Windham Community Food Network:  Projects Piloted Last Summer

THE “COMMUNITY FOOD SHARE” PROJECT:  Provides monthly “shares” of local produce to families identified through a “produce prescription” program.  Participating agencies (to identify recipients) are WAIM, the Generations Family Health Center, Covenant Soup Kitchen, and the Willimantic Housing Authority.  We recently submitted a grant to the Aetna Foundation to develop this project over the next two years.  SUPPORT NEEDED:  volunteers at the WAIM Community Garden/GROW Windham Youth Garden (to help grow food for the shares)

“GOOD FOOD” WORKSHOPS:  Hosted at WAIM, the Farmers’ Market, Generations, Covenant Soup Kitchen, and Willimantic Housing Authority Senior Housing, will include cooking instruction, nutrition education, tastings, and recipes to support consumption of local produce as it is in season.  SUPPORT NEEDED: recipes/community cookbook assistance, support with instruction, fundraising/donations for ingredients and materials.

PLANT-A-ROW:  Provides seeds and seedlings to individual gardeners, who commit to growing them to donate to the community.  SUPPORT NEEDED:  assistance with promotion at community events and through your networks.

FOOD PRODUCTION:  GROW YOUR OWN, which provides container vegetable gardens to residents in low-income neighborhoods to grow their own produce.  This group is scheduled to deliver plants, accompanied by a growing workshop, at the Village Heights Complex during the first two weeks of June.  SUPPORT NEEDED: assistance with securing donations, coordinating the event.

“HEALTHY WINDHAM COALITION”, a community initiative that engages the community to define health priorities and then take a pledge (individuals, businesses, institutions) to support healthy eating and active living.  This project includes a “Healthy Bodegas” campaign, to enlist corner stores to provide and promote more healthy offerings.  SUPPORT NEEDED:  logo/flyer design, tabling assistance, launch event planning, participant recruitment.

COMMUNICATION:  NETWORK NEWS, will promote all Network activities and events through local media, and Network newsletters.  The group is currently promoting the Plant-a-Row project on the radio and will coordinate with the Healthy Windham Coalition to promote their activities.  SUPPORT NEEDED:  assistance creating a Windham Outreach Guide, with info about how to get the word out via local media, events, tabling and networking opportunities.

FARMER SUPPORT:  Based on interviews from a range of local farmers, two projects are beginning to emerge:  one, to integrate farmers and local merchants; two, to support farmers with distribution and marketing.  SUPPORT NEEDED:  Join the working group to help brainstorm these ideas, in order to pilot them by the end of the growing season.

COMMUNITY BIKE SHARE (The Frog Hop):  Will pilot this season with a few bikes, to assess need for a larger project.  SUPPORT NEEDED:  used bicycles (ideally stable 3-5 speed – nothing fancy!); bike baskets or back rack.