Fairfield Community Center Association: Fairfield Community Center Grows Local Connections Through Gardens and Pizza

2022 Grant Amount: $3,950

The Fairfield Community Center (FCCA), partnering with the Towns of Fairfield and Bakersfield, are growing their ability to create community through education, access, gardening, cooking, and celebration. For over 10 years FCCA has maintained raised garden beds and an outdoor brick oven to bring our communities together around growing, serving and eating local food. The gardens and the oven are on a 5 acre “campus” in East Fairfield adjacent to the Community Center building, 2 playgrounds (preK-5 and 5-12 year old) and basketball court, the little league field, The Meeting House on the Green ( https://www.meetinghouseonthegreen.org/ ), the newly redone Rail Trail and the, to be built this year, a 22’ X 40’ foot, pavilion. This project includes rebuilding FCCA's pizza oven and the raised bed gardens.

FCCA is a community service organization that hosts weekly Community Meals and weekly food shelf plus vacation camps for youth. This project will build on FCCA’s historical commitment to food access and food sovereignty.

FCCA takes pride in our ability to create an environment where a client can come to the food shelf and experience a full "shopping" free of charge that includes local produce from Healthy Roots gleaning, local product purchases thanks to a grant from Vermonters Feeding Vermonters and donations, local whole milk from Monument Farms, local eggs and bread, deli items and sweets from Hannaford's and a locally cooked meal.

All products that are local are labeled with the farm of origin. We frequently have products from River Berry, Sandy Bottom, Cat’s Meow, Stone Hollow, Green Wind Farm, Blue Heron, West Farm, Finn and Roots, plus harvests from our garden on site. By introducing our guests to these farms and the products that they grow we are making a connection between them plus we are introducing our guests to new tastes and sometimes rekindling their memories of foods that they grew up eating (for instance: shell beans!)

The newly framed raised bed gardens will serve as a demonstration garden: with over 25 varieties of vegetables, 10 or more varieties of culinary herbs, and interspersed with annual flowers. One bed will be built to be wheelchair accessible, for individuals who are so disabled. The gardens also give the youth in our programs an opportunity to monitor, care for, and plan garden plantings. This year they decided to dedicate one bed to the Ukrainian people and planted sunflowers and grains (sorghum, wheat, and millet). The gardens are planted with specific community members and clientele in mind. One household, who struggles with lack of sun and too much fresh horse manure, asked if we could plant her favorite vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers) so that she could have them fresh this summer so we did!  And as mentioned, the area dairy farms employ up to 40 Latino migrant workers. FCCA grows and presently delivers to 5 households.

The new pizza oven, with greater capacity and ease of use, will help introduce area folks to products from area farms while celebrating community and raising funds ($300-$400 per night) for FCCA to be able to continue offering the well-received services. A cyclical affair.

The oven is available for use by community members who rent out the center to host events. It acts as a draw for people in the community who don't come to the center otherwise, allowing us to make connections and get to know our neighbors.