Haven Farms promotes health and community development through
The goals of New Haven Farms’ Farm-Based Wellness Program are to:
· Produce nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits on seven urban farm sites;
· Distribute a weekly share of fresh, affordable produce to fifty-seventy families;
· Improve health outcomes and reduce food insecurity by increasing participants’ consumption of nutrient-rich, fresh vegetables;
· Increase knowledge and skills of growing, choosing and preparing healthy food; and
· Build a sense of community, and increase social capital by creating and maintaining relationships among farm members, volunteers, and neighborhood residents.
In 2008, employees of Chabaso Bakery, located in
the Fair Haven neighborhood, started an organic vegetable garden on
bakery property. In 2010, Chabaso Bakery partnered with the
Fair Haven Community Health Center (FHCHC) and turned the garden operation and
management over to the clinic’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). FHCHC
pre-diabetic patients and their families attended weekly garden workdays,
taking home shares of the harvest in exchange for their participation. The
program provided impoverished Fair Haven residents, and their families, many of
whom are at risk of diabetes and obesity, greater access to fresh, organic, and
nutrient-dense vegetables, as well as an opportunity to be physically
active. They also received nutrition
education and cooking instruction as part of the program.
New Haven Farms and urban agriculture grew out of a concern
for the health and welfare of our employees and people in our
neighborhood. The initial efforts were
unfocused; the garden survived for two years because of the wonderful organic soil
sourced by my wife, Nancy Dennett, and through the intercession of the Diabetes
Prevention Program at Fair Haven Community Health Center. We evolved to a nonprofit, hired a director,
and began the expansion and programing that has now grown for each of the last
Growing vegetables in the inner city poses challenges—soil is almost universally unfit, there are no large plots to scale up the farm production process. These and other factors would possibly prevent any for-profit organization from attempting to farm here.
But converting empty lots strewn with garbage, as we did on Ferry Street, into a field of organic greens; bringing people otherwise much restricted by the choices in “urban deserts” to a converted parking lot on the edge of the Quinnipiac to assist in harvesting the best available organic produce; and listening to the participants in the educational programs praise the impact on their eating habits—we know and have demonstrated that the efforts and costs are well repaid in community development and individual health and wellness.
If we accomplished no more than making people aware of the ability to enhance their access to fresh vegetables, it would be a success. If the conversion of vacant lots to green fields merely added to the quality of the neighborhood, it would be a success. But the longer term goal of New Haven Farms is to foster, throughout the City, great awareness of the impact of diet on health and greater involvement of as many individuals as possible in securing access to the necessary food.
Imagine a city where lawns gave way to kale and tomato plants.
New Haven Farms, serves a population that is 91% racial and/or ethnic minority (75% Latino and 57% African-American) and 9% Caucasian. Over 97% of the members fall below 200% of the federal poverty rate, and of those, 89% are at or below 100% of poverty. Seventy percent are women, and Spanish is the preferred language by over half of the participant population. New Haven Farms receives patient referrals from the pool of the approximately 15,000 Fair Haven Community Health Center (FHCHC) and Haven patients, as well as referrals beginning at Cornell Scott Hill Health, Connecticut Mental Health Center, and Yale Primary Care. The percentage of minorities is 91%, compared with 40% in the city, indicating that the percentage of Latinos among our farm members is 200% greater than in the city. Fair Haven, where seven of our farm sites are located, has been designated a Medically Underserved Area and a Health Professional Shortage Area.
The Farm-Based Wellness Program is intended to benefit low-income residents of New Haven whose ability
to access fresh affordable produce may be limited by a lack of nearby grocery
stores, lack of access to transportation, lack of income, or for other reasons.
Participants referred from healthcare providers either have,
or are at risk for, diet-related chronic disease and live within 200% of the federal poverty line. They participant in 16-20 weeks of hands-on education on the farm through a program that is open to their entire family and that also runs a youth education component.
Farm members receive baskets of fresh, organic farm produce
on a weekly basis for the season, and are required to attend at least one
two-hour, on-farm educational session per week. During those sessions, members
participate in cooking classes and are given nutrition information about the
nutrient-dense foods that they harvest that week, with culturally-relevant
recipes for them to try at home. They are taught how to plant, harvest, and
tend the vegetables, which gives them the added health benefit of being physically
active. In addition, members are provided with vegetable seeds and seedlings to
encourage them to start backyard gardens with their families.
