At the June 27th CT Community Gardening Association’s Annual Meeting held at Knox in Hartford, I got my first taste of callaloo. Actually, it was not the Jamaican dish known as callaloo which according to Charmaine Craig, President of CCGA and Program Manager for Knox, typically contains a salt fish and other seasonings. It seems that callaloo recipes, which are especially popular in the Caribbean, vary by availability of greens and by country. The callaloo that I tried tonight was a member of the Amaranth family, sautéed and mixed with salsa and quite delicious, tasting quite similar to spinach. We also sampled radish and broccoli flowers, radish pods, homemade salsa verde, and a most wonderful coleslaw made with locally grown Chinese cabbage. Anyone interested in community gardening is invited to our annual meetings – just bring a dish, your appetite and enthusiasm! Or, become a member and find out what we are doing on a monthly basis.

The Connecticut Community Gardening Association has been around since 2001. With funding and support from Federal, State and Local sources, the first Connecticut Community Gardening Conference was held in September of 2001. Michael Keilty, of the University of Connecticut, spearheaded efforts to organize this first conference and several others. In 2006, CCGA developed bylaws and filed for 501(c)3 status which was granted.

CCGA Board Members and Friends

CCGA Board Members and Friends

Since then, our mission has been to support community gardens in Connecticut by disseminating information, building communities, and assisting in claiming land for environmentally friendly uses. We have been compiling a list of community gardens in CT so that when a perspective community gardener calls or emails, we can direct them to local resources. If you are a community gardener in CT, feel free to contact us at the CCGA website.

Despite the evening’s short but intense deluge, the gardens at Knox were enticing. Refreshed by the rain after the heat of the day, plants were just bursting forth with new leaves, new harvests and new possibilities. Knox serves a number of social, economic and entrepreneurial causes. Gardeners, from all over the world, now living in Hartford, can grow their own food plants in community gardening plots and sell the excess at Farmer’s Markets or other venues.

Knox has over 200 families that garden at 14 sites throughout the city! Plots at these community gardens are moderately priced and include water privileges. The Laurel Street location does offer some rental greenhouse space in spring for those interested in starting their own seeds or cuttings.

Community Garden at Knox Parks in Hartford

Knox offers other community beautification services aside from community gardens. Those lovely planters filled with coleus, petunias, and other tolerant plants are being relocated throughout much of the city of Hartford. Trees are being planted throughout the city. According to a new USDA Forest Service study, ‘urban trees and forests are saving an average of one life every year per city.” http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/news/release/urban-trees-clean-air

Containers for Downtown Hartford

Containers for Downtown Hartford

Community Gardens Rule!
Dawn