Tag Archives: Food Day MA

Powisset Farm Cooks Up a Local Food Feast

Barn Dinner 8.30.15

If you have been to Powisset Farm, you know it’s a special place. Not only easy on the eye, but a place where everybody knows your name, where everyone knows their farmer (Meryl Latronica) and where you can go to get away from the oh-so-close but so far city.

Barn DinnerLine

On Friday October 23rd, Powisset Farm will be hosting their first (of many, hopefully) Fall Farm Dinner where people from the community will come together as “the last hurrah” of the season before we switch gears to winter crops and indoor activity. The meal will be catered by Heritage Food Truck Company and will incorporate produce from the farm. Jack’s Abbey Craft Lagers (Framingham) and Far from the Tree cider (Salem) will be joining to provide local beverages, while the Railroad House Band will be providing entertainment for the night.

We are participating in the Food Day celebration not only to bring awareness of the food grown literally right outside our front door, but as a celebration and  a way of bringing together a community – of new friends and old.

Powisset Farm is located at 37 Powisset Street in Dover, MA. To register for the Powisset Farm Fall Farm Dinner, click here or contact Nicole at nnacamuli@thetrustees.org or 508.785.0339 x3003.


Working Together for Healthy People and Healthy Land

VegetablesWhen Nourish Boston first came together about a year ago, our ambitions were broad: nutrition education, increasing food access, supporting local farmers, encouraging health and fitness, and connecting members of the Boston community with their food, the earth, and each other. A year later, these goals remain unchanged, but building partnerships has emerged as the key strategy in turning any of these ideas into reality.

There is an incredible sense of community in Boston, and there are many like-minded organizations that are working to promote and support health and wellness. Nourish Boston was not the first to imagine a city in which all residents feel a connection to the land and to the food that comes from it. Organizations cannot act in isolation, but rather we must work together in concert to achieve our goals. Engaging both the Boston area community and joining the collective movement of organizations working to make Boston healthy is crucial.

Fresh TruckNourish Boston has collaborated with the Fresh Truck to support their efforts to make healthy food accessible to all and to help individuals and families make more informed choices when food shopping. This past spring, Nourish Boston members joined the Fresh Truck team at Fit for a King, an Urban Field Day at Dorchester’s Martin Luther King Jr. K-8 school. Students and their families received healthy produce from the Fresh Truck, and learned about the sugar content of their favorite drinks, how to recognize a healthy meal or snack among unhealthy options, and tasted mashed sweet potatoes donated by the Haley House restaurant.

FIt for a King

How much sugar is in your drink?

Our volunteers have joined the Dorchester Community Food Cooperative, the Sustainability Guild International, and Earthseed Yoga in offering weekly community fitness and wellness classes to build their Bowdoin Geneva Hub into a resource for healthy activities. We have also worked with Taza Chocolate in a joint online education effort to encourage discussion around the importance of local, organic, and fair trade foods.

It is so important to work collaboratively when it comes to promoting healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. After all, great food is meant to be shared. Growing, sharing, preparing, and eating food with one another builds community.

To celebrate Food Day, Nourish Boston will be teaming up with the Mission Hill Health Movement by providing recipe cards and educational information about nutritional “super foods” at the farmer’s market in Roxbury Crossing on Tuesday October 22nd and in Brigham Circle on Thursday October 24th

In partnering with great organizations across Boston, Nourish is able to complement existing efforts for healthy living— and there are many! We’re proud to be just one of many passionate organizations fighting to improve access to healthy foods and encouraging community members to engage with their health, their community, and their environment.

Tea Leaves of Innovation in South Boston

Tea CuveeThe “Foodie” events are Mass Innovation Nights’ most popular monthly Product Launch Parties events for the wide variety of new products including consumables, unique service providers, new technologies and fresh new takes on traditions.  One of the featured products at the August 14th event is Tea Cuvée, a premium cold brewed tea produced in South Boston.  It contains no sweetener that’s packaged in an elegant, slender wine bottle with a black label that gives this non-alcoholic beverage a distinctive look.

