The idea of building a garden at Ossipee Concerned Citizens (OCC) is nothing new, but not until now has the funding, leadership, and partners aligned to make this project a reality. Global Awareness Local Action (GALA) has been awarded a Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation Community Garden Grant to build a garden at OCC that will provide fresh produce for Senior Meals, Meals on Wheels, and Ossipee Crossings Child Care meals and snacks. The design, installation, maintenance, and educational components of the garden will be a collaborative effort between GALA, OCC, UNH Cooperative Extension, and School’s Out Program. The groups are looking for volunteers to help with the installation on Friday, June 5th from 3pm-6pm. Pictured above Olivia Saunders from the UNH Cooperative Extension takes a soil sample from teh future garden site that will be sent for testing.
Ossipee Concerned Citizens is a multi-purpose, intergenerational, human service agency and referral center. The Center provides meals in many different capacities including approximately 50 meals per day for Senior Meals, 25 meals per day for the Child Care center, and 125 meals per day for the Meals on Wheels Program. Overall OCC serves approximately 600 seniors and 30 children and teenagers each year. The kitchen staff does their best to provide wholesome nutritious meals, but all agree that incorporating more fresh produce will go a long way in improving the quality of prepared meals.
GALA. is well known in the Carroll County and Lakes Region for their Sustain-A-Raiser program that has resulted in many successful garden projects at private homes as well as several schools and food pantries including Agape Ministries Food Pantry, Freedom Elementary School, and the Girl Scout’s Garden in downtown Wolfeboro. “The program looks a lot like Habitat for Humanity,” says Director Josh Arnold, “But instead of building homes, we are installing gardens, compost bins, rain barrels, and cold frames. I like to think of it as cultivating food and community.” Part of GALA’s mission is to make fresh, wholesome food accessible to everyone – regardless of financial means. “On the one hand it is crucial that the price of local produce grown by our small and medium farms in the region reflects the real costs it takes to cultivate, which is a lot more than the misleading subsidized price of most of the mega-farm produce we see in the supermarkets, often at the expense of the farmers who have harvested that produce.” Josh reflects. “And at the same time it is equally important that everyone, despite financial means, has access to local, fresh, nutrient-rich foods. These are not mutually exclusive goals, but we will need to be creative to meet them both.” GALA will administer grant funds, oversee the community collaboration, and organize and execute the garden installation project.
Joy Gagnon, UNH Cooperative Extension’s Program Associate for the Youth & Family Nutrition Connections will offer educational workshops for OCC kitchen staff and families about some of tricks of the trade in using fresh garden produce to prepare meals, a skill that is no longer intuitive for many people believe it or not. The UNH Cooperative Extension’s Field Specialist for Food & Agriculture, Olivia, Saunders, will help with soil analysis, garden layout, and plant variety selections.
Once the garden is established OCC and School’s Out will be seeking volunteers to help with regular garden maintenance including weeding, watering, and harvesting. If you are interested in helping out at either the garden installation day on Friday, June 5th from 3pm-6pm, or the ongoing garden maintenance, please contact Josh Arnold at 603-539-6460 or firstname.lastname@example.org .