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What is “Community of Gardens”? It is a digital archive hosted by Smithsonian Gardens in partnership with its Archives of American Gardens (AAG), where the public can help preserve stories of everyday gardens. From stories of community gardens to memories of grandmother’s garden roses to experiences at public gardens, “Community of Gardens” is the Smithsonian’s digital home for collecting and sharing stories of gardens and the gardeners who make them grow.
What is the Archives of American Gardens? AAG is a collection of Smithsonian Gardens. AAG includes documentation of more than 7,500 diverse gardens and cultural landscapes in America and international gardens. “Community of Gardens” is an ambitious initiative that builds on the tradition of garden documentation found in AAG by preserving stories and images related to vernacular gardens—the places and spaces that are a part of people’s everyday lives.
What types of stories are on the mobile app? The stories in “Community of Gardens” are featured on both the mobile app and the website. The mobile app provides an optimized experience for exploring stories on the go. Stories come from members of the public, other museums and organizations and the Smithsonian. Many of the stories include current and historical photographs and videos—all of which are available for mobile viewing.
Who can submit a story? Anyone who has a story, photo, audio, video or interview related to gardening in the United States can participate. From the mobile app, the user can click on “Share a Story” to be redirected to the “Community of Gardens” website to create a simple account to share their garden story. They must be over the age of 18 to submit a garden story to the website; if under 18, a parent or guardian must submit the story for them.
Participants can submit a story such as an interview with their grandmother about her Victory Garden, a photo and a story about a plant that has been grown by their family for decades, a story of Americans gardening abroad or gardening practices brought to the United States from another country. They can bring their personal perspective and family and community memories to the archive. Smithsonian Gardens is interested in their thoughts on the role of gardening in their life and the health of their community, whether in the present day or in the past.
Are the addresses of private gardens revealed on “Community of Gardens”? On the “Community of Gardens” map, private gardens are protected by the “zoom” function. At the city level, the residential garden pins will “disappear,” leaving only public gardens (gardens that can be visited by the general public) identified at the street level. The Smithsonian does not collect the addresses of private gardens.
How can a friend’s/neighbor’s/family member’s garden be documented? The owner of the garden must consent to the story submission, including permission to use any images, videos, interviews or audio of them or their garden. A Submission Agreement must be shared with the garden owner to obtain his or her agreement before submitting a garden story.
How can participants find their story? Once the participant receives an email that their story has been accepted into the digital archive and published to the website, it can be found in the mobile app by entering keywords related to the story in the search box or by locating it on the map.
Can teachers submit their students’ stories as part of a class project? “Community of Gardens” is a great tool for teaching young people about local environmental history and civics. More information is available at Education resources, and teachers can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to use “Community of Gardens” as a resource in their classroom.
Will the mobile app be available for Android devices?
Yes. Stay tuned, the Android mobile app is forthcoming.
Is there somewhere to send additional questions about the “Community of Gardens” website? Yes; send emails to email@example.com.
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