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Jessie’s Community Garden puts down roots at Hoffman Summerwood

Hoffman SummerWood , a West Hartford senior living community has partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Kostin family of West Hartford to install and manage Connecticut’s newest location of Jessie’s Community Gardens.

Established by the Kostin family to celebrate the life of the late Jessica Lynn Kostin, daughter of Dane and Michele Kostin and sister of Elisabeth, Jeremy, and Whitney Kostin, Jessie’s Community Gardens is an initiative managed by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, and maintained by volunteers. Primarily located throughout Connecticut, the gardens can also be found as far away as San Francisco, California. They are located at schools, synagogues, churches, parks, community centers — and not at Hoffman SummerWood, marking the seventeenth garden installation.

Most of the gardens feature vegetable plants and produce, and one contains a fruit tree orchard. Fresh produce from Jessie’s Community Gardens benefit a variety of organizations, including Jewish Family Services’ Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry, which is currently providing food relief to Connecticut residents adversely affected by COVID-19.

“Michele and I needed to find a way to give memory to our dear daughter, whose untimely death 10 years ago at the young age of 26 was so devastating to our family,” says Dane Kostin. “We chose this project as it ties together Jessie’s love for gourmet cooking with fresh vegetables, paired with her passion for social justice in helping to feed those in need.”

In May of 2020, the Kostin family and the Jewish Federation donated four raised planting beds for installation on SummerWood’s back patio. This marks the second Jessie’s Garden installation featuring specially raised beds that allow wheelchair accessibility for gardeners with mobility issues.

The ability to garden outdoors in the fresh air during the pandemic has been a gift to SummerWood residents, especially longtime garden volunteer, Dave Wolansky.

“The garden provides a great deal of satisfaction for all of us,” says Wolansky. “This is the first time we have been able to produce such a great crop of vegetables. It is especially rewarding because our senior community here is growing produce to be donated to Connecticut’s senior community. It’s seniors helping seniors.”

PHOTO: Jessie’s Garden Dave

CAP: Volunteer Dave Wolansky proudly shows off the Jessie’s Community Garden he helps maintain at Hoffman SummerWood.

PHOTO: Jessie’s Garden

CAP: Jessie’s Community Garden at SummerWood

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