NEWTOWN – Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown, was recently taken on a farm tour of Real Food CT, a Newtown nonprofit that supplies fresh produce to food pantries and hunger relief operations, while also organizing the distribution of excess produce generated from area farms to those agencies.
The Real Food CT team, including Founder Sean Fitzpatrick and Project Manager Dave Haze, provided Rep. Bolinsky a tour of the farm operation and articulated their vision to make more nutritious, delicious fresh produce to folks who might not otherwise have regular access to it.
Their Small Farm Model highlights high-yield, low-input techniques that are a welcome departure from factory farming and fits beautifully into the community, from their location on Sticks & Stones Farm where organic farming is king and seeding and harvesting is done by hand. Rep. Bolinsky and the team even took the time to load crates onto a transport van that was headed to a local organization.
Real Food CT prides itself on being a great neighbor. Commercial use of farm machinery and industrial fertilizers are not used in food production here and, everything they do is done so sustainably. Mr. Fitzpatrick and his team “believe this model can be replicated in every community, and that the State of Connecticut has a real opportunity to be leaders in creating a shift to local food resources for hunger-relief efforts.”
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture recently recognized and awarded Real Food CT with a Farm Viability Grant of $48,000 to help them expand their production and build a new, year-round greenhouse on site. In the summer months, the greenhouse can open for increased circulation as the operation grows tomatoes and cucumbers. In the winter, it can remain enclosed, allowing crops of kale, lettuce and other produce to flourish.
Real Food CT is a growing organization that is creating full-time positions dedicated to creating a sustainable hyper-local food system for hunger relief. They fundraise to pay summer high school and college students for Young Farmer Internships, and of course, rely on, and encourage, the help of volunteers and community members.
Rep. Bolinsky said he had a blast during his visit, adding: “I love what Sean and Dave are doing for our community and their love of the land. I can’t help but think back to a time when the family farm was everyone’s breadbasket and food production was more local. Who knows – we may see a resurgence in local farming, at least as a growing part of the bigger picture. It’s fresher, healthier, and less of a strain on our environment. I wish these good people all the best!”
Real Food CT grows a variety of fruits and vegetables – from green onions and bell peppers to asparagus and shitake mushrooms – that it transports to area food pantries and domestic violence shelters, among other locations.
“To have an organization that prides itself on sending healthy and fresh produce to our area food pantries to help those in need is just one of the many reasons that I’m proud to represent the 112th District,” said Rep. Tony Scott, R-Monroe, a member of the Newtown legislative delegation. “This organic farming is happening right here in Newtown, but benefits so many of our neighbors.”
Sticks and Stones Farm in Newtown serves as its home base, and Real food CT has an additional 30,000 square feet of cropland nestled in the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary. The two small farms in Newtown will approach a total of 30,000 pounds this year that goes to partner organizations, including the Community Food Rescue in Danbury, Walnut Hill Community Food Pantry, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, the Monroe Food Pantry and the FAITH Food Pantry in Newtown and several others.
Additionally, the program receives surplus produce from at least 14 area farms located in Oxford, Washington, Newtown, Southbury, and others. Local Giving Gardens at the Newtown High School and Newtown Victory Garden also contribute to an additional 25,000 pounds of donated produce every year.
You can follow Real Food CT at realfoodct.org for ways to get involved and join an organization building a fresh food infrastructure for our regional food pantries.
Representative Bolinsky encourages constituents in the 106th District to contact him at any time at Mitch.Bolinsky@housegop.ct.gov or by calling 860-240-8700. He also encourages folks to stay up-to-date on bills and future events by signing up for his email newsletter at www.RepBolinsky.com.
Representative Scott encourages constituents in the 112th District to contact him at any time at Tony.Scott@housegop.ct.gov or by calling 860-240-8700. They can also stay up-to-date on bills and future events by signing up for Rep. Scott’s email newsletter at www.RepScott.com.