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"We Are All Farmers Now": FRESH New London during COVID-19

Alicia McAvay and Chloe Murphy unloading soil for a new backyard raised bed garden.

Once the pandemic hit New London, FRESH’s mantra became “We Are All Farmers Now.” We put many of our projects on hold to try to combat the increasing food insecurity issues, compounded by the pandemic and economic instability. A lot of our procedures had to change and we shifted our focus. A part of our response was to activate Edible

Sean O’Brien at the Connecticut College greenhouse where we were able to host many of our seedlings that were distributed to the community.

New London, our vision of food growing across the city, in new ways. In the spring, we planted out a round of spring crops in all FRESH gardens, to be ready in 4-5 weeks, and encouraged others to do the same. We began building backyard and container gardens for New London families as well as distributing food to the community. We changed our farmer’s market style CSA into pre-packaged boxes. Many community events became virtual, like our online seed bomb workshop. This work with the New London community continues into October 2020 as we all learn how to share resources and support each other. As urban farmers, our essential personnel know that people need food! And that the normal ways that we get food– going to the grocery store, receiving donated food from the Food Bank, eating at the soup kitchen– are all complicated, dangerous and over-stretched at this point. The many programs, plans and hopes for our ambitious 2020 growing season are all under way, but require constant revision and reevaluation as we learn more about how to keep ourselves and others safe. Here are a few pictures that shed light on this area of work.

Our new signs are located at all of our community gardens as reminders to continue social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands and wear gloves when touching communal spaces.
Sharmaine “Sharms” Gregor unloading soil for a new backyard raised bed garden.

The 2020 plant sale was very different. Usually over 100 families gather in the garden, celebrate the growing season and catch up after a winter inside. This year, we asked people to pre-order their plants. We packed them up for them and ran a curbside delivery. People got plants, we missed connecting with one another.
Frida Berrigan and Alicia McAvay prepare the community gardens to open with new Covid-19 safety protocols in place.

Chloe Murphy celebrates a great day of gardening at our Cottage St plot.
"Gardening is healing and human interaction.... even if we are wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart." Julie Garay gardens with Jen Farraher at McDonald Park.

Britannia Shirley works on the Mercer St garden harvesting peas during our summer program.
Sean O’Brien, Julie Garay and Chloe Murphy pose with our new CSA boxes.

Our summer youth program meets outside, socially distanced with masks, a much different approach than previous programs.

Submitted by Fresh New London on Oct 15, 2020

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