Even when there are dark and cloudy skies, things will grow.
For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has upended our daily lives, requiring new ways of living and working. It has given us time to pause, to reflect, and reevaluate how we live and work and remember what is important – our health. It has also reinforced why our work, and that of our partners – supporting individuals, families and our community to eat well and stay active, to have a healthy environment, availability and access to resources and supports, and social interactions and relationships are so important. These factors keep us healthy.
It can be unsettling when many of the things we know and do to maintain our health become potential vectors for disease. But recognizing what we can do can be empowering. Now more than ever it is important to seize what we, although not all, can do – nourish our bodies with healthy foods.
Our partner Montclair Community Farms (MCF) has started hundreds of seedlings for their two farm sites in Montclair and to donate others to the community thanks to their new partnership with the Van Vleck House & Gardens and use of their expansive greenhouse. A variety of lettuces, kales, collards, herbs, tomatoes, carrots, peppers and other vegetables are growing and will be planted out in the coming weeks providing our community with access to local, fresh, and free and affordable food. MCF is also participating in a master canning class to learn and eventually teach how to safely preserve foods.
Like many others, MCF has seized the opportunity of individuals and families spending more time at home to bring their programs online and empower our community to grow, harvest, store, and cook their own food. Online programs will teach our community how to start and grow their own vegetable garden, how to utilize and preserve produce, and how to stay active and engaged outside whether on a nature-based treasure hunt or gardening. If we can’t nurture our human relationships in person, we can certainly nurture our relationships with nature.
Finally, while the last several weeks have brought a lot of concern and fear with the new and unknown, it has brought forth a tremendous amount of heart, resolve and resilience. We are proud of and grateful for the individuals and organizations who have stepped up with us and put their health and well-being behind others to ensure that everyone in our community has what they need to nourish their bodies. Toni’s Kitchen, the Human Needs Food Pantry, Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless, the Salvation Army, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County are providing essential food and social services to an increasing number of individuals and families. The Northeast Earth Coalition, A Lot to Grow, and Montclair Community Farms, continue their work to grow food for vulnerable populations. We encourage you to follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Even when there are dark and cloudy skies, things will grow.
About the Grantee
The Montclair Department of Health and Human Services provides a variety of services and programs through its various divisions. Our mission is to protect and enhance the health and the quality of life of Montclair residents through preventative activities, coordination of interagency efforts, and interventions designed to promote positive health behaviors.