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Real Food CT Stretching Grow Season, Expanding Yield With HUGE New Greenhouse



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As a mourning cloak butterfly fluttered about harkening the arrival of spring inside Real Food CT’s newly constructed and huge new greenhouse, long-time wingman Dave Hazen moved around the otherwise quiet space watering the spinach, lettuce, and other early plantings barely poking bright green leaves above the raised rows’ surfaces.

Running the full length of the new structure, each row of vegetables will yield a bounty that will help a local family facing food insecurity better balance nutritional meal options.

Real Food CT (formerly Real Food Share), Newtown’s home grown nonprofit working to end food insecurity and fortify the shelves of FAITH Food Pantry and other regional distribution networks, has started its fifth growing season. And there is exciting news to share besides the completion of its new grant-funded 70- by 30-foot greenhouse.

The completion of this new facility — that dwarfs its adjacent predecessor — will help extend the organization’s season, allowing volunteers to grow and donate even more food to the food pantries they serve.

Another major step in Real Food CT’s growth is the recruiting of four new Board members who are “all passionate about building a sustainable and equitable food source and ensuring that everyone in our state has access to healthy food,” according to organization founder Sean Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrich said he and his existing team are happy to welcome: Keric Kenny, owner/operator of Butternut Farm; Kim Roberts, LMFT private practice; Chip Parrish, founder/realtor, Shelter Real Estate Team; and Rory O’Kane, managing director of equities, Bank of America.

“The new Board members will help guide the next phase of organizational development, and deepen their community engagement in programs that have donated over 30,000 pounds of produce in each of the last two years,” Fitzpatrick related in a release.

Real Food CT recently formed five new committees and is seeking community members to participate supporting: Programs and Events; Community Engagement; Fundraising; Grants; and a committee charged with expanding the organization’s “Small Farm Model.”

The nonprofit hopes to expand the committees to help drive some new program ideas, educational opportunities, family events, and ultimately donate more fresh food to hunger relief in Newtown and the region.

“With families continuing to struggle in Newtown, and many more in neighboring cities like Danbury and Bridgeport, we are seeking caring and action-oriented community members to join us in our mission to get healthy food to people in need,” Fitzpatrick related.

He said Real Food CT has three primary programs contributing to a steady supply of locally grown produce getting delivered to 12 area food pantries.

First, they run two Giving Gardens in Newtown at Sticks and Stones Farm and at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.

Second, they run a Surplus Pickup program in which a network of 12 local farms and markets donate surplus vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.

Third, they run a Young Farmer Internship program to train high school and college students in the fundamentals of gardening and food system awareness.

The Newtown Bee’s visit to the new greenhouse came on the eve of Connecticut Ag Day at the State Capitol in Hartford.

During that evet, Governor Ned Lamont and Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt announced that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, nearly $5 million in funds has been distributed in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to support emergency feeding programs, address food insecurity through the procurement of Connecticut Grown foods, and support programming that enables residents of all ages to have equitable access to locally grown foods.

Reach out to Fitzpatrick at sean@realfoodct.org if you would like to join one of the Real Food CT committees and contribute to this engaged team serving their community. Learn more by clicking HERE.


Editor John Voket can be reached at john@thebee.com.

Real Food CT’s long-time supporter and project manager Dave Haze waters a row of lettuce barely peeking their first green leaves above the soil in the local nonprofit’s brand new greenhouse, which will help the organization extend and expand its efforts to meet the needs of local families and children facing food insecurity.—Bee Photo, Voketx
Real Food CT kicked off its fifth growing season in the local nonprofit’s brand new 30’ x 70’ greenhouse, that dwarfs its predecessor at the local nonprofit’s main farm location on Huntingtown Road. —Bee Photos, Voket
A mourning cloak butterfly came visiting, a sure sign of spring and hopefully bringing good luck as Real Food CT kicked off its fifth growing season.
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