Pots have popped up all over Hartford and they’re providing food, jobs and art to the capital city.
Fourteen of them, some on Gold Street while others are on Main Street, are scattered around downtown and each is packed with organic vegetables that are free to pick.
They’re called “beat of the street” pots or “BOTS” pots, according to the Charter Oak Cultural Center.
"My mother was a gardener, and we grew a lot of our own food," said Louisa Barton-Duguay, an artist. "I think all my life [I've] been an artist and been painting on things, painting on rocks outside, and so it was pretty natural to want to paint on something outside, especially combining it with a garden."
The center told Eyewitness News that they hope it’ll grow beyond 14.
It said the pots are maintained by six people who are paid for their work.
A season runs from May to October and in that time, all kinds of vegetables are grown and free to anyone in need.
"To know that someone is going to have something on their table that they couldn't get at a store, that means everything,” said Justin Sweetwater, project coordinator, BOTS Pots.
Sweetwater said the initiative began in 2011.
A new pot costs $1,500 to fund. That price takes care of seeds, fertilizer and goes towards paying the people who care for the plants.
“We hire homeless people or people who are formerly homeless, people in the homeless community, to tend the pots, and we train them to do that and we pay them,” said Rabbi Donna Berman, executive director, Charter Oak Center. “And then we have artists paint the pots. So, it's food, jobs and art for Hartford."
Berman said BOTS pots are a systematic approach to serving low-income neighborhoods.
“We're trying to really make a contribution to this city and really there are so many people in need, and this is a pretty easy thing to do,” she said. “We're put on this Earth just to care about each other. And this is just a nurturing, beautiful, caring thing to do and everybody involved in it, even people who are just walking by them. Everybody is blessed by it."
In Connecticut, the pots are unique to Hartford and completely funded through donations, according to the Charter Oak Cultural Center.
Anyone interested in contributing can head to the Chart Oak center’s website here.
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