About The Garden

Garden History

The East Lyme Giving Garden (ELGG) was founded by a group of local volunteers in early 2020 and began with 20 raised beds at the historic Samuel Smith House. In 2021, the Garden received 501©3 status and expanded to a four-acre field owned by the Flanders Baptist and Community Church. We are grateful for the church’s support for our mission.

During our inaugural 2021 season, community volunteers ranging in age from 8 to 80 helped to cultivate and harvest eight rows (100 feet long) of organically grown vegetables, and over 4,000 pounds of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bush/pole beans, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini. In 2022, we doubled our garden size and our harvest, thanks to our dedicated volunteers. In 2023, we grew almost 11,000 pounds. Our harvest is delivered to the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center which distributes it to shoreline soup kitchens, food banks, and directly to families in need. 

During our “off-growing season”, the Giving Garden team is active providing free educational programs on topics from composting to regenerative farming to nutritional awareness. These programs are held at the East Lyme Community Center. Watch our Calendar for details.

As our resources and volunteer numbers grow, we will continue to expand the garden and the impact we can have on food insecurity in our community. We look forward to working in the garden with more community groups and other volunteers, from school children to volunteer organizations, and welcoming the community to educational and special events. We believe we can make a difference, one volunteer and one bushel basket at a time!

2024 Board of Directors and Officers

President & Director of Operations and Education – Bruce Cohen

Assistant Director of Garden – Sally Uden

Treasurer & Assistant Director of Operations – Mark Malchiodi

Secretary  – Denise Dinsmore

Director of Volunteers & IT – Herb Petersen

Director of Marketing – Geri Johnson-Reis

Director of Grants – Keith Horspool

Director of Public Relations – Lisa Picarazzi

Director of Fundraising and Event Planning – Mary Ann Heenehan

Director at Large – David Ayers

“Partnering with East Lyme Giving Garden brings incredible value to our Food Center in New London with their fresh, local, high-quality vegetables. The produce that ELGG provides makes its way from their garden, to our Food Center and then the real impact happens;  21 towns, to 63 agencies, to 15,000 individuals. Stop and think about that incredible impact we achieve between just our two organizations!  1 in 4 children in NL County are currently food insecure and together we’re genuinely making a difference.”

- Scott Umbel, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Southeastern Connecticut