Urban Farming in Bridgeport & Local Farm Guide: Green Village Initiative Empowers Communities
Nov 03, 2014 05:13PM
By Leslie McLean
Urban farming nationwide is progressing quickly and should be a primary focus for sustainable business development. Community farms in an urban environment have a positive effect on all local citizens because the ability to grow fresh and organic food—which is shared—allows people to feel they can survive well as part of a local team. Planting the seeds and growing and harvesting the vegetables create a new history which has a significant impact on the community as well as the individuals’ value and appreciation of food. Youth are now becoming part of this history, which will transform their concept of what healthy food is and the option to grow their own produce.
Green Village Initiative (GVI) has now completed the first urban farm in the city of Bridgeport. GVI (Gogvi.org) is a Fairfield County grassroots non-profit organization that creates social, economic and environmental change through local action. Through the urban Reservoir Community Farm (Gogvi.org/Reservoir-Community-Farm.html), school gardens and an internship program, GVI is on the ground in Bridgeport creating jobs, growing healthy local food, educating people around health and obesity, beautifying inner city areas and empowering youth. Currently, there are 24 schools with edible gardens in Bridgeport. GVI partnered with the city to build these gardens while interns maintain them during the summer. Donated seedlings are planted and then harvested by students and interns for “salad days” at all the schools.
The urban farm in Bridgeport has over 100 raised garden beds, all built by volunteers. All food grown on the farm is served in the Bridgeport Public Schools and sold to the local neighborhood at subsidized prices. The farm is growing all types of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, beans, collards, kale, lettuce and other produce. It is quite a bonus for students to learn what can grow in Connecticut during which season and the significance of local harvest.
Sustainable business, with respect to agriculture, has again become popular at universities. Young adults are becoming more passionate about protecting the planet, the well-being of animals, and being able to grow food that can support a community. Internships are motivating students to learn about their interests instead of just taking a random job. GVI sponsors more than 40 high school and college internships each growing season at the Bridgeport Farm and School Gardens. Students are given the opportunity to work on farms, edible school gardens and in the GVI office learning techniques such as building gardens and establishing community relations. Interns also host field trips to the farm for Bridgeport students, teaching valuable and essential facts on composting, planting, nutritional information, seeds, and healthy alternatives for sugar.
Green Village Initiative is working collaboratively with municipalities, school systems and a wide range of nonprofit and for-profit organizations to create real change. This partnership includes working with CT Food System Alliance (CtFoodAlliance.com) on food sustainability in Connecticut. There is already a School Garden Resource Center operating at Common Ground High School in New Haven that supports edible school gardens statewide (CommonGroundCt.org/Environmental-Center/School-Garden-Resource-Center). This community commitment to build and support edible gardens will hopefully set a long-lasting intention for generations to come.
Leslie McLean is a contributing writer for Natural Awakenings Fairfield County. She is co-chair for Easton/Redding Community Coalition and a sales/marketing consultant with a focus on sustainable agriculture and animal therapy. Connect with her at 203-470-4435 or [email protected].
As the weather changes, the options available at Fairfield County’s many local and organic farms also evolve. Some offer Fall/Winter CSA programs while others focus on offering educational activities throughout the colder months. Call or plan a visit to these local and organic farms for unique produce and programs.
