Grow-A-Row Sustains Bridgeport

Earlier this year, it was estimated that 25% of all Bridgeport residents lacked reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food.

And that was before the coronavirus.

The pandemic has made the food insecurity situation worse — both because more people are economically vulnerable, and fewer are able or willing to donate to food pantries and soup kitchens.

Sustainable Westport is riding to the rescue.

The townwide organization — which already promotes a Zero Food Waste Challenge, encouraging composting, food scrap recycling and redistribution to food insecure people — has ramped up their efforts.

They’ve partnered with Christ & Holy Trinity Church and Westport Community Garden.

The Garden’s Grow-a-Row initiative encourages Westporters to plant an extra row in their gardens, then donate a portion of their harvest to our food insecure neighbors in Bridgeport.

Westport Community Garden provides gardeners row markers to indicate a portion of their plot for donations.

There is already a collection bin at the garden, on Hyde Lane. Now everyone else can drop off produce in green bins inside Christ & Holy Trinity’s Branson Hall. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.

Donated food is brought to the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (the FEED Center). Student chefs convert the produce into delicious meals, for distribution in soup kitchens. Some of the produce also goes to the United Congregational Church in Bridgeport, for its Feel the Warmth supper.

Vito Pidalla is a graduate of Chef Raquel Rivera’s intensive culinary training program. Rivera, owner of a Pinch of Salt of Bridgeport, provides culinary training for low-income residents for food industry employment and entrepreneurial ventures.

Grow-a-Row is a collaborative effort between the Church’s Aileen Brill and the Community Garden’s Amy Unikewicz. Both organizations have a long history of providing food to the needy.

NEXT COURSE: Sustainable Westport sponsored a webinar on eating more with less. Click here to see.

A sampling of the food donations grown and collected at the Westport Community Garden through the Grow-A-Row initiative.

4 responses to “Grow-A-Row Sustains Bridgeport

  1. Kathleen Kiley

    Thanks Dan for covering this story. Amy is a powerhouse and all the gardeners contributing are amazing – and they have so much knowledge about growing. So many people contribute to helping making the Westport Community Garden a success. Shout out to Lou, too!

    • “Lou” is Lou Weinberg. He oversees the Westport Community Garden with great efficiency, tremendous knowledge, and tons of love. He — and it — are winners!

  2. Amy Unikewicz

    Thanks for shining your light on our Grow-A-Row initiative, Dan! Our Community Garden in Westport, led by Lou, is a truly special place, and the generosity of our gardeners has been incredible. Members have not only donated so much of their home-grown tomatoes, squash, herbs, etc.—my count is close to 60 grocery bags of produce thus far—but they’ve also donated countless hours planting, tending, watering, harvesting, and many drop off/deliveries to Branson Hall (gratitude to Steven Chin) to make this all happen. And our Staples volunteers, Emma Alcyone, Sophie Alcyone, and Scarlett Sladek have been invaluable to the project, as well. A true community effort of neighbors helping neighbors.

  3. Great initiative!