As the state coordinator for the UConn Master Gardener Program, I am frequently asked to describe the characteristics of a Master Gardener, who are they, what age group, what background, what makes a good candidate?  I smile as I consider the incredibly diverse, talented, population of hard-working dedicated Certified UConn Master Gardeners. The answer is Master Gardeners are wide-ranging in profession, background, education and age; one year we had a class where a nineteen year old sat with an eighty-nine year old.  The essential characteristics of a successful candidate include interests in horticulture, nature and the environment plus the desire to participate in community outreach to share knowledge, interests and skills.

We are fortunate to have hundreds of dedicated Certified Master Gardeners actively participating in community outreach in Connecticut. They all are a huge asset to their communities and Susan Pronovost is one of them.

Susan Pronovost

Fulton Farm, Waterbury CT

On a beautiful day in early July, I visited with Susan Pronovost a dedicated and extremely productive Certified UConn Master Gardener.  Susan is the Executive Director of Brass City Harvest an urban agriculture and sustainable food system in Waterbury Connecticut.  We met in Fulton Park, a seventy-acre park that is the largest of the city’s major parks.   Susan and her volunteers have created an expansive urban vegetable garden in the park called Fulton Farm.  Produce form the farm goes to local food kitchens.  On Saturdays is open as a market where produce is cut to order.

Raised Beds Fulton Farm

The program recently applied for and received a generous grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation for a unique homeless outreach and employment program that engages homeless-at-risk clients allowing them to work at Fulton farm and other city beautification projects. In return for their work, clients receive a small stipend that they use to meet their rental obligations.

Rick Povilaitis

I was also fortunate to meet Brass City Harvest’s Clinical Social Worker Rick Povilaitis who works closely with these clients.  His passion for this work was acknowledged in early June when he was awarded a 2010 Supportive Housing Services Award from the Reaching Home Campaign, which works to end long-term homeless in Connecticut. The Reaching Home Campaign is staffed by the Partnership for Strong Communities and funded by the Melville Charitable Trust.

A few blocks away form Fulton Park is another of Susan’s projects Crownbrook Greenhouse and Children’s Community Garden.  In early July, the greenhouse was just a frame and excavation of the site was still underway.  On July 14, the Crownbrook Garden complex was opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony. A multi-faceted vocational education youth program featuring horticultural and aquaponics is underway.  In addition, the garden will also serve as a learning center for the younger Crownbrook neighborhood children and their families.

Crownbrook Community Garden in construction

Crownbrook Community Garden Site

Congratulation to Susan, Rick and all of the dedicated volunteers of Brass City Harvest.

Susan is looking for Master Gardeners to assist with projects in the greenhouse and the aquaponics program.

For more information contact:

Brass City Harvest

P.O. Box 11115

65 Bank Street

Waterbury, CT 06703

Phone: 203-509-4058

Fax: 203-755-0768

E-mail: susan.pronovost@snet.net or resourcerick@yahoo.com

Leslie Alexander