• Farm stand: open Saturdays from 9am–2pm, changes seasonally
• Organic practices, CT NOFA Farmer’s Pledge
• Restoration and preservation of all buildings on this historical 22-acre farm are in progress or completed
• Annual events are community-driven • Future events include: The Art of Wreath Party, Holiday Greens Sale, Valentine’s Tea
•Additional offerings: summer farm camp (preschool and K-7), farm apprentice program, maple sugaring, farm-to-table special events, facility rental available, live animals (sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and bees), dog-friendly
• Non profit funded
Garden of Ideas
• Farm stand: open daily from 8am–dusk, April–November
• Organic practices, CSA
• Current eommunity events: Family Yoga Workshop, Spinning Wool and Knitting, Yoga on Saturdays, 4-H Group for children ages 8-12
• Additional offerings: botanical gardens and garden tours, educational workshops, art gallery
• Non profit funded
• Farm store: open daily from 11am–6pm except for several national holidays
• USDA-Certified Organic, CSA, pasture-raised meat (chicken, pigs, goats, sheep)
• Produce also available at Le Farm and The Whelk
• Additional offerings: farm tours and field trips, seedlings for farmers and gardeners, farm-to-table and special events
• For-profit farm
• Farm market and bakery: open Monday through Saturday from 9am-6pm
• A family farm for over 40 years
• Organic practices, CT NOFA Farmer’s Pledge, no pesticides and herbicides for the last 30 years, eggs from free-range chickens
• Produce available through CT Farm Fresh Express
• Thanksgiving Turkeys available through November 22. These turkeys are from a local farm in CT. Limited quantities
• Additional offerings: educational workshops, farm-to-table dinners, live animals (chickens, cats)
• For-profit farm
Hubbard Heights Farm
• Farm stand: open Tuesday through Friday from 2pm-6pm and weekends from 10am-4pm, changes seasonally • Organic practices, CSA, CT NOFA Farmer’s Pledge, greenhouse, hybrid heirloom tomatoes and excellent soil
• Fall objective is to finish the “permanent home for the chickens”
• For-profit farm
Sport Hill Farm
• Farm market: open Monday through Saturday from 9am-6pm, Wednesdays until 7pm and Sundays from 11am-5pm. Hours subject to change
• Market products are locally sourced and have no additives, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup or chemically processed sweeteners or artificial food coloring or flavors. All animals are pasture-raised, grass-fed and humanely treated. Gluten-free options available
• Organic practices, CSA, no GMOs, eggs from pasture-raised chickens • Additional offerings: cash crop program, wholesale for chefs and caterers, farm camp (at The Unquowa School in Fairfield, preschool and K-6), educational hub and seasonal events
• Sport Hill encourages class trips, birth-day parties, private events and internships
• For-profit farm
Sticks and Stones Farm
• Organic garden and practices
• Rural and rustic 60-acre farm with significant wildlife
• Spaces for a community of artists and craftsmen, naturalists and environ-mentalists to converge and flourish
• New community events include Drum Circle, Ukulele Club, Sanskrit and Chanting Class, Woodworking classes and Iyengar Yoga
• Additional offerings: moss and stone harvesting and shop, apprentice program, rustic cabin and tent platform rentals, labyrinth, hiking trails and retreat options.
• Sticks and Stones also offers a fall month meditation program near Hilo, Hawaii on the Big Island. Visit website to explore this option
• For-profit farm
Wakeman Town Farm
• CSA pick up location for Stone Gardens Farm. Fall hours are on Thursday 12-7pm, Winter pick up is bi-weekly on Thursday.
• Organic and sustainable practices, CT NOFA Farmer’s Pledge, CSA, homestead, open to the public (farm visits should be prearranged)
• Animal husbandry, live animals (goats, chickens, sheep, rabbits and ducks)
• Additional offerings: farm tours, solar and wind technologies, apprentice and after-school programs, adult educational workshops, land stewardship, farm-to-table dinners and special events, volunteer advisory board
• December 6th will feature the farm’s Christmas tree and greenery event from 10am-5pm. Trees for sale come from local grower Gilberties
• 2015 focus will be on Raise the Roof, a Fairfield County campaign to earn money for a new roof for the main barn
• Non profit educational farming demonstration facility
New Pond Farm
• Small, private CSA with only 30 members
• This 102 acre farm’s focus is on environmental education. Annual programs include astronomy, the growing of vegetables, herbs and Native American education with authentically-recreated encampment. Farm programs include milking cows, sheep, chickens and roosters.
• Learning center includes a classroom and spacious meeting areas used for art shows, adult lectures, barn dances and other events
• Designated a CT Dairy Farm of Distinction in 2007. Freshly pasteurized milk and yogurt available for purchase at Dairy Annex
• 2015 will be the 30th anniversary of New Pond Farm
• Non profit charitable organization