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Let’s get to it! (COVID-19 Update 4/15/2020)

We are here because of you. We are here for you.

The strength of KNOX rests in each of you and your efforts as volunteers, gardeners, donors, and most of all connectors. Our focus is using horticulture to engage the entire community and right now we all need each other! Now is the time to connect in new ways to share ideas, knowledge, and resources. Getting outside and getting your hands in the dirt can help you and our neighbors. Here are some ways we can do it.

Get into a KNOX Garden. If you would like to grow food for yourself KNOX can help provide space, seeds, soil, and know-how. If you would like to grow food for others you can volunteer in a KNOX garden-we are partnered with Foodshare to help get fresh produce to people quickly! Click here to hear more about the opportunity!

Donate money. It costs KNOX approximately $150 a year to maintain and manage each garden plot. Your gift today will help get us growing! Despite a lot of uncertainty with our normal funding, we are moving forward together. Your support matters!

Donate supplies. With new regulations for community gardens KNOX needs to provide hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and soap within each of our 20 gardens. If you have extra we can put them to good use keeping growers safe. There is an especially high need for wipes and hand sanitizer.

Create a giving garden. If you have space of your own to garden we would love to support your efforts to grow food. That could mean seeds, strategies from other gardeners, garden layouts, and easy ways to donate food to the people who need it most. Let us know how we can hep!

Spread the word. However you choose to get involved, let people know! We are a growing organization and welcome the opportunity to meet new people (virtually) and help them get involved. You can tag us on facebook @knoxinc and on Instragram and Twitter @KNOXHartford. 

Share your tips. The strength of KNOX lies in the collective wisdom and experience of our entire community. Be a part of the conversation-share your successes and struggles and know that you are not alone.

We hope you are well and would love to hear from you! If you are interested in learning more about KNOX’s operations during COVID-19, they are provided below.

KNOX Operations Update

Our staff remains busy, however, like many non-profit organizations KNOX has needed to cut back on staff hours and expenses. We hope to return to full strength as soon as possible to accelerate these ideas. In compliance with restrictions from the state our offices are closed to outside visitors with many staff working remotely. Staff is still available by e-mail and phone and we are working together to be as responsive as we can.

KNOX has always believed that the people of Hartford have the ability to solve the problems we are facing. COVID-19 calls on us all to dig a little deeper-but we believe that we can do it by coming together. KNOX has partnered with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to be sure our gardens are open and safe for growing fresh food. KNOX staff has planted thousands of seeds with an eye towards donating both plants and produce in partnership with Foodshare and other partners. We are also encouraging gardeners, farmers and volunteers to grow extra this year to share with our neighbors. 

Our new volunteer program matches available garden space, volunteers, and high-yield growing plans to boost the amount of fresh produce available in the places it is needed the most. KNOX is also seeking support to offer garden scholarships to people who have lost their jobs or struggle to find employment. 

Beyond our gardens the KNOX Green Crew has been providing essential services related to landscaping and green infrastructure, as well as cultivating plants for our KNOX city planters. We look forward to a return to new projects that include working with volunteer groups to plant trees and add beauty to Hartford neighborhoods—but those projects are on hold for now, until restrictions from social distancing ease.

You don’t have to wait! We can come together today and if we do tomorrow will be a little better and lot greener.

 

KNOX COVID-19 Response (March 18, 2020)

All of us at KNOX recognize the importance working together to respond to COVID-19. Based on the guidelines set forth, KNOX offices are closed to the public, however KNOX staff members remain hard at work.

To provide you with our best service, please email us directly with your inquiries and requests. For your convenience, please find the email addresses of our staff below. If you want a call back, please provide the best call back number within your e-mail.

Two important notes:

• KNOX will not be hosting events until further notice.

• We are still accepting garden applications (by mail), however opening dates and garden access may be effected by the recommendations of health and government officials. If you are interested in garden space, please contact Kyle to register for space.

If you have ideas for how KNOX can better serve the community through this time, you can submit them to patrickd@knoxhartford.org. Please note that before taking action, KNOX must vet ideas with others to ensure they are not disruptive to overall efforts to address the outbreak of COVID-19.

As an organization driven to bring our community together, following the guidelines set forth by the CDC and the White House can feel like a struggle. These decisions have been made in an effort to balance the safety and security of our community, the safety and security of staff, and our mission to serve people throughout Hartford.

We are all in this together and we encourage you to find appropriate ways to support one another, and to get your fingers in the dirt.

Contact information is provided below to help direct your inquiries.

