Giving Gardens Program

Real Food CT has chosen the “sweet spot” of the production model. We currently operate two Giving Gardens on lots less than acre. When run efficiently, this size space is big enough to produce 15-20K lbs of fresh produce without a lot of overhead. Both of our Giving Gardens are located in Newtown on partner properties and are run by staff, volunteers and our Young Farmer Internship program in the summer.

All of the food we produce is donated to regional food pantries on their schedule. As the years have progressed we have received feedback from our partners as to what kind of fruits and vegetables their clients prefer and we do our best to tailor to their needs. We practice regenerative farming methods (no-till, cover crops, natural amendments) and have offer a Grow Your Own community workshop for adults and kids.

Young Farmer Training Program

Our Young Farmer Interns are the backbone of our Small Farm Giving Gardens. Since 2020, we’ve employed 6-10 high school and college aged Young Farmers every season to teach the fundamentals of food production, garden management, and the dynamics of our local food system.

In addition to the garden experience, we take field trips to other local farms and service organizations in our area. It is our hope to feed the initiative and skillsets of young leaders looking to make an impact in the connected areas of health, food, environment, and justice.

Surplus Pickup Program

The unpredictable nature of the growing season for small and mid-size farmers in our area often results in surplus produce. Whether it be from a bountiful harvest or a quiet day at the farmers market, the extra produce needs to find a home quickly or its getting tossed in the compost pile.

Our team communicates and coordinates with our regional farm partners to make sure that no healthy food goes to waste. We pick up from local farms and farmers markets and deliver to our network of hunger-relief organizations.

Food Hub

Real Food CT is leading the development of a premier regional food hub, strategically serving small and mid-sized farms in Fairfield County, lower Litchfield, and lower New Haven counties. Building on our success connecting surplus produce from 15 regional farms to hunger relief organizations, Real Food CT is taking a transformative step in 2024 by establishing food hub infrastructure. Following a successful fall 2023 pilot purchasing program, this hub will streamline ordering, tracking, transportation, storage, and delivery of the finest local produce.

The implementation of this hub optimizes efficiency and reinforces our commitment to providing high-quality, locally sourced food, solidifying our impact on both agricultural and humanitarian fronts. Our goal is to seamlessly connect top-quality, locally grown, fresh, and nutritious food to vulnerable populations, such as schools, social service centers, and senior centers, creating a vital revenue stream for small and mid-sized farms.

This initiative fosters sustainable agricultural practices and strengthens the local food ecosystem while getting nutritious food to those in need.

Small Farm Model

Our team has been executing the proof of concept of our Small Farm Model since our initial Giving Garden in 2019. The goal is to replicate a sustainable, four-season growing model on lots less than two acres in size with minimal start up and operation costs. Small Farms like Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Farm in Maine and our friend Farmer Craig Floyd at Coogan Farm in Mystic have proven how thousands of pounds of produce can be grown on small lots.

In 2023, we added a season extending 70’x 30’ greenhouse through a CT Dept of Agriculture Farm Viability Grant. We expanded our Board of Directors and are now actively exploring how best to implement this model near communities in our region that historically have less access to fresh, healthy food.