Before it was popular everywhere else, Jack Hale had Hartford going green. He had children learning to garden, adolescents training for green-collar jobs and adults volunteering to plant trees. It's quite a record.
Mr. Hale just announced his retirement as executive director of the Knox Parks Foundation. He joined the nonprofit foundation in 1980 and has led it since 1985. He has been the city's Johnny Appleseed, a tireless proponent of the benefits of trees, flowers, vegetables and other plants. His projects include:
• Developing GrowLab, an indoor school gardening program that was picked up as a national model by the National Gardening Association.
• Strengthening the community garden program in the city. At present, hundreds of people grow food at 15 sites around Hartford.
• Fostering remarkable volunteer programs that involve 2,000 people of all ages and races in planting trees, restoring parks and otherwise greening the city.
• Developing Youth Corps, an AmeriCorps program in which 20 young people work for six months to a year learning green-collar skills.
The planting and gardening programs provide many environmental and aesthetic benefits to the city. Getting people out of their houses to work for the city is also of great social benefit. The city residents who take part not only get the satisfaction of improving their neighborhoods, they learn that they don't have to wait for a government program to do it.
Mr. Hale has been a remarkable advocate. He says he plans to help Hartford get greener, and we wish him more success.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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