Dear Friend, 

“I come to the garden for peace, and I find it.”

That was the last sentence in an email I received over the summer from one of our community gardeners. In the midst of so much isolation and distance, fear, stress, and uncertainty, I heard similar sentiments from many gardeners. I also witnessed extraordinary kindness and generosity as gardeners pitched in to support the Community Food Distribution Project, to help keep Tuesday Market open and safe, and to perform many tasks that keep the Grow Food Northampton Organic Community Garden healthy and beautiful.

We welcomed over 80 new gardeners this year, adding a bunch of new plots for folks who suddenly found themselves with unexpected time on their hands, loss of income, and the need and desire to grow their own food. Many folks had the same idea, so for a while it was difficult to find seeds and plant starts. Then a late frost in June wiped out many tender new crops. The wonderful Western Mass Master Gardeners Association donated hundreds of seed packets, farmers made starts available at low cost, and gardeners shared with each other. 

I’m not saying the garden is Utopia. We have disagreements, disappointments, tensions, just like any community. But that’s the key – we are a community.

One thing that gardening has taught me is that community means so much more than just the people. It also means the land, the creatures, the air and water. Living and working in community means cooperation with nature, weather, soil, and seasons, as well as with each other. It means honoring those who came before us on the land: the indigenous communities who farmed in that swoop of the Mill River for centuries before Europeans colonized it; the Abolitionists who demonstrated that textiles and sugar can be commercially produced without the labor of enslaved people; the farmers who raised generations of families on the land before it came under the stewardship of Grow Food Northampton. Each left their mark in our memories and on the land.

Now it’s our turn. How do we steward this rare and fertile resource in a way that honors the past and guides us to a future in which we can grow our community in ways that serve justice, equity and sustainability? As caretakers, how do we attend to the gifts of this land so that it remains open, healthy and productive for generations to come?

Some pundits are telling us to vote as if our lives depend on it. I suggest we should also vote as if our land depends on it. Our lives and land are part of a network that responds to every depredation, and also to every kindness. We gardeners have faith that each bucket of compost will enrich the soil and help our crops over time. We know that water is life. We know that the creatures we were taught by chemical companies to fear and loathe are the very creatures we depend on to aerate the ground and pollinate our food.

Recently I received an email from a new gardener wondering what to do with the millions of ants in their garden plot. “Celebrate!” was my answer. So here is my celebration of our garden community: We grew food, kindness, peace, and for me, a great deal of hope during a challenging season. Thank you all!



Pat James
Community Garden Manager

Snapshots from the Community Garden

Clockwise from top- Dusk in the community garden, pollinators pollinating and gardeners spreading compost.

Welcome Jules!

Our newest team member is TerraCorps Youth Education and Community Engagement Coordinator Jules White. Jules will be with us for just under a year, tending the Giving Garden, running the 2020/21 Grow Food Kids programming and helping out with the CFDP and at Tuesday Market. Just a few weeks in, Jules is already a valued teammate in all of these varied roles!

 Jules graduated from Wesleyan University in May. While there, they worked on a small student-run farm, and have also grown vegetables on the opposite coast, at Urban Adamah in Berkeley, CA. They are passionate about equitable food access and outdoor education, and are excited to bring their enthusiasm to the Pioneer Valley!

This crew puts the Community in the Community Food Distribution Project!

Pictured here is one of the best Thursday volunteer crews ever! From left, Eva Fierst, Kris Kozuch, Sasha Paris-Wanner, Emmy Paris, Sid Paris-Wanner, and Anna Maria Piccininno. 

The Community Food Distribution Project continues strong this fall, with a whole new cohort of dedicated volunteers, including Sasha (7) and Sid Paris-Wanner (9), who have loved volunteering with the CFDP so much that their mother, Emmy Paris, asked their teachers if they could be excused from school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to join us. Their teachers gave them an enthusiastic thumbs up, and they are both keeping journals about the experience (see excerpts below). Both kids are actually better at keeping track of bag counts than any of the adults!

The CFDP will be shifting to a full doorstep delivery model in November, with new opportunities to volunteer with us. Please contact Francie if you are interested. Kids are welcome volunteers, as well!! 
"9/30/20...I went to the food bank to deliver food. First we bagged food, next we delivered it and assembled. A few days ago at Meadowbrook we set up the table and then bagged up the food for certain people and then we delivered the food to the apartments and then went back. It feels good to help some people who maybe go to my school. It is also fun to go deliver the food." -Sid
"9/24/20....Survival Center. We packed peppers, chard, kale, squash and a bag of fruit. We drove to the senior center." -Sasha.

Tuesday Market continues until Nov. 10

The locust trees in the plaza behind Thornes have started to turn yellow and soon their leaves will rain down. The seasons are shifting and so are the crops coming into Tuesday Market. We're finishing up summer favorites like tomatoes and welcoming lots of varieties of squash, a bounty of wild mushrooms and many types of apples and pears. Make a trip to the market part of your week! We'll be there from 1:30-6:30 until November 10. If you're not receiving our weekly newsletter each Monday, change your settings at the bottom of this email. 

Grow Food Kids is going remote!

The Grow Food Kids team is developing take-home cooking kits and other remote resources/curricula for students in the Northampton Public Schools to supplement their online learning and support teachers this fall.

We're starting off the year with a Grow Food Kids favorite recipe: Apple Veggie Wraps. We're looking forward to getting creative with recipes in our home kitchens!

Free meals for students

Each week, Grow Food Northampton purchases fresh produce from local farms to supplement the meals prepared and distributed by the Northampton Public School System (NPS) to kