June Newsletter

The growing season is well under way! As the school year ends, programs everywhere are stepping into high gear to provide rich summer experiences for young folks in CT cities. The Alliance is swimming with the tide, planning our first summer gathering since the pandemic changed life all around us. In addition, we are welcoming new partners and expanding our network in deep, rich ways. Thank you all for being here! If you know of an urban ag program that will be challenged by our work but is open to learning more about the systems around us, please share this one-pager with them!

Program Updates

Common Ground High School

In partnership with the New Haven Food System Policy Division and the USDA, Common Ground High School is now a major composting site for the City of New Haven. The new system can handle roughly 45,000 tons of compost per year! This new system is a part of the effort to make composting available to all, not just those who can afford a home pick-up and delivery service. Read more about the dedication ceremony here.

Ebony Horsewomen

On June 12 at 6 pm, Ebony Horsewomen launched its film “Horse of a Different Color” on Youtube. This long-awaited film looks at the history of structural racism in the City of Hartford. With summer camps just on the horizon, efforts like this keep adults engaged in the difficult conversations Alliance programs have always kept young folks digging into. Always more work to do!

(Image description: a grayscale image of neatly dressed Black men walking down the street on the opposite side of a sidewalk from white police officers in uniform. While the Black man whose face is visible gazes ahead intently, the white officer, carrying a billy club, glances ahead and his partner at his side glares intently at the Black man. A marquee sign rimmed in red with yellow lightbulbs reads “A poignant look at Hartford’s history”, a white box with black text below the marquee reads “March with the Black Caucus {indecipherable} North End”, and the title of the film, “Horse of a Different Color” sits at the bottom of the image in black and white paint streaks. /End description)

Grow Hartford

The Grow Hartford program has been working to launch new gardening sites around the city. This effort has led to conversations about edible landscapes, environmental preservation/rehabilitation, and even seed saving. With the summer kicking into high gear, community conversations are easing back on the priority list. The May 30th conversation focused on digging into the connections between school food and prison food, yet another pipeline between our schools and the criminal system.

GROW Windham

After yet another successful seedling sale and Third Thursday event in downtown Willimantic, the GROW Windham team is both gearing up to meet the summer program with its usual excitement and working hard to get ready to let one of their own launch off to graduate school. The current youth program coordinator is stepping aside in August to make room for the next great advance for the GROW Windham youth, as each new staff member brings new awareness, history, and joy to the program. In the meantime, everyone is celebrating each day the Mackenzie is around before she heads off to a bright future! To see more about the position opening up, please check here.


The Green Village Initiative is preparing for a new round of summer interns with a new feature to offer collaborations with: a bee hive! In collaboration with the Huneebee Collective, GVI is playing host to a beehive and a new, full time beekeeper in residence. In addition to adding a whole bunch of bees, they also added a new youth program coordinator and are revitalizing their curriculum to meet the needs of this year’s interns.

(Image description: a flyer featuring the title “Butterflies of Connecticut” on a green header. Beneath are 20 different types of butterflies labeled by their common names. /end description)

Huneebee Project

As you may have guessed, the hive recently places at GVI’s Reservoir Community Farm was placed and will be supervised by the Huneebee Project. The new beekeeper in residence at the farm will be trained by HP as well. They also recently hosted a native bee walk with local expert Tracy Zarrillo from the Agricultural Experiment Station. This walk focused on native bee species, their habitat, health, and the work that they do. Shortly after their bee walk, the first strawberry of the season ripened. Serendipity? Nope. Hard work from a happy bee!

Institute for Community Research

The Youth Action Hub is still hoping to learn from young folks who’ve experienced unstable housing situations to better inform their “virtual drop-in center”, a discord server where young folks can drop in, find resources to stay safe, and offer some of their wisdom to others facing similar situations. In addition, the Community Research Alliance, another ICR program, is seeking pilot project proposals for a $20,000 grant coupling community work with research. To learn more about either of these opportunities, reach out to Danielle.green@icrweb.org

Keney Park Sustainability Project

The drive to get everyone growing their own foodstuffs is strong at KPSP, as always. This year, they launched the growing season with a giveaway. Local friends could enter to pick up herb growing boxes, composters, rain barrels, or seedlings. The giveaway ended quickly, as everything was picked up with no delay! This is how you know the work you are doing is making a difference: everyone wants to grow and limit their waste!

(Image description: a natural wooden box sits on a wooden porch floor outside. Within the wooden box, chives grow and flower. Behind the box in the distance, trees grow close together, backed by a blue sky. /end description)

New Britain ROOTS

In addition to their upcoming fundraiser featuring pizza and beer at a New Britain brewery, the ROOTS team has been remarkably busy. They have continued their workshops at the New Britain Museum of American Art and are now hiring for a new position; a coordinator of food access. To learn more about this position, see here.

Nonprofit Accountability Group

NAG has been, as always, in high gear. Their newsletter has focused on efforts across Hartford to get not only regular food to Hartford families, but also baby formula and diapers. Given the recent shortage of baby formula across the country, it is no surprise that Hartford families (and tiny new people) have been feeling the pinch. Leaning on their partnership with Unity4All (the parent org of Food4U), NAG has been encouraging people to stop by Unity4All’s Formula4Families diaper and formula donation drives to drop off necessities. To learn more, please sign up for NAG membership here.

Nourish My Soul

The NMS family has been getting acquainted with their new farm, laying out beds and identifying ways to get water on-site. Recent meetings with the State Conservationist will hopefully help to solidify those efforts and continue to push Granby closer to NMS’s goals. In order to fill out their new farm, they are asking for any donations of thyme, unusual mints, and other herbs. If you can support or just to see what they are up to, check out their FB page here.

Solar Youth

With summer camps gearing up, the team at Solar Youth has not been able to offer an update.

Summer of Solutions

The SoS Hartford team has been working hard at asking for what they need. Water deliveries, site clean up (especially tire removal) and work by a certified arborist are all high needs, but the needs of a community member come first. They are seeking assistance to get a young family the food and electrical funding they need to stay safe and well. If you or anyone you know can help, please reach out to Son Owens at sonsharae110@gmail.com

(Image description: a flyer on a white background with purple text reads “support mutual aid in Hartford, CT. Summer of Solution is raising COVIS relief funds for local families in need. Our goal is $3000. Donate through cashapp $sos860 or donate dry goods, pantry items, produce, baby formula, and diapers. Contact Sonsharae summerofsolutions860@gmail.com. The Summer of Solutions logo sits in the bottom right corner of the page. /end description)

Alliance Updates

Our summer event is on! For the first time since COVID changed the world, we are looking forward to getting young folks together on July 19th from 10-2 at Wickham Park. We look forward to hearing about what your programs are aiming to do this summer, how you’re going to do it, and what it will mean to your community when you succeed! This event will also allow us the chance to share information about the professional development opportunities we are hosting in November around climate smart agricultural practices. The changes we can make to our work that will make our farms and gardens stronger as it reduces our impacts on climate change, all while keeping our neighbors and ourselves fed. Meet other youth from around the state doing work similar to yours, identify new methods for addressing the needs showing up in your programs and communities, and learn new ways of doing things from experts in the field. The event will feature lunch and is happening at Wickham Park to allow youth to check out other types of gardens. This event has been a highlight of Alliance work for years. Can’t wait to see what this one holds!

(Image description: a wooden moon bridge in a Japanese style garden is reflected in the water below. A small concrete pagoda stands closer to the photographer than the bridge. Green trees surround the back of the image. /end d

Published by ctyouthfoodalliance

The youth contingent leading CT's quest for justice in the food systems of our state.

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