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What is Growing Gardens? 

This program supports partner agencies in building and maintaining on-site gardens in which they grow culturally appropriate food that reflects the needs and visions of the communities the agencies serve. The goals of the program are to: 

  1. Support all clients of partner agencies in developing healthy lifestyles, job skills, and social connection through gardening together;
  2. Provide a supportive environment for people to exercise greater voice and choice in what they eat and feed themselves and their families;
  3. Engage youth and seniors in leadership and intergenerational community connection and; 
  4. Contribute to wider local/regional efforts targeting hunger, food sovereignty, and climate/economic resilience as it pertains to food security. 

The program provides financial support, community-led training and skills development for agency staff and constituents, employment opportunities for youth and adults, and a network of agency-gardeners to resource and connect with. 

How does the program work? 

Participating agencies have a variety of goals. Some agencies aim to grow enough food for residents to regularly cook with. Other agencies focus on flowers and herbs to provide beauty and tastes of home. Other agencies prioritize having a safe space for youth. We support each agency with their unique needs and goals.  

Participating agencies also have a variety of site opportunities and limitations. We work with each agency to assess what kind of garden will work for their site – outdoor or indoor growing, raised beds or containers, wheelchair accessible beds or ground level beds, etc. 

Each participating Agency has a three-year cycle in the program. The first two years focus on establishing/expanding your garden and developing community engagement strategies, and the third year focuses on logistical and financial sustainability of your garden moving forward.  

By the end of the three-year cycle, we aim for agencies to have knowledge, skills, and community engagement strategies in place to continue to expand and refine their community-led garden programs, including understanding where and how to access material resources, technical assistance, and further funding. Participating agencies remain part of Rachel’s Table’s vendor donation programs and the extended Growing Gardens network. 

Who are your community partners? 

We partner with NOFA/Mass to provide technical expertise and quality training for program participants. Volunteer liaisons partner with agencies to provide a sounding board and support garden program implementation. Participating agencies so far include: 

  • Cohort 1 (onboarded in 2022): Friends of the Homeless, Robinson Gardens, Christina’s House, St. Andrews Church
  • Cohort 2 [onboarded in 2023]: Seniority House, Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, The Gray House, Open Pantry
  • Cohort 3 [onboarded in 2024]: Independence House, Ronald McDonald House, Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts 

Cookbook & Winter Seed Sowing Guide
made by Chirstina’s House kids

 “We have a large Latino population at our site and they were excited to grow vegetables and herbs for Sofrito. The residents mentioned that they were missing a particular herb (recao) that they can only get in Puerto Rico. When one of the other residents went to Puerto Rico to visit family, she brought it back so the group could grow it in their garden… Prior to the raised beds being installed at the site, the garden area was only utilized by our male tenants. Once the raised beds were installed, a group of female residents signed up and the garden was no longer only utilized by male tenants. The female residents added bright garden decorations and management put up a gazebo and purchased an outdoor table and chairs for the area… Approximately 15 people regularly worked on or visited the garden. The group formed a close bond, and it became a new means of socialization for them.” (RSC Team Lead, Seniority House)

“We had a child that never had kale before and the mother was so surprised when the kids alongside a GG volunteer made kale chips and the baby could not stop eating them. It was wholesome. The children have called Garden fun and especially when they made smoothies with the kale. (Executive Director, Christina’s House) 

If you’d like to volunteer with or become a participating agency in Growing Gardens, contact Cara at

To make a donation to help sustain this program in the future, contact Jodi at


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