This spring, we launched our 2018 Urban Farming Internship program welcoming some new and familiar faces to theWesley Colbert Zion Street Community Garden in Hartford’s vibrant Frog Hollow neighborhood. Our first workshop session was held at Sea Tea Improv Studios for our Voices of Hartford workshop series which runs every Friday from April – June. As we anticipate a busy and bountiful summer lets recap on last year’s program’s highlights and accomplishments!
Our 2017 Urban Farming Internship proved that our program gets better and better. From the months of April to October we gave the garden a makeover and saw many new and familiar faces. Now that our garden is in full bloom and our 2018 interns are hard at work, we’d like to take a moment to give you a brief summary of what we were up to last year.
Our 2017 program included some new workshops for our interns and community members in partnership with Center for Latino Progress, Billings Forge Community Works, and COMPASS Peacebuilders, Grow Hartford Youth Program at the Hartford Food System. YouMedia, and Sea Tea Improv Studios.
At the Center for Latino Progress we saw the inner workings of the organization’s programming. After learning about the center’s ESL and job training program our interns got a tour of Hartford’s one and only bike cooperative, Bici Co. The shop’s manager, Joseph Dickerson, gave a brief history of Hartford’s transportation infrastructure then showed us how to fix a tire.
At another one of our weekly Friday workshops, we did improv with the folks at Sea Tea Improv Theater. Our interns learned new ways on how to work together patiently and humorously! Though this was our first lesson, we are no strangers to improvising due to our tight budget!
In late summer, Summer of Solutions went on an oceanography trip with Project O in Groton, CT thanks to the Farmington River Watershed Association. In partnership with The Grow Hartford Youth Program, we learned about our marine ecosystem and coastal habitat.
Program Coordinators Sonsharae and Tenaya went to Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working group with funding from New England GrassRoots Fund and made lasting connections with organizations doing similar work in the region. At the conference, some of their learning highlights were about race and equity in food systems organizing, social enterprises started by youth and PoC, and how to create a positive narrative around communities that face food insecurity.
After graduating from our 2017 Urban Farming Internship program our interns were equipped with the skills and knowledge to address things like racial oppression, food apartheid, public speaking, bike repair, improving school lunches, and peer mediation. We could not have done it without thoughtful and meaningful collaboration with other organizations in the city that focus on the empowerment and wellness of younger individuals.
Last but not least Summer of Solutions successfully launched a campaign with Seed Money and raised $600 within a matter of hours! This made us eligible for a $400 Challenge Grant! We couldn’t have done it without you.
Stay tuned for our upcoming events and workshops on our Facebook page . We look forward to seeing what this year’s program will bring!
While we may still be dealing with surprise snowstorms outside, here at Summer of Solutions Hartford we are preparing for spring! That means we are opening up opportunities to join our team through the Urban Farming Internship. As an intern in the program, you will dedicate 10 hours per week to building and maintaining urban gardens in Hartford and participating in a leadership development workshop series with the rest of the team. The internship pays $12/hour. You can apply here.
We are looking for a team of committed and enthusiastic interns, ages 16-30 to join the program in 2018. We need people with all different skill sets, including people with experience in agriculture, landscaping, leadership, anti-oppression, teaching, working with children, or in the arts, media, and cooking!
This year we are hosting three 10-week internships. Session 1 runs from April 6-June 14. Session 2 is June 15-August 23. Session 3 is August 24- November 2. You have the option to apply to any one, two, or all three internship sessions. You may be accepted to one, two, or all three of the sessions you apply to.
Do you like the outdoors? Are you interested in growing your own food? Do you want to be a part of a diverse team? Are you excited about learning something new? Give it a shot! You don’t need to have gardening or leadership experience to apply, you’ll learn that here! The application is your chance to tell us why you’re a good fit.
“Working with Summer of Solutions has been a blessing in disguise for me. Working at Moylan Elementary with the staff, teachers and students has been really eye opening as well. It’s fun to see how involved the kids want to be in what we’re doing. It’s also nice how involved the staff are in helping us at anytime. It really makes me feel like we’re actually making a difference somehow.”
My name is Rubelise Acosta and I am excited to announce that I am a new Program Coordinator for Summer of Solutions.
I began as an intern in 2016 and have experience working in Hartford Public Schools for 5 years. I was born and raised in Hartford, CT and still reside in this awesome city.
I look forward to meeting and supporting new interns and also connecting with people doing great things in our community.
