Garden Training 

Gardening is such an enjoyable pastime.  It relaxes our mind, strengthens our body and puts food on our table. For many of us, gardening is the highlight of the summer.     

The Garden Training Class is an opportunity to take your love of gardening and use it to transform communities.  The six-week, indoor training will cover the practical aspects of successful vegetable gardening.  The learning continues as we work together at the GGHC gardens in South Paris and Rumford growing produce for distribution throughout the late summer and fall. Training sessions are held each year in the Spring.

The 2019 Garden Training Class held in April and May, was taught by Barbara Murphy at the Mahoosuc Land Trust office (162 North Road) in Bethel, Maine. Details about training classes in Spring 2020 will be posted here.

The cost is $100 for the six-week session. Please contact Barbara Murphy directly at or (207) 890-1626 for more information.




What the class teaches...

Part 1 - Indoor Classroom Training

Introduction to the class and each other. The Art of Composting. Making compost can be the activity that completes the gardening circle.  Plants that nourished you are returned to the soil to nourish future crops. We will discuss how compost happens, especially the roles of microbes and temperature.  We will also cover worm and sheet composting and what to do with those diseased tomato plants at the end of the season.

Building Healthy Soil. What you might call garden dirt is the lifeblood of the garden.  We will build on what we learned about compost and explore what is a healthy garden soil. Emphasis will be placed on garden practices and materials that help and hinder building good soil.           

How Plants Work. Gardening is all about getting our chosen plants to grow and produce fruits and vegetables.  This session will cover how a plant does just that, from seed germination to the critical interplay between sunlight, temperature, moisture and fertility.  We will also look at how plants take up and release water, why a bit of stress on plants might be good and why our perennials plants often perish due to what happens in the winter.

The Ecology of a GardenIt is a jungle out there in the garden - bad insects, beneficial insects, weeds, diseases, rodents and now crazy weather!  This is a new era of gardening that requires a better understanding of garden ecology.  Successful gardens will need to be more resilient to insect and disease outbreaks and adaptable to drought and inconsistent temperatures. We will focus on understanding the life cycles of common garden pests and diseases so that our control measures are more effective.  We will also look at what future weather patterns may mean for our gardens, both the good and the bad. You might even come to appreciate the value of an electric tennis racket in the garden!

Managing the Community Garden. Growing a garden for others is different from growing one for yourself or your family.  Certainly crop quantities and types are different. But what about day-to-day operations - Who waters? Fertilizes? Who decides to plant the next crop?  How are decisions made?  Where is the financing coming from? How do we communicate? GGHC is an all volunteer effort to grow food for others. This session covers the nitty-gritty of volunteer collaboration.  We will discuss what skills are needed and what we all have to offer, from being a master weeder to an expert photojournalist.

Growing in the "Shoulder" Seasons. We all know Maine has a short growing season, some even say it is over on the 4th of July!  But, weather trends are indicating longer, warmer falls, perfect growing conditions for some garden crops if we have planned ahead.  We will look at materials and techniques available to small-scale gardeners that might have us in our gardens from April to November!

Keeping the Garden Alive.  Ok, you have managed to get the garden planted and for the most part, it is looking pretty good.  Now the tricky part starts...When is it time to sidedress? With what? How do you know if the garden needs watering?  Is it time to plant the second crop of beans?  What about starting my fall cabbages?  This session covers all of your gardening questions, so be sure to bring them to class.

Planning the Volunteer Project, Review, Pot Luck. This is when we will put it all together and map out the plan for the summer.  It will also be a time to get confusions cleared up as well as have those nagging questions answered followed by a delicious pot luck.

Part 2 - Outdoor Hands-On Training

The learning moves outdoors after the classroom sessions conclude.  Participants take their new and refined gardening skills and plan, plant, maintain, harvest and donate the produce through our weekly distribution nights.  We meet weekly and work together in the garden.  This is a time for everyone to share tips, techniques and skills.  We have an outrageously good time observing plant growth, using various techniques to keep insects under control, trying out new season extension materials and planning crop succession.  Once harvests begin, we switch to planning distributions - harvesting, counting, packing and organizing the fruits and vegetables for a visually beautiful and efficient distribution display.  

In addition to distributing vegetables, every other week, our volunteer cooks plan and prepare easy and delicious recipes for sampling and demonstration.  So, if your way to good health and food is through cooking, let us know!

For more information, please contact Barbara Murphy -