In the past several years, there has been a tremendous growth of community gardening, but often the focus is only on building the physical infrastructure of the gardens – raised beds, water systems, fencing. However, based on more than 40 years of experience, ACGA recognizes that there needs to be as much, if not more, attention to developing the human infrastructure – the COMMUNITY – of the garden. The goal of the ACGA Growing Communities Workshop is to build SUSTAINABLE community gardens.

What is it?

Growing Communities is an in-depth, 2-day (ACGA will work with communities or organizations to custom design one-day or three-day workshops), hands-on workshop based on the ACGA’s curriculum for community development, Growing Communities: Community Building and Organizational Development through Community Gardening. Participants learn proven strategies that community organizers use to develop dynamic leaders and create strong community gardening programs through a participatory approach to community building. As a “train the trainers” session, attendees learn the principles and practices of community building, and how to pass these techniques on to others in their community by conducting their own workshops. The curriculum offers ways to engage the power of local community members to have a positive impact on their own lives and the lives of their communities.

Specific topics covered in the workshop include: Community Organizing, Leadership Development, Grassroots Fundraising, Communications
Planning, Coalition Building, Asset-Based Community Development, Meeting Facilitation, and Developing a Board of Directors.

ACGA trainers can also provide customized, more specific trainings on any of these individual topics.

What are the benefits?

These are just some of the comments from participants at recent ACGA Growing Communities Workshops.

“Now I feel empowered to help my community grow together.” – Great Falls, Mont.

“Probably the best community building workshop I have ever been to – gardening related or otherwise!!!” – Charleston, W.Va.

“It provided me with the tools not only to organize gardens, but also [to organize] other projects in group and community settings.” – St. Paul, Minn.

“This workshop was phenomenal: it gave me the knowledge, skills, tools, and inspiration to organize my┬ácommunity in two days; normally, it would have taken me years!” – Charlottesville

Community gardening is most successful and long lasting when the people affected by the garden have a role in leading the development of the garden. Including individuals from diverse backgrounds in all stages of the planning process creates stronger programs and neighborhoods and enriches the experience of gardening. Focusing on a community’s assets, rather than on problems, leads to building a community. Offering opportunities for community members to experience themselves and their communities in new and empowering ways provides for the seeds for long-lasting change. This is transformation. This is the foundation for community gardening and community building.

Who should attend?

Gardeners, leaders, educators, volunteers, supporters of community gardening and greening, master gardeners, and others seeking to use community gardening to meet their program objectives and create healthy communities.

What is expected from the host organization and from ACGA?

Host Organization Responsibilities

  • Identify target audience (target # is 30 to 50)
  • Determine the most applicable 2-day block for the audience (e.g., Fri/Sat; Sat/Sun; Thurs/Fri, etc.)
  • Select specific date for workshop
  • Secure location for the workshop (must have room large for total audience and on second day have at least two additional break-out rooms)
  • Arrange for breakfast drinks and snacks and lunches for both days (seek donations or grant funding)
  • Determine workshop registration price
  • Solicit scholarship funds, create scholarship application process, award scholarships, if applicable
  • Local publicity
  • Assist ACGA with arranging for workshop flipcharts and easels
  • Work with ACGA to determine if there will be additional local resource/horticultural speakers
  • Assist ACGA in identifying convenient, low-cost housing for facilitators and potentially participants
  • Name tags and volunteer to help with registration

ACGA Responsibilities

  • Registration (online and by mail)
  • Publicize on its website, e-news, and listserv
  • Ship Growing Communities Curricula to workshop host
  • Arrange for 3-ring binders
  • Arrange for and expense for workshop facilitators
  • Finalize agenda
  • Bring or arrange for all workshop print materials
  • Evaluation
  • Act as a fiscal agent, if requested

How can a city/region host one?

Contact ACGA at or 1-877-ASK-ACGA to let us know of your interest and availability. ACGA will work with the host city to schedule this 2-day workshop and, if needed, help with reviewing funding grant proposals.

How long does the workshop take to organize?

Typically this workshop takes at least 6 weeks to organize, preferably with 2-3 month notice.

What does it cost?

The fee is $5,000. This includes all of the following: 2 trained facilitators, their travel expenses, Growing Communities Curriculums for participants, workshop materials, ACGA membership for participants and registration costs. Costs not included, which are host responsibilities, are space and food. We encourage host organizations to seek donations for these potential costs.

ACGA Costs

  • Growing Communities Curriculum & binder & shipping
  • Facilitator stipends and travel
  • Workshop materials
  • ACGA administration (registration costs and staff time)

Additional Host Organization Costs

  • Space rental
  • Food

How can you raise money to host this workshop?

The funds to host this workshop can be raised by a variety of methods including:

  • Local foundations
  • Neighborhood improvement grants
  • Contributions from local businesses, churches, service clubs and supporters
  • Participant fees

If you are interested in applying for a grant that supports your local community, feel free to contact us for sample funding request language. Be sure to read funding eligibility requirements thoroughly to ensure the project fits within their criteria, and, if possible, contact the potential funder directly to inquire if this training would be a good fit.

Are you interested in hosting a workshop?

Download this form and return to ACGA to discuss possibilities [Microsoft Word]

Learn More!

Download a Growing Communities Curriculum Workshop Sample Agenda [PDF]

Watch the ACGA e-newsletter and website for upcoming workshops!