The American Community Gardens Association visited southeastern Connecticut for a scenic and educational three-garden bus tour leaving from Hartford, CT on Saturday, July 29th. The tour, organized by the Eastern Connecticut Community Gardens Association (ECCGA), visited destinations located in Eastern Connecticut.
Tour members' first destination was New London High School in New London, CT, where Chef Tomm Johnson greeted visitors off the bus with fresh baked focaccia bread and gave a detailed visit of their garden, as well as their aquaponics and hydroponics systems. All produce grown in the New London High School garden is used in the school's Whaler Café, which is then consumed by students, many of whom do not have access to or education of fresh produce by their own means.
Next stop brought members to Mystic, CT, exploring the Giving Garden at Coogan Farm, with tour lead by Farm Manager Craig Floyd. All produce grown in the Giving Garden is donated to United Way/Gemma E. Moran Food Center, which provides 100% of the harvest to various food pantries and soup kitchens in New London County.
After a farm-to-table lunch at the Giving Garden consisting of gazpacho, sandwiches, fresh oysters, and local snacks, members headed to their final garden destination at FRESH New London in New London, CT. At FRESH, produce grown is used to connect the community and promote youth empowerment through agriculture. Teenage interns acted as guides and finished out the tour before having the group circle up and report on their favorite feature of the day to wrap-up the entire experience.
In a rewarding conclusion, all aspects of the day were mentioned in the final gathering, including Chef Tomm's program, Craig Floyd's passion, the lunch and its local food, all FRESH guides, and each unique garden.
The Eastern Connecticut Community Gardens Association supports and assists all gardens presented on the tour, providing community members with a vivid idea of the accomplishments strive for and the purpose and importance of building community gardens.
The American Community Gardens Association is a nonprofit targeted at building the community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada.