A Successful Year at Brookmead’s Food Pantry Garden

In early months of 2019 UVLT had a vision. We knew we wanted to use our conservation areas to serve the whole community. Our mission has long been to bring people together to conserve land that makes our communities more resilient, healthy and sustainable for all. We wanted to show that land conservation is for everyone (read more about how UVLT uses its lands for the benefit of the community here). Using some of the farmland at our Brookmead Conservation Area in Norwich, VT to start a food pantry garden in partnership with Willing Hands seemed like a logical step.

Volunteers from Adimah help to prep the garden and remove sod clumps in late June.

This Spring the weather did not agree with us. Like all gardeners we got a slow start, being unable to till the fields until the spring rains subsided in June. However, with the help of a few corporate partners and a group of dedicated volunteers, we managed to come far. After having a quarter acre of the field tilled for us, volunteers from Adimab came out to help pull out sod clumps and rocks. Another group of volunteers, including a corporate volunteer from Hypertherm, helped us plant 700 potatoes in early July.

UVLT Staff, a Volunteer from Hyperthem, and a community volunteer plant ~700 potato plants in early July.

We established a weekly volunteer group on Wednesday evenings where neighbors, friends, and some of those same volunteers from Adimab who helped us get started, returned every week to plant and weed and keep things moving forward. The season is now coming to a close. We planted late season storage crops at the request of Willing Hands, and now we will harvest them.

Volunteers maintained and fields and plants all through the summer months.

We began last week by cutting the tops off all of the potato plants to harden them off in the ground before harvest. At the end of the week, we harvested seven large bags of Dinosaur and Red Russian Kale and delivered it to Willing Hands. This is just the beginning. Our big Potato Harvest Party will take place on October 15th from 1 to 4pm. UVLT staff along with our stalwart garden volunteers will be joined by Willing Hands gleaners to dig as many of the potatoes up as possible. All are invited to come and join, dig potatoes, meet staff and volunteers, and help us to feed hungry people. In the end that’s what it’s all about. We are one community and we are all in this together.

The first harvest from the garden! Seven bags of kale harvested on October 3rd.