In 2014, we launched our community garden program, Partner to Grow with the goal for our YMCA community to work together and provide fresh produce to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries. During our first season we learned how to create garden bed plans, “the pick and squish” management of pests, harvesting techniques, and with the help of many volunteers and stakeholders from the community at large, proudly delivered more than 2000 pounds to the food pantry from our 18 garden beds. Due to that success, in 2015 we increased our garden to 30 beds and by 2016 we were harvesting over 3,000 pounds of produce out of our “front yard”.
Volunteers come from our local community and include YMCA members and non-members. We have volunteer groups from businesses, from school programs, from organizations, from programs that support individuals with disabilities, scouting troops, and more. We have workdays scheduled throughout the spring and summer and our harvesting occurs every Monday from 4 pm to 6 pm from July to October. We harvest specifically on Mondays so that the produce can be delivered ‘fresh from the garden’ to pantry guests at St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church in Westbrook every Tuesday afternoon. The Westbrook pantry now has over 200 families each week depending on the resources provided and what can be better than the freshest and healthiest vegetables around!
We cannot have a community garden without a community. Below are ways you can help.
Join our organizing committee. Help on a workday. Assist Monday afternoons with harvesting. Or come help weed at any time if you have an hour to spare. Does not need to be a large time commitment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to be on our garden-only email list.
Gather a group of volunteers from your work, friends, neighborhood, faith-based group, or social network to plan a ‘workday with friends’ in the garden.
All of the costs of operating the garden come from our local community through sponsorship and donations and not the YMCA membership dues. Garden Bed Sponsors are named for donations of $250 or more. Smaller donations are most welcome and can be made by donating online or at the YMCA.
Debbie Quinn at 860-399-9622 x109 or email at email@example.com with any questions.