When life gives you lemons, make garden kits

Keney Park

Keney Park Sustainability Project is a piece of Eden on the edge of a public park in Hartford Conn. Complete with goats, chickens, bees, fish and a mobile fresh food bus, this urban farm grows hundreds of pounds of fresh produce for local families. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation has been a financial supporter for the past four years.

When COVID knocked out its volunteer program, Executive Director Herb Virgo found himself with trying to operate with five volunteers, which required a serious pivot to get vegetables to his customers. He put out a call on social media for families interested in having gardens installed in their yards or on their patios/porches and was astounded when more than a hundred responded YES! Herb and his team built raised beds complete with soil, seeds, plants and know-how and have been blown away by the results: the gardens are alive and productive and bringing parents and kids together to water, weed and eat the results. One parent recently texted:

I want to thank you and all those involved in making the Home Garden Kit program possible. We received seeds and a planter in the spring and have been gardening ever since. My 11-year-old has become a gardener because of the opportunity you provided. We have harvested lettuce, cilantro, basil, a cucumber and radishes. She tends to her garden every day and has researched so much about seeds, plants and how to keep plants thriving. The delight on my daughter’s face when she harvested these vegetables and ate it with our family was priceless. We have since purchased a portable greenhouse, more pots, organic soil, and seeds. I appreciate so much what the KPSP has inspired this family to do in growing our own produce.

Photo courtesy of Keney Park.

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