Cash, Crops and Conferences

It has been an exciting week here at GTC! We’ve been hard at work cultivating our capacities and keeping our eyes are focused on the future of urban agriculture.

First in the news, we are thrilled to announce that we received two substantial grants from the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources! The total funds of $30,600 will allow GTC to continue to make significant, sustainable progress towards food security for Springfield. We have so much gratitude for the generous support of these organizations; their investments in community development are what keep local non-profit organizations like us running.

The Ben and Jerry’s Foundation’s Grassroots Organizing for Social Change Program is funding our food justice organizing work to build a more equitable and just food system. This particular grant encourages the community-development strategies we utilize for creating social change. And funds from MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program will allow us to conduct soil nutrient assessment of two farm plots, purchase and construct protective structures for temperature-sensitive crops, establish a more visible neighborhood farm stand for GTC EATS!, and develop multi-lingual marketing materials. See this press release for more details on MDAR’s initiative! We can’t wait to get started. 

mdarlogo-ben-and-jerrys-foundationSecondly, a few of our staff and youth members will be featured speakers at the Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference in Boston this Saturday, March 8! We are looking forward to learning from and networking with other farmers, youth, and leaders in community food justice efforts. We are thankful to City Growers, the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, and MDAR for allowing us to be a part of an event that is, quite literally, sure to be groundbreaking. 

“Cultivating Lands, Nourishing Communities, Building Businesses”
The UFC is a forum to share information regarding what is currently happening in Boston and other local urban communities and to map out a vision for urban farming in Massachusetts. Boston and other local urban communities in Massachusetts have the potential to offer a fresh, local healthy food supply while promoting economic and environmental sustainability, as well as healthy communities, employment at livable wages, food security, youth engagement and more.
Visit the City Growers website to learn more!

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Community Gardening Workshop: Saturday, March 22!

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Great video featuring GTC EATS!

Our partners at Live Well Springfield put together this video to explore the healthy food options available in our community. It features our GTC EATS! farmshare program, as well as the Go Fresh Mobile Market which we grow for. Check it out and stay tuned!

Sign-ups for GTC EATS! will begin next month. E-mail Toussaint at gtceats@gmail.com if you’d like an application form when they become available.

Live Well Springfield is a movement for healthy eating and active living in Springfield. Their work includes a mobile farmer’s market, work to bring a full line grocery store into Mason Square, rowing and biking programs on the Connecticut River, and the development of a comprehensive Bike and Pedestrian Plan for the city of Springfield. For more information, go to http://livewellspringfield.org/.

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Thank You for Choosing GTC on Valley Gives Day!

Valley Gives Day 2013 was an incredible success! 11,436 donors raised a total of $2,012,089 for hundreds of nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley. What an amazing difference this will make as we improve our communities and make western Massachusetts a better place to live.

Gardening the Community earned a total of $5,683 from the generous support of 105 donors! We were thrilled to surpass our goal of raising $5,000 from 100 donors. 

Reflecting on the momentous day, one of our board members expressed that “Valley Gives was an amazing opportunity to reflect on all the great work that had gone into making GTC what it has become. Our donors showed us their full support and got to know a little bit more about who we are and the great community GTC creates.”

Your gift allows us to provide support to Springfield youth, grow over 3,000 pounds of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, operate GTC EATS!, secure land where we can grow year round, and provide leadership to community food justice efforts. Whether large or small, your gift makes a tremendous difference.

Thank you from all of us at GTC!

Thank you from all of us at GTC!

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Valley Gives Day is Here!

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for: Valley Gives Day! As we speak, philanthropists across Western Massachusetts are showing their support for the nonprofits they love, including Gardening the Community.

We do hope you will consider visiting our Valley Gives page to make a donation HERE. Every donation and donor we get will go further to help us claim our share of more than $200,000 in cash awards!

