How The Havre De Grace Green Team Is Connecting Residents To Their Produce

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Credit: Van Fisher/Patch

HAVRE DE GRACE - At an unassuming public park near downtown Havre de Grace, a local nonprofit is working to improve access to fresh produce and vegetables right in people's backyards.

The Havre de Grace Green Team has now established four community gardens in the city and is working on expanding its Food Forest at Todd park. The Green team was founded in 2016 to connect Havre de Grace residents with their environment and teach them about the advantages of local food production.

Green Team president Carrol Zimmerman says the initiative has taken off in the last few years.

"In 2016, we got a grant from the Department of Natural Resources here in the state, and so we planted some trees, and every year we've planted more," she said. "We want to demonstrate to people that you can grow food, you know, it's not that hard, as long to have some land, and you can put plants on it and take care of them, and they'll produce food for you."

The Green Team currently offers 72 plots and has over 50 volunteer gardeners who fill the plots with fruits, vegetables, or flowers. Zimmerman says that the popularity of the community gardens is due to volunteers lacking yard space.

One such volunteer is Vanessa Evan-Bouchelle. Evan-Bouchelle lives in a condo and would typically only have access to her small balcony garden. She says having a plot at the Victory Garden is a relaxing and fulfilling experience.

"It's just so relaxing to spend several hours outside here in nature. You know, I really enjoy it. I super enjoy it."

All produce grown at the Victory Garden is donated to local food pantries. According to Evan-Bouchelle, this year has been incredibly successful.

"It's really fun," she said. "we're over 1800 pounds donated to local food kitchens and pantries this summer."

The Green Team has started pollinator gardens and houses several bee hives. Specialty volunteers such as beekeeper Dona Bushong help maintain the bees. According to Bushong, this year, the bees have been particularly successful.

"We're very happy about our bees, and the bees must be happy because they produced a lot of honey this year," she said. "we got twice as much honey as what would be expected from a hive this size this year."

You can buy honey from the Green Team's bees at first Friday and other community events.

As the Green Team looks towards the following year for their community gardens, Zimmerman says they have built a strong base for the future.

"We're very excited that this project has been going on for a number of years and starting to pay benefits," She said. "The community can come and just harvest and eat food grown right here in Havre de Grace."

The Green Team is always looking for new volunteers. Those wanting to help or rent a plot in one of the community gardens can visit here.

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