Greenwich Land Trust and Abilis Partner to Help Greenwich Land Trust Grow, Produce and Learn

Greenwich Land Trust and Abilis have been working together to grow and harvest a record amount of fresh produce for the Neighbor to Neighbor food pantry. Last year, more than 1,300 pounds of fresh produce was donated thanks to the help of volunteers from the Abilis LEAP program, who spent many hours harvesting
washing, and packaging the produce from Greenwich Land Trust’s gardens each week.

Back row (left to right): Kevin Pagani (Abilis staff), William Petrow, Betzaida Hernandez, Jason Kornfield, Shannalee Davis, Daniel Radin, Alexandra Frumin, Ross Perry, William Holton, Hayden Bitteker, Eve Estiverne (Abilis staff) Front row kneeling (left to right): Dean Fausel (Greenwich Land Trust) and Pablo Ramos (Abilis staff)

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an unprecedented demand for food in our community. Throughout the summer and fall, Abilis program participants volunteered their time to work in Greenwich Land Trust’s gardens and made sure those in need in our community received vital fresh produce. This winter and spring, Abilis volunteers are continuing their weekly visits to Greenwich Land Trust’s Mueller Preserve to help start seedlings and prepare the gardens for this year’s growing season.

Other tasks during the colder months included removing snow, assisting with composting, spreading wood chips in garden beds, and organizing the barns and gardening tools.

“Throughout every season, Abilis volunteers engage in a variety of activities that are an enormous help to GLT in so many ways,” said Will Kies, Greenwich Land Trust Executive Director. “We are grateful for their hard work and positive energy.”

Greenwich Land Trust and Abilis have been cultivating a partnership since 2017 when the Abilis Gardens & Gifts greenhouse was undergoing renovations. During that time, Greenwich Land Trust opened its greenhouse at the Mueller Preserve to a group of Abilis program participants who needed the space to work on their microgreen and specialty herb business.

Abilis Gardens & Gifts provides meaningful job training and work experiences to program participants and the garden center is part of that. The microgreens from Abilis Gardens & Gifts are provided to area restaurants for culinary greens and specialty herbs and are grown organically and delivered fresh.

Abilis LEAP program participants who volunteer at Greenwich Land Trust include: Dana Velander, William Holton, John McShane, Shanalee Davis, Alexandra Frumin, Hallie Corba, and Alyssa Caraballo.

“We can’t thank GLT enough for their wonderful partnership with Abilis,” said Amy Montimurro, President and CEO of Abilis. “Our Abilis LEAP program works toward providing our program participants with life skills, employment, advocacy, and partnership. LEAP helps young adults experience a seamless transition into adult life – their work with GLT has been very helpful with providing additional job training and new skills. It has been an added benefit for the Abilis LEAP program participants to be able to broaden their horticultural experience significantly. Our partnership these last four years has continued to blossom.” Montimurro also noted that the Abilis LEAP programs are based in Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, Wilton, and Ridgefield.

“Working with the program participants from Abilis has allowed Greenwich Land Trust to fulfill its core mission of connecting the community with the natural world. Together, Greenwich Land Trust and Abilis look forward to another fruitful season this year with the goal of stocking the food pantry shelves with even more fresh produce,” said Kies.