The journey from farm-to-table to beyond in Fairfield, Connecticut has a new communal spirit behind it, thanks to the contributions of town residents. 

On Aug. 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose purpose is to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, released a report stating that the impacts of climate change are intensifying, widespread and irreversible. The report sparked talk about the necessary actions that might be taken on the national and international levels to combat climate change. 

But the news also intensified concern on the local level, where three Fairfield residents were already taking action to combat climate change.

Harper Treschuk, a student at Fairfield High School, believes that small-scale changes are equally important to national-level changes to protect the Earth.

“Local sustainability efforts are a great way to form community with others and bring us all out of a cycle of inaction,” Treschuk said.

Treschuk is a member of her high school’s Eco Club, but her contributions to the climate crisis outside of the club are even more noteworthy. In 2020, she started volunteering for the Aspetuck Land Trust at its Sasqua Wildflower Preserve. There, Treschuk removed invasive species, researched pollinators and installed a native plant demonstration garden. 

Recently, Treschuk has worked to support sustainable agriculture. Scientists say that consuming sustainable and locally grown food helps prevent further climate change. Buying produce from a nearby farmers’ market or growing it in a garden reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released during transportation. 

Treschuk has contributed to sustainable agriculture by composting and growing produce at multiple community gardens, one being the Warde Terrace Community Garden managed by the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Department. 

Community gardening provides participants with a connection to the natural world and agriculture at the same time,” said Treschuk. Locally grown produce, like the cucumbers, peppers and peas Treschuk grows at the Operation Hope community garden, can be enjoyed by individual families or donated to food banks.

Not only has locally grown produce made its way to Fairfield homes and food banks, but it’s also in the town’s most popular restaurants, including Paci and Artisan. Organic broccoli, arugula and heirloom tomatoes from the weekly Fairfield Farmers’ Market are featured in a linguine dish at Centro Ristorante & Bar. 

Centro’s owner Billy Auer founded the Fairfield Farmers’ Market with his wife.  The two ran it together for five years. This year, they gave it over to the town to run, Auer said.

For many, the most enjoyable aspect of supporting sustainable agriculture is eating the fresh produce that’s grown. Lucy Morrison, president of Fairfield High School’s Eco Club, has tried to make the consumption process more environmentally friendly. 

“[Members] campaign to restaurants around town, suggesting they change their utensils to recyclable or other eco-friendly options,” she said. Morrison added that the club has been attempting to add recyclable utensils to the school cafeteria for two years. 

Eco Club contributes to Fairfield’s sustainability efforts in many other ways as well. Members frequently engage in community service events, such as clean-ups at Fairfield’s train stations, marshes, beaches and more. Also, to promote a more eco-friendly lifestyle to high school students, Eco Club hosts trivia nights and other competitions that encourage participants to learn more about the environment.

Morrison and Treschuk both found their community at Eco Club and realized that their efforts to combat the climate crisis became much more impactful within a group, they said. They hope the entire Fairfield community will one day rally around the cause of combating climate change.

As Treschuk put it: “The individualistic mindset of controlling our own ‘carbon footprint’ only goes so far, because we will have to work together in order to solve the environmental problems of today.”