I have been involved with ACGA almost as long as I have been involved with Community Gardening (over ten years). As the Director of a large government run community gardenening program in New York, I have found that ACGA provides great informational resources to my client gardeners as well as for me to use as a professional in advocating for more resources for my program on the local and federal level. My favorite part of ACGA has always been our national conference. Held annually, it is the best place I have ever found to meet exciting and friendly folks from diverse backgrounds who are part of the ever expanding Community gardening and Urban Agriculture movement. This year the conference will be in New York City, August 18th to 21st, and as local host I promise it will be one of the best ever!
In my work in Northern Virginia I have been able to utilize the resources of ACGA and their staff to help residents develop community gardening projects. We have started up pilot community gardens in a non-English, Spanish speaking community in Arlington VA, and for an African American community in Alexandria. The materials and resources have been used by Master Gardeners, food bank volunteers, Cooperative Extension staff and urban agriculture proponents to lead residents to better nutrition, knowledge of good water and land stewardship practices, and to greater community viability. It has been a pleasure to work with the board and to share in ACGA's success.
I started out as a potential client seeking information. We were looking for information to help our community start a community garden program and was directed to the American Community Gardening Associations website. There I found "simple steps to start a community garden". That information has become the backbone of our community gardening program in DeKalb County. Since, I have become a member, attended several conferences, trainings and no serve on the Board where I seek to further the purpose of ACGA which is an outstanding community garden.
I'm on the ACGA's listserv, and read the great ideas that the members post for each other. Our community garden will open in September, and one of our first official actions will be to join ACGA. I find the sharing of the members so helpful. If someone else hasn't already solved a problem, ideas will be posted for people to try. These ideas are bearing fruit all over the country, and I'm so glad one of my friends recommended this group to me.
I've helped to start community gardens at my church (half English speakers, half people learning English) and in my neighborhood (growing food in public spaces that anyone may harvest). I'm a great internet researcher so feel confident in saying that the American Community Gardening Association list serve is an exceptional source of information, resources, problem solving, and more.
The ACGA has provided numerous resources for my professional career in Extension at the University of Missouri. The depth and breadth of the organization's experience has assisted me greatly as I have provide advice on how to start and sustain community gardens to community members and other Extension professionals. I also believe that the ACGA embodies the spirit of community gardening and promotes the activity as a means for people to be directly engaged in improving their lives and finding meaning through gardening in community. Their Growing Communities curriculum is especially helpful and is full of tools to engage and include people in gardening. I have attended conferences sponsored by the ACGA and have met and learned from committed individuals from the US and Canada.
ACGA is as "selfless" as a non-profit can be - always keeping in mind its mission and the folks who benefit from it. As a member, I can access a wealth of information on food gardening in a variety of ways. (Non-members can as well.) I like to refer to community gardens as "sustainability made visible," and ACGA helps sustain the sustainable across the board.
The ACGA provides a wonderful variety of services for people who manage or want to learn more about community gardens. They sponsor conferences that provide a great opportunity for community garden folk to network and learn from each other and from experts in the "field". Their list serve offers a wonderful exchange of information about community gardening, school gardens and general gardenening resources.
Since the day I joined I was given specific information on setting up and running community gardens from members on their email forum. The members are supportive, intelligent and helpful.
They also offer free seeds upon joining, a free subscription to their magazine and an annual conference that looks like it will be amazing.