Two years ago Leslie Alexander, state coordinator of the UConn Master Gardener Program and I visited Susan Pronovost at Brass City Harvest in Waterbury. Susan, a Certified UConn Master Gardener, is executive Director of BCH, an urban agriculture program which has grown to encompass many community garden plots, an urban farm in the city’s Fulton Park, food kitchens and several Farmer’s Markets. At the time a greenhouse was nearing completion in the Crownbrook neighborhood, sharing the site with community garden beds and a children’s garden.
Now a second Brass City Harvest site is almost ready for occupancy in the city’s South End. Built on a reclaimed brownfield, there is a modern greenhouse, a hoop house and raised garden beds for community gardeners. This facility will contain a kitchen and bathroom in order to serve as a year round growing space, classroom and community meeting site. Local residents will be invited to cooking demonstrations, then receive groceries to prepare at home. Multi-generational family activities are planned.
As in the Crownbrook greenhouse there are two 400 gallon fish tanks where trout and sunfish will be raised. These tanks also support rafts of hydroponically grown lettuces.
The fish will be sold at Waterbury Farmer’s Markets in addition to supplementing soup kitchen offerings. Local restaurants are interested in adding BCH-grown vegetables and fish to their farm-to-table offerings.
Brass City Harvest recently signed an agreement to open a year-round Farmer’s Marketa at 19 Field Street, in the center of Waterbury. Planned to open in early November, this market will feature CT Grown produce, fish, baked goods and more. Prepared entrees will be available allowing downtown workers to shop the Farmer’s Market after work and take a quick, healthy dinner home. BCH is also been selected by the Wholesome Wave Foundation to become part of the Double Value Farmer’s Market Coupon Program for 2012. This enables those using EBT, WIC and Senior Nutrition Farmer’s Market Coupons to double the face value, up to $12 per visit per person or household.
Susan is assisted at BCH by Rick Povilaitis, a Clinical Social Worker who brings services to the homeless, including a number of military veterans. Rick is able to provide them with nutritious meals, housing and useful work through the Reaching Home Campaign.
Volunteers from UConn Waterbury, Naugatuck Valley Community College, and other community organizations enable Susan and Rick to accomplish all this. In April, 2012, the situation looked dire when a fire at an abandoned factory across narrow Mill Street threatened the newly erected hoop house and greenhouse as well as neighbors’ homes. Fortunately, no one was harmed and work on the greenhouse continued as Susan, Rick and several of the veterans tended street side beautification projects in addition to their other projects.
UConn Master Gardeners and others are encouraged to assist with the ongoing, and growing, projects of Brass City Harvest. For more information contact:
Brass City Harvest
73 Hill Street
Waterbury, CT 06703
Or find BCH on Facebook or brasscityharvestwtby.org.
New Haven County Coordinator, UConn Master Gardener Program