Dear Friend, 

There are countless examples of cooperation among and between species in nature. For instance, despite the fact that a forest can be a location of fierce competition between trees, we also see “acts” of reciprocity between them, and even asymmetric interactions, such as those between mature trees and seedlings to help the “little guys” grow and thrive. 

Similarly, humans, not always known for our selfless generation of harmonious ecosystems, are capable of extraordinary acts of cooperation and goodness, particularly in times of adversity --  like in global pandemics. In her book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, Rebecca Solnit counters the notion that people become selfish and desperate in situations of disaster. She offers numerous examples from history of how human beings who have lived through hard times have displayed empathy and kindness for one another, along with purpose and resourcefulness in helping each other and creating connection and community.

Indeed, as we enter year three of the pandemic, I can’t stop feeling love and excitement about the many ways in which Grow Food Northampton both creates and participates in community endeavors that not only strengthen the local food system, but connect us all firmly to each other and the earth. From the Grow Food Northampton Community Farm where farmers and community gardeners grow food for themselves, their families, and their communities; to the kids and adults that are part of our educational offerings in the schools, on the GFN farm, and in subsidized housing complexes; to the customers, farmers, and musicians at Tuesday Market and the Winter Market; to the folks who participate in the Community Food Distribution Project as food recipients and volunteers, Grow Food Northampton is creating and nurturing community every single day.

One thing we know for sure is that creating community can’t be achieved without justice for all, equity, diversity, and inclusion (the “JEDI” principles). As we do our work, we never lose sight of the harm that racial and economic inequities and injustices in the food system have wrought upon some members of our community. And so, we are shifting power and resources to those in our community most harmed by and marginalized in, the food system. Grow Food Northampton’s Food Access Advisory Committee, comprised of individuals experiencing food insecurity, guides all of our food access work. We prioritize providing those who have been historically excluded from access to farmland, and those harmed by the food system, with land. We offer low- and no-cost Community Garden plots to community members who have been harmed by and excluded from the food system. We provide education to children, teens, and adults about Indigenous and abolitionist growing practices and foodways; how our food and agricultural systems have been shaped by this nation’s history of slavery, structural racism, and racial injustice; and how communities locally and around the world are building more just and equitable food systems. We teach about the joy of growing food in ways that nurture the soil and our planet. We celebrate food together!

These are the ways that we make community, participate in community, and mimic all the best ways the natural world displays mutual nurturance and cooperation – with an added dose of human loving kindness. As always, we invite you to join us in our work to create community and a just and robust local food system!


Alisa Klein, GFN Executive Director

Tuesday Market Reflections

Now that our Farmers Market program is year-round with the addition of the Winter Market, the planning and management of the markets doesn't take a pause! But we do want to take a minute to look back on the incredible 2021 Tuesday Market season. As pandemic-related restrictions loosened over the last year, it allowed the markets to be not just a spot to grab the freshest food around, but to serve once again as a community gathering space. Weekly musical performances by a diverse lineup of performers and the addition of new prepared food vendors gave the market a new flavor every week. 

The biggest highlight of the season for us was the growth of our SNAP Match program and SNAP spending using HIP (Healthy Incentives Program) directly with farmers. Grow Food Northampton’s SNAP Match program makes the market affordable for those with SNAP benefits by allowing them to double their benefits up to $10 each week and use that extra money on food at the market. This year, SNAP Matching more than DOUBLED over past years! This means that more than ever before, community members struggling with food insecurity are purchasing fresh, healthy local farm foods.  

2021 Tuesday Market SNAP Match by the numbers: 

  • $25,307.50 - Total SNAP Match funded by GFN

  • 27% of the total sales at Grow Food Northampton farmers markets were SNAP-funded

  • $122,920.67- Total SNAP spent (SNAP + HIP)

  • 360 unique SNAP customers

"Being able to use SNAP at the farmers market is a game-changer! Without the SNAP match and HIP, I wouldn't be able to buy the quantity/quality produce that I need for my health" - SNAP Match participant

SNAP Match at GFN Farmers Markets in 2021 was generously sponsored by Mass General Brigham, Baystate Health and Valley Home Improvement

Next Winter Market is January 22!

The Winter Market season is almost at its halfway point. Great news for those who hope for winter to pass quickly! Mark your calendars for the last six markets of the season to stock up on local food and more. Those with SNAP benefits can double up to $10 at the market table and use their HIP benefit at five different farms. Curious to know more about how to make the most of SNAP at the farmers market? Check out the info below! 

