Now in our second year, Current Garden Sites (CGC) is fortunate to have established gardens and partnerships at 6 different locations around Keene. New collaborations in 2012 include the Woodward Home, a partnership between the Keene Family YMCA and Monadnock Family Services’ Kids InSHAPE Program, Keene Housing Authority’s Building Bridges Clubhouse Youth Program, and the Keene Senior Center. Thanks to all of the organizations and community members interested in and developing delicious gardens throughout Keene!
The following is a brief description of each project site and the partner’s involved. Please contact us if you have questions about how to get involved.
Harper Acres, a Keene Housing Authority apartment complex, has a lovely natural location along the Ashuelot River and next to the bike path in Ashuelot River Park. The residents and staff were delighted to be selected by Antioch University New England (AUNE) for the first round of their community garden project. Although there had once been a garden at Harper Acres, there hasn’t been one in recent years. In 2011, CGC worked with residents of Harper Acres to build 7 raised bed gardens. This year, the gardeners were able to expand to a total of 10 raised beds which are used in a variety of ways. Some are for individuals to care for and use and some are community beds for residents to share. The participation at the Harper Acres gardens has really increased as more and more residents become a part of the project. There are flowers and some beautiful landscape projects underway in addition to the bountiful vegetable gardens!
Keene Recreation Center in partnership with Early Sprouts and the Monadnock Area Peer Support Agency
The Keene Recreation Center is a community facility in the North Central neighborhood of Keene. The gardens will be used as an integral component of the Keene Recreation Center’s two after-school programs. The Center’s programs currently serve approximately 120 elementary age children. The Keene Parks and Recreation Center also serves as a training center for other after-school programs in New Hampshire making it an ideal location to serve as a prototype for garden-based initiatives at other area after-school programs. In 2011, 6 raised bed gardens were built, 4 of which are planted, cared for, and harvested largely by the kids in the after-school program. The vegetables of the Early Sprouts curriculum are cooked by the students for snacks as part of the after school programming at the Rec. Center.
New for 2012 is a partnership with Monadnock Area Peer Support Agency. MPS is using the two remaining beds at the Rec. Center for interested members. So far, there are about 10 members of MPS that will be gardening and harvesting the vegetables they grow. The produce will be shared between the gardeners and some will be used in weekly community meals at the MPS office!
The Woodward Home
The Woodward Home is located on Court Street in downtown Keene and 6 garden beds were built here as one of our new sites for 2012. The Woodward chef assisted in seed selection, ensuring that the fresh produce will be incorporated directly into meals. The garden is located in a courtyard behind the building, which not only provides fresh produce and herbs for the chef to use in meals, but also serves as a community gathering place. The location provides convenient access for residents to enjoy the outdoors, the peace of the garden, the company of friends, and the full sensory experience of participating in gardening. Stop by the Woodward to join in the fun!
Keene Family YMCA and Monadnock Family Services Kids In-Shape Program
Another new garden site for 2012 is at the Keene Family YMCA. CGC helped to build 6 garden beds for Monadnock Family Services, the YMCA child care center, and the YMCA membership and young adult programs to share. The YMCA Child Care center has partnered with Early Sprouts to receive training on how to incorporate the gardens into their after school programs. MFS is also using the gardens as part of their programming and several members have already helped with the project to date. The produce will be shared between gardeners and the gardens are providing an opportunity for members of the Kids In-Shape program to get outside and to eat some healthy produce from the gardens. Finally, the YMCA membership and young adult programs are using two of the garden beds here. Through the collaboration of these different groups there are a lot of kids who will have their hands in the soil at the YMCA in the coming years!
Keene Housing Authority Building Bridges Clubhouse Program
The Building Bridges program is an after-school program for residents of the Keene Housing Authority neighborhood on Harmony Lane in Keene. The program director and the kids came up with the idea of creating a pizza garden that will provide snacks for everyone! They are also incorporating elements of the Early Sprouts gardening program in additional garden beds. Children of the aftercare “Clubhouse” have helped plan the garden, plant seedlings, fill the beds with soil, weed, harvest, and cook! The garden has become a part of their everyday curriculum. Fresh food from the gardens that aren’t used for snacks will be distributed to children to take home to their families.
Keene Senior Center
The Keene Senior Center on Court Street in Keene has had gardens in place for years, but with CGC’s help, the Senior Center now boasts raised terrace gardens that provide easier access for seniors to garden. There is some excellent garden knowledge at the Senior Center which will undoubtedly help in the successful implementation of the garden produce. Some of the food grown will be used directly at the Senior Center and some will be donated to The Community Kitchen. The Senior Center is also working to establish partnerships with area schools to foster intergenerational collaborations!