Families in Transition receives approval for community garden

MANCHESTER — An organization that helps homeless families has won city approvals for an ambitious community garden in the Hollows neighborhood, a garden that will include everything from fruit trees to a learning center that teaches about food and cooking skills.

Last week, the Manchester Planning Board issued approvals to Families in Transition, which plans to build the garden and learning center on a half-acre of land that runs between Spruce and Cedar street.

Families in Transition hopes to use food grown in the garden to supplement the 25,000 meals that it serves at its Family Place Resource Center and Shelter downtown.

The learning center will teach people where food comes from, said Michele Talwani, vice president of marketing and economic development for the organization.

“It’s going to have a true community feel,” Talwani said. Neighbors will have access to the land to plant some gardens, neighborhood residents will learn about growing vegetables and volunteers will help to plant and cultivate the gardens, she said.

Conceptual plans for the lot include a four-flag memorial garden, a sculpture, a pizza garden and brick oven, raised beds for community planting, a children’s play area, a sacred seating area, a forest garden, an herb garden, picnic tables, a 3,700-square-foot learning center topped by solar panels, a beehive, and winding stone-dust pathways.

Those ideas were developed during brainstorming sessions with people interested in the garden, and are subject to change, Talwani stressed.

The garden shares a city block with a four-unit apartment building that Families in Transition started leasing out last summer.

The soil on-site will be used, but Talwani said additional soil will be brought in if necessary. Soil will be tested for contaminants, she said.

Talwani said Families in Transition hopes to start work this summer, which will involve having a volunteer coordinator work with volunteers and community groups. Planting probably won’t take place until late summer or early fall, she said.

She said volunteer and community support is essential for the project to succeed. A fundraising effort will soon be launched to build the learning center, she said.

“Our goal is to really teach kids and their parents how to eat healthier,” Talwani said.

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Read more at: http://www.unionleader.com/human-interest/Families-in-Transition-receives-approval-for-community-garden-04262017

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