CLCC Updates, News and Notes
Though we are not quite out of the woods yet in regards to the CoVid-19 pandemic, we are seeing improvements throughout the state and region. This gives us great hope and allows us to open our doors a little more to events, programs, and other activities. We know that, of course, things can change at any moment and safety will continue to be our top priority. Here is where we stand on June 4th:
CLCC received funds from the SBA's Payroll Protection Program along with wonderful support from many of our loyal donors, friends, and neighbors. During this difficult time we were able to retain all staff at regular hours and have been developing plans to continue moving forward. We thank each of you for your support.
The Farm: Field Hands, Volunteers, CSA and Farm Stand
Following social distancing protocols, we are thrilled to bring on our first four paid workers with developmental disabilities. Though characterized or "labeled" with a disability, the four young men are anything but, as our late friend Richard Dienst would say "we need to focus on one's abilities, not their disabilities". Our Operations Manager, Lexie, is excited to be working with our new Field Hands on our CSA gardens, mum planting, and other skills. The skills we teach through this exciting program are not bound to just gardening or farming, but also include developing soft skills like teamwork, coordinating efforts with co-workers, social skills in the workplace, confidence, communication, and knowing ones own skills.
Developing these vocational skills and proving they are valuable has led to additional grants and the program will continue to be funded, and funded well, for the next year. The ELCA Deaconess Fund, the NewAlliance Fund and a currently unnamed source have teamed up to contribute $46,000 to the program over the next 12 months. With these funds we will be able to develop a robust program focused on improving the economic independence of adults with developmental disabilities through agri-business. All four of our new Field Hands began their work the week of June 1st.
Volunteers are now welcome on the farm in a less limited capacity than the previous two months. We do ask that you wear a mask when in close proximity to others and if you are feeling ill, we do ask that you stay home. We do have masks available on site and a thermometer (both provided by the Town of Coventry) for health and safety. Staff is permitted to take the temperature of any volunteers to ensure safety; anyone with a temperature over 100 degrees should not be on the farm. Volunteer groups of more than 10 are not permitted at this time. For any volunteer inquiries please email Lexie (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our CSA gardens are making fine progress. Though a cold spring, for the most part, we are growing now! Irrigation systems have been set up, we have a wonderful hoop house, very nice walk-in cooler and will set up a welcoming spot near the house for CSA pick-up. We will be supplementing the first few weeks of our CSA with microgreens and some local products to ensure a good takeaway each week for our shareholders.
Farmstand and Sitework
If you visit our property, or drive by, you may soon see activity in the front field. This is the site work for a parking lot and expansion of the driveway which will serve our farm stand! At this time, we plan to have a farm-stand operating two days per week (Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings) beginning in late July or early August. In addition to some of the beautiful products grown on the farm, we also plan to sell other locally sourced produce, baked goods, honey, soaps, and hand made decor. We are thrilled to be making this important first step in property development.
Greenhouse, Arts, and Recreation Programs
Unfortunately, the CoVid-19 pandemic has hit restaurants extremely hard; two restaurants we serve have decided to permanently close their doors. In turn, the demand for microgreens as this time has all but been depleted. Additionally, we have learned late on June 5th that all activities at the Tolland Agricultural Center (TAC), where our greenhouse is located, have been suspended until further notice. We are working hard to find a new location for Arts in the Afternoon and we look forward to coming up with a solution soon.
Respite and Recreation
Many indoor amusement activities (bowling) will begin opening in the next several weeks. However, in the interest of safety and the warm summer months, we will be shifting to some outdoor Yoga on the farm, in lieu of bowling! We will work out dates and times over the next two weeks and let everyone know about this exciting program.
Farm to Table Dinner
We are adapting to our circumstances and bringing you a very exciting version of our popular Farm to Table Dinner. You can read all about it here. If you're interested in sponsoring or contributing a silent auction item, I would love to hear from you (send me an email). Our largest fundraiser of the year, we are excited to bring you a Farm to Table dinner that features produce from our farm and neighboring farms, Taino's Smokehouse will be preparing the meal, Highland Park will provide some dessert, and though we might not be able to sit together, we're going to have a great time!
Collaborating with Journey Found and Corporation for Independent Living (CiL), we are entering a new phase of development for our residential housing project. CiL, with decades of experience building housing for adults with disabilities, will be aiding the staff and board members in a re-visioning exercise, market analysis and feasibility study to further the development on the property. Journey Found will also be instrumental in navigating state agency systems to assist families and staff group home options. We are very excited to continue work with these organizations and formalizing partnerships. While no timeline is available for beginning construction at this time, we are very optimistic that this path will lead to residential housing on the farm in the near future. If you would like more information on the path we are taking, I would be happy to speak with you further.
Birdies for Charity
Lastly, a friendly reminder that the 2020 Birdies for Charity campaign expires at the end of the month! The Travelers Championship increases the impact of every donation by 15% on gifts made through June 28th; so for every $100 you donate, CLCC receives $115; this makes a significant difference for CLCC each year. Please click here to donate through Birdies!
I thank you for your time and continued support of CLCC, and I hope to see you on July 18th for the Farm to Table Dinner!