GROW Windham cultivates relationships and creates space for youth, community members, and food system partners to work together to build a stronger community and local food system.
GROW Windham was founded in the Fall of 2010 as a collaboration between the Willimantic Food Coop and the Town of Windham to support the development of school and community vegetable gardens in the Windham region. In its first year, GROW Windham partners raised $4,000 worth of donations to support pilot programs that engaged over 125 youth in garden-based activities at sites throughout the community.
Since then, the collaboration has expanded to support a range of initiatives: K-12 classroom and afterschool programming in all of the Windham Public Schools; GROW Windham’s own year-round high school program, the Windham Youth CORE, in which members develop leadership and career skills through youth-led community enterprises that promote access to healthy food in the community; the Lauter Park Community Gardens, where youth and community members grow food for the community and host workshops, workdays, and community events; and community food projects, such as the Windham Community Food Network and the expansion of the Willimantic Farmers’ Market.
Our staff has also expanded to include a Youth Program Coordinator, Garden Coordinator, Director of School Programs, and Communications Director, as well as two AmeriCorps Service Members. These are a FoodCorps Service Member, who works in the Windham Public Schools conducting nutrition education, maintaining school gardens, and sourcing local food to school cafeterias, and a CT Food Justice VISTA Project Service Member, who builds local capacity to engage community members and youth to prioritize and develop projects to promote access to healthy food throughout the community.