There are two current offerings from Tea Cuvée

Moonlight: A light and fragrant tea made with the finest white tealeaves. These leaves are so precious that they are freshly picked at moonlight so as not to spoil their delicate properties. This tea has beautiful floral aromas with hints of apricot and jasmine.  Moonlight pairs well with crisp fruits, fresh cheeses, and light desserts.

Amber: A richer, more full-bodied tea made with a lightly roasted oolong.  This unique flavor combines the savory and fragrant elements of rosemary with fresh and luscious orange zest.  Amber pairs beautifully with aged cheeses and grilled meats.
Tea Cuvée is an interesting example at the crossroads of Food Day’s support of healthy, affordable and sustainable products and  Massachusetts vibrant innovation communities.

September 17-21 is Mass. Harvest for Students Week!

September and October are months of bounty in Massachusetts—the tomatoes are red, the apples are crisp, and the winter squash is plentiful—and schools are taking advantage of that for their Harvest for Students Week celebrations. Harvest for Students Week is an annual celebration of Mass. agriculture sponsored by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. Now in its 6th year, Harvest for Students Week is celebrated at schools and colleges across the Commonwealth. It gives school food services an opportunity to showcase (or try!) local foods, it supports local agriculture, and it’s a great way to kick off the school year.Harvest for Students Week taste-test

Corn shucking, daily intercom announcements about local cafeteria offerings, farmers markets at school, a food-themed artwork contest, serving items from school gardens, inviting farmers and legislators to lunch, and a harvest potluck dinner are only a handful of the activities planned for this year. Stop by our website for more ideas and resources, including recipes, an activity guide, a sample press release, and promotional materials.

At the Mass. Farm to School Project we’re working to make every day in cafeterias and dining halls across the state Food Day. We facilitate sustainable purchasing relationships between schools and farms to increase local produce being fed to our students and to ensure that farming remains a viable enterprise in Massachusetts. And we, along with many other wonderful organizations, are promoting and providing local food and agriculture education for students.

Local food for Harvest for Students WeekWhen the Project began there were only a handful of districts interested in purchasing local products, and very few farms interested in selling. There are now more than 200 public school districts reporting that they preferentially purchase local products, more than 50 colleges saying the same, and more than 100 local farms supplying them all!

The growth in locally grown products in schools has been overwhelming and, while there’s still plenty of work to be done, it’s something that we should celebrate during Harvest for Students Week, Food Day, and throughout the year. Check out our website for ideas, to find out how other schools and colleges will be celebrating, and to let us know what you’re doing. And plan a celebration of your own for Harvest for Students Week and Food Day!

The Food Project Embodies the Spirit of Food Day

Youth at The Food Project

Youth meet in a field at The Food Project’s farm on West Cottage Street in Boston’s Dudley neighborhood. Photo copyright Greig Cranna.

There’s something inspiring about seeing long straight rows of collard, kale and Swiss chard growing in the heart of Boston’s Dudley neighborhood.  I admit that I clap at the sight of a single pea shoot coming up in my garden, but I defy anyone not to smile when they see The Food Project’s 1.4 acre pastoral paradise on West Cottage Street.

The Food Project is a nonprofit organization based in Boston and Lincoln, Mass. that seeks to create personal and social change through sustainable agriculture. It produces, sells, and donates healthy food; provides youth leadership opportunities, and promotes social justice.

Setting up for the lunch

The Food Project prepares to serve a feast made from their garden.

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in one of The Food Project’s community lunches at the West Cottage Street site. Community members, supporters, and Food Project youth interns were seated at long tables in the field to enjoy a gourmet lunch and hear the youth talk about their experiences.

The Food Project’s primary crop–youth–is far more valuable—and lasting—than the delicious heirloom tomatoes they grow. In addition to sustainable farming, teenagers at The Food Project learn about selling food at farmers markets, distributing it to food banks, and cooking healthy, delicious meals. They also get opportunities to supervise volunteers, do public speaking, and learn about food policy and food justice issues. Unlike many other settings, the youth who are involved in The Food Project’s programs actually get paid for their work.

