Cleaning up the Community: Elbit Systems lends a hand for ‘Good Deeds Day’

Courtesy photo About 20 volunteers from Elbit Systems of America in Merrimack on Thursday help clean up a site at the ReGenerative Roots community farm. They also spread compost and extended some of the raised beds for the community garden.

NASHUA – Elbit Systems of America workers got their hands dirty Thursday afternoon as they helped clean up a farm in their community.

About 20 volunteers visited the ReGenerative Roots Community Farm to participate in Elbit’s “Good Deeds Day.” This was established by Harold Gill, chairman of the board for ReGenerative Roots, who works as a Quality Analyst at Elbit Systems.

Two years ago, Sullivan Farm, which is the last operating farm in the city of Nashua, gave ReGenerative Roots permission to revitalize about three acres of the farm’s land.

Since then, ReGenerative Roots Executive Director Andrew Morin said the organization has transformed three-quarters-of-an-acre into community gardens for people who want to grow in large plots, but don’t have the land/resources to do so.

Morin said the organization’s vision is for the entire three-acre plot to be revitalized into an active community farm. The goal is to have a community farm that offers various educational opportunities and hosts multiple community events throughout the year.

Those community events include volunteer days. The volunteers helped clean up a site that will by used by a young farmer as part of Regenerative Roots’ Young Farmer Incubator.

Through this program, ReGenerative Roots provides high school students with a $2,000 scholarship and a lot of land at Sullivan Farm to start up their own farming business. The students also receive support from both business and agriculture professionals.

In 2018, Nashua High School North students Kylie Braunius and Izzy Gates were selected to receive the first scholarship and created what is now Banyan Branch Farm.

Another young farmer who took advantage of the program was William Goulding, a 24-year-old graduate of the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute, as well as a graduate of the Alvirne High School Horticulture programs. Goulding created Gate City Farm, which will utilize the site Elbit volunteers cleaned Thursday.

The volunteers also spread compost and extended some of the raised beds for the community gardens and Banyan Branch Farm.

ReGenerative Roots also offers multiple educational programs for local students. One is a farm-to-school program, through which Morin works with Nashua High School North’s Green Club, an afterschool student organization, to revitalize the school’s greenhouse on campus. Club members plant and tend to hundreds of seedlings for their annual in-house plant sale.

The organization also offers a 10-week summer internship at the farm for high school students.

Morin said last year, six families utilized ReGenerative Roots’ area and produced approximately 5,000 pounds of organic produce for their own consumption. According to Morin, the only charge for families to use the space is that 10 percent of their harvests must be donated to a local pantry addressing food insecurity.

In the next month, ReGenerative Roots will be partnering with 75-plus volunteers from Comcast Cares to continue the revitalization of the community farm. Volunteers will be moving soil, building a shed and a fence, establishing irrigation lines and doing a general cleanup at the farm.

They will also be working with 50-plus volunteers for Keller Williams Red Day. They will be expanding and improving the current raised bed garden at Nashua High School North. They will expand the current four beds to 14.