Gardening for Resilience During Covid-19
The COVID pandemic has led to a huge resurgence of interest in gardening. During this difficult time, gardening is helping people to stay physically and mentally healthy and providing a welcome release from the stresses related to this crisis. UVM Extension Master Gardener and Composter volunteers provide the most reliable, relevant, research-based information on gardening that exists, extending their knowledge and expertise into communities across Vermont.
COVID-19 Food Insecurity Hits Record Levels in Vermont: Read more here...
Tell us about the barriers you face to growing food in Vermont: Take our survey here..
Please view the drop down's below for more resources
COVID Rules & Remote Volunteering
COVID UPDATE: JULY, 2021
Covid Saftey Video for Outdoor Volunteering
Please click here to watch (Note: this may not load in Google Chrome, so please try another browser)
COVID UPDATE: MAY, 2021
Because UVM Extension operates across the state of Vermont and occasionally across the borders of adjoining states, all Extension personnel and volunteers must pay close attention and adhere to the changing state guidelines as well as UVM guidelines.
Specific changing state guidelines to pay attention to include:
1) the size and nature of approved gatherings
2) changing allowances for vaccinated individuals
3) travel within the state and region
For information related to the Vermont Forward Plan please review the following websites:
Business Operations and Universal Guidance (for Businesses, Organizations, and Operators):https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/vermont-forward/business-operations
Events and Gatherings:https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/vermont-forward/events-and-gatherings
As we all begin to cautiously resume in-person volunteer activities, please deeply consider the purpose of the volunteer activity and whether the outcome can be achieved in other ways. Please be sure to treat everyone with compassion and flexibility and consider allowing for participation virtually, even if that means a hybrid approach to your volunteer activities.
In all cases volunteer activities will observe the basic UVM COVID-19 precautions, including:
1. Conduct activities online wherever possible.
2. Ensure that all volunteers have taken the VT VOSHA training. (Upon completion, please download the certificate and keep it in a safe place in case you are asked to verify your participation).
3. Conducting health checks to screen people with symptoms from participating in activities.
Inform participants to not attend if they answer “yes” to having any of the following
COVID-19 symptoms and to engage virtually instead:
1. Fever (100.4 ^F or higher) or feel feverish?
3. A new or worsening cough not caused by another health condition?
4. Sore throat?
5. New or worsening difficulty breathing not caused by another health
6. New or worsening muscle aches not caused by another heath condition?
7. New or worsening headache that is not normal for them and not caused by
another health condition?
8. New loss of sense of taste or smell?
Note: If “yes” to any of the above, politely ask them not to attend or participate in
the meeting/activity and to contact a healthcare provider.
4. Maintaining logs of participants with contact information (name/phone) to support any COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.
5. Require all participants to wear face-coverings throughout the activity, providing face-coverings to participants as needed.
6. Provide hand-washing stations, or hand cleaning supplies for use before, during and after activities if you are a volunteer leader or require volunteers to bring their own supplies.
7. Maintain physical distancing between individuals, as specified by VT guidelines.
8. Clean shared work spaces and any shared tools before and after use by each individual.
9. Provide appropriate cleaners, disinfectants and wipes if you are a volunteer leader, or require participants to bring their own.
10. Minimize use of shared items, including tools, equipment and paperwork.
For more detailed guidance, please refer to UVM’s library of guidance documents found at:
COVID UPDATE: April, 2021
UVM is in the process of approving volunteer activities for 2021. In the meantime please follow the state heatlth department guidlines as they are written here..
COVID UPDATE: DECEMBER, 2020
Allowed Volunteer Activities:
State guidelines are currently focused on limiting the gathering of people from different households/pods and preventing people from traveling site to site and around the state. Thus master gardener and composter volunteer activities can currently only occur outdoors with no more than 2 people from different households/pods working together and wearing masks at all times.
Any volunteer group larger then 2 people must consist of people all from same household/pod. A volunteer household/pod larger then 2 people must be working outdoors, away from people from other households and wearing masks at all times.
As much as possible, people should be going from their home to a volunteer site, then home again, and they shouldn’t be car-pooling with people outside their household/pod to the volunteer site. Travel should only occur locally and in-state.
Volunteer activities may be conducted remotely (online), substituting remote options for in-person interaction whenever possible.
All outdoor volunteer activities are also limited to those that are the most critical such as the following (many of which may not be occurring in the off season anyway).
