September 15, 2016
New Bedford, MA – School-to-Table was the theme last Thursday night, when more than 100 SouthCoast residents gathered to support the Marion Institute’s GROW Education Program at the Low Tide Yacht Club in Fort Taber Park. New Bedford’s Mayor Jon Mitchell was hand to celebrate the program, along with other community leaders from Dartmouth, Fall River, Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett, and Westport.
GROW Education is a local initiative that cultivates community gardens at New Bedford Public Schools to create hubs for community action. The gardens are built and maintained by students, teachers, and community volunteers. The program brings together local residents of all ages to share knowledge about growing healthy foods and healthy neighborhoods.
GROW Education facilitates community garden-based workshops, bringing neighbors together to share cultural gardening traditions and farming practices, which is proving to engage the city’s prominent immigrant communities.
This fundraiser was part of an effort to raise $30,000 to support GROW’s work. SouthCoast Jazz was on hand to entertain guests as they were served wine from New Bedford’s Travessia Winery and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Mattapoisett’s How On Earth grocery store. Ingredients for some of the food that was served reflects food grown at the local school gardens.
Ryan Wagner, a Marion Institute board member from Weatherlow Farms in Westport said, “This is a great evening to support a great local program.”
Addressing the crowd, Janet Milkman, Executive Director of the Marion Institute said, “This program works on so many different levels, bringing something unique and important to our public schools, and helping to build cohesion in the some of the most challenged neighborhoods around them.”
In explaining why their work has been so effective, GROW’s Program Director, Zoe Hansen-Dibello said, “Food is always at the center of families and communities. These gardens help create healthy food as a path to cultivating healthy, thriving neighborhoods.”
GROW Education has been working in the local schools for the past 3 years, and currently organizing 12 gardens that serve over 7,000 families. Thursday’s fundraiser made over $15,000 dollars for the program’s goals. Donations are still being taken at www.marioninstitute.org/programs/grow-education.