Here at Billings Forge we create wonderful food in our sustainable cafes and catering businesses; we run a yearlong farmers market where everyone comes to put food on their family table, we grow food together in our community garden and cook and share our problems and our hopes and dreams. We use food to change lives, build community, and create opportunities. When you support our businesses, you support this mission.
Food is the tool we use to empower. Food is the investment that produces healthy children learning and playing, parents parlaying opportunity and training into personal success and stable families, and residents transforming their neighborhood into a model of vitality and shared experience.
The objective: joining our neighbors to make progress with them, not simply trying to do it for them.
And that is what we are achieving, not just in Frog Hollow but in new areas of Hartford, too.
Since 2007, we at BFCW have focused not on what our neighborhoods are missing, but what is already there. We have built on the skills and vitality of talented residents to construct an infrastructure of promise. We have partnered with wise and experienced community leaders to shape programs serving children and families. And we have used the delicious benefits of fresh food to spur investment, support, good health and future employment for the entire community.
Billings Forge Community Works is shaping sustainable tools, programs and resources. We are coordinating efforts to develop leaders within the community and building bridges to resources and friends outside of it. We have learned lessons and perfected methods in Frog Hollow that we are now employing across the city:
- The Kitchen at Billings Forge now has a sister, The Kitchen at Hartford Public Library, where we run another café and catering operations!
- Job training that began on a shoestring — and served just those living at Billings Forge — now enjoys support from Community Partners in Action, Open Hearth, Journey Home, Easter Seals, Goodwill, the Governor’s Second Chance Initiative and is thus able to accept job referrals from all across the city!
- The year-round Farmers Market, developed to bring fresh food to our neighbors in Frog Hollow, now feeds families across the city thanks to our double valuing of food subsidies, a federal SNAP grant and bus service supported by the Hartford and Aetna.
- We gather neighbors together to break bread, share resources, and advocate around issues of food access, food justice and food security, and neighborhood challenges, resulting in real change
The heart of our effort–using the wonders of food to nourish our neighbors and provide them with opportunity–still beats powerfully in Frog Hollow. But the impact of BFCW’s strength and vitality is widening, reaching out to new neighbors and communities across the city, bringing opportunities for growth, good health, personal success and family stability to hundreds of households each year.