Congratulations to Lara Lepionka, Executive Director of Backyard Growers in Gloucester, MA! Lara was recognized in the Outstanding Green Education/Program Director category.
Backyard Growers is a grassroots organization aimed at reshaping Gloucester’s relationship with food. The program started off in 2010 with a handful of members helping other community members grow gardens, and the program just kept expanding. Backyard Growers provides support and resources to establish vegetable gardens at homes, housing communities, organizations, and schools. In the end, we create life-long gardeners inspired by the power of growing one’s own food. The program has had a positive impacts on schools and families in the community. Programs and events are offered through this organization, and they teach gardening skills and foster a love of healthy eating! Backyard growers has even implemented a schoolyard garden program that gives students the opportunity to plant, harvest, and eat two garden crops a year in collaboration with the School Food Service Department. The program has been implemented since 2013, and it gives 100% of Gloucester’s K-5 students the ability to expand their knowledge of food. Over 1,300 students get their hands dirty in school gardens and eat delicious, school-grown vegetables each year, giving students a true seed-to-fork experience that fosters a new appreciation for fresh vegetables! Backyard Growers also has a wide variety of partnerships, and Community Garden Program partners receive individualized services to meet the unique needs of their agencies and clients. They had worked with many organizations to provide gardens, garden training, mentor support, and assistance in acquiring low-cost seeds and seedlings. Backyard Growers have received a lot of support and gotten a lot of press due to the fact that it has played a major role in adding to the beauty of the Gloucester landscape and educating community members about the benefits of growing your own food! You can check out their website at http://www.backyardgrowers.org/press/ and a press release about the program at http://www.nshoremag.com/March-2015/Backyard-Growers-Builds-Gardens-in-Gloucester/.