Students at the Alan Day Community Garden prepare vegetables for their meals and to distribute to the community as part of the Youth Leadership Program.

Students at the Alan Day Community Garden prepare vegetables for their meals and to distribute to the community as part of the Youth Leadership Program. (Submitted image)

NORWAY — Thanks to a generous grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation, the Oxford Hills Community Gardens – the Alan Day Community Garden (ADCG) in Norway – will expand its volunteer efforts in 2019 to provide healthy, fresh, nutritious and affordable fruits and vegetables to local communities.

The goal and vision of the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation (HPHF) Healthy Food Fund Grant is that “by mobilizing the energy of local and corporate volunteers to grow, glean and distribute healthy produce for low-income families across our region, we want to create a movement of “neighbors feeding neighbors” and expand the number of citizens advocating for fresh, local, healthy food equity.”

The ADCG is a grassroots 501c3 nonprofit founded in 2009, with the mission “to cooperatively create an educational demonstration garden, where people can grow their own food using organic, sustainable methods to support an enduring community food system.” Members of the ADCG believe that access for everyone to local, nutritious food is a right, not a privilege.

The mission and vision of HPHF and ADCG couldn’t be better aligned. For 10 years, the ADCG has provided gardening space for the community, hosted educational workshops and community gatherings, and shared garden-fresh meals. They have hosted thousands of youth as well, both in schools and at the garden, many of who come to learn about gardening, cooking, communication skills, and community service.

The Youth Leadership Program at the Alan Day Community Garden is accepting applications for their summer programs for students who want to positively impact their communities and help feed others. (Submitted image)

By expanding their local food access program, with the generous support of HPHF, the ADCG will be able to invite more community members and businesses to participate both as volunteers and as local food consumers.

Katey Branch, ADCG co-founder and president, has been a main volunteer supporter of the nonprofit since the beginning.

“It is an honor to be recognized by Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation and to have their support to continue to grow. We are working locally, growing gardens and community, to address global issues of hunger, food justice and equity,” said Branch.

Much of the food distribution will happen as part of a Community Market at the ADCG throughout the summer.

In September 2018, 25 regular ADCG volunteers held a retreat at Snowbird Lodge in Harrison. The group identified 70 initiatives they would like to see the ADCG manifest in the next one to 10 years, and then narrowed it down to the top priorities they would like to put energy towards in the next one to three years. Creating a Community Market was voted as the number one priority for the group.

The Community Market will be held Friday evenings from 4 to 7 p.m. June 28 to September 13, and will feature live music, ready-to-eat foods, a pizza oven, workshops and cooking demos, vegetables for sale, and SNAP EBT. Through the generous funding from HPHF, some foods will be available for free and on a “pay-what-you-can” sliding scale.

Last summer, seven local growers either sold at discount or donated fresh fruit and vegetables to the ADCG. The food was used in cooking demos, community meals, CSA shares, and by the ADCG Youth Leadership Program, where students cook their own meals every day of the program.

Pietree Orchard, a partner in the local food access program, plans to make the ADCG their primary produce donation site in 2019.

Farmers and gardeners are invited to participate in whatever ways they can, whether that means donating or selling excess produce to the ADCG, setting up a table at the Community Market to sell their own produce, or offering a workshop or demo. Participating producers will be highlighted and promoted on the ADCG website and social media, newsletters, and press about the local food access program.

Those interested in being part of this growing community, and helping to make healthy, local food access affordable for more people, should contact the ADCG. Also, the Youth Leadership Program is now accepting applications for their summer programs. Call the ADCG at 346-0708 or email [email protected], or learn more on their new website at www.alandaycommunitygarden.org.


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