Once you have done that, please help spread the giving spirit! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, spread the word with #gtcspringfield, and help build the buzz. Tell your friends and family why you donated to our cause. If they need some convincing, here are a few more fabulous reasons to support GTC:

  1. Support Springfield youth taking initiative and making big changes in their neighborhoods! Our youth are actively engaged in growing food, organizing community action, running educational programs, and making critical decisions. They have leadership roles in the day-to-day work and a few also hold positions on our board of directors.

    This year, 27 youth participated in our program, including employment through our citywide partnerships during the summer months.

    This year, 27 youth participated in our program, including employment through our citywide partnerships during the summer months.

  2. Sustain a loving, vibrant community rooted in empowerment. Our garden sites and gatherings are places where people from diverse backgrounds come together to work collaboratively. We value this diversity and the common ground we share in our commitment to food equity and racial justice.

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    We love sharing our garden spaces with community members! Perhaps we’ve found a future GTC youth member?

  3. Celebrate a diverse community coming together to help itself. The vast majority of everything that we do is carried out as a labor of love by many volunteers and just a few paid staff. We are always looking to find sustainable ways to support our work; your donations make an enormous difference.

    Our youth at the farmers market with some of their bounty.

We absolutely love working towards a just and equitable food system in Springfield and we couldn’t do any of it without your support. Thank you!

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Why Give to GTC?

Only two more days until Valley Gives! Here are a few more great reasons to give to GTC:

  1. Address the root causes of hunger, chronic disease, and food insecurity. We believe the root causes of these problems involve economic and racial inequality. In addition to growing food, we engage in undoing racism training, provide opportunities for youth development, and think creatively about generating more steady income streams for ourselves with the food we grow and sell.

    GTC creates a meaningful platform that empowers youth to develop many skills, grow their own food, and build a healthier lifestyle for themselves.

    GTC creates a meaningful platform that empowers youth to develop many skills, grow their own food, and build a healthier lifestyle for themselves.

  2. Fund efforts that address the “big picture” while making concrete, tangible change. This year alone, five neighborhood and school groups started or planned gardens with our technical assistance.

    GTC is evolving, spreading its impact, and sharing its successes.

    GTC is evolving, spreading its impact, and sharing its successes.

  3. Encourage biking and sustainability in Springfield. We transport all of our organic produce to our GTC EATS! customers and the local farmers market by bike.
    This past season alone, we collectively biked a total of 1,600 miles.

    This past season alone, we collectively biked a total of 1,600 miles.

    Keep an eye out for more reasons to support GTC as we get closer to Valley Gives day, 12/12/13!

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Gearing Up for Valley Gives on 12/12/13

Valley Gives day is a 24-hour celebration of generosity. During Valley Gives, western Massachusetts nonprofits collaborate with the goal of getting thousands of Valley residents to support their favorite nonprofits, like Gardening the Community! By participating, donors will help these nonprofits become eligible for special prizes totaling $200,000. Please visit our Valley Gives Campaign page for more information!

You may find yourself asking, why should I give to GTC? We’ve brainstormed a few reasons:

  1. Support healthy living and eating for everyone. In 2013 alone, GTC youth distributed over 3,000 pounds of organic vegetables to Springfield families at affordable prices!

    These are the vegetables people get in our sliding-scale affordable CSA shares. In 2013 alone, GTC youth distributed over 13,000 pounds of organic vegetables to Springfield families at affordable prices!

    This is just a sampling of the vegetables people receive in our sliding-scale CSA shares through GTC EATS!

  2. Provide a great way for teens to serve their community while earning money for themselves. One of our youth said “I like the fact that the program brings together individuals who all work towards a noble goal. The program is very informative and in that sense it has made my life a little different as I now know new facts about agriculture.”

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    Some youth members at the Mason Square Farmer’s Market.

  3. Create a healthy, sustainable oasis in the middle of a “food desert”. Mason Square has no full line grocery store, so residents have very limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables and high rates of diabetes and obesity. There are many empty and contaminated lots and few green spaces. GTC provides both a vision for what is possible, as well as a concrete model of how to scale up and move towards creating a healthier and more equitable Springfield.

