February 2023 Newsletter

Happy new calendar and lunar new year, everyone! May this 2023 and the year of the rabbit/cat treat everyone the way they deserve to be treated. This month’s newsletter sees the Alliance digging deep into Climate Smart Agricultural Practices in partnership with CT Conservation Districts, diving into rewilding practices, and delving into self- and community-care in regenerative ways. Youth in urban agriculture really know how to make the world a much better place!

Partner Program Updates

Common Ground High School

It is that time of year again, the time where Common Ground High School turns its attention to the Rock to Rock bike ride, the fundraising event for environmental organizations in New Haven. This year, CGHS is adopting the Climate Justice League as the name for their team, hoping to push their fundraising efforts to heroic proportions. To learn more about the Rock to Rock ride, please check here.

Ebony Horsewomen

The celebration was mighty and the attendees stunning. EHI’s Black Boots Award Ceremony was a resounding success! Connections were built with new partners and the good work of EHI affiliates was elevated for all to see. Afterwards, not a moment was wasted as work continued on the Mary Fields Museum and Conference Center with walls delivered and roof trusses put in place. Finally, EHI is opening applications for mental health counselors and other practitioners to learn about rendering culturally competent care in equine therapy through their Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy Training and Training Certification program, beginning March 21.

GROW Windham

Tired of waiting for growing season, the GROW Windham crew has installed and is setting up their hydroponics system in the office. Last year they grew lettuce crops in one of their partner schools, and this year they increased their capacity with additional systems. To continue to connect with their community, they are planning their table for the Romantic Willimantic celebratory Chocolate Festival on the 11th from 11:00-3:00. As always, some of the GROW crew will be costumed so you don’t want to miss it! One of the key pieces they are working on this season is to establish space for youth to safely and comfortably gather in Willimantic, so please share your ideas on what helps to make such spaces successful!

Image description: a two-tiered heart-shaped chocolate-frosted cake is topped with white ganache, strawberries, blueberries, white chocolate swirls, and red foil sprays. This photo courtesy of the Romantic Willimantic Annual Chocolate Festival facebook page, advertising their chocolate cake competition for the Romantic Willimantic Chocolate Festival. /end description


The good folks in Bridgeport have been planning incredible opportunities for young people. February stands to be a fabulous month for GVI and they are looking to share their good fortune with others! Their first upcoming event, a nature immersion day, will prioritize attendance for Bridgeport youth. To learn more about this event and sign up, please check here. Then, on February 22, they are hosting a Youth Cooking Demo, featuring conversations about how folks have navigated their specific dietary needs. To learn more about this event and sign up, please check here. Finally, GVI is hosting a workshop in partnership with Housatonic Community College about the intersections of food sovereignty and social justice on February 15. This workshop will doubtless be filled with important information and opportunities to learn about how Black Americans have led and continue to lead efforts to build both. To learn more about this event (including how to stream it!), please check here.

Huneebee Project

In order to expand their connections within the community, HBP is launching their first flower CSA this year. As HBP focuses on the health and wellness of their beehives, the need for fresh, pesticide-free flowers and pollen sources is a necessity. This approach, bringing fresh, organically-grown and local flowers to supporters often helps not only to address HBP’s financial needs, but also their bee’s needs and their communities need for beauty. Commercial cut flower operations are among the most environmentally degrading agriculture endeavors around, siphoning huge amounts of resources to heat greenhouses, support the extensive use of petrochemicals in the forms of pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers, and to transport blooms from across the globe to markets. This approach ensured safe, healthy floral beauty for local supporters without forcing the cost onto neighbors and others in the form of pollution. To learn more and support this effort as it develops, please see here.

Image description: a large cardboard box is open at the front left corner of the photo. Inside the box rest hundreds of healthy-looking tulip bulbs. The box rests of green grass. Behind the box, a street-art-covered wall boasts bright colors, images of bees, bee hives, stylized flowers, and the Huneebee Project’s logo. /end description

Institute for Community Research

New projects are getting under way at ICR, focused on food entrepreneurialism, preserving Black generational wealth, and expanding connections between teens and mental health care providers. All of these new or proposed projects are colluding to elevate our thinking, conversations, and actions to undermine inequality in our society. Interns are offering their expertise as they learn new skills and build new professional connections among the research staff, partners, and the community we get to work alongside. We’re even nearing completion of a new website to help us share our work, goals, and accomplishments more easily. Keep watch here as new and exciting opportunities come through!

