[Excerpt] At a dead-end street in a blighted section of this city, crumbling roofs of old factories, smokestacks and the Interstate 95 overpass loom overhead, casting long shadows on an October afternoon. Along one end of a field, children play soccer; on the other, men stand around motorcycles, sipping from beer cans.
This is hardly the city’s garden spot. Yet alongside the street, on a quarter-acre of land tucked between a muddy parking lot and the Quinnipiac River, a garden does grow; a lush, well-tended vegetable garden, where, on a recent Tuesday, about 35 people, most of them local residents, were busily harvesting carrots and kale that they helped raise.
Along with six similar gardens in the area, most of them on tiny plots that were once vacant, they make up New Haven Farms, overseen by an innovative nonprofit organization that seeks to channel the fruits (and vegetables) of the urban garden movement to the residents of the Fair Haven section in the northeastern part of the city. Most of the area’s about 16,500 residents live below the federal poverty line. Seven in 10 are overweight or obese, and 13 percent are diabetic, according to DataHaven, a New Haven data collection and distribution group.