The Longmont Y will be closed Aug 15-17 for annual maintenance. The pool will be closed Aug 13-17.

FOOD PROJECT FARM

A PARTNERSHIP WITH GROWING GARDENS

growing-gardensWalking up to the Ed & Ruth Lehman YMCA in Longmont, one of the first things you’ll notice is a sprawling garden. It may seem out of place in this urban setting, but this garden is an integral part of the community. The Food Project Farm helps provide fresh fruits and vegetables to an area that is considered a food desert, a USDA-designated area where food is non-existent, unhealthy or too expensive.

When the neighborhood surrounding the YMCA in Longmont was declared a food desert, the staff at the Y decided to start applying for grants to turn the unused land on their property into a garden. The garden opened in 2010. 

However, in 2016 the YMCA partnered with Growing Gardens, a local nonprofit whose mission is to enrich the Boulder Valley community through sustainable urban agriculture by helping people to experience a direct and deep connection with plants, the land and each other. As a result of the partnership, the Food Project Farm harvested 10,297 pounds of fresh produce during the 2017 season. All of that produce was donated to local charities that help feed thousands of Longmont residents in need. 

The Food Project Farm is a driving force to unite the community in Longmont. Volunteers work on the farm to learn about organic and sustainable farming and to build a stronger sense of community. Children from YMCA Inspire Preschool and Y after-school programs learn where their food comes from and they can taste and prepare fresh healthy snacks from the farm.

In 2017, there were 8,819 individuals who benefitted from the farm, whether they received produce grown on the farm, volunteered or participated in one of the free educational program offered. More than 240 volunteers gave 1,688 hours of their time to help make the farm successful and feed their community.

The farm also offers a Horticultural Therapy Program, where the participants are young people on the autism spectrum. Working in the garden and greenhouse helps them to develop life and employment skills after high school. 

The Y is excited to partner with a variety of local nonprofit organizations in order to make the reach of the Food Project Farm as large as possible.

“We partnered with Community Food Share and El Comite de Longmont to distribute food to families in need. We also worked with OUR Center, I Have A Dream, Boulder County WIC, Blue Ribbon Farm and more…,” explains Jessica Collins, Executive Director of the Longmont Y. “The 2016 season and 2017 season brought along our partnership with Growing Gardens, and with their expertise and use of the greenhouse, our distribution doubled!”