By recruiting both urban and suburban youth and having them work together in mixed teams that alternate between the urban and suburban/rural settings, The Food Project exposes teenagers to people and places they may not otherwise encounter.

One reason that I’m passionate about promoting local food, gardening and sustainable farming is that they have the potential to unite us across ages, classes, races, ethnicities, cultures and countries. But building communities across these boundaries takes more than just sprinkling a few seeds in the ground; they have to be cultivated. Over the past two decades, The Food Project has developed its own methodology for how to build mutual understanding among diverse groups and it offers resources and trainings for those who want to learn more about their successful model.

Interns at The Food Project

A group of The Food Project interns–Judy, Colleen, Anthony, and Eva–gather just before the start of lunch.

Volunteer chefs—the day I visited, they were from EVOO (evoo is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil), an upscale restaurant in Kendall Square that features organic, local and sustainable ingredients—work with the youth to prepare a buffet of healthy, delicious dishes featuring the foods grown on site. Lucky for me, it was a pescovegetarian feast: smoked salmon was the only non-vegetarian ingredient on the menu. If The Food Project ran a restaurant, I’d be a frequent eater.

In addition to their youth work, The Food Project also runs a variety of other programs, such as helping families and groups build raised bed gardens, providing reduced price produce to low-income families, running a CSA and selling at Farmers Markets, offering cooking and gardening workshops, working with schools and community centers, and serving as a national model for communities that want to start similar programs.

The Food Project is one of the many Massachusetts organizations, farms, restaurants and community members involved in planning activities for Food Day on October 24. Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. To learn more about The Food Project’s plans for Food Day, visit their blog, or keep checking the Massachusetts Food Day website.

And if you’re looking for inspiration beyond Food Day, check out the volunteer opportunities at The Food Project.  Because every day should be Food Day.

MDAR celebrates Food Day!

Governor Patrick celebrates Food Day 2011 with MDAR, Food Project and Boston Area Gleaners

Massachusetts Food Day 2012 has a special ring to it.  It is the day that I will witness the unfolding of the vision of what Food Day means to hundreds of organizers working to bring it to “harvest” across the state.  As the coordinator for the state’s Food Day efforts, I am in awe of the passionate community groups,individuals, students, families, food advocates and organizations who are stepping up to take a more active role  with decisions about our local food system.  Food Day celebrations across the state, and nation, will come in many shapes and forms, as diverse as the communities who are impacted by our local and national food systems…in other words, all communities.  The Department of Agricultural Resources, MDAR, was asked to participate and oversee the Food Day coordination in 2011, because of the work we do, it was a natural fit. Below is MDAR’s Food Day statement, written by former Commissioner Scott Soares, highlighting why everyday is Food Day.   

Food Day in Massachusetts gives us an opportunity to highlight all that is being done to support greater and equitable access to locally grown products and the continued growth and development of a sustainable agricultural economy.

It bridges rural and urban communities by providing opportunities to recognize the significant contributions that agriculture makes to our economy, our community characteristics, and our physical and mental health.  Importantly, it also gives us the opportunity to recognize and support the great and necessary diversity of agriculture in our Commonwealth; in all its production forms and growing methods.  As the agricultural axiom ‘don’t put all of your eggs in one basket’ suggests, diversity is in fact an insurance program for sustainable agriculture, not only by allowing farmers to weather the ever changing market conditions and influences that could mean profit or foreclosure but also to meet increasing consumer demand for broader selections of ALL agricultural products from vegetable to fruit to dairy to livestock to poultry.  Furthermore, for states like Massachusetts that are blessed with access to some of the most productive fisheries resources in the world, we also must include fish and seafood in the food system equation for that primary industry’s similarly significant contributions to physical and economic health.

