Friends of Holcomb Farm — February 2024

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When you drive by the snow-swept Holcomb Farm fields along Simsbury Road in West Granby, you may think the Friends of Holcomb Farm are in hibernation. You would be wrong. This is our opportunity to take stock of what was learned in 2023, connect with our Fresh Access partners, get our new board members fully engaged in our work, and plan for 2024 and beyond. Here’s what’s up at YOUR community farm.

Jenny Emery

Fresh Access: The Impact is Real

In late fall, our Fresh Access team reviewed the 2023 season with each of our community partners and was very impressed with how these organizations are improving the lives of those in their communities. Local partners include the Granby Senior Center, the Waste Not Want Not Community Kitchen, Granby Congregational Church Open Cupboard, Healing Meals Community Project, and Granby Social Services. Our largest partners —Wheeler Healthcare (5 locations) and the Hispanic Health Council (Hartford) — provide produce, nutrition, and storage information, as well as delicious recipes for the weekly items. Healing Meals clients “feel the love in every bite” of the nourishing food made with Fresh Access produce. The freshness of the Holcomb Farm vegetables reminds some Hispanic Health Council clients of the tastes of their childhood.

Fresh Access delivered more than 12.5 tons of nutritious vegetables and 1.5 tons of local fruit to its seven community partners in 2023! These organizations distributed this healthy food to a combined total of more than 450 families every week throughout the 22-week growing season, reducing the amount of food insecurity in Hartford County and beyond.

Raising funds to cover the increasing produce and delivery charges remains a challenge and a priority. We are thankful to our generous supporters and grantors, especially the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Granby Community Fund, and our many individual donors. The Friends are planning several fundraisers in 2024, and pursuing grants to ensure this valuable program operates in the black and is sustainable. Watch for more information so you can support the cause. Of course, donations are welcome any time! You can donate online at or by mail, at 113 Simsbury Road, West Granby, CT 06090.

Fresh Access team members Jim Szipszky and Donna Snyder meet the Healing Meals CEO Sarah Leathers and Program and Education Manager Ayelet Connell. Photo by Amy Eisler
Fresh Access team members Amy Eisler and Donna Snyder meeting the Wheeler Healthcare President/CEO Sabrina Trocchi and Sr. Director of Health Operations Hartford, Keturah Kinch. Photo by Lori Armentano
Northwest Community Bank Foundation President Paul McLaughlin (right) presents their grant to help us restore our soil health to Friends of Holcomb Farm Managing Farmer Joe O’Grady and President Jenny Emery. Photo by Lisa Patrick
Snowy Holcomb Farm Trails. As soon as the skies cleared after a recent storm, folks were out breaking trail at Holcomb Farm. Photo by Sue Canavan

Stewardship: The Trails are Open

The delayed winter weather allowed stewardship volunteers to continue work on invasive management along the Tree Trail. Intrepid Friends came back in December for round two of rock wall clearing. Fine sunny weather made the work go fast. The cleared area on the east side of the wall will be seeded in the spring with a northern pasture mix.

Until then, and especially when the snow falls, we hope you will get out and enjoy these trails, as have others, evidenced by the ski and snowshoe prints.

Pictured l to r: Jack Lareau, Peggy Lareau, Dennis Orr, Eric Lukingbeal, Lynette Simpson, Austin White, Bill Simpson, Gary Adamson, and Walter Ford. Photo by Tree Trail Volunteer Sue Canavan

Farming: Feeding the Soil That Feeds Us

The summer rains not only forced us to cancel our Winter CSA, but also depleted the soil that Farmer Joe and his crew work so diligently to enhance throughout the year. We are so grateful to the Northwest Community Bank Foundation for coming to the rescue with a $5,000 grant to help us restore the soil’s health. This, together with an emergency grant from the State of Connecticut Department of Agriculture, raises our optimism for a great 2024 growing season. Summer CSA shares are still available, but they will sell out, so get yours now!