Academic programs are getting under way and the summer is a distant memory. Crops have given space for food preparation, systems comprehension, and network building as young folks in our programs seek to learn more about the food system in other hands-on ways. With changes in our monthly meetings AND a “career day” event on the horizon, this newsletter will hopefully bring some good tidings across your desks.
Common Ground High School
CGHS’s end-of-season fundraiser, FEAST!, is the primary focus of their outreach at this time. Tickets for the FEAST! From the Fields dinner are sold out, while there are still a few tickets remaining for the FEAST! For Families. Congrats on your success, CGHS!
EHI is preparing for their Black Boots award ceremony on January 8th. In the meantime, they are celebrating the pouring of a foundation for their Mary Field’s “Stagecoach Mary” museum, a space for the community to learn about and celebrate African American accomplishments past and present. Thanks to partnerships with such companies as TILCON concrete and Manafort Brothers Construction, this museum is growing like a weed!
New youth facilitators and coordinators at GROW are making program sessions run much deeper. Young folks in Windham have been taking every opportunity to lead both in their program and in the community, offering garden tours and heading sessions with their peers, raising the bar on expectations for their support staff. Their upcoming Open Garden day, scheduled for October 15, will be completely led and facilitated by young folks for the benefit of their community, all in partnership with the Willimantic Public Library. This partnership has been, if you’ll pardon the pun, very fruitful! The library hosts and maintains the seed library, a space where locals can share their seeds free of charge. Now, the garden will play host to the Little Free Library, a kiosk where residents can check out and exchange books with one another at the garden. Partnerships benefit everyone, especially the community!
The academic year program for GVI is starting soon, with applications and interviews done and selections for this year’s interns nearly complete. This cohort will again identify their own personal projects to engage with, finding their ways to improve the food system in the City of Bridgeport. As a part of their learning together, they will be heading out for a hiking trip with the Aspetuck Land Trust. This partnership is opening opportunities for GVI youth to learn more about and engage more deeply with the environment around their beloved city through recreation and stewardship, opportunities rarely afforded young folks in our city centers. This trip is scheduled for 11/5, so keep a good thought for gentle temperatures and limited snow/ice!
This summer was a remarkable one for HBP, and the fall is shaping up to be just as exciting, if dramatically different. While the bees get ready for the winter, the humans are getting ready for next spring and summer with their fundraising gala. This event provides more than just funding for the coming year’s efforts; it also offers expanded opportunities to connect with patrons and neighbors, learn about issues and concerns they are facing, and identify ways in which the HBP can step into the gap and help to meet those needs.
Institute for Community Research
After a long, cold winter of sorts, ICR is beginning to warm up again! New positions are posted for a couple of projects, while others are still being developed. Interns have begun in the office, bringing new life and ideas into our conversations about projects, needs, and goals both for individuals and the organization as a whole. As our work with Hartford’s Active City project winds down, we are learning new skills around digital mapmaking, a complex and incredibly useful tool in communicating information about places and the resources located there. Each new skill brought into the org strengthens each project as we share ideas across our desks.
Keney Park Sustainability Project
KPSP’s dedication to creating wellness opportunities for their neighbors continues to shine. The last pop-up of the season was a huge success, featuring fresh produce from the KPSP space, yoga, “walk with a doc”, and other health and wellness activities open for drop-in participation. And although the plants are getting ready to snooze, the activity at KPSP is showing no signs of slowing down. Yoga for the Harvest Moon took place on 9/10, led by Afro Yoga. Getting people outside and getting their feet on the ground is a key goal for KPSP, and their partnerships with local programs brings that goal closer to “accomplished” every day.
New Britain ROOTS
With the dive into a new school year, ROOTS is pouring their attention into the upcoming Garden Crawl. This annual event gets people from a wide spectrum of life experiences and current situations out to see all of the spaces and places where ROOTS grows the food that helps to feed New Britain. While on the tour, people get to learn about the hydroponics set-up, the many greenhouses, and the powerful curriculum ROOTS uses in their work with teens, pre-teens, and young children in the New Britain school system. This year’s Garden Crawl is scheduled to take place on 10/1.
Nonprofit Accountability Group
NAG continues its potent work, pulling people and groups together across a wide variety of issues to highlight how all of their issues are connected. This week, their intersectional organizing call took place, as it does every week, over zoom to allow for the greatest access to everyone. These zoom calls take place on Wednesdays, usually from 4-5 pm. In addition to seeking to build bridges and gather plans, NAG has been working with some mutual aid efforts like formula and diaper drives. Their community partner in this effort, the North End Little Pantries, was recently awarded funding to launch their community hydroponics grow station in Hartford’s North End community. It will be exciting to see how a community-facing hydroponics installation works!
Nourish My Soul
The Granby team continues to work with homeschooling families, young children, and teens to improve access to and knowledge about fresh, local foods grown at the new NMS farm. This week, the focus is on filling the few remaining spots in the Jr. Chefs and Growing Healthy Kids programs. There are also efforts continuing to explore new programming formats to keep homeschooling families from across the state engaged in the agricultural and nutrition classes at NMS over the colder months. Keep watch for new ideas and methods.
The Solar Youth crew was busy at GATHER New Haven. This festival created opportunities for New Haven neighbors to connect with one another and the land through the lens of health, wellness, and physical activity. In addition to this large public event, the afterschool program for younger students (ages 5-13) is opening up for four days a week. Solar Youth will be sending participants home with “activity/fun boxes” each week to encourage engagement across the length of the program. Learn more about their process and recruitment on Solar Youth’s social media channels.
Summer of Solutions Hartford
The SoS team has moved their focus from out in the garden to in the neighborhood. By focusing people’s attention on the needs of neighbors toward the end of the month (when benefits run out but needs continue), SoS has been raising money for a mutual aid rent fund. This fund will provide stop-gap funding to keep people in their homes during this time of increasing rents. While not a “food focused” effort, this fund serves to help people meet their own and each other’s basic needs, freeing up some funds from tight budgets to afford the food families need when SNAP runs low.
As many of you know, we are fighting hard to get more staff members to help manage the Alliance. While interns have been in and out, we need a stable, dedicated, YOUNG person to work on food system change and youth leadership efforts! While those efforts continue, we are working on finalizing the plans for the November event. The focus of that event is on the future, especially the careers participants can imagine themselves moving into as they finish and graduate high school. Given the importance of youth leadership, I ask that you pose these questions to the participants in your groups and let me know what they want. Please find those questions here. If there are other suggestions that come up in your groups, please send them along!
In addition, you may have noticed weekly emails these past few weeks. These messages contain information about grants, learning opportunities, and a quick question from the Alliance. They are sent every Friday, unless something gets in my way. If you would like to stop receiving these weekly messages, please do not hesitate to let me know or to unsubscribe from the emails at the link provided at the bottom of each message. These are intended to ease some of the search burden each of you faces so, if they fail to do that, then please feel free to opt out.
Finally, our first report for the NRCS funding is due soon. Anyone with outstanding invoices/receipts, particularly from transportation to the July event, please send them my way as soon as you can. Thank you all for all you do!