The NH Common Ground Garden Project is a program of the UNH Cooperative Extension and the Massabesic Audubon Center. The Project includes the 4H Green Thumb garden which began in 1998 at the Goffstown County Complex.
Common Ground partners with a variety of after-school programs from the greater Manchester area. Volunteers are provided by the Audubon Society, 4-H Clubs, Master Gardeners, National ABLE, and many other local organizations. Community Girl and Boy Scout troops are active, as well as many local garden clubs.
Community volunteers work with the youth, helping them plan, plant and tend the gardens beginning in late April/early May depending on the weather. Weekly gardening and nutrition education begins in late June when school is out for the 150 youth who participate each week. An end of season GARDEN FESTIVAL is held to honor the youth, families and community that supports the program. The Garden Festival 2011 will be held on August 20 from 9 am - 3:00 pm. Fall work days are set up to help put the beds to sleep for the winter.
The community service aspect of this garden is even more important. Through the efforts of youth and the adults that work with the program, Common Ground donates the produce from the garden to the NH Food Bank. In 2010 they donated over 5,500 lbs of produce to the NH Food Bank and are targeting over 6,000 lbs this year.
Common Ground also coordinates “Elders on the Grow” at the Hillsborough County Nursing Home. There a master gardener works with the elders, and families sometimes join in. “Rooting for Families” includes the Pine Street community garden in Manchester. “Shared Harvest” is an effort to encourage people to plant and grow for the hungry. Common Ground is funded primarily through grants and donations. The program recently received a grant from the NH Council on the Arts, and worked closely with the Salvation Army.
To volunteer or inquire, contact Mawson at 660-6373 or Julia.Mawson@unh.edu.