Fall In The Garden

The following is a citizen contribution submitted by Esther Rose-Wilen, garden education coordinator at the New Haven Land Trust. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 4th, participants of the Incubator Garden program gathered at the English Street community garden in Fair Haven to celebrate the growing season with food and friends.

The Incubator Garden program is a collaboration between the New Haven Land Trust and New Haven Farms. New Haven Farms offers a Farm-Based Wellness Program to low-income adult patients with diet-related chronic disease risk factors. 

Graduates of this 16-20 week program are then offered a plot at a New Haven Land Trust community garden and hands-on, in-depth training on how to become resilient community gardeners. New Haven Land Trust staff offer these first-time gardeners support holding weekly “office hours” and workshops at each garden where incubator gardeners are placed. Staff members provide the gardeners with seeds and seedlings and coach them through planning, planting, and caring for their gardens. It is funded by the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation.

In 2017 the New Haven Land Trust and New Haven Farms jointly ran a third successful year of the Incubator Garden Program. The first year of the program we had gardeners at the English Street community garden. Since then we have expanded into the newly improved Grand Acres community garden. In 2018, based on the success of the first two years, we plan to establish a third incubator garden in Fair Haven and a fourth in The Hill.

The success of the 2017 cohort of forty-nine participants is evident in their ample harvests which they weigh and record and the many compliments we receive from visitors to the gardens. Most importantly, the success of the incubator gardeners can be measured by their joy to be out in the garden. Gardeners constantly express their fascination with growing, the therapeutic experience of being outside and working with plants and soil, and the community-building that occurs with fellow gardeners.

The community spirit shared by the gardeners was easy to see on October 4th, as twenty families gathered around a picnic table to share recipes from Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Connecticut, Mexico, and many other places, often made with produce from the garden. Children ran and played in the grass as parents swapped stories about their gardening experiences and harvested from their gardens. The potluck was a lovely harvest celebration at the end of a productive summer and we look forward to the next season of the Incubator Garden program!

To inquire about citizen contributions, contact Lucy Gellman at lucy@newhavenarts.org