CVOEO: Annual Garden Day
The funding provided by the Co-op helped us ensure that there was appropriate PPE on site for the volunteers and covered the rental costs of a port-a-potty for the day. The Co-op also helped us recruit additional volunteers; the seeds and seedlings we distributed were donated.
Garden Day was held on May 29th, 2020; due to COVID, we took all reasonable precautions to protect our volunteers and the people we were serving; limited physical interaction, wearing masks, etc. We provided seeds and seedlings to 165 households, down only slightly from our normal volume served, and quite a good turnout given the concerns about COVID and the change in normal location.
Our annual Garden Day is a way of supporting and encouraging people to grow their own fruits and vegetables, and thereby stretch a limited grocery budget; we provide information on 3SquaresVT benefits and the Crop Cash program, and Community Action staff set up follow up appointments to help people who are interested apply for the 3SquaresVT program. In 2020, we also advertised the availability of mass food distributions that were being held during this past summer.
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.