Growing More Than Gardens

Julie Nichols is a community gardener. But more than that, she’s a community builder. Whether it’s pitching in to help with teaching how to start seeds, working with school children to build a greenhouse, or cooking at a potluck, Julie is one of those special people who gives of her time and energy.

Julie Nichols surrounded by Community Gardens

We began working with Julie in 2014, when we hired her to be our Community Garden Manager. Her energy and enthusiasm led us to advance various projects quickly - including hoop-house style greenhouse, which Julie oversees. As CAE began working with food pantry clients who live in low-income housing nearby, we began to realize that many of the folks struggled with transportation issues and health problems. These folks could not easily get to our community gardens at Atkins Field. Julie advocated for, and helped carry out, a project to build seven 4x8-foot raised garden beds at Maple Street apartments, a complex for seniors and people with disabilities. She also has served as a garden mentor for many community gardeners who were shy about attending group gardening workshops.

Julie has also grown into working with the CAE in other ways. Just two years ago, she joined the Steering Committee of our Grow Your Own food independence project where she has become a critical leader. Through this work, Julie plans and helps organize for a year’s worth of workshops and gatherings for our community; cooking, food preservation, and gardening are all shared throughout the year.  And Julie has joined us on community service projects with students and teachers at the Laraway Youth and Family Services school for high school students with social, emotional and behavioral challenges.

We celebrate our partners and neighbors - and Julie is a local star - embodying community and sharing the joy of gardening and sharing with everyone she meets! We're grateful at the CAE for Volunteers like Julie, who make our community strong.