(left to right, Aaliyah, Rubelise, and Sonsharae, three members of the 2017 Program Coordinator Team)
Summer of solutions Hartford was a great opportunity to learn and accomplish urban gardening. During the duration of Summer of solutions Hartford I was able to learn about plant identification as well as weed identification and get a hands on experience. With my hands on experience from summer of solutions I was not only able to accomplish beautiful scenery for the community but contribute to the earths well being. Summer of solutions Hartford also allows you to meet many different people that might have the same interests and might not, but we also learned from our peers who have known more about gardening that can reflect and also help u learn many new things ! With all the great factors from Summer of solutions we were able to take all of are newly gained knowledge about gardening and pass it on to younger students during summer school such as teaching them how to plant seed, water, and how to identify plants.
-Morgan, session 2 intern
In the inner city, it is hard to find locally grown food and for cheap. While working for Summer of Solutions I have hosted countless food stands where we have given fresh crops, or we have just welcomed people into our garden during the end of our growing season, so that they can come to the garden and take what ever crops are left over.
Food and culture are closely tied. Food not only provides nourishment to our bodies, but also acts as a connection to our diverse heritages and cultures. Through supplying seeds that are grown in a variety of countries, community members in the Hartford area are given the opportunity to grow the food that is unique to their culture. Supplying seeds that build cultural connections for our community members brings a familiar comfort to those without access to celebrations of their own culture.
– By Sonsharae Owens and Nichol McCarter
Before working at Summer of Solutions, I didn’t know much about the food system. I knew food grew in the ground and I can buy it at the grocery store but the steps in between were a little fuzzy. Every Friday at our workshop we learn something new about the things we consume every day. Did you know that your produce tastes better when it is sourced locally? Or that they ripen tomatoes with gases in order to make them red? Some of our vegetables come all the way from Mexico! I started to think “Why would I want an apple from another country if I can just get one from Connecticut?”
Soon, I sought out places where I could buy produce that was grown just a few miles away from me! Apples, peaches, strawberries, corn, and blueberries were just a few towns away. Even better news was finding out that I can buy all of these things in Hartford at the Farmers’ Market. I only knew about one or two of the markets in Hartford but after I started looking around I found out that Hartford has seven!
Monday, June 13th marked Team B’s first work day of the session two internship program! The Connecticut River Academy is an early-college high school in East Hartford, Connecticut, that has a strong commitment to environmental sustainability and leadership. During session two, Team B will be nurturing and expanding their community gardens, every Monday and Thursday.
Today, we had two main goals: water all the vegetation and re-plot the pumpkin patch. Pumpkins have a large root system and need a good a
mount of space for their roots to grow. The current pumpkin patch had several seeds growing, but they were bundled together, causing their root systems to compete for nutrients. While digging up the pumpkins, we were fascinated by the pumpkin seeds we found, connected to the plant’s root system and its stem. It was beautiful to see those familiar looking pumpkin seeds, broken open by that initial sprout. It is a reminder that nature consistently creates life, which can be easily forgotten about.
In the wake of tragedies within our own communities, such as in Orlando, witnessing life grow from something so small is inspiring. It’s a reminder that life (and humanity) is more complex than what it seems to be on the surface. Like the pumpkin, everyone needs a space of their own, in order to thrive and flourish. Unfortunately, a place of safety was taken away from the Latinx and LGBTQ community, and we would like to send our deepest sympathies and love to those who lost their lives and lost their loved ones. We stand with you.
Although we cannot easily re-plot humanity, this pumpkin seed can be re-located. It may seem like a small act, but it is a kindness we can pay forward. After carefully removing each plant, we gave each one enough space for it’s roots to grow.
Once we finished re-plotting the pumpkin seeds, we removed weeds and watered the school’s raised beds. They are growing a variety of different fruits and veggies including: strawberries, apples, hot peppers, basil, chives, tomatoes and more! Our team member, Chloe, showed us the chocolate-basil that is growing in it’s own raised bed. It has a really strong flavor (loved by some, hated by others) and it seems to be growing really well. The food that is grown from these gardens is distributed to a local church, the animals in their habitat room and their school’s staff and students.
We can’t wait to do more work in the gardens at Connecticut River Academy. And in remembrance of the victims of the tragic shooting in Orlando, it helps to reflect on how we can create communities of compassion, instead of ones of oppressive isolation. Our actions and outlooks make a large impact, no matter how small it may seem. You can make a difference.
“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”