June 1, 2020 – Shelton, CT –Valley United Way announced last week a new partnership with Massaro Community Farm of Woodbridge in managing the 13 neighborhood gardens of the Grow Your Own program within the five-town region of Lower Naugatuck Valley.
When Grow Your Own started at Valley United Way over 4 years ago, a few gardeners and garden beds were producing fresh vegetables as the Valley was exploring how to address food insecurity. Now, the garden sites throughout Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour, and Shelton contain over 100 raised beds and have produced over 1,000 pounds of produce for community members and local food pantries.
As Coronavirus has revealed the increased need for food in the community, Valley United Way sought to create a partnership with a local non-profit who could ensure the gardens were managed, and volunteers supported, in order to reach their full potential. Massaro Community Farm, a nonprofit educational farm that has focused on food insecurity for over ten years, was a natural fit.
David Kennedy, Interim President/COO of Valley United Way commented, “It’s a very common practice for United Ways to turn to non-profits in their community with a proven skill set to take on programs after United Way has incubated them. Such an action allows a United Way to better focus on its primary mission and work. In the case of Valley United Way, that means raising money to support our community’s network of exceptional non-profits, all with an eye towards making our community as strong and healthy as it can be.”
Eager to get started, Massaro will provide organic seedlings raised at their farm and will work with community volunteers to fill the garden beds with an assortment of vegetables. Tomatoes, lettuces, peppers, and cucumbers will be part of the collection that is planted in the gardens to help feed communities.
Caty Poole, Executive Director at Massaro, who is also a member of the Food Security Task Force of the Valley Council for Health and Human Services, has seen firsthand the needs of the community in the farm’s work with food pantries. “Now, when demand for hunger relief is at an all-time high, Massaro Community Farm is pleased to manage the Grow Your Own program to help ensure as much food as possible reaches families who need it most,” Ms. Poole noted.
Looking forward to the partnership, Mr. Kennedy said, “Valley United Way is so grateful to Caty Poole and her team at Massaro for being willing to take on the oversight of this project. The Farm’s expertise and experience, will ensure that the Grow Your Own project will have its best season ever this year – and get more fresh food to our communities during these hardest of times.”
Mr. Kennedy was also sure to point out that “the Grow Your Own project would not be possible this growing season without the underwriting of a very generous and long-standing donor of Valley United Way, the Raymond P. Lavietes Foundation. For decades, Mr. Lavietes and the Foundation have been passionate about Valley United Way’s work. We are so grateful to the Foundation’s directors for their support; without them, we could not be doing the work we do.”
A list of the gardens and their locations, can be found at www.valleyunitedway.org/grow-your-own. Anyone who wants to learn about volunteering at the neighborhood gardens, can contact Corey Thomas, Education Director at Massaro Farm: Education@massarofarm.org or call 203-736-8618. All volunteers are required to be in good health, wear masks, and to practice social distancing behaviors while working in any of the gardens.
As a leading philanthropic organization in Lower Naugatuck Valley, Valley United Way improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of the community through philanthropy, volunteerism, and collaboration. For more information about the organization, visit its website at www.valleyunitedway.org or contact David Kennedy, Interim President/COO at 203-538-6341.
Massaro Community Farm is a non-profit, certified organic community farm on 57 acres of land whose mission is to Keep Farming. Feed People. Build Community. In addition to growing vegetables for seasonal subscribers, the farm donates thousands of pounds each year to hunger relief. The farm serves as a hub of learning, using hands-on instruction to educate children, adults and new farmers, and shares its space with the community, providing inspiration and fun. The farm’s nature trail is open to the public 365 days a year. For more information visit their website at www.MassaroFarm.org or contact Caty Poole, Executive Director, at 203-736-8618.