When you think of farming and gardening, you might not picture downtown Hartford, but a local nonprofit has turned parts of the Capital City into urban gardens.
The heartbeat of this unique organization is the community. Residents, local businesses and government entities are coming together to create a stronger, healthier, more beautiful Hartford all while providing nutritious food to those who need it most.
"KNOX is about empowerment,” said Executive Director of KNOX Patrick Doyle.
The Hartford non-profit is using horticulture as a way to bring the community together. From planting trees to strengthen our urban canopy to beautification projects and providing healthy food to those in need. And the important work being done is primarily through people donating their time and passion.
"Volunteers getting out and doing things in the community. And those volunteers come from all walks of life,” explained Doyle. “And then we have also have a workforce development program where we're training and gaining skills in landscaping and green infrastructure fields to folks who need a second chance who are Hartford city residents."
And their hard work is more important now than ever before.
"Maybe they've been hit hard by everything that's going on with COVID and they need that little bit of extra help and they can still get that fresh produce and have access to it through the work that our volunteers are doing," says Doyle.
"You really just get to see these boxes of food that you're providing for people who you know really need it,” said Jack Hamson, a volunteer at KNOX. “Especially in this time."
When the pandemic began, KNOX shifted their focus from beautification projects to gardening and growing fresh, healthy food. There are now more than 300 people utilizing the 20 community gardens growing fresh food for themselves.
"It's really neat to see them not just grow that food so they have fresh food for their family, but catching that spark, catching that interest in gardening and that sense of I’m doing something and I am really able to help determine the food that's going into my body,” said Doyle. "It gives them some determination. It's a sense of pride, but also their kids seeing them provide for the family is really important."
KNOX recently partnered with Food Share to expand their reach in providing fresh produce to those in need. It gets it right out into the community where it's needed in a very fast and efficient way.
They are efforts that aren’t going unnoticed.
Hamson said "they're greatly appreciative of the work we're doing here and we're greatly appreciative that they work with us and sort of, you know, help us keep going in what we're doing here."
If you're interested in learning more about KNOX, they're hosting a virtual garden party August 27th. For more information just visit www.knoxhartford.org.