Blog Post via NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food

The Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD), a 2022 Urban Ag and Gardens Grant Recipient, just completed a busy year in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire. CCCD along with grant partners, spent the year expanding upon the already-successful Monadnock Grows Together collaborative. A past feature of this collaborative includes the establishment of a free seed and tool lending library housed at the Keene Public Library.

This year Monadnock Grows Together focused on those missed in the gardening community in the Monadnock Region, beginning with attendance to the Soul Fire Farm Uprooting Racism workshop. They then with Keene Immigrant and Refugee Partnership (KIRP) to reach out to newly-arrived people and families in the area. Stipends were paid to community cultural ambassadors to better understand paths to helping newly arrived folks in their self-sustainability.

These conversations and a partnership with the Keene International Market helped turn previously unused raised beds into gardens-for-all—planted with culturally-relevant food including okra, sweet potatoes, hot peppers, and bok choy. “Planting a garden-for-all with our partners helps to nourish our community with fresh, local food and is an important step on this journey”, reflects Nikko Gagnon, Urban Ag and Gardens Coordinator.

In addition to this initiative, Monadnock Grows Together hosted ten public education workshops in the region, focusing on topics from the creation of rain gardens with NH Department of Environmental Service’s SOAKNH project, to participation in a community celebration of pollinators and their habitats at Pollinator Palooza. The collaborative also began working with the local Monadnock View Community Garden to assess and meet the needs of gardeners, through the funding of communal garden tools, needed infrastructure and soil improvements.

The collaborative plans to expand on this work by continuing to grow relationships with local New American communities and support infrastructure improvements at the local community garden.