The national YMCA’s Togetherhood program “connects people from all backgrounds to plan and carry out volunteer projects that address a real need in their community.”
That may sound like some high-minded verbiage from a press release, but the Cheshire branch of the Southington/Cheshire Community YMCA is making it real by growing vegetables and flowers this year at Boulder Knoll Community Farm in Cheshire.
“We’re partnering with other community groups to really help drive our mission of education … as well as providing people with organically grown vegetables,” said Friends of Boulder Knoll President Fellis Jordan.
The produce grown will be donated to area food pantries, such as the Cheshire Community Food Pantry and Master’s Manna in Wallingford, and the people growing it will learn about sustainable farming and teamwork.
Young people participating in the program this year — growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans, squash and herbs — will “see where their food comes from,” said Chrissy Cassesse, executive director of the Cheshire branch.
And that means work. Volunteers have already signed up to ensure that weeds are pulled, crops are watered, and other tasks are handled, and Cassesse said more volunteers are welcome.
St. Peter’s Church, as well as some families that previously participated in the Boulder Knoll CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, also have gardening plots. Gary Richards, executive director of the Cheshire West Community Butterfly Gardens, is growing a butterfly garden near one of the farm’s entrances.
This program seems to embody a number of the key values and concerns of the YMCA: Caring for others, for their needs and well-being; healthy living; nurturing the potential of every child and teen; and social responsibility.
We could all learn something from this model of good citizenship.