Gardens and Greenhouse Space: Kyle; kyleb@knoxhartford.org

Job Application (including Golf Courses): Chris; christopherg@knoxhartford.org; (Application available at: https://www.knoxhartford.org/about-knox/employment-opportunities/)

Volunteer Projects: Kim; kimberlyb@knoxhartford.org

KNOX City Planters: Patrick; patrickd@knoxhartford.org

KNOX Farmers/Farming Program: Chris; Christopherg@knoxhartford.org

Existing Landscape/Snow Removal Customers: Craig; craigm@knoxhartford.org

New Landscape Inquiries: Nancy; nancyr@knoxhartford.org

Grants & Donations: Maria; mariab@knoxhartford.org

Environmental Education: Lauren; laurenl@knoxhartford.org 

All other matters: Patrick; patrickd@knoxhartford.org

Canopy Campaign Update

October was a busy month planting trees in Hartford with both new and long-time tree champions through the KNOX Canopy Campaign. For example, both TD Bank and Travelers provided volunteer power and funding to plant more than 100 trees this month! You can learn more and see them in action in this video and these pictures. Additionally, the KNOX Green Crew has been busy planting trees in Hartford through contract work as well as the support of generous donors. All told KNOX planted over 175 trees in October! It is inspiring to see the entire community rally around trees and the Urban Tree Canopy.

In addition to planting trees, KNOX joined the Hartford Tree Advisory Commission, the City of Hartford Office of Sustainability, Keney Park Sustainability Project, the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on October 19 for a Tree Appreciation event. At the event trees were planted outside the Good Shepherd Garden with the Mayor’s Youth Service Corps, saplings were given away to city residents, and KNOX worked with Mr. Timber to teach kids how to be terrific tree tenders.

Through the Canopy Campaign KNOX is on pace to plant nearly 400 trees—and building momentum for even more next year. Unfortunately, the challenges of climate change have highlighted the importance of our work planting trees and the value of the tree canopy. We know trees improve air quality, conserve energy, mitigate runoff from storm water, and reduce carbon dioxide. In 2015 KNOX and the city of Hartford partnered with American Forests to better understand our urban forest and to guide its management and restoration. That research along with community partnerships help guide KNOX’s planning for planting trees.

Thank you to the individual donors, the Hartford, Hartford Decides, SINA, AHNA, TD Bank, the Arbor Day Foundation, ShopRite, Travelers, American Forests, Community Solutions, and the city of Hartford for stepping up to help restore Hartford’s Urban Tree Canopy. KNOX values the ability of nature to bring us together. As we close this year’s Canopy Campaign we look forward to seeing how we can continue to grow Hartford together.

Making an Impact with Environmental Education

Students from Impact Academy are digging KNOX. This month, a group of vibrant high schoolers helped prepare the pollinator bed at our new community garden on Sigourney Street. To start our day, we discussed the need for pollinators and their importance to garden health. The goal of this activity was to provide opportunities for young adults to get involved in the local community. Impact Academy students did such a great job in preparing the soil for the pollinator beds that it was ready for younger students involved with KNOX to use. Their efforts represent the purpose of KNOX’s partnership with Impact Academy, which is to provide students with unique opportunities and learning experiences.

KNOX, started this fruitful partnership with Impact Academy last spring. During their Urban Farming class, we worked with Friends of Pope Park to support student investigations about water, discuss plant health and teach basic garden techniques. The fresh produce grown was donated to families living in the Parkville community.

This year, students will participate in service-learning opportunities in neighborhoods served by Knox. In addition, KNOX will collaborate to plan and help implement a five-week spring program to help students to grow more of their own produce.

Impact Academy “works to help students grow by identifying and building upon their strengths and interests, and by striving to ensure that learning is always relevant to them.” The Environmental Education program at KNOX encourages youth interest in horticulture and motivates them to engage in environmental stewardship.

We are very grateful for the opportunity to work with Impact Academy students and to encourage them to have a personal relationship with their local environment.

UTC, Engineers Without Borders, and Hartford High School Install Rainwater Harvesting System at KNOX’s Community Garden

On Friday, September 20th, 2019, over 40 volunteers from United Technologies Corporation (UTC), Engineers Without Borders, and Hartford High School joined KNOX staff to enhance KNOX’s new Hudson Street Community Garden. Volunteers installed a rainwater harvesting system on the garden’s gazebo to supply water for the site’s raised garden beds. Gregory Hayes, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of UTC, worked alongside volunteers as they built two 300L water catchment containers to collect the water. Their efforts will significantly reduce the cost of watering the garden – one of KNOX’s greatest on-going needs across the 23 community gardens they manage.

Volunteers further enhanced the garden by preparing its raised garden beds for the fall growing season. They will return to the site later this fall to install two park benches and a picnic table. These new additions will provide space for community gardeners and visitors to relax and connect with one another. Volunteers will also build and install an additional 18 raised garden beds, enabling more Hartford residents to grow healthy produce for their families.  

Volunteers From UTC, Hartford High School, and Engineers Without Borders in the Hudson Street Garden. (UTC Chairman & CEO, Gregory Hayes at right)

This project is directly increasing access to healthy, affordable food for the Hartford community. KNOX manages and maintains 23 community gardens that enable over 400 Hartford families to grow their own produce locally. The high-quality foods from gardens like Hudson Street are a much-needed source of nutrition for people in the city. KNOX plans to continue to work with UTC and Engineers Without Borders to design and build rain catchment systems in other community gardens. Thanks to partners like UTC, Engineers Without Borders, and Hartford High School, Hudson Street Community Garden will serve the Hartford community for years to come.