After the second full season of CGC, we hosted our first ever end-of-season celebration…Harvest Fest!
Held at the Keene Rec Center, all 6 of the sites taking part in CGC came together to represent both their successes and challenges from this past year. We heard stories of great pumpkins, of failed crops, and of delicious recipes. And above all, we heard stories of great joy of working with the dirt and harvesting great food.
To celebrate this joy and learning, each site brought pictures and yummy treats (such as homemade carrot cookies and salsa!). To encourage personal education, we created a passport of sorts to prompt our room-full of people to practice what we preach, to connect with one another. Each site brought at least one representative to share while most brought many of its site’s participants. The room was filled with kids of all ages ranging to older adults.
One way we decided to commemorate this event was to have everyone involved create a quilt-like tapestries. Now, it isn’t as difficult as you may think. Rather, it was a bit of a fun mess. With 6 equal-sized pieces of fabric laid out on 6 tables, participants were encouraged to paint pre-made stamps to then stamp onto the fabric. Staying true to our philosophy, participants were encouraged contribute to all quilts, therefore creating a project by everyone, for everyone. After each was completed and dried, each of the quilts was then delivered to the CGC sites to have as a token of congratulations for a season well done!
While each site was indeed sharing their stories from this past season, we would be remiss as the CGC staff to not recognize everyone’s efforts from this year. Handing out well-earned certificates of achievement to each site, we were also excited to share gift-bags filled with: recipes, a new garden gnome, garden tips-book, and more fun, encouraging finds!
For us CGC coordinators, while this was a great opportunity to introduce our newest CGC coordinators to our mission and to the sites we work with, it was also a beautiful treat for those of us who have been invested in this fairly new project from the beginning. With all of the hard work dreaming, designing, building, educating, worrying, and dreaming some more, what an affirming way to recognize that this program is indeed a fabulous thing to invest in and to continue. Community members are connecting in ways that they would never have previously. People of all ages and sizes are eating more healthy food and more importantly, learning how to raise that healthy food on their own. Those same people are also learning about personal health, environmental health, and community health.
Like with anything new, we were able to learn what worked and what didn’t work for this year’s Harvest Fest. Maybe more activities, maybe a different time, maybe more people, etc.
But one thing we did walk away with from this inaugural celebration: Community Garden Connections works. And if a Harvest Fest at the end of the season isn’t exactly perfect, it makes no difference. Because the fact that CGC continues and is in fact growing is a celebration all in itself.