Three of New Haven’s most prominent sustainable-food nonprofits on Tuesday evening unveiled a new combined office space.
After years of collaboration, New Haven Farms and the New Haven Land Trust relocated their headquarters to a shared office space at 817 Grand Ave. in the Fair Haven neighborhood, where another group, CitySeed, has historically been located. By working in close physical proximity with one another, the organizations hope to promote collaboration and maximize their impact on the city’s food and agricultural landscape.
“We’ve all been talking together for a while about collaborating more, and each one of our organizations has some ongoing partnerships,” said Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10, executive director of the New Haven Land Trust. “We felt it would be good for our collaboration to actually move into the same space, so that we’re all interacting on a day-to-day basis. It’s very open and a collaborative space. It’s just an opportunity for us to help each other out in a variety of ways.”
Historically, the three nonprofits have overseen several collaborative initiatives related to food and agriculture in New Haven. The Growing Entrepreneurs Program — a partnership project between the Land Trust and CitySeed — seeks to empower local high school students to learn farming and professional skills, which include growing food and then marketing those products to consumers at farmers’ markets.
Last month, participants made sofrito — a traditional Latin American sauce — and kale pesto in CitySeed’s kitchen, using organic produce from the Land Trust’s community gardens.
Rasha Abuhatab, a local high school student who participates in the Growing Entrepreneurs program, said she has had a “happy and fun” experience with the program. After getting involved with the Land Trust last summer, Abuhatab has since built a mini-greenhouse, where she now grows her own vegetables.
Another one of the New Haven Land Trust’s initiatives — the Incubator Garden Program — has benefited from collaboration with New Haven Farms. Fifty families are currently enrolled in the program, which is expanding in the Fair Haven and Hill-North communities. Participants learn to grow and prepare healthy produce.
New Haven Farms has also worked with CitySeed on a Mobile Market project, which aims to make fresh produce more accessible to New Haven residents. Amelia Reese Masterson, executive director of CitySeed, said the Mobile Market embodies the way the two organizations cooperate with one another to address food stability in New Haven. And moving forward, the groups hope to continue to cultivate fruitful partnerships.
“[We] have been in discussions and dialogues about how to effectively work together beyond the incubator garden program, to basically incorporate a higher level of collaboration,” said Russell Moore, executive director of New Haven Farms. “You could say we’re planting the seeds for further coordination and collaboration.”
Moore said the shared office space may represent a precursor to a “comprehensive, dynamic” agricultural center — an idea that the leadership of all three organizations has been deliberating. Moore envisions the center as a catalyst for a greener and healthier Elm City, potentially featuring indoor winter farmers’ markets, classrooms and outdoor farm sites. The nonprofits have already discussed plans for the center with the School of Architecture.
Beyond allowing the groups to work more closely together, the move to Grand Avenue is also significant because all three nonprofits now operate in Fair Haven, where much of their programming is directed.
“We all touch upon different parts of the food system,” Elicker said. “So having deeper integration will allow us to have a much larger impact.”
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