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Cultivating Growth: Reflections on the American Community Garden 2023 Conference

Last month, we all received the president’s exciting news that the 2024 American Community Garden Association (ACGA) conference will be held in Boston. This announcement filled me with anticipation and brought back memories of last year's enlightening event in Houston, Texas. In addition to all the fun I had, the conference was a transformative experience that left me brimming with knowledge, inspiration, and a renewed sense of purpose for my gardening journey.

A Vibrant Atmosphere of Learning:

The Houston conference was a melting pot of gardening enthusiasts and experts from diverse backgrounds. Throughout the event, I found myself immersed in a vibrant atmosphere of learning, collaboration, and innovation. The rich variety of presentations covering a wide range of gardening topics was a highlight for me. Each session sparked my imagination and inspired me to try new approaches in my own garden.

Implementing New Techniques I Learned:

One concept that particularly resonated with me was the idea of using a keyhole garden. After learning about its benefits at the conference, I wasted no time constructing my version of the keyhole garden. A keyhole garden is a type of raised bed garden that typically consists of a circular or oval-shaped raised bed with a notch or "keyhole" cut out on one side, resembling the shape of a keyhole when viewed from above. The keyhole notch allows easy access to the center of the garden without having to step on the soil. It is designed to maximize space, water efficiency, and nutrient utilization. The keyhole garden has a central composting basket or bin, that serves as a source of nutrients for the plants and helps retain moisture in the soil. 

Keyhole Garden
Keyhole Garden

I filled the bottom of the bed with rocks and gravel for drainage, layered brown and green materials, and incorporated a composting basket at the center creating a growing environment that is yielding remarkable results for my spring plants.


Furthermore, I created an adaptation of an olla pot to enhance the efficiency of watering my arugula. I used a clay pot and its corresponding lid, securely sealed them together, ensuring there were no leaks. I then nestled the assembly into the garden bed and filled it with water. The gradual wicking of moisture from the pot ensures consistent watering. I learned that this method is superior to drip irrigation.


Sharing Experiences and Insights:

Alabama Garden

The conference wasn't just about formal sessions and presentations; it also provided ample opportunities for networking and exchange with fellow attendees. Visits to community gardens around Houston including the Alabama Garden, allowed me to connect with passionate gardeners who generously shared their stories and experiences. These interactions not only broadened my perspective but also reaffirmed the transformative power of gardening in enriching lives and building communities.

The American Community Garden Conference in Houston was more than just an event; it was a catalyst for growth and transformation in my gardening journey, I only shared a fraction of what I learned and implemented. As I look forward to the 2024 conference in Boston, I am filled with excitement and anticipation for the new experiences, insights, and connections that await. Here's to the continued cultivation of growth, both in our gardens and in our lives.

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The American Community Garden Conference has brought many positive meanings to the community. geometry dash lite


Unknown member
Apr 10

Nice article, Merlon. Here in Charlotte, a gardener with mobility issues used a "keyhole" garden approach to create a garden where she could reach everywhere while sitting in the keyhole. Brilliant! And she did using inexpensive cinderblock from the local big box with some recycled donations thrown in! Hope to see you (and lots more) in Boston!

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