations focused on addressing food insecurity, including establishing your business as a drop-off site for produce donations, or sponsoring a plot and donating produce to a local food pantry. For example, with Witt’s help, IDEXX created a company-sponsored community garden where employees have paid work time and the produce is donated to food security agencies. “It’s really strengthened them as employees and work teams … a win-win for the business and the people who need the food,” said Witt.  Establishing employee volunteer days, having employees serve on a community garden board, offering your greenhouse as a meeting space during winter, and offering discounts to certified community garden volunteers and educators are other ways to help community gardens develop a successful presence. “Volunteers are the backbone of community gardens,” write Garland and Burnett. “Make sure they stick around and feel appreciated!”