Get ready for fall!


Come to the garden. Fill your heart and get your hands dirty!

Washington High School Interactors like to get their hands dirty on the weekend, especially if it is digging and planting in their favorite spot: Growing Together: A Giving Garden. Our community garden located just west of Central and Glendale Avenues at Living Streams Church grows fruits and vegetables for those in need in our community.

“It’s one of our favorite service events,” said Jill Green, who advises the campus club. “It is awesome for the students to see the gardening process start to finish each season. And knowing our harvest is going to those in need is a bonus.”

“I love going to the community garden because it’s a fun and easy way to give back to the neighborhood,” one student said.  “You get to learn a little bit about agriculture while at the same time working alongside your friends. The best part about gardening is getting to harvest your crop after all the effort you put into planting and caring for it.”

“Gardening is a great opportunity to get down and dirty by doing different things like planting, weeding, composting, harvesting and much more. It seems like a lot of hard work, but knowing it is going to food pantries and local foster homes definitely makes it all worthwhile.”

The garden’s Adopt a Bed program is in its 5th year and is the primary fundraiser each season. It works like this: volunteers (a family, youth group, individual, company, school club, etc.) can purchase a garden bed for a tax deductible donation and be part of the bed preparation, planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. 90 percent of the harvest is donated to those in need while donors get to keep 10 percent and enjoy a Veggie Swap with other volunteers at the end of the season. “We typically have 15-20 families and groups adopting a bed each planting season. All donations support our watering needs, supplies, seedlings and seeds,” says garden volunteer coordinator, Britton Sanchez.

“We are excited about learning to take care of another crop this season,” Green said. “Last season we had fun with our pepper bed and all that went with making it a successful harvest.” This year the team will be planting broccoli in their bed. Interact is sponsored by Sun City Rotary and has 250 members who complete over 60 events each year.

Growing Together: A Giving Garden began as a vacant lot in November 2009 and has harvested over 30,000 pounds of food, graciously received 6000 hours of volunteer service hours and serves 4 local shelters and needy organizations who typically go without fresh fruits and vegetables. For more information check out our website: and our calendar and come visit us and help us continue to grow!

Starting September we will be in the garden every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month starting at 7:00 am . . . come get your hands dirty and fill your heart with joy!




Moon Valley chapter of National Charity League adopt the garden — again!


National Charity League (NCL), a national mother-daughter philanthropy organization, has been a significant and invaluable volunteer group in the garden for the past two years. Each year NCL selects a charity organization to support, and we have been selected again for 2016-2017!

NCL generously supports our garden every year with their time, talent and treasure, and this year has been no different. We recently received a generous donation allowing us to purchase new shelving for our shed, garden tools and supplies, and for the 3rd season now, NCL is participating in our Adopt-a-Bed program. “NCL Mothers and Daughters are one of the hardest working volunteers we’ve seen as they are always on time, with a smile at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning (yes, teenage girls!), and with open hearts and giving hands, ready to serve,” says Judy Walden, garden volunteer.

We look forward to having them plant their Adopt-a-Bed in late March as well as their support throughout our spring growing season and next fall. Thank you, NCL for your mission to serve and all you are to support GTGG! You ROCK, ladies, and it is a pleasure to have you as part of our volunteer team!


Youth volunteer Grae Fischer receives Christian Service Award

gtccIn the garden we welcome so many wonderful people; families, youth groups, NCL, Brophy Key Club, ASU, NAU and UofA students, doctors, children, Madison Meadows Charitable Acts Club and so many more. One special family in particular, the Fischers (Lisa, Ed, Grae and Michael), have made Growing Together Giving Garden an important part of their volunteer time for over four years. Last month, 8th grade St. Francis Xavier student, Grae, 14, received the Father Sullivan Ignatian Spirit Christian Service Award along with 35 of her peers from various Catholic Schools around the Valley. Grae tributes her love for service, helping others and sharing a sense of community to her many experiences in the garden. One example stands out. “For Grae’s birthday, instead of having her friends bring gifts for her party, she asked them to purchase needed supplies for Growing Together Giving Garden. She and her friends purchased needed items (gloves, tools, and seeds) and presented these wonderful gifts to the garden volunteers. We celebrated Grae’s birthday together in the garden that Saturday morning while tilling soil, turning compost, and planting seeds,” says our humble and grateful garden community at GTGG.

