Build local capacity to grow food.
Community Garden Connections (CGC) serves to build our local capacity to grow food. It addresses food insecurity related to climate change, personal and communal health, and resiliency. With the help of a private donation from the Rashti Foundation, CGC supports the installation and cooperative maintenance of raised gardens in partnership with local service agencies, students and community members. These funds also support educational outreach to meet the specific gardening interests of community partners.
Between 2011 and 2016, the CGC facilitated the installation of 68 garden beds at thirteen social service agencies. In addition to our sites in Keene, the CGC rejuvenated a one-acre plot on an abandoned prison site in Westmoreland, NH. Run by student volunteers and community members, the Westmoreland Garden Site donates 100% of its produce to traditionally underserved and marginalized members of the community by means of the Keene Community Kitchen. In 2015, the CGC donated 4326 pounds of food.
In the coming years we want to expand educational opportunities for our gardeners, deepen our relationship with community partners and continue to increase access to healthy food and healthy environments.
Why Community Gardens?
Community gardens provide access to healthy landscapes, enhance our connections to outdoor environments, create strong social networks, increase self-sufficiency and local food security, and increase wellness. Gardening provides an affordable, nutritious food source. It cuts across social, economic, and racial barriers to bring together people of all ages and backgrounds.
The CGC is committed to fostering access and interest in healthy food and environment by:
- Increasing access to healthy, affordable foods and thereby increase community food security
- Contributing to the City of Keene’s goals for addressing climate change by increasing food security
- Building community members’ capacity to grow and cook healthy, affordable food and benefit community members’ physical and psychological health through gardening
- Creating opportunities for AUNE students and faculty to engage in service-learning and applied research projects related to agriculture and sustainability that support community-identified priorities
- Fostering a stronger sense of community through the creation of green, communal spaces
In the first 18 month phase of this program, our efforts have conservatively reached 250 community members; involved 8 community non-profits and social service agency partners; engaged 25 graduate and undergraduate students; established 6 raised-bed gardens (four 12 x 4 ft. beds per site) throughout the Keene, NH area; and developed research and evaluation protocols to track programmatic impact. In the coming years we will continue in these efforts and implement new projects to further our mission.
To support CGC’s efforts, an Advisory Committee consisting of individuals from organizations throughout the Keene community provide expertise to our efforts. Their contributions and guidance help to ensure long-term success of this program.
Amanda Costello, District Manager – Cheshire County Conservation District
Ali Cermak, Health & Nutrition Services Manager ;Southwestern Community Services, Head Start Program
Rhett Lamb, Director ; City of Keene Planning Department
Andy Bohannon, Director – City of Keene Parks and Recreation Dept.
Christine Parshall, Nutrition Connections – UNH Cooperative Extension
Dr. Karrie Kalich, Health Sciences – Early Sprouts, Keene State College
Denise Meadows, Program Director – First Course
Gail Dupre, Executive Director, ACCESS Inc.
Sandi Bandieri, Executive Director, The Keene Senior Citizens Center
Deb Habib, PhD, Executive Director, Seeds of Solidarity
Sarah Antel, Education Director, Stonewall Farm
Joshua Cline, Executive Director, Stonewall Farm
Phoebe Bray, Executive Director, Keene Community Kitchen
Mary Jensen, Campus Sustainability Officer ; Keene State College
Carol Jue, Garden Volunteer, Harper Acres Garden of Eatin’, Keene Housing Authority
Sarah Harpster, Task Force Member, Transition Keene
Gina Goff, Sr. Director of Community Involvement ; C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc.
Melinda Garland, Marketing Manager, Antioch University New England
Ken Jue, MFS Executive Director emeritus, Monadnock Family Services (MFS) and Board Member
Tom Wessels, Faculty Emeritus, Antioch University New England