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Home / Montgomery Parks Community Garden program celebrates 15 years by gathering stories from the gardens

Montgomery Parks Community Garden program celebrates 15 years by gathering stories from the gardens

Home / Montgomery Parks Community Garden program celebrates 15 years by gathering stories from the gardens

WHEATON, Md. – Montgomery Parks is marking the 15th anniversary of its Community Garden program by creating a digital archive of the experience. Through the years, hundreds of gardeners have left their mark on the land and Montgomery Parks wants to preserve their stories. Gardeners are asked to submit their fondest memories of the program online to Montgomery Parks digital gardening archive.  The stories in the archive will be used to develop future gardening programs and may one day be featured in an online display dedicated to community gardening.   

“As the gardeners are transforming their garden plots, we know the land is also changing them,” said Michelle Nelson, manager of the Community Garden program. “Working in nature, growing their own food, helping each other—it all nourishes the gardeners physically, mentally, and emotionally. We want to harvest those gardening stories and preserve them for future generations to reflect on.” 

Community gardeners smile with crates full of fresh produce

The Community Garden program rents plots of parkland to the public to grow food crops or ornamental plants. The first garden opened in the summer of 2009 at Sligo Mill Overlook Park with 33 gardening plots. Since then, the program has expanded to 545 plots in 14 locations. 

The booming popularity of the Community Garden program means every available plot is claimed each season and waiting lists are formed. Fortunately, there are other ways would-be-gardeners and non-gardeners can get involved. 

Volunteers are always needed for planting, harvesting, and general farm work at Montgomery Parks’ Pope Farm. Managed by community garden staff, the Grown@Pope program, provides fresh produce to donate to food insecure households through food assistance providers in Montgomery County. Since 2020, the Community Garden program has partnered with Harvest Share Maryland to donate more than 10,000 pounds of fresh produce to community food banks and food hubs. 

Additionally, the Community Garden program also hosts Foodie Fridays each summer and fall, featuring food related lectures. The series, held at Josiah Henson Museum and Park in Bethesda is open to the public and features presentations by local farmers, food system champions, or historians addressing how food intersects with health, history, and culture. The cost to attend Foodie Fridays is $15 per session. Registration is required. 

Foodie Fridays 2024 Schedule 

June 28, 2024 
Feed the Soul: Food and Mental Health 
Neuropsychologist Dr. Nicole Salman discusses nutrition and how it impacts our bodies and brains.   

July 26, 2024 
Smell the Flowers: Pollinators & Agricultur
Biologist Michael Roswell leads a hands-on lecture exploring pollination and identifying insects and their importance to food systems and agriculture. 

August 24, 2024 
Taste the Land: Forest Agriculture and Foraging 
Naturalist, herbalist and educator Bodi Vasilopoulos discusses looking beyond the garden to forage for food in forests.   

September 27, 2024 
Hear the Past: Historical Foodways in Montgomery County  
Historian and author Tony Cohen discusses historical foods, focusing on heirloom plants being grown in the Museum Garden at Montgomery County’s Button Farm Living History Center. 

All Foodie Fridays events run 6:30-8:30 p.m. They feature refreshments from the Community Garden program, the guest speaker, and a question-and-answer session.  

About Montgomery Parks      
Montgomery Parks manages more than 37,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 419 parks. Montgomery Parks is focused on promoting physical activity, social connectivity, and environmental stewardship, especially in diverse and urbanizing areas, with an emphasis on teens, working-age adults, and seniors. Montgomery Parks is a department of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high-quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks systems. 

Montgomery Parks, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, encourages and supports the participation of individuals with disabilities. Please contact the Program Access Office at 301-495-2581 (Voice), MD Relay 7-1-1 or 800-552-7724 or ProgramAccess@MontgomeryParks.org to request a disability modification. Visit Montgomery Parks Accessibility for more information.