    A street view of our garden on Hancock St.

    A street view of our garden on Hancock St.

Keep an eye out for more reasons to support GTC as we get closer to Valley Gives day, 12/12/13!

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Help Develop a Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan for Springfield this Tuesday!

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Thank You from GTC!

There’s nothing like the sweet smell of pancakes and warm syrup on a Saturday morning. Especially if you wake up at dawn to cook enough of them to feed 150 people, like we did on November 2, when Gardening the Community celebrated its annual Harvest Fundraiser and Pancake Breakfast. We were thrilled to find that once we opened up our doors, it wasn’t long before cheerful lines of people began trailing out of them, waiting for hot pancakes.

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Kyle and Tyler cooking up delectable harvest pancakes.

We sliced boxes of fair trade bananas and whisked up a giant bowl of homemade whipped cream. The youth chopped bright orange carrots and diced up our very own sweet potatoes from our gardens in Mason Square to fry up into our special healthy Harvest Pancake. (Check out the recipe below!) Local apples simmered on the stove and strawberries mixed into sauces to add to the bountiful table of pancake toppings. We raffled off fruit baskets, pastries, handmade ceramics and overflowing bins of local vegetables. Kids played with balloons and made cornhusk dolls. And finally, after most people had eaten their fill of pancakes, the youth took the stage to share their stories and gave out awards to honor all of the hard work that went into yet another successful season.

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We’re thrilled to be able to say that this year, we actually sold out of tickets. In fact, so many people wanted to come at the last minute, that unfortunately we even had to turn a few away. People came from many places and had a lot to say about what brought them there. We had curious newcomers who drove in from up and down the highway to learn about our work for the first time. We had a solid showing of our neighbors from the immediate community and our families. We also were glad to have the help of dedicated volunteers from Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges, along with our friends from Live Well Springfield and our dedicated Board members.

As we gear up for the Valley Gives campaign, which is our next big project coming up in mid-December, we’re feeling very grateful. It is that time of year when now that our harvest has come and mostly gone, we want to stop and take stock of all that we have to be thankful for. And once again, we are tremendously grateful for all our supporters.

We see that generosity in the patience that many breakfast-goers showed by staying late to help clean up the kitchen and sweep the floors. We see that generosity in the flood of warm notes that we received after the event, as many wrote simply to tell us how glad they were that they came. We see that generosity in the commitments that people made to chip in and become what we call “sustainers” of our work by making regular contributions, even and especially when those monthly contributions are relatively small.

This is what we mean when we say that we are grateful for much more than just the core financial contributions that helped us get near our fundraising goal. What we set out to do and mean to keep doing is to cultivate community. We think a lot about what this means. It is in our name, and is also woven into every element of our work, both the day-to-day scramble as well as the long-term vision. So here’s to that. Let us continue to work hard to bridge divides between people of all backgrounds so that we can better face the overlapping issues at the center of our mission: food justice, youth empowerment, undoing racism, and building healthier, more equitable communities.

Let us continue to cultivate all of these things together.

Harvest Pancake Recipe:
From the kitchen of Gardening the Community

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted before measuring
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 medium carrot shredded
  • 1 small apple shredded
  • 1/4 cup shredded sweet potato

Preparation:

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk; add to flour mixture, stirring only until smooth. Blend in melted butter, sweet potate,carrot, and apple. If the batter seems too thick to pour, add a little more milk. Cook on a hot, greased griddle, using about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until bubbly, a little dry around the edges, and lightly browned on the bottom; turn and brown the other side. Recipe for pancakes serves 5.

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Harvest Celebration this Saturday!

pancakes

Tickets are selling fast for our Harvest Celebration and Pancake Breakfast this Saturday, November 2!
You won’t want to miss this wonderful event. Click here to register and buy your tickets today!

We hope to see you there!

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