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Health Center Today, June 22, 2011

Garden Has Roots in the Community

By Chris DeFrancesco

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A small vegetable garden in Hartford’s north end symbolizes a community partnership involving the UConn Health Center, the Hartford Department of Health and Human Services, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford Food System and the Knox Parks Foundation.

The idea behind the garden, located at the Burgdorf/Bank of America Health Center on the corner of Tower Avenue and Coventry Street, is to bring staff, clients and neighborhood families together to foster strong relationships focused on health.

The Burgdorf, a community clinic that provides care for Hartford’s underserved population, is a collaboration between the Health Center and Saint Francis. Its medical director is Dr. Bruce Gould, UConn School of Medicine associate dean for primary care.

“We are thrilled to join together and get our hands dirty in this community service project designed to strengthen our own roots in the neighborhood we serve,” says Gould, who also serves as medical director of the Hartford Department of Health and Human Services. “As the fruit trees and vegetable plants grow, so will our relationships with local families.”

The produce will go to the community through the Saint Francis Food Bank, located in the Burgdorf building. The Knox Parks Foundation, a Hartford organization dedicated to enhancing the city’s horticulture, is providing expertise, manpower and equipment to maintain the garden.

“Our partners work with us every day to build a healthy Hartford,” says HHS Director Carlos Rivera. “What better way to collaborate than to grow fresh vegetables and offer our neighbors and clients a learning experience coupled with healthy food?”