The Burgdorf community garden located in Hartford’s North End has grown since last year — not only in the variety of produce but in the volunteers and organizations that help make the garden grow.
The garden is located on a plot of land adjacent to the Burgdorf/Bank of America Health Center on the corner of Tower Avenue and Coventry Street.
The Burgdorf, a community clinic that provides care for Hartford’s underserved population, is a collaboration between the Health Center and Saint Francis Hospital. Its medical director is Dr. Bruce Gould, associate dean for primary care at the UConn School of Medicine.
When asked about the Burgdorf Garden, Gould said that he’s “finally figured out the secret to a robust garden!” He shares his gardening secrets with UConn Today:
Q. How is the garden project going this year?
A. It’s going great. I finally figured out the secret to a robust garden — consistent water, compost, and….Miracle-Gro. We added compost when we rototilled in the spring. We watered it whenever it didn’t rain and doused it with Miracle-Gro every two weeks all summer.
Q. What did you grow?
A. We planted four varieties of tomatoes, bok choy, collard greens, broccoli, green peppers, jalapenos, eggplants (both purple and white), and cabbage. We planted sunflowers and marigolds along the edge of the garden. We also had volunteer crops (plants that we didn’t plant this year but popped up from seeds from last year’s garden that overwintered). Green beans, some sunflowers and tomatoes and callaloo (a West Indian green) grew spontaneously.
Q. Who is receiving this produce?
A. Our patients. We distribute our produce through WIC at the Hartford Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and through our medicine and pediatric clinics and through the emergency food bank at the Burgdorf.
Q. Who else is involved?
A.It takes a village to grow a garden. The Burgdorf staff, both UConn faculty and Saint Francis staff, as well as health department employees, pitched in — planting, weeding, tying tomatoes, and harvesting. Carmen Chaparo, a manager from the DHHS helped coordinate the garden. Andy Obelnicki, a retired Saint Francis Hospital nurse, grew many of the plants in Dixie cups on his window sill then showed up one day and planted. Jodi Terranova, a UConn pediatrician, and Ana Rivera, a Saint Francis Hospital pediatric nurse aid, were weeding machines. Husky Sport Summer students toiled in the hot sun all summer tending the garden. Even some of our patients pitched in. The Knox Park Foundation rototilled the garden in the spring. The Hartford Food System and its director, Martha Page, and her master gardener serve as our guides and advisors.
Q. Can anyone get involved in tending the garden?
A. We’re always looking for help. Anyone who likes pulling weeds or turning soil can get involved. We are planning to try to better engage the community next year.