CVOEO: Annual Garden Day

Grant Amount: $600

The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) addresses fundamental issues of economic, social, and racial justice and works with people to achieve economic independence.

We bridge gaps and build futures. That is, we provide individuals and families with the basic needs of food, fuel and housing support in times of crisis, and we help them acquire the necessary education, financial skills and assets to build a stable future in which they thrive.

Chittenden Community Action is a program of CVOEO; CCA works with individuals and families to help them meet their basic needs, including housing, food, home heating fuel and utility assistance. We also provide free income tax preparation services under the VITA program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), and offer general advocacy, information, and referral services.

On May 24th, 2019 the CVOEO Annual Garden Day celebrated its 30th year of providing free seeds, seedlings, and compost to lower-income families interested in growing their own produce. This project is a 3Squares VT outreach event, organized by Chittenden Community Action and hosted by Feeding Chittenden (the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf). Garden Day usually takes place on the 3rd or 4th Friday in May. This is a wonderful event that serves approximately 120 households each year.

The vegetable and flower seeds are donated by High Mowing Organic Seeds, American Meadows, and the Intervale Community Farm. The seedlings are grown and donated by the Intervale Community Farm and the Essex Westford School District. Three yards of the compost we distribute is donated by Green Mountain Compost (GMC); the remaining compost is purchased from GMC. Volunteers to staff the event come from the local community and from the Essex Westford School District; our most reliable volunteers are former EWSD students who enjoy the event so much, they keep coming back despite having already graduated!

The CVOEO Garden Day is a 3Squares VT outreach event; individuals are screened for participation in the 3SquaresVT program and materials promoting 3SquaresVT, Crop Cash, and the Farmers Market Coupon program are available for anyone who is interested. The VT Community Garden Network has representatives on hand to distribute seeds and answer gardening questions, providing value information for home gardeners to improve their gardening skills.

Overall, this project helps strengthen the local food system by providing information and resources for families to improve their gardening skills, grow their own produce, and save money on grocery costs.