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.”



December’s volunteer of the month: Jill Green, Team Interact Mentor, Washington High School

Jill GreenWhy do you love coming to the garden?

Even though the garden is a bustling place on Saturdays, to sit off by myself and weed and just watch everyone else – the students are flitting around after Judy gives them instructions, Ronda and Sandy are figuring out what to plant next in the beds, Annie is seeing what’s ripe for harvest and the volunteers are buzzing. Connecting with nature and friends and students is perfect.

How have you grown with the garden?

Despite my last name, I don’t have a green thumb. I observe and absorb everything. I’m almost brave enough to get my own garden going. The garden makes me happy. I pass it every morning on the way to school, and it makes me smile.

What has the garden done for you and the Interact students?

Our Interact club volunteers at dozens of local charities, and there is no question that the garden is at the top of the list. How else can you explain a van full of teenagers at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning who are eager to get their hands dirty? Even though they come for the fun of being with their friends, the garden is really an outdoor classroom where the students learn about sustainability, biology, entomology, chemistry and hydrology. I am always so proud of their hard work and dedication to whatever task is at hand as they connect with their community.

P.S. Jill and Team Interact have volunteered at Growing Together for over 3 years. Aligned with our mission to serve the community, we are truly blessed while their “Service above Self” motto is shared as we dig in the dirt together!

Thank you, Jill for your incredible love and leadership. WE have learned so much from YOU!

August’s volunteer of the Month: Candace Wilkinson

Screen shot 2014-08-13 at 9.44.40 PMWhy do you come to the garden?

I enjoy digging around in the dirt, watching things come up and of course, the satisfaction of tasty rewards!

What do you like best about the garden?

I love hearing other folks’ stories (gardening and otherwise) — why they are there, where their interest in growing things has come from, what successes & failures they’ve had, what books they read, what thoughts they have on life’s adventures.  I also enjoy delivering the harvest to the Food Shelf folks or the Lighthouse.

What have you learned by coming to the garden?

I’ve gardened for many years, but learning to grow things in the desert is something else again.  I have learned SO MUCH from Ronda, Susan, JoAnne, Augie & Benito and many others.  My garden at home is doing much better as a result. 🙂

And from all of us at Growing Together Giving Garden, we thank you for your love, dedication, enthusiasm and genuine garden spirit & smile as you continue to help us grow to fulfill our mission to serve our community!

Washington High School’s Interact motto: Service above self


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. The community garden located at 2nd Street and Glendale Avenue, grows food for those in need in the 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,” senior Daniela Rosa 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 weeding, composting, harvesting and much more,” senior Joseangel Gonzalez said. “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 has set up an Adopt a Bed program where a group plants and nurtures a plot through the season and 90 percent of the harvest is donated to those in need.

“We typically have 20-25 families and groups adopting a bed each planting season. All donations support our watering needs, supplies, seedlings and seeds,” says garden volunteer coordinator, Judy Walden.

“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 4000 pounds of food, graciously received 1800 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 come visit us and help us continue to grow!

Growing Together fall 2013 Adopt-a-Bed program is here


0913adopt4 Garden enthusiasts, families, friends, school service groups and our community…you are all invited to be our partner this fall for our 3rd season of the Adopt-a-Bed program.

Here’s how it works: We work with you to select a bed, prepare the soil, plant seedlings (we provide plants/seeds), weed, harvest, deliver and watch your plot grow with you throughout the fall season. Your (tax deductible) donation of $100 per bed gives you a 10’ x 10’ area and an adoption sign identifying your bed. We have a reverse tithe system where 90% of your harvest will be delivered to our local outreach missions and 10% you may keep for yourselves.

All adoptees are invited to participate in a veggie swap with other adoptees to share our bounty together later this fall. We will be planting vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, spinach, chard, kale, fava beans, garlic, and onion in addition to flowers and herbs.

Soil and bed prep is taking place NOW – every Saturday morning through mid-September (check website calendar) and planting begins mid-late September.

If you’re interested in adopting a bed, contact us at We have a limited number of beds on a first-come-first-served basis.

Checks are payable to Living Streams Church (note Growing Together in memo) and mail them to Annie Mittelstaedt, 6816 N. 2nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85012.

Thank you for being part of the garden community and helping us nurture our mission to serve others!

See you soon!



A big thank you to summer garden volunteers

Spring  tomatoes and basil

Spring tomatoes and basil

Megan Harris prepares veggies for delivery

Megan Harris prepares veggies for delivery

With the onset of the Arizona heat and soaring temperatures, we still hosted volunteer garden party days on Saturday and Tuesday mornings throughout most of the summer. In light of this, we want to recognize several die-hard, committed volunteers for their help as we harvested, pulled weeds, watered and just got dirty in the garden beds on those hot mornings together.

A sincere and special thank you goes out to Pam Fitzgerald, Candace Wilkinson, JoAnne Meltzer, Bill Banks, Sandy Smith and Richard Crawford for always being there and doing whatever it takes to fulfill our mission through the garden. We look forward to your positive energy and enthusiasm as we prepare for our next season of planting this fall!

Kudos to all of you!

Candace Wilkinson braids garlic

Candace Wilkinson braids garlic

Tesseract 5th graders visit the garden

Students from Tesseract's 5th grade dig in the garden.

Students from Tesseract’s 5th grade dig in the garden.

Thank you 5th grade students and teachers from Tesseract School for your help, hard work, and lots of love in the garden. Between weeding, harvesting, digging, planting, composting, shredding, picking and enjoying a beautiful April morning together, we accomplished so much for those who so little. THANK YOU! We look forward to seeing you back in the garden again soon.
Martin Luther King once said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Thank you for being GREAT!  Enjoy these photos from an awesome and inspirational morning!

Thank you to recent garden project student leaders

Thank you to our recent garden project student leaders:

  • Augie Diaz – Boy Scout Troop 147 Eagle Project – Painting shed, finishing fence, creating mosaic benches
  • Sammy Pistorius – Boy Scout Troop 147 Eagle Project – Design, develop, install potting bench, sink, shelves and shade structure (our 10th Eagle Scout Project in the garden!)
  • Reid Donley – Christ Lutheran School: Community Service Project – Design and develop hoop shade structures
  • Emily Cruz – Girl Scout Gold Award Project – Designed and developed compost system and information sign

Be sure to stop by and see what’s new in the garden, thanks to these supportive student volunteers!

Boy Scouts transforms garden for fall planting


Ryan Opila poses after completing his Eagle Scout project.


Members of Troop 644 work in the garden.

After weeks of planning and gathering tools and materials, we began the project on Saturday, September, 15th. I arrived early
Saturday morning with my volunteers and immediately set them to work, turning over the soil in the beds and adding a new layer of mulch to put nutrients back into the soil for the next round of plants. They worked had all day, always looking for something else to help out with and never complaining. It was late afternoon by the time we decided to call it a day. However, by that time, the garden was a changed place. All the beds were neatly tilled and mulched and the berm was weed-less and clean. I am very proud of the work my troop and I were able to a
ccomplish and am happy to be a part of Growing Together and all that it does for our community.


Ryan Opila