The mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada.
The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) is a bi-national nonprofit membership organization of professionals, volunteers and supporters of community greening in urban and rural communities. The Association recognizes that community gardening improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education.
ACGA and its member organizations work to promote and support all aspects of community food and ornamental gardening, urban forestry, preservation and management of open space, and integrated planning and management of developing urban and rural lands.
The Association supports community gardening by facilitating the formation and expansion of state and regional community gardening networks; developing resources in support of community gardening; and, encouraging research and conducting educational programs.
The American Community Gardening Association is registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. We are happy to share our financial information with our members, donors and funders. Recent IRS filings are available at www.guidestar.org.
The American Community Gardening Association recognizes that the diversity of its board, staff and communities is a source of strength and knowledge essential to its development as an organization. In principle and in practice, the ACGA values and seeks a diverse membership. There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, race, religion, age, sex, color, disability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, language, level of education, geography, national or ethnic origin. We encourage you to read ACGA’s Inclusiveness Policy (PDF, 73K).
The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) is a product of two national community gardening conferences organized by the City of Chicago Department of Human Services in 1978 and 1979. At that time, Chicago was in the vanguard of municipally sponsored gardening programs and recognized the value of sharing information and resources on a nationwide basis. These conferences were extremely successful in creating a foundation for a national network of urban gardening program sponsors.
Hundreds of programs from across the country were represented at the Chicago meetings. During the 1970s, thousands of community programs had been organized to provide land and resources to people without property of their own to use for gardening. Programs developed under the sponsorship of municipal parks departments, local Cooperative Extension services, nonprofit organizations, churches, schools, social service agencies, and neighborhood associations. The majority were subsidized or funded entirely by federal grants-in-aid. Many were staffed by CETA or similar federal job training programs.
This over-dependence on federal funding led to serious problems for many programs when social service cutbacks became commonplace in 1980. At the same time that program development funds were disappearing, community gardening organizers reported a growing demand for their services. Higher unemployment, rising food costs and the trimming of social services placed an extraordinary demand on sponsors of programs that were ill-equipped to meet the challenge. Many program leaders, originally trained only in horticulture, increasingly found it necessary to master local politics, land acquisition techniques, business administration, and public relations skills as well.
A National Community Gardening Task Force, a legacy of the Chicago meetings, responded to the situation by organizing an emergency steering-committee meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, in the fall of 1980. Over 35 sponsors and coordinators of prominent programs across the country attended this meeting and resolved to form the American Community Gardening Association to support community garden development nationwide through facilitating the formation and expansion of state and regional community garden networks; developing an information clearinghouse for programs; developing resources in support of community garden projects; consulting with organizations involved in establishing new programs; and conducting regional and national workshops and conferences for program coordinators.
By the end of 1982, the ACGA had incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with a grant from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in Philadelphia. Project Grow, Inc., a nonprofit community gardening organization in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provided a central office for ACGA business under the direction of Ken Nicholls, president and a founding member of the coalition. A 16-member board of regional directors was also established to network across the country. ACGA directors have donated countless hours of their time, and the support services of the organizations they represent, in the building of this coalition.
Our Board Of Directors
President: Charlie Monroe | Vice President: Cathy Walker | Treasurer: Cordalie Benoit
Past ACGA President
Sacramento Area Community Garden Coalition
Grow Local Houston
Cobb County Natural Resource Manager
Metro Atlanta Urban Farm
ACGA is currently seeking member involvement in its committee work. Committees typically meet monthly via teleconference call. Meetings usually take no more than an hour. For more information, send an email with the name of the particular committee you are interested in to or email the committee chairperson by clicking on their names below.
Education & Training Committee
Chairperson: Kristin Brock
If you have an interest in publications, writing, design, or photography, we invite you to join us as we produce our annual publication, Community Greening Review.
Additionally, we are currently in the process of reviewing our Growing Communities Curriculum and Workshops. If you have used the curriculum, participated or facilitated a workshop, we would love your feedback as we strive to update the curriculum to ensure it is still relevant and effective.
Chairperson: Cordalie Benoit
If you have an interest in finance, budgeting, and bookkeeping, this is the committee for you! In the last several years, the Finance Committee has helped ACGA to create a new budget and to implement cost-saving measures to increase its efficiency. This committee is responsible for making sure that ACGA is a strong, viable organization with the financial wherewithal to pursue in mission today, tomorrow, next week, and for years to come.
Marketing, Development, and Membership
Chairperson: Bill Maynard
Vetting leads, researching new opportunities, and connecting funding opportunities with our programs, this committee is a vital part of ACGA’s team. What does it mean to be a member of ACGA? How can ACGA better serve its members? What are ways that ACGA can reach out to potential new members? How can ACGA’s website better serve both members and the general public? If you have an interest in pursuing and making connections with those who want to help ACGA pursue its mission, then this is the committee for you!
Chairperson: Lee Trotman
Are you interested in helping to ensure the sustainability of ACGA? Do you have an interest in partnership development or human resources? If so, join the ACGA Governance Committee.
Marilu Lopez Fretts
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Connecticut Community Gardening Association
New Haven, CT
Desert Botanical Garden
Los Angeles Community Garden Council
Los Angeles, CA
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
Community Garden Program Coordinator
Food Well Alliance
Joyce L. Moore
Alaska Village Initiatives