A COMMUNITY EFFORT IS BORN
In the wintry depths of 2020, before much of the world began showing signs of Covid-19’s impact, a band of experienced gardeners and friends began plotting to create a food garden to supply locally grown produce to MetroWest Boston food pantries. The concept for Aurelia’s Garden was conceived, founded with the mission of volunteers growing fresh and nutritious produce to address local food insecurity. The onset of the pandemic spotlighted inequities within our food system, and broadened existing disparities in our community. Food insecurity is rising nationwide. In Massachusetts, we are expected to end 2020 with 15% of our population classified as food insecure. Those living in hunger’s shadow will need emergency food assistance programs such as food banks and pantries. The necessity for locally grown produce is critical in the coming year and our garden is, and will continue to be, part of the farm community effort to meet that need.
We set out to begin fulfilling our mission by securing farmland and forging community partnerships. We also successfully created an entirely volunteer led, non-profit organization that is incorporated with 501(c)(3) status. In late winter, we formed a partnership with Medway Community Farm to transition a portion of their farm to grow produce for the two food pantries in Medway. These pantries had already reported an 80% increase in visitation within the first two months of the pandemic. We broke ground in April and have sent them ~750lbs of organically grown produce. We look forward to growing that effort in 2021.
We then secured our micro-farm home base by partnering with a landowner in Wayland, MA, who has donated the use of 1.5 acres of farmland in exchange for a weekly basket of produce. There, we broke ground in May, began harvests in July, implemented several season extension strategies, and will continue harvesting into mid-winter. We proudly established a partnership with Open Table in Maynard, MA, a food pantry which serves 23 communities in Middlesex County. Our produce is distributed through their Mobile Pantry program and also used by their kitchen, contributing to the healthy, freshly prepared meals that are also available to their guests. Today, we celebrate our first year efforts on these two farm sites that have yielded over a ton of produce, knowing through this proof of concept season, that we can do so much more next year!
Collectively, we value hope, community, inclusivity, volunteerism, gratitude, sovereignty, sustainability, and passion. We employ these values to guide our steps forward. One of our founding principles is to be entirely volunteer led and driven. Our volunteer farming force welcomes all bodies and has worked tirelessly through three seasons during the coldest mornings and hottest days and also through abundant online planning sessions. We farm in the most ecologically harmonious manner possible, feeding our soils and supporting the ecosystem within which our land is enveloped.
GOALS AND NEEDS
We are proud of the work we have accomplished this year and are invigorated to roll up our sleeves and plan for the further growth of our organization. Our main goal for next year is to quadruple the production capacity of our home base while maintaining our commitment to farm in harmony with the nature that surrounds us. We also have plans for a new initiative, a Seed Library, to freely distribute seeds and support food sovereignty efforts in the communities we strive to serve.
Please join us by contributing today. Only with your help, can we purchase critical supplies necessary to achieve our goals of hope, community, sustainability and generosity to achieve our vision of local, healthy food production for those in need in the Commonwealth.
“We have worked in the beauty of nature, in the hot, blazing sun, thunderstorms, and misted mornings, meeting and sharing a passion for gardening with other volunteers. And that would seem enough. But then we also find the satisfaction of giving. And it is a joy to give fresh, nutritious, local, vegetables to our neighbors who don’t have enough food.”
Aurelia’s Garden is an inclusive community of passionate and dedicated volunteers growing fresh and nutritious produce to address local food insecurity.