2017 was the introductory year for the Gardening for Good program at the Indian Rock Nature Preserve. The program donates fresh produce on a weekly basis, throughout the growing season, to food pantries and soup kitchens in Bristol. Plants were supplied by Winterberry Gardens in Southington and Wojtusik’s Garden & Nursery Center in Bristol. The garden was maintained by a cadre of 15 volunteers of all ages and abilities who planted seedlings, weeded, harvested and delivered the pesticide-free, non-GMO produce to the people in Bristol who need it most.
“It was a fabulous educational experience about gardening/agriculture, therapeutic to work in the earth around the animals and feel-good to know the produce was benefiting those in need,” said Joanna Perricone, a Gardening for Good volunteer in a press release from the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut.
“Working in the garden was a great experience. The best part was that all the hard work was going to such a great cause,” said volunteer Angela Corsino, 15, reported the press release.
The garden was bursting with fresh tomatoes and herbs, green beans and lettuce, healthy greens like kale, collards and swiss chard, summer squash, corn, broccoli, eggplant, cucumbers and peppers. Throughout the plot, native flowering plants attracted pollinating insects and added to the beauty and diversity of the garden.
At the end of summer over 50 bags of greens, a dozen bags of herb varieties, 17 boxes of tomatoes, nine bags of green beans, 75 zucchinis, 55 cucumbers, a few dozen peppers and eggplant, and 25 heads of broccoli were delivered to The Meals for the Needy program at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Christian Fellowship Center’s Storehouse.
“We at the Christian Fellowship Center of 43 Prospect St., Bristol, would like to thank Indian Rock for all the organic produce they have given to us. This produce goes toward helping us feed those in need in our community. We appreciate all that are a part of the staff at Indian Rock for all their hard work. Thank you and God Bless you,” said Pastor Dean Desjardins, CFC Storehouse, the press release reported.
“Your donation this summer has been a wonderful. Our cooks and clients were very grateful for all the fresh veggies and herbs. On an average, we serve 80 to 100 meals per night Monday- Thursday and help over 100 families per month with 3-4 bags of groceries. Thanks to your generous donation we were able to include fresh and healthy food,” said Cheryl Yekte, executive director of Meals for the Needy, the press release reported.
In addition to producing much needed food, the garden also provided educational opportunities for campers at Indian Rock Summer Camp. Next year, Environmental Learning Centers of CT plans to expand the composting and vermiculture aspects of the garden as well as to develop an Organic gardening internship for a college student looking to go into this field.