Keney Park Sustainability Project

Winter time is rest time at KPSP. The holiday market at the Sto brought makers and community together, spreading the power and beauty of creations by Black entrepreneurs around Hartford’s North End. As spring gets closer, KPSP will have more good stuff to share. For now, rest up, KPSP!

New Britain ROOTS

ROOTS has assembled and share a fantastic resource on their website; a food map of their city! This map allows visitors to identify resources they may need to access food, whether those be stores, farmers markets, food pantries, or farms. Using Google Maps, ROOTS input information about each resource to make the map easier for first-time visitors. This kind of resource sharing is inexpensive and important for people who may not know of the resources available to them. To see this map, please check here.

Nonprofit Accountability Group

NAG and their many partners have been deeply engaged in teaching CT legislators about the untapped resources and impossible barriers to justice in our state. Through their focus on the Environment committee and Appropriations, they have been keeping abreast of such proposed bills as HB 5532, An Act Appropriating Funds for Free Student Meals. Other, similar bills being followed by NAG include HB 5209, and HB 5551. These proposals have largely been referred to the education committee. To follow the CT General Assembly and see what bills are being proposed, when testimony can be rendered, and what committees they are being referred to, please check here.

Image description: the CT State Capitol Building is photographed from the back on a sunny day. The grass is bright green, the sun is shining bright on the far right of the image, and the clouds scuttle across a brilliant blue sky. /end description

Nourish My Soul

In their effort to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, nutritious food, NMS’s From the Ground Up program recently installed their hydroponics system sponsored by LEVO International. This system is intended to provide fresh vegetables to anyone who frequents the town library, without question. This type of project increases community connections, decreases barriers to food access, and gives participants skills they would otherwise not gain unless they attend specific college programs. All y ear long, food should be free!

Solar Youth

Solar Youth is working hard to find ways for young people to get to their programs. Many of the children SY serves live close to where their programs take place, but as we all know, wintertime makes transportation without a personal vehicle difficult, if not downright dangerous. While the SY team has shifted their work effectively to continue to be successful in the face of multiple significant challenges, this one, a challenge all urban youth programs face, is proving to be a big one. Any wisdom folks might be able to offer around addressing the transportation struggles would be most welcome!

Summer of Solutions

Much like KPSP, SoS is resting as best they can at this time of year. Their Coats and Cocoa event was a success, and their dreaming of the coming growing season is under way. Keep watch for updates from the Food Should Be Free crew!

Alliance Updates

As this winter peaks and begins its descent, the coldest part of the year greets us and encourages us to slow down. Oddly enough, while the Alliance garden may look like its sleeping, the roots are RIOTOUS. Our first Climate Smart Agricultural Practices (CSAPs) workshop on soil health was a success and interviews are under way to identify and formulate activity plans to make the content Alliance youth learned about more accessible to their peers and neighbors. To build upon what we learned in this workshop, Conservation District Directors are eager to visit Alliance partner program sites to identify methods of building and retaining soil health in your growing spaces this spring. Scheduling these visits will get under way as soon as possible. The second workshop, focused on pest management, will take place in February, so watch for that sign-up!

In addition, partner programs are collaborating to develop research models of the work they do. These models are useful in communicating the work of our programs, the roles programs play in addressing social issues, and they help staff to better understand and express the purpose of their work as well as what their work *isn’t* about. By the beginning of summer, enough models should have been made to allow for a comparison of the work happening in Alliance programs to identify where issues seem to affect many communities, and what steps to address those issues have been most successful.

Finally, those who have been connected to the Alliance for years now will remember Malana Rogers-Bursen. Malana was the Americorps VISTA from 2015-2016 at ICR, teaching young leaders facilitation skills and coordinating events and actions for that year. She has returned to the state from her time in Switzerland to begin working at Wesleyan in Middletown, as the community outreach manager for the College of the Environment. She is excited to re-connect with the Alliance, especially as the youth leadership built through partner programs is mighty! Opportunities to connect the Alliance with Wesleyan are being explored but, if you have any suggestions, please let us know. You can always email Kat at Kathy.engle-dulac@icrweb.org Thank you all for the good work you do!

Image description: an over-exposed image of a frozen evergreen bough before a snowy background. The left side of the image is bleached yellow from the overexposure. /end description

Published by ctyouthfoodalliance

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

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