The United Way of Southeastern Connecticut’s Day of Giving at Coogan Farm on Monday June 23 was transformative for The Giving Garden. By the end of the day, three plots of the garden were on schedule to be completed and ready for planting.
Between 75 and 100 volunteers spent all or part of the day at Coogan Farm, shoveling, raking, spreading seaweed and mulch, clearing brush, cutting bamboo, and planting vegetables. The event was organized by the United Way and sponsored by Mohegan Sun, which supplied the majority of the volunteers. A special shout-out to Mohegan Sun human resources manager Kyle Fusaro, who organized the day.
The Giving Garden is the result of an agreement signed in February by the Nature Center, United Way of Southeastern Connecticut and the Robert G. Youngs Family Foundation. The garden will provide fresh food to thousands of hungry residents of New London County daily via the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center based in New London.
This spring, a dedicated corps of volunteers have been working weekly with garden manager Ian Cooke to ready some of the two acres for planting. With the Coogan Farm lying fallow for a number of years, there was considerable work to be done to clear the land. All of it was done in the most environmentally sound way possible, including the introduction of five Berkshire pigs to the land to act as nature’s rototillers.
Currently one plot has been ‘adopted’ and is being worked by the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation of New London.
On Monday, the volunteers arrived at 8 a.m., shuttled by Mohegan Sun from Mystic Seaport’s parking lot. By mid-day the first plot had been fully planted and three new plots were well on their way. In addition, Mohegan Sun’s engineering department was deployed to the back of the two-acre garden to clear overgrowth, shrubs and invasive species. Mohegan Sun donated lunch and drinks for all participants and picnic tables as well. The day ended at 3 p.m.