Several Farmington Valley non-profits, civic groups, corporations and schools have been working together to create an extraordinary project that will provide fresh produce to neighbors in need. The seeds of the project were further sown last spring when Diana Goode, Executive Director of , gave a speech at the Rotary Club of Avon- Canton’s Friday morning meeting. Goode spoke of a joint project between The Community Farms of Simsbury and Gifts of Love.
The intent was intriguing; utilize the skills and knowledge of Avon's third grade class (who had been studying raised bed gardens along with the second graders learning about plant life cycles) and the members of the Avon senior community to care for intergenerational raised garden beds. Combined, the children and the seniors would care for the vegetable gardens during the growing season and the harvests would go to the pantry at Gifts of Love.
Rotarian Ted Cowles sat in the audience that morning, listening quietly to the request for funding. Ted has a reputation as “the industrious Rotary builder;” his last club project encompassed building an addition at the Roaring Brook Nature Center. Ted has spearheaded several other building projects for the Rotary including two separate shelters for the Farmington River trail, one in Canton and the other in Avon.
Ted approached the Rotary Board members with an appeal to fund and construct the gardens. During that time, he also spoke to Miner’s Inc. of Canton, who generously donated the lumber at a greatly reduced price and Flamig Farms, of Simsbury, donated compost.
After receiving funding approval from Rotary, Ted redesigned four garden beds that are 15 inches high, 4 feet and 8 feet long. Two beds were raised for wheelchair access. Ted and several Rotarian’s built the beds in his Canton barn and labeled all the wood to be reassembled by Rotary members and other volunteers, from Pine Grove School and Gifts of Love, at the .
In addition to providing the $3,700 grant money that Goode requested, Rotary also paid for approximately $1,800-worth of lumber and supplies. Volunteers from five independent organizations and many generations of Avon residents successfully came together to create a sustainable project. All the produce from this project will go to the Gifts of Love food pantry.
Congratulations to those who contributed to the vision, execution and ongoing maintenance of the Intergenerational Raised Garden Beds at the Avon Senior Center.