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An Active Winter for NGBH

In past years, NGBH’s activity has slowed down in winter while the gardens are at rest, volunteer sessions are on hiatus, and co-founders Cathy and Avy are nurturing other professional and artistic pursuits. You might think the pandemic would provide even more reason for NGBH to hibernate this winter, but steady growth in 2020 has fueled several new developments that have catapulted us into 2021 with no sign of slowing down.

After incorporating as a 501(c)(3) in April 2020, NGBH was able to hold its annual plant sale and garden volunteer sessions in a safe manner and to conduct a successful fundraising appeal that met our goal of $10,000 needed to fund ongoing campus projects. We are grateful to all who participated in our efforts, whether by participating in the plant sale, volunteering time, making a donation, or attending one of our online events.

Instead of slowing down in the fall, NGBH ramped up program development efforts, embarking on a longstanding goal to build on Avy’s and Cathy’s many years of mentoring gardeners by initiating a formal training program to meet the increased demand for sustainable landscaping and gardening workers in our local economy. This vision quickly took shape when NGBH was awarded a grant from the Anahata Foundation for training program development, and Kennebec Valley Community College stepped forward as a partner with program infrastructure and funding from the Maine Quality Centers for underemployed candidates to enroll tuition-free.

In just a few months, this dream has become reality, with a full cohort of trainees registered and ready to begin their training on February 23. Due to high demand for this training, we have a waiting list of applicants and are already planning to repeat the training this fall. This program has also brought together six talented instructors who will teach sections of the curriculum based on their expertise. Click here to read about our team of instructors, and here to read our white paper developed together with NGBH collaborator Anna Viertel.

While launching our Sustainable Landscaping & Garden Management training program, we recognized the need to invest in NGBH’s structure and operating systems as an organization. To this end, we were thrilled to expand our Board of Directors in 2020 (click here for a list of Board members) and fortunate to receive a capacity-building grant from the Downeast Innovation Fund of Maine Community Foundation to support strategic planning and operational expenses starting this spring. Just like with the native seeds we sow every winter, we look forward to witnessing what emerges later this year from the time and energy invested in these activities as both NGBH’s gardens and organizational capacity continue to grow and evolve.


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