Three hypotheses guide New Haven Farms Fresh Produce Prescription Program:
Hypothesis 1: Fresh Produce Prescription Program membership will improve food security status
Hypothesis 2: Fresh Produce Prescription Program membership will increase fruit and vegetable intake
Hypothesis 3: Fresh Produce Prescription Program membership will improve BMI and HbA1c
By the end of 16 farm education sessions, we measure success based on whether participation can reduce diabetes risk factors by increasing fruit and vegetable intake and by reducing food insecurity of participating clients. Pre/post tests are used to evaluate changes in food security, fruit and vegetable intake, BMI, and HbA1c. Every week, each farm participant is weighed, and fills out food insecurity and fruit/vegetable intake surveys. Further analysis entails the use of an OLS regression to ascertain if there is a dose-response of vegetable intake on diabetes risk-factors, controlling for medication and adherence, vegetable intake as well other household and demographic factors. Likewise, process information gathered at weekly intakes allows a measure of “exposure” of number of hours spent on the farm contributing to farm productivity to examine the effect on this factor on fruit/vegetable intake as well as risk factors.
The client database at the Fair Haven Community Health Center indicates that 79% (n=5490) of the 6,950 adults served at the FHCHC are overweight or obese, concentrating an effect that is seen in the broader community. Many of these adults grew up on farms, and as such are able to use their agricultural knowledge for the first time upon arriving in this country. They report a significant increase in both food security and fruit and vegetable consumption. For most of our participating children, this is the first time they have seen a fresh carrot or tomato. They are more inclined to taste all these vegetables when they plant and harvest them themselves, than ever before.
Crystal Spring Community Farm,Brunswick, ME
Full Season Farm Apprentice(April ’12 – Current)
- Managed a diversified organic CSA farm: twelve acres under mixed vegetable cultivation, 75 acres of mixed hay and pastured fields, flock of 75 Katahdin Sheep
- Responsibilities included: plant propagation, cultivation, and harvesting, pest and disease control, crop planning and rotation, seed ordering and budgeting, tractor maintenance and use, rotational grazing and hay production, and customer service
Holbrook Farm,Bethel, CT
Farm Manager(November ‘11 – February ‘12) -Assistant Farm Manager(June – October ‘11)
- Managed vegetable production, farm crew, compost operation, volunteers, wholesale accounts and daily business activities
- Managed winter greenhouse production and flock of 350 laying hens
YMCA Camp Orkila,Orcas Island, WA
Outdoor Environmental Educator(February - June ‘11)
- Taught science based curriculum, forest and marine ecology, to middle school students - Facilitated challenge course and team building activities with student and adult groups
Cheetah Conservation Fund,Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Volunteer & Conference Coordinator, Environmental Educator (January - July ‘10)
- Conducted outreach environmental education classes to school children in Northern Namibia - Managed all volunteer scheduling, coordinated arrival and departure of all guests
- Coordinated international training courses for wildlife conservation professionals
New Pond Farm,Redding, CT
Alternate Camp Director (June ‘09- August ‘09)
- Supervised counselors in addition to residential campers
- Developed and implemented educational classes in farming, animal care, and ecology
EDUCATION & ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS
University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources,Burlington, VT
- B. Sc. in Environmental Science, Conservation Biology Concentration, May ‘09
- Honors College - Phi Beta Kappa - Grade Point Average: 3.74
Language:Fluent in Spanish, basic understanding of German
Computer:Experience with Macs, PCs, Microsoft Word, Excel, and ArcGIS
Certifications: Trained Doula, First Aid & CPR
New Haven Farms draws on key partners to fulfill its mission. Key partners include Fair Haven Community Health Center, Cornell Scott Hill Health Center, Connecticut Mental Health Center, Chabaso Bakery, City of New Haven Community Services Administration, City of New Haven Livable City Initiative,Yale Sustainable Food Program, the New Haven Food Policy Council, and Bishop's Orchards.
Additionally, New Haven Farms is comprised of individuals who work for and are connected to other key organizations in the community, including Cooking Matters, the New Haven Land Trust, City Seed, Yale School of Public Health, Junta Center for Progressive Action, Wholesome Wave, Haven Free Clinic, Edgerton Park Conservancy, Common Ground High School, and Cold Spring School.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Greater New Haven’s vibrancy is linked to its communities’ support of its neighborhoods, public gardens and sports, as well as its commitment to the protection of its people and pets.
Stewardship of our natural resources is essential if we wish to guarantee that present and future generations enjoy clean water, good air quality and open spaces. When you support organizations that protect the environment you address immediate need today while ensuring a greener tomorrow.
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70 Audubon Street
New Haven, CT 06150
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