• Any outdoor volunteer activities essential to food production and mentorship
• Any outdoor volunteer activities essential to maintaining critical public spaces such as community, historic and demonstration gardens
• Any outdoor time-critical activities (such as citizen science research) that cannot be performed at another time
Suspended Activities: (Until Further Notice)
• All indoor volunteer activities regardless of group size
• All in-person classes (indoor and outdoor)
2020 COVID-19 Volunteer Hours
The 2020 volunteer hours requirement has been relaxed. All active 2020 volunteers will remain active in 2021. All 2019 and 2020 interns will be granted 3 years to meet their initial certification requirements. All volunteers should still fill out the volunteer hours form by January 31, 2021 regardless of if they volunteered in 2020, so that we can capture what happened as a result of COVID.
Volunteer Pandemic Projects
Vegetable Gardening Videos
Master Gardeners volunteers are creating short videos on basic vegetable gardening topics to help the public start gardening this season.
Vermont Victory Gardens
VT Victory Gardens is a Master Gardener project lead by Gordon Clark that will support those suffering from food insecurity with the planning and construction of garden plots, access to seeds and/or vegetable starts, season-long instruction on science-based methods for growing vegetables, including presentations, teleconference and hands-on work.
- Read more about this project here...
Regenerative Agriculture for the Home Gardener
Remote & Off Season Volunteering Ideas: (You don’t have to get all your volunteer hours done during the summer or in-person)
• Schedule an online class and teach others how to garden. It could be a presentation or just a Q&A session. People often have lots of questions, invite them to meet you online and answer a few for them. Advertise your event on the master gardener listserv, online calendar and in your own community. Or contact Cindy Heath (firstname.lastname@example.org) to help out with one-time requests for online classes. We currently have requests for classes on growing microgreens indoors, container gardens, or growing food in small spaces.
• Make outreach calls to new EMG & EMC graduates (we can provide a rough script/orientation) to check whether they have questions about volunteering, project access, hours submission, etc.
• Write and post short Facebook articles and distribute to FB coordinators (see chapter info on our website for coordinators names or contact email@example.com to help with the statewide FB or Instagram pages.)
• Contact Julie Marks about writing a short article for the next statewide volunteer newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Work with a volunteer project leader to apply for a project grant
• Offer to make plant tags or educational signs for a demo garden near you - and contact the volunteer project leader to help
• Do you have fundraising expertise? Please contact Cindy (email@example.com about helping with the 2021 conference to be held in November, 2021)
• Do that extra thing you've always wanted to do for your project but haven't had the time to do research growing that thing you've always wanted to try. Make that educational sign you've been meaning to make, or a map of the garden. Now is your chance to think about the educational value of your project and how you can enhance it next season
Looking for or Sharing a Gardening Resource?
Vermont Vegetable Gardening Resource Map
We've heard from people all around the state that they need help to start vegetable gardening. Our goal is to connect those with food-growing resources — including seeds, soil, compost, tools, equipment, land, labor, and knowledge — with those who lack such resources, and ultimately to get as much land as possible producing food during this time of uncertainty.
- To share a gardening resource, please fill out this form Then be ready to receive inquires from people in your area who need your help.
- (You will show up as a pink flower icon on the map)
- Looking for a garden resource? Please fill out this form to be featured as someone seeking a resource (You will show up as a blue eye on the map)
To use the map. Click on each flower symbol to view the resources people are willing to share. Click on the blue eye symbol to view the resources people are looking for.
COVID-19 Facts & Safety Info for Vegetable Gardeners
Getting Started with your Vegetable Garden
- Potting Mixes for Starting Seeds
- Getting Started with Vegetable Gardens (UVM)
- Getting your garden started with Leonard Perry (Video)
- Planning your Vegetable Garden (U Mass)
- Growing Your Own - Oregon State University, Extension Service
- Grow Your Own Food, Step-by-Step Guide - by Christopher Forrest McDowell, PhD, & Tricia Clark-McDowell
- Planting the Garden - University of Vermont Extension, Master Gardeners
- The profund health benefits of gardening
- Supporting wildlife and pollinators during the pandemic
- Planning your vegetable garden
- What to Plant in April in Vermont
- Growing Peas in the spring
- How to Grow Peas
- Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces
- Local Sources for Tomato Starts
Food Access in VT & Growing for Others
BIPOC-Led How to Videos, Gardening Projects & Online Resources
Resources for Educators & Families
- An Educator's Guide to Gardening
- Curriculum: Choosing Growing & Preparing VT Grown Fruits and Vegetables
- 4-H Family Gardening Series: To encourage kids and their families to grow food and eat together, University of Vermont (UVM) Extension 4-H has developed Eating What We Grow.