Community Gardens Teach New Haven Teens and Adults Importance of Living off the Land

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In early May, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven held its annual Great Give, an event to raise money for non-profits in Connecticut.

This year, a total of $1.3 million was donated through the campaign. One of the biggest winners was the New Haven Land Trust, an organization that’s teaching kids and adults the importance of living off the land.

“We want people in New Haven to have more access to open space and to learn about healthy eating and we do that through our 50 community gardens throughout the city and our nature preserves,” explained Justin Elicker, the executive director of the New Haven Land Trust.

The goal of the non-profit is to empower people to grow food themselves.

“We also grow organic food and it’s also an opportunity for people to meet each other and break down some of the barriers that we often see in our communities,” Elicker explained.

Through the New Haven Land Trust’s Growing Entrepreneurs program, teens like Xavier Hernández Roman are learning business and green job skills while also earning an income.

“We plant,” Roman explained of the program. “We make beds for over 50 gardens in new haven. We help people with their problems in the garden.”

Roman hopes his experience here will translate into a business of his own.

“My ultimate goal is to get a lot of job skills because I would like to be a carpenter,” Roman said.

Organizations like New Haven Land Trust rely on donations from the community, especially those from this year’s Great Give campaign.

“The Great Give is a 36-hour online giving challenge where we try to inspire the community to support non-profits that they believe in,” explained Jackie Downing, the director of grant making and non-profit effectiveness at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

“We involved 470 non-profits and we were happy to have more than 8,000 donors make 11,000 gifts during that 36 hours,” Downing said.

The New Haven Land Trust received donations from more than 500 individual donors — the most out of any of the participating non-profits.

“Including prize money, the New Haven Land Trust raised about $44,000, which for us we’re a small organization is a really big deal and allows us to do so much more,” Elicker said.

More for the community they call home.

To learn more about the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and their annual Great Give, visit For more on the New Haven Land Trust, visit

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