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Pittsfield Approves New Fiscal Sponsor For Community Gardens Program

David Frazier is walking through the Robbins Garden, part  of the Westside Community Garden Initiative in Pittsfield. The garden which hasn’t been planted for the season yet, is sprouting a few perennials like onions and carrots.

Frazier is chairman of the Westside Garden Community subcommittee. This garden, which was opened in 2007 on a city-owned lot, provides underserved Pittsfield residents with fresh produce in the summer months.

The City of Pittsfield recently unanimously approved a license agreement to allow Berkshire Health Systems to become the new fiscal sponsor of the gardens on Robbins Avenue. Through their Operation Better Start program, Berkshire Health Systems will take over the responsibilities previously held by the Berkshire Community Action Council to manage the gardens.

The City of Pittsfield will provide $10,000 through its Department of Community Development to assist BHS in hiring a garden manager to work in the garden this summer.

Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi says that continuing the community garden program in Pittsfield is an important part of providing nutritional and educational outreach to the city’s community.

Bianchi is currently in the process of reactivating the city’s Agricultural Commission and hopes they will participate and work with the city’s community gardens. The mayor also hopes to see the local schools all participate in gardening programs. Bianchi continues…

David Frazier says the gardens play an important role in connecting the city’s children to nature.

Frazier estimated that the Robbins Avenue garden alone last year provided around 1,500 pounds of fresh produce to area families. Area nonprofits like the Christian Center and the Solider On veteran’s wellness center have also participated in the garden efforts.

The Westside Initiative Steering Committee and hundreds of neighborhood residents volunteered in years past to work in the community garden.