April 28th, 2017
Volunteers got to work quickly Friday on the city’s Community Teaching Farm, turning unused land into a nutrient-rich garden bed.
A few dozen people worked together at the site, wielding rakes, shovels and wheelbarrows under the instruction of Justin Munroe, CEO of Grow Nashua.
The property, located on Lake Street, was lent to Grow Nashua by St. Joseph Hospital.
Munroe, the mind behind the farm, started Grow Nashua last fall with the help of the United Way of Greater Nashua. His vision is to bring Nashua families together to strengthen their community, while teaching them to farm and harvest their own fresh vegetables.
The program focuses on families that may not have the land or financial resources to have farm space of their own.
“We really want to empower people,” Munroe said. “We’re providing them with the foundation to grow their own resources.”
Once the farm is up and running, Grow Nashua will host classes throughout the year, teaching the families various farming skills.
“The trainings will be coordinated with the seasons,” Munroe said.
The first courses will be about planting, watering and plant nutrients; courses later in the season will focus on pest control and drought management, and then finally harvesting. St. Joseph is also offering them a six-week cooking course that is currently in its third session.
Everything from seeds to shovels to education will be provided to them, either from Grow Nashua or by donation, Munroe said.
“We just want them to focus on the skill of becoming a farmer,” he said.
Munroe said he anticipates that up to $10,000 worth of produce will be grown.
One of the volunteers who helped out Friday, 15-year-old Faustin Dushimimana, started his own landscaping business, Yardwork by Faustin, with the help of Munroe.
Dushimimana, a Rwandan refugee, said he enjoys operating the business and hopes it will grow.
“I want to see if it works really good,” he said. “If it works, I will keep doing it.”
The United Way invited many of the volunteers, including those from many local businesses; the event was scheduled as part of its Day of Caring last week, but was rescheduled due to inclimate weather.
United Way President Mike Apfelberg said Munroe’s project grew out of the organization’s One Greater Nashua initiative, which focuses on immigrant inclusion. Munroe, he said, attended the meeting and presented the idea as a way to help involve immigrants and refugees in the community.
“The evolution of that thinking was to give people the opportunity to be food independent and self-sustaining,” Apfelberg said.
Derek Edry can be reached at 594-1243, firstname.lastname@example.org