Kristin Brennan, Gardening the Community
2008 Local Hero Awardee
Take 20 kids ages 12–20, add a commitment to organic farming and sustainable living, and put it all on four small plots in Springfield—and you’ve got Gardening the Community, a youth-centered urban garden program founded in 2002 by Northeast Organic Farming Association.
As partners with rural and suburban agriculture, “We see ourselves as a participant in the farming community of Western Massachusetts, by maximizing urban space for food production and building awareness of the value of local food,” says Brennan.
Each year, the program employs teens to produce thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables, selling produce at a neighborhood farm stand and at farmers’ markets, restaurants, and local retailers, as well as distributing food to local senior centers—all on bicycles to minimize the use of fossil fuels. Many of the kids also create gardens in their backyards, involving their parents and further developing food self-sufficiency and a healthy lifestyle.