The New Hampshire Food Bank's production garden was started in 2008 with the goal of producing fresh vegetables for the Recipe for Success Culinary Job Training program, the Cooking MattersR program, and for distribution to our agencies. The garden is also an educational tool for the larger community, working with at-risk teens, refugee farmers, community groups, and corporate volunteers. It is located on an acre of land on loan from the NH Youth Development Center on North River Road in Manchester. In our first year, using 1/4 acre the garden yielded 2,581 pounds of vegetables. In 2009 we expanded the garden to 1/2 acre, however harsh weather conditions limited our harvest to 1,445 pounds of vegetables.
This garden was started through the generosity of RiverStone Resources LLC and a Home Depot Community Grant, and since our first year we have developed many working relationships in the community. To help us get started, the UNH Cooperative Extension mentored us about planting and soil recommendations, and they also grew our seedlings for our first two years to jump start the cultivation. In 2009 we began working with the International Institute of New Hampshire (IINH), a non-profit organization that works with refugees who wish to farm. We currently share an acre of land on North River Road with the IINH. The Timberland Company out of Stratham, NH, selected our production garden for the site of their volunteer service on Earth Day, and they installed a fence that encloses our land, created side gardens, and built raised beds for theme gardens. Additionally, since 2009 the Food Bank has been working with My Turn, a program for intervention and drop-out prevention for teenagers. As a result, a handful of teens were given summer jobs caring for the garden throughout the summer of 2009.
In 2010, we began a partnership with DS Cole Growers in Loudon NH and Cole Gardens in Concord NH to cultivate our seedlings, and St. Anselm College granted the Food Bank the use of 1/4 acre at the old Clarks Farm in Bedford to develop an additional garden site. In partnership with the St. Anselm College Liberty Garden project, the NH Catholic Charities Immigration & Refugee Services, and the NH Farm Workers Council, the Food Bank had a successful season: 3,013 pounds was harvested from North River Road, and 3,942 pounds was harvested from St. Anselm College site, totaling 6,955 pounds for the year.
FAQs about the Production Garden:
What kinds of vegetables do we grow?
Over the last three years, we have grown tomatoes, corn, kabocha, summer squash, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, butternut squash, buttercup, and eggplant just to name a few!
Do you need volunteers?
Yes! We rely on volunteers to help us plant, maintain, and harvest our gardens. If you are interested in receiving email updates about volunteering for the garden, please contact our Garden Coordinator, Jason Rivers, at
or by calling (603) 669-9725 x238, and sign up to join our Green Thumbs.
Can I bring children to help in the garden?
Yes- gardening is a wonderful experience for children, and it teaches them about growing vegetables and helping others at the same time. We have had many school groups and families help in our garden, and its always a great experience! We do, however, require groups which include any children under the age of 18 to bring their own chaperones, and each child will need their parent or legal guardian to sign a waiver before they can volunteer. We can send these to you in advance, so please contact Jason for more information!
When do you need volunteers?
During the spring, we need volunteers to help us prepare our garden for planting. The summer months are filled with watering, weeding, and harvesting some produce, and the fall is filled with harvesting as well as maintenance. We often have groups at the garden during the work day, but we can also schedule groups for late afternoons and weekends.