Mentors help beginner gardeners blossom at Backyard Growers

Backyard Growers has been helping Gloucester residents learn to grow their own food since 2010. We have installed hundreds of raised bed vegetable gardens around the city for families, individuals and older adults both in private backyards and community gardens.

Elizabeth Redmond began volunteering as a mentor to beginner gardeners at Backyard Growers in the summer of 2018. As an employee at Pathways for Children in downtown Gloucester, she became familiar with Backyard Growers through the garden they run on-site to provide fresh salad ingredients for children involved in programs at Pathways. With a great personal love of gardening and the outdoors, Elizabeth was attracted to Backyard Growers’ goal of empowering other people to garden and grow their own food.

Part of the joy of gardening is helping neighbors reconnect and building a stronger, healthier community. When Elizabeth signed up to be a mentor, she was matched with a diverse group of people with a range of skill sets, approaches and needs. They all challenged Elizabeth to develop new ways to communicate and teach a love of gardening.

One of Elizabeth’s mentees had worked at a botanical garden, but she had never grown vegetables. Another mentee had never gardened in his life. Elizabeth’s third mentee is going to be a Backyard Growers volunteer this coming season. All three had beautiful, productive vegetable gardens.

But, Redmond says, perfection in the garden isn’t the goal.

“You lend your confidence as an experienced gardener, but the great thing about gardening is that you don’t have to be perfect,” says Elizabeth. “You just need to be comfortable, with a can-do attitude. Gardening is more forgiving than you might think.”

We are currently recruiting for new mentors who can share their love of perfectly imperfect gardening with beginners. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a mentor or exploring other volunteer opportunities with Backyard Growers, visit or attend the Volunteer Info Session, which takes place on Saturday, February 23, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Backyard Growers’ offices at 271 Main Street. You can RSVP to the Volunteer Information Session here.

Volunteers sharing their muscle power in the garden!

Volunteers sharing their muscle power in the garden!