Indeed, the greater and more equitable access that we strive to promote is important for our economic and our physical health.  Such access allows healthy communities in the broadest terms, across all age groups and down to every individual community member. But we must also promote and support it from “soil to supper”, “farm to fork”, “farmer to consumer”.  Otherwise, we increase demand beyond production capacity and based on high population densities we force unsustainable distribution systems that are subject to global influences on what is currently a petroleum based industry.  Furthermore, the absence of strong and secure local food systems creates a need for increased processed shelf stable food products that have been implicated in poor health outcomes.  Nonetheless, we must recognize the important contributions that all farmers make and further recognize that the American farmer strives to meet consumer demand and has time and time again demonstrated their capacity to produce the products that we all ask for.  We simply need to ask for them.  As Michael Polan, author of books such as the Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, has stated, by our food selections we have the opportunity to ‘vote’ three times a day for what our food system should be.  And after all, as Wendell Berry has so simply described, “eating is an agricultural act” which means that, whether we are farmers, fishers or consumers,  we all have a active role in shaping our food system as well as the sustainability and characteristics of our agricultural identity.

10 Tips for Farmers’ Market Shopping

hot pepperShopping at a farmers’ market is a great way to enjoy a wide variety of fresh delicious food. Yet, even as new markets continue to open across the state, there’s a persistent myth that produce at farmers’ markets costs more than at supermarkets.

The reality turns out to be quite the opposite. Barry Estabrook’s 2011 Atlantic article “The Farmers’ Market Myth” cited a Vermont study that found mixed results: some items cost less at the supermarket, others cost less at the farmers’ markets. For organic produce, the farmers’ markets beat the supermarkets on every item but potatoes.

My own informal produce price survey found a similar pattern. In a July 2011 survey of produce prices at the Belmont Farmers’ Market and two area supermarkets, the farmers’ market had the lowest prices on the most items.

turnips-beets-carrotsMany farmers’ markets also double SNAP benefits up to a certain amount, allowing SNAP recipients to stretch their budgets even farther.

Even so, successfully navigating a farmers’ market takes some getting used to. Most of us are savvy supermarket shoppers. But most of us didn’t grow up shopping at farmers’ markets, and it helps to take a different approach.

Here are ten tips to help you get your money’s worth at the farmers’ market.

  1. Make a budget and take that much cash with you. You can’t be tempted to spend what you don’t have. If you are a SNAP recipient, check with the market manager to see if the market accepts – or doubles – SNAP benefits.
  2. Tour the market. Before you start buying, take a walk through the market to see what’s available this week. This will give you a chance to check prices and quality at the different vendors. Keep your eyes open for sales.
  3. Try new foods. There’s often a wider variety of produce available at a farmers’ market, and you can stretch your budget by trying something new. I’ve discovered some terrific new foods at the farmers’ market, including garlic scapes, pea shoots (or tendrils), squash vines, and beet greens.
  4. Ask for advice. See something new? Ask the vendor about it. They can give you recipes and tell you what to expect. Ask vendors what they recommend. You can also ask about growing practices. Don’t be shy: Most farmers say that talking to customers is a big reason for attending farmers’ markets.
  5. Buy in season. While the first tomatoes and peppers of summer can be expensive, the prices tend to come down once they are abundant. Get an idea of what to expect with this availability chart.
  6. Go early for best selection. If you absolutely, positively have to have an item, go early to make sure it’s available. If you can plan ahead, ask a vendor if they are able to save a particular item for you the following week.
  7. Go late for best prices. If you’re flexible, you may be able to get a better price at the end of the day as the market it wrapping up.
  8. Budget for a splurge item. Set aside a few dollars for a treat: a fresh loaf of bread, the first summer tomato, or a cookie.
  9. Check in with the market. Look for the market manager’s tent and say hello. You find all kinds of information here, from recipes to upcoming events to vendor information. Ask if there’s a market newsletter, or if the market is active on Facebook or Twitter.
  10. Have fun! Farmers’ market shopping is a more social experience than supermarket shopping. Get to know the market vendors and enjoy spending some time outdoors.
Becky Prior is an enthusiastic supporter of the growing sustainable food movement. She a board member of the Belmont Food Collaborative, Inc., which hosts the award-winning Belmont Farmers’ Market, and her photography of local agriculture has been featured in the Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar.