Why Small Businesses Matter
Shop small, do big things for your community
Why Small Businesses Matter puts a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community. The shop local movement spreads virally as local businesses who are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!
You're IT Reservoir Community Farm!
Four questions with Briana Wahl, Director of Operations at Reservoir Community Farm.
Why did you start your business?
Green Village Initiative (GVI) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to grow food, knowledge, leadership, and community through urban gardening and farming to create a more just food system in Bridgeport. Currently, there are four main programs at GVI: Youth Leadership Program, School Gardens Program, Community Gardens Program, and Reservoir Community Farm.
GVI was founded in 2011 by a group of volunteers based in Westport.
Over the course of approximately one year, these volunteers built twenty-three school gardens throughout Bridgeport. In 2015 Green Village Initiative converted a vacant lot that was once a thriving community of small businesses, all originally on Paugussett Land, into an educational urban farm, Reservoir Community Farm. Reservoir Community Farm is now home to over forty community gardens plots, employs up to seventeen employees, including a paid Youth Summer program.
Tell me about Reservoir Community Farm
We have grown significantly. We were able to completely rebuild school gardens based in Bridgeport at no cost to the schools. Through a partnership with Housatonic Community College, we are able to provide up to seven college credits for high school-aged youth who participates in our summer programs.
Through a partnership with UCONN called the Urban Farmer Training Program, we've supported the launch of Black Owned Urban Farms and small, local businesses. At Reservoir Community Farm we are able to officially provide a Farmer's Market in the Reservoir Neighborhood as we partner with local businesses including Blissful Awakenings and Park City Harvest to provide fresh produce at below-market prices.
The Bridgeport Farmers Market Collaborative also provides "Bridgeport Bucks" which is a form of currency that provides $5 to spend at Farmer's Markets throughout Bridgeport.
How many local businesses do you use to support Reservoir Community Farm (products and services) and can you name them?
We rely on and partner with several small businesses throughout Bridgeport for providing meals for youth and programs, hosting free workshops, or providing produce for local food businesses. Those businesses are:
- Park City Harvest
- Blissful Awakenings
- Leisha's Bakeria
- Dave's Angry Sauce
- The Wiggle Room
- Ganim's Garden Center
- A Pinch of Salt
- Nourish Bridgeport
- The Mary and Eliza Freeman Community Center
- Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe
Have you "reimagined" Reservoir Community Farm?
GVI in 2020 for the first time hired 4 full-time program managers and a full-time Director of Operations, this was the first time in our history when we've had this many full-time employees with benefits which allows us to accomplish more while ensuring we are an equitable place to work.
At Reservoir Community Farm we are the only educational urban farm in Bridgeport where our goal is not to sell the most productive but to be an outdoor community resource for learning and growing food in Bridgeport.
HamletHub thanks Fairfield County Bank for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!