Activate Southington 'mini-grants' will help gardens grow

Published on Monday, 21 May 2018 21:09


SOUTHINGTON - Activate Southington awarded “mini-grants” Monday to five local organizations and initiatives that are intended to promote long-term health and active living.

Representatives from the community-based collaborative, Activate Southington gathered at the YMCA to bestow checks for roughly $500 upon each organization. The money comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

John Myers, executive director of the Southington Community YMCA and a member of Activate Southington, said Activate Southington was founded nine years ago. It previously sought and received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to begin providing every school in town with a community garden. The organization also worked to establish bike lanes on Berlin Street, and they also help put on the Farmers Market.

“We started this organization to develop sustainable programs that would make Southington a healthier and more active place in the long term,” said Diane McNicholas-Botsacos, of Activate Southington.

“We’re excited to award these grants today and we hope that they will help to keep you going,” said Myers.

Grants were awarded to the following initiatives Monday:

n The Community Gardens Collaboration. Grant money was given to Southington High School to be used for the creation and maintenance of a Southington-wide garden website where information can be shared and used as a resource between the school garden clubs and community gardens.

n The JFK Eagles Garden. Grant money was given to John Duffy, Southington Public Schools’ science coordinator. The project will see the creation of a school garden at JFK School, which was the only school in town still without one. This will provide a farm to table experience for JFK students. Mark Lewis from Lewis Educational Agriculture Farm will assist students with planting and harvesting and will also provide other educational activities.

n YMCA Learning Center Gardens. Katie Sherman of the YMCA will accept the grant money to create new gardens and refurbish the existing gardens at the Y’s Learning Center, which will provide children with the opportunity to tend the gardens and discuss eating healthy and fresh food and well as other healthy and educational opportunities.

n Gardening 101: How to Incorporate the Joys of Gardening into Your Preschool Curriculum. Joanne Kelleher of the Early Childhood Collaborative will use this grant to plan and host a free workshop for child care providers about introducing gardening in their classroom programs and centers. These workshops will be taught by a master gardener and attendees will have the opportunity to plans and take home their first seeds. Materials will also be provided to allow these programs to purchase supplies.

n Leann Blanchard also accepted money for the Joy through Laughter Club. This is a group exercise program for Southington seniors 65 and older who use laughter exercises and breathing techniques to promote mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. The program is also intended to promote socialization for this population who are at risk of becoming isolated and suffering negative quality of life outcomes.

Activate Southington meets the third Monday of each month at Lewis Farms, at 384 Belleview Ave., at 3 p.m., or at the YMCA during the winter or during inclement weather.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Southington Herald on Monday, 21 May 2018 21:09. Updated: Monday, 21 May 2018 21:11.