New “Heart Squad” Launches; Harvest Health

screen_shot_2016-06-20_at_11-32-04_amThe Bristol All Heart marketing initiative is more than logos and marketing materials, it’s about community engagement that develops a culture that inspires community participation, interest, and investment in the community.

In the formative months of All Heart we introduced a new model for volunteerism that would help create a desirable culture in Bristol called “Heart Squads”, which are categorical groups where members of the community can use their passion to create meaningful projects for the City and citizens.

For instance, local artists were brought together to form the first Squad, the Bristol Art Squad, and with Bristol All Heart and the Bristol Chamber’s support the “cultural ninjas” created projects like Operation Storefront Art, Art to Fight Blight, and Traffic Box Art, which have gained positive recognition for the City from residents to local and regional press, newspapers, and TV stations.

Next the Mum Fest Squad was formed to save and reload the Mum Festival. Then the Farmer’s Market Squad formed to grow the Farmer’s Market into a regional destination.

Now, the next official Squad is called the Harvest Health Squad, made up of a small core of community members interested in creating projects that “cultivate a positive food and wellness culture” in Bristol. This means anything from materials that educate the public on healthy eating and living options to how to grow and cook foods, to programming, projects and events that demonstrate good food, wellness, exercise, culinary, and more.

“We’re excited to become a healthier and therefore happier community,” said Kristie Oren, a Harvest Health Squad Captain. “Healthy communities are big draws these days.”

“We have avid gardeners, nutrition people, holistic wellness and well meaning folks looking to do projects in the City,” said Mark Walerysiak Jr, Manager of Bristol All Heart. “The possibilities are very exciting.”

In mid-May Jan Gyurko, a home gardener and Squad Captain, helped launch the Squad’s inaugural project of transforming Bristol Eastern High School’s courtyard with 9 raised beds. The school, who loved the mission even helped start a Harvest Health Club with support of the Environmental Sciences department, allowing the students to carry on the gardens to grow veggies, fruits, herbs and flowers.

“The energy of the students was great, and it was a fantastic first project for us,” said Christy Matthews, a Squad Captain and former BEHS alumnus. “The administration was so supportive, and it was especially gratifying to see the kids enjoy getting their hands dirty and learn about sustainable food, which over time will be able to help feed students and families.”

With a first successful project under the belt the Harvest Health Squad is considering other interesting projects in Bristol, so stay tuned!

If you are interested in joining the Squad please contact Mark Walerysiak Jr at

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