Grow-A-Garden Initiative, SFPC

The 40 Acres Food Project is a new initiative launched by the Springfield Food Policy Council . We believe that everyone who wants to eat fresh, locally grown food should have the support that they need to do so.

This time of COVID-19 is showing us even more clearly the need for community resilience through strong local food systems - systems that make fresh, nourishing food available for everyone. 

40 Acres Food Project is working to address the immediate food needs of COVID-19, to support households who are excited to grow their own gardens, to address racism in our food system, and to build the long-term local food justice movement in Springfield.

We do this through the following projects:

Across the country there has been an up-swelling of excitement around starting backyard gardens. But even the infrastructure for a small garden - lumber, healthy soil, and plants - costs money, making it inaccessible to too many people. Our Grow-a-Garden initiative is installing no-cost gardens in very-low, low and moderate-income households across the city. So far this spring we have installed 50 gardens. We provide a 4’ x 8’ raised bed (or smaller beds or grow bags depending on the space available) filled with soil and the seedlings and seeds to get started. For elders or anyone with different mobility needs, we are building waist-high beds on legs. We will be following up with families and providing ongoing support throughout the year - checking in to see how plants are growing, trellising tomatoes, sharing harvesting tips and recipes, and offering how-to videos or cooking classes. We are hoping to continue installing gardens in future years and are also working to set up a system to continue sharing resources with families - a hub for distributing compost, seeds and seedlings, as well as further workshops and information-sharing. We estimate our costs for labor and supplies to be at about $500 per garden.

We are also growing vegetables on two city lots and in five multi-bed school gardens. The food from the city lots will be sold affordably at city farm stands. Food from the school gardens will either be used in school programming (if schools resume in the fall) or distributed to families in the neighborhood.

We are spreading the word about the fresh food resources that already exist in our city. We introduce families to the Walnut St. farmstand run by Gardening the Community (GTC) where they are able to buy vegetables with their state-funded Healthy Incentive Program (HIP) benefits. Many families don’t know they are eligible for this benefit, or where to use it to purchase local food. By sharing vouchers to the farmstand we connect people with a long-term source for fresh produce and also support GTC’s ongoing food justice and youth empowerment work.

In a partnership with the organization World Farmers we are helping provide 300 Springfield families with a weekly CSA style box of fresh produce grown by refugee and immigrant farmers in Lancaster, MA. These produce boxes are currently being distributed at local schools alongside their COVID-19 meal pick-ups.

In addition to workshops and information sharing about growing and cooking we plan to develop curriculum and host workshops and community conversations about food systems and food policy.

Thank you for your supporting this work to build a healthy and just food system in Springfield!


*40 Acres Food Project is an initiative of the Springfield Food Policy Council which is chaired by healthy food and racial justice advocate Liz O’Gílvie and is led by a Steering Committee of Springfield residents of color.

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Organizer

Tory Field 
Organizer
Goshen, MA
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