South End Greenhouse on Mill Street

   The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Connecticut in Waterbury has announced a pilot learning-service project in conjunction with Waterbury’s Brass cIty Harvest, beginning in March 2013. From Seeds to Planting to Harvest to Table: The Greening of Waterbury, lead by Nunzio DeFilippis, will be offered to OLLI members from March 5 to September 17, 2013.

   This special comprehensive learning and volunteer project will take place in a state-of-the-art greenhouse and a unique urban green space in the famous Olmstead-designed, Fulton Park. “This is a unique learning opportunity for beginning and avid gardeners,” said Nunzio DeFilippis. “My vision is to work with adult participant-volunteers to cultivate seeds into productive plants and ultimately to produce food that will feed those in need in Waterbury,” he said.

   “Those enrolling in this program will be ‘adopting’ gardens in support of a growing national trend related to urban gardening and food production,” said Susan Pronovost, Executive Director of Brass City Harvest. She also states, “OLLI participants will be actively engaged in the community and contributing to the greater goals of Brass City Harvest related to ‘the greening of Waterbury.” The program will include curriculum on soil preparation, planting of the vegetable seeds and caring for the seedlings in the greenhouse. Seedlings will later be transplanted into small pots, and in early summer, brought to the raised beds in Fulton Park. Participants will then spend time weeding and taking care of the plants and delivering them to area soup kitchens.

   Brian Chapman, Director of OLLI at UConn remarked, “We are deeply fortunate that Sue Pronovost and Nunzio DeFillippis have come forward with such a powerful vision for an experience that embraces hands-on learning and rich rewards for those involved.” The activities of this project will be based at two locations in Waterbury – the South End Greenhouse, at 324 Mill Street and Fulton Farm (located on upper Pine Street) in Waterbury.

   During the early planting weeks classes and activities will take place at the brand new indoor gardening facility on Mill Street (with bathroom facilities). During the growing season and in good weather the classes and activities will take place outdoors in the Fulton Park gardens. Fulton Farm has approximately 150 raised beds that are approximately 3′ x 20′ and 12″ high.  The beds are laid out with a wide main lane to transport materials, with 18″ walking paths in between beds. The ground is a bit uneven in spots thanks to our burrowing forest friends, so participants will need to watch where they walk.

   Participation will require moderate physical activity, with the ability to work in raised beds gardens, which can involve bending or kneeling or a modified way to work with soil and plants. Interested community members can become OLLI members and enroll in this program.

   Nunzio DeFilippis, OLLI instructor,was born and raised on a farm and has been an avid gardener all his life. Since living in Connecticut, he has been an active Board member of the Judea Garden in Washington Depot. This garden has delivered more than fifteen thousand pounds of vegetables to soup kitchens over the past four years. DeFilippis has also presented Opera and international film courses to OLLI members.

   The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers hundreds of courses, workshops, author talks, research lectures, and special events at the Waterbury campus year round. In its seventh year, this innovative and fast-growing, community-based program is responding to the needs of older adults, usually age 50 and over, who want to engage socially and intellectually with their peers as teachers and learners. Classes held at the Waterbury campus include topics such as Computers, Health & Wellness, History, Literature & Writing, Art History, Performing & Visual Arts and Personal Development, to name a few.

   A list of courses, programs and events for the spring/summer 2013 session will be posted later in January, 2013. For additional information about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UConn Waterbury, please go to or call 203-236-9924  or email .