I was pleased to learn earlier this week about a new gardening project in West Hartford that's intended to help provide fresh produce to local emergency food programs. While these programs can't come close to providing the 5 million pounds of produce that Foodshare distributes each year, they are important parts of the work to provide healthy food to people in need and engaging the community in this work in meaningful ways.
Here's the e-mail I received about the West Hartford project:
"Jessie's Community Gardens is a project established through the Greater Harford Jewish Federation by Dane and Michelle Kostin in memory of their daughter who died very unexpectedly in her 20's a few years ago and who loved to cook. The project provides start-up funds for community gardens at Jewish institutions in the Greater Hartford area. The gardens are supposed to produce fresh home grown produce for those in need.
"The beauty of the project is that each garden is also designed to meet the needs of the institution and its volunteers. For example, Beth El Temple and the Jewish Community Services garden (which has a Kosher food pantry) are typical vegetable gardens. The garden at the Hebrew Home and Hospital has raised beds, so that residents in wheel chairs can tend the garden. The Beth El Temple garden is now also self sustaining (after the initial "seed" money from the project), because we planted and harvested horse radish, then produced and sold bottled horse radish for Passover with the children in the Hebrew School (and also had a label contest), sold out, and raised enough funds to pay for next year's supplies. A garden is planned at one of the day schools which will not yield produce in the summer (when no one would be around to harvest) but only in the spring and the fall.
"All very small scale but very meaningful."