2016 participants picking up their supplies and plants at Home depot.
The Valley Hunger Study clearly identified the need for food in the Valley, and the Grow Your Own Gardening Program is a unique effort designed to help in a very positive, hands-on way. Originally a collaborative pilot project of Valley United Way and the Derby/Shelton Rotary Club, the program is designed to help people grow their own fruits and vegetables during the growing season. Targeted for clients who use local food banks/pantries or shelters, the program provides all the tools, plants and seeds needed to make our local gardeners successful at no cost to the gardeners. It even includes scholarships for community garden plots as well. The 2016 Program is made possible through the support of the Raymond P. Lavietes Foundation.
The 2015 program was jointly funded through a grant from the Prudential Foundation, the Derby-Shelton Rotary Club and United Way’s Special Needs funding. Valley United Way is working with the Food Security Task Force of the Valley Council for Health & Human Services to reach out to potential participants. Home Depot in Derby assisted with the project by providing equipment, plants, seeds and fertilizer at a discounted rate. The participants picked up their food on May 13, 2015.
The 2016 program began on March 30 with an informative presentation by Greg Bugbee from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. He addressed many issues related to having your own garden and the information to help participants select the type of garden that they will be planting and the tools, seeds and plants that they will use in their gardens.
The garden choices include using a community garden or planting their own backyards. If those options are not practical, the third option is to have a patio/container garden.
In July the gardeners will visited Massaro Community Farm for a second educational session on managing gardens and dealing with weeds and pests. In September, they will attend another program (2015 highlights) at the farm for instruction on methods used to preserve their harvest for year round use including pickling, freezing,canning and drying for year round use. Massaro Community Farm is celebrating the centenary of the farm this year, so they know a little bit about gardening!