Save the dates! The final six Grow Food Northampton Winter Markets will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Northampton Senior Center on January 22, February 5 and 19, and March 5 and 19 and April 2.

Two Upcoming Workshop Opportunities

Climate Action Now and Grow Food Northampton Present: 
Food Sovereignty Speakers Series - Gardening the Resistance with Terry Gibson of Dwight Street Garden 

Tuesday, January 18, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. 

Just a few blocks from Holyoke City Hall, Dwight Street Garden is an anchor for the community. In its first season, Neighbor to Neighbor and a team of 20+ volunteers donated over 100 lbs. of produce, hosted free cookouts, and helped the community advocate for their issues at City Hall. Come learn about Dwight Street Garden’s effort to build community and address food insecurity and chronic illness, one bag of lettuce at a time. 

Terry Gibson lives in Holyoke, MA where he is Co-Coordinator of the Holyoke Unofficial Gardeners group and Field and Cultural Organizer for Neighbor to Neighbor. Over the last 15 years Terry has volunteered with grassroots organizations including Garfield Community Farm in Pittsburgh, PA. 

The talk is free, but registration is required. Register here

The Dirt on Organic Gardening

Thursday, February 3, 7pm

The Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association's 2022 Virtual Gardening Symposia features Grow Food Northampton's own Community Garden Manager, Pat James, leading "The Dirt on Organic Gardening" at 7pm on February 3! Sign up for the whole series or just Pat's workshop here

"The Dirt on Organic Gardening": This workshop will provide an overview of organic practices used by the GFN Community Garden, including soil care, composting, sheet mulching, integrated pest management, and more that enables gardeners to maximize their harvests. There is no one right way, but many ways gardeners can nurture home gardens, feed themselves, and play a role in fostering food and land justice for a healthier planet.

What We're Reading: Books for Kids 

This month, we wanted to share some of our favorite kids’ books about food. These six books that center kids from a variety of backgrounds, races, countries, and traditions, are just a few from the wondrous collection of children’s books about food systems-related topics that have been published in the last few years. Let us know if you want additional titles from the list we’ve curated. We’ve included the reading and interest levels so you know just who might enjoy each of these marvelous books.

  • Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham, illustrated by C.G. Esperanza. Every Sunday is a family feast at Granny’s house, but this Sunday is special because she teaches her grandson – and the reader – how to prepare the meal. In the process, he learns, along with the reader, what it takes to feed a family. 

Reading and interest levels: Ages 4 – 8 

  • Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! Americas' Sproutings by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael López. Written in haiku by Mexican-American author Mora, this book celebrates foods that are native to the Americas and includes information in English and Spanish about the etymology, origin, and uses of 14 crops that have been grown here for centuries.

Reading Level: Ages 8 – 10, Interest Level: Ages 5 – 11 
  • The Farm That Feeds Us: A Year in the Life of an Organic Farm by Nancy Castaldo, illustrated by Ginnie Hsu. This delightful book follows a one-year life cycle of a small organic farm. Readers learn about the rhythm of farming through four seasons, how to manage pests without chemicals, what farm machinery and farming methods are used to grow fruits and vegetables, and much more.

Reading and interest levels: Ages 7 – 12

  • Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neil. Every summer, Neela and her amma go to the market to buy tomatoes to make amma’s special sauce. At the market, Neela learns about all the different kinds of tomatoes they can choose from. The book includes delicious recipes. 

Interest level: 3 – 7 years old

  • Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron. Salma lives with her mother who who is struggling to learn English in their new country. They miss Salma’s father back in Syria. To cheer her mother up, Salma wants to cook a traditional Syrian meal for her and has to learn the names of the ingredients in English and where to find them. Ultimately, she is able to make a delicious meal for her mama. Recipes included!

Interest level: Ages 4 – 7

  • Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte, illustrated by Ann Xu. This graphic novel about 12-year old Cici tells the story of a girl who wants to bring her grandmother from Taiwan to join them in the U.S. Cici enters a cooking contest in the hope of receiving prize money for her grandmother’s plan fare. As she searches for the perfect Taiwanese recipe, we learn all about Taiwanese foods.

Interest level: Ages 8 - 12 

Please DONATE to support our work!
The Giving Garden and our Food Access programs are funded by Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare.

Thanks to Our Featured Sponsors!

Curran & Keegan Financial

Copyright © 2022 Grow Food Northampton, Inc., All rights reserved.

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