The Giving Garden grows fresh vegetables working with Mother Nature utilizing no till, no spray practices. The produce is donated to the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center for distribution via its mobile food pantries. Nearly 30,000 residents of New London County received the produce. Its fourth year, 2017, was the most productive year yet with 15,000 pounds of produce donated to the food insecure! In 2016, the Garden yielded 13,089 pounds of vegetables, while in 2015 it produced 3,500 pounds of vegetables and in 2014 just over 1 ton was harvested.
The Giving Garden is owned and operated by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. It was launched in 2014 when the Nature Center took ownership of the last 45 acres of the Coogan Farm, one of the oldest farms in eastern Connecticut. The garden was started with funding from the Robert G. Youngs Family Foundation, and the Nature Center signed a four-year agreement with the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut to donate the produce.
Coogan Farm Manager Craig Floyd runs the garden with a corps of volunteers who have logged more than 3,700 hours in 2017. Groups from area churches, businesses, corporations, civic groups, as well as individuals from across the region, come to the garden regularly to pitch in. In its first two years the garden was a seasonal endeavor, but in late 2015, a hoop house was donated and installed, ensuring year-round crop production.
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