In addition, Grae and her Mom, also members of National Charity League, give their time every month with the Moon Valley Chapter as well as support our holiday Christmas parties for a group of foster children we serve. Thank you, Grae! It is an incredible blessing to learn from you as we experience together how the garden draws such a wide and deep community each week. To plant seeds of service and friendship and experience, and share our harvest with the community is a true gift and a blessing. You empower others to reap the benefits as a loving and giving community together!

First United Methodist Church partners with Growing Together 

fmuc1For the second year, Growing Together Giving Garden was invited to partner with one of our neighborhood churches, First United Methodist Church (FUMC), to participate in their annual Sunday WORKSHIP Day of service. Every year FUMC church members spend one Sunday morning volunteering at various organizations throughout the Valley. With the recent transition to our new garden location, “Timing was perfect,” says Judy Walden, one of our garden volunteers, and a member of FUMC. “The garden has a need and our church wants to serve in the community, so it was a perfect morning match!”

15 First UMC volunteers, plus a few of our garden regulars, joined us on Sunday, February 28 to move dirt, plant flower pots, build our shelving and reorganize our new garden shed, water trees, reinstall our compost fence, set up the compost bins and enjoy fun and fellowship together on a beautiful Sunday morning. “This is what the garden is all about…providing delicious fruits and vegetables to the needy, while making connections and strengthening our ties to the community. We are here to not only serve those less fortunate, but to bring together people of all ages, experiences, faiths, backgrounds…all with a beautiful common goal – to share love and serve others.”



Growing Together garden transitions to new location

0116transition2Growing Together is in the process of transitioning to our new location at Living Streams Church, just one block west from our current garden location.

We are grateful for the opportunity to have received many helping hands and loving hearts to serve those in need in our community from our current garden on Glendale Avenue and are equally thankful to be able to continue our mission in our new location.

Our fall harvest continues to grow in our current garden, soon to be harvested for our local charities. This month and into February you will see our garden grow at Living Streams Church, starting with a Boy Scout Eagle Project from Troop 401 (Beatitudes Church). Aaron Churchwell and his troop have helped the move become “real” by completing two raised garden beds in the entry of the garden. Another Boy Scout from Troop 401, Tucker Brown, will also launch his Eagle Scout project by managing the entire move of our larger garden structures and placement at our new location in early February.

Stay tuned. Yes, we are experiencing very exciting times as we see our vision continue to “come alive” again, and the community grow and come together to support what we started 6 years ago on an empty lot. Watch for additional photos of our progress and be sure to stop by and see what’s growing in the garden . . . vegetables and community support!




Five years later: A community garden takes root


Flourish Phoenix recently profiled our own Annie Mittelstaedt and asked her about her role in the creation of Growing Together Community Gardens, her vision and what makes it such a great place to work.

Check out the story: Growing Together: A community garden takes root, feeding hungry neighbors while drawing volunteers from all walks of life

Volunteer of the month: Lekshmi Krisnan

lakshmiWhat is your favorite part of the garden?

It simply makes me happy to watch everything grow in front of my own eyes and being a part of it provides me tremendous satisfaction. I also love harvesting FIGS, one of my favorite fruits in the garden.

What does the garden mean to you?

The garden offers me the chance to give back to our community and also an opportunity to be close to nature. Additionally, it is a part of healthy sustainable living and also an initiative to protect Mother Nature.

How did you get involved in the garden?

Living in an apartment in Phoenix after having grown up in tropical climates, surrounded by natural gardens, I have always been on the look out to dig some dirt and get sweaty. When I saw the community garden on my way to work and started volunteering, it provided me the chance to get my hands dirty again. The best part of the garden and its community is that everyone is so welcoming and encouraging.

Volunteers of the month: Xavier and Alex Sanchez

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Alex, Britton and Xavier Sanchez at Growing Together garden.

Xavier (14) and Alex (7) Sanchez have been volunteering at the garden a little over 2 years.  They became involved in the garden through Madison Meadows Middle School, Charitable Acts Committee.  When asked about the garden, they had the below to say:

Xavier: I enjoy the garden because it gives back to the community and I really enjoy digging in the dirt.  Through the garden, I have learned that not everyone is as fortunate as I am with their food supply.  The ability to grow such amazing things and donate to those in need is such a great thing.  My favorite vegetable in the garden is broccoli.

Alex: I like to go to the garden because I like to help people and I like to harvest the vegetables.  I also like to play with shovels.  I have learned how to grow things in the garden, and I like to help people.  My favorite fruit in the garden is watermelon.

St. Frances Xavier Arrupe Project

This is our 5th year that Growing Together Giving Garden was chosen by St. Francis Xavier students as the beneficiary of their middle-school service project called the Arrupe Project Named after Father Pedro Arrupe S.J. who said, “Our prime educational objective must be to form men and women for others” where the goal of the project is to empower students to become men and woman for others through faith, service and justice as they seek out worthy charities to support through their project.  The students are required to earn $10 which is then matched by St. Francis Xavier School and the $20 is then used to purchase necessary supplies to plan, organize and facilitate a fundraiser for their chosen charity. We have been blessed to receive such a variety of needed garden items over the years, which continue to help us fulfill our mission to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the homeless – a beautiful example of “paying it forward” in our community. This year three generous young men volunteered their time at our Saturday morning garden parties and decided Growing Together Giving Garden was their charity of choice. THANK YOU, Jack, Tommy and Ben!

Jack Flanagan: I chose Growing Together Giving Garden because I have been doing community service there for several years, and it is a very important Corporal Work of Mercy to feed the hungry. I enjoy working at the garden and this is a rewarding way to do my Arrupe Project. For my fundraising project, I had a cornhole tournament hosted at my home. We had hot dogs, chips, soda in which I raised over $300 which enabled me to purchase 40 pairs of gloves, 8 shovels, 11 tomato stands and 4 frog mulch bags.

Jack Flanagan and Ronda Cronin, Master Gardener, at Growing Together Giving Garden

Jack Flanagan and Ronda Cronin, Master Gardener, at Growing Together Giving Garden

Tommy Moore: I chose to support the Growing Together Giving Garden with the Arrupe Project not only because I have been working with them for a while, but because I think they help a good cause. I also enjoy working with the people at the garden because they are all very nice and giving. For my project, I organized a Mario Kart tournament at my home with fellow students, family and friends and raised $253, which allowed me to purchase 25 pairs of work gloves, 8 herb clippers/scissors, 1 – 25’ hose for the garden.

Tommy Moore and Judy Walden at Growing Together Giving Garden

Tommy Moore and Judy Walden at Growing Together Giving Garden

Ben Yancy: I chose the Growing Together Giving Garden because I helped a friend at the garden before and liked being there.  I also liked the cause because I like the idea of helping people in our own community.  Thank you very much for the opportunity to serve. For my project fundraiser, I held a 3 vs. 3 basketball tournament. Around 25 kids showed up and paid a 5$ entry fee. I was lucky enough that some of the kids were generous enough to give me more money! There were around 8 teams that played against each other till the championship. Overall, the whole project was amazing, and in turn, allowed me to purchase 1 wheelbarrow, 1- 25’ hose, and new plants for the garden.

Annie Mittelstaedt, Ben Yancy, and Judy Walden at  Growing Together Giving Garden

Annie Mittelstaedt, Ben Yancy, and Judy Walden at
Growing Together Giving Garden

Serving the Phoenix Dream Center


Elaine Sullivan from the Phoenix Dream Center joined us in the garden in February to share with our volunteers how our service in the garden serves the young adults at the Dream Center – full circle in our community.

For the last several months, Growing Together has been donating fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables to the Dream Center.  Each delivery has been at least 40 pounds of food depending upon the crops.  Obviously now that greens are more prevalent, the pounds are less than when we were donating broccoli, apples, cauliflower, etc.

The Dream Center has been one of our designated charities and we want to continue to contribute to their worthwhile mission.

Please check out our Facebook, Growing Together, A Giving Garden, in Phoenix. Thanks! Any questions, contact Leslie McLaughlin 303-587-9229.

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