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Valley United Way creates community gardens in Ansonia, Derby to help ‘food insecure’

Source: New Haven Register News

By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich

May 24, 2017

How does your garden grow?

That’s what Valley United Way leaders hope local families and individuals in need find out soon with the launch of a new “Grow Your Own”community gardens program.

VUW recently spearheaded four new neighborhood community gardens in Ansonia and Derby as a way to help “food insecure” residents have free access to fresh fruit and vegetables to supplement what they receive from area food pantries.

The “Grow Your Own” program actually kicked off three years ago, and at that time consisted of plants, soil and tools provided to Valley residents in need for backyard and container gardening. The program has expanded to four locations that include community gardens to serve a greater number of people. The gardens are located at Griffin Hospital and Irving School in Derby and Pine Lot Park and Gatison Park in Ansonia.

VUW teamed up with Griffin Hospital, Massaro Community Farm, TEAM Inc., My City Kitchen, Ansonia Nature Center and Yale-Griffin PRC to launch the program. Several other area businesses have volunteered their time to help.

The free program offers not only the resources to create a garden but also training on nutrition, cooking and canning, according to VUW President Sharon Gibson, with the hope that Valley residents will be able to preserve the fresh food for use year-round.

The debut gardening initiative kicked off last weekend, with dozens of volunteers and city officials turning out at the four sites to fill the container gardens with dirt and plant the first seeds.

In Ansonia, Mayor David Cassetti pitched in and unloaded several wheelbarrows full of fresh soil into the five, 4-foot-by-8-foot planter beds, which were constructed courtesy of students at Emmett O’Brien Technical High School. The sites will be maintained by neighborhood residents along with VUW gardening staff and volunteers.

“This is a wonderful program that will educate residents on eating healthy and the joy of gardening,” said Cassetti. “I applaud Valley United Way for putting together this exciting undertaking.”

VUW officials said the sites were selected based on access to water and plenty of sunshine, two key ingredients to making any garden grow.

Gibson said VUW is seeking additional volunteers to help maintain the gardens. Those interested in helping out can contact VUW at 203-926-9478 or visit their website at www.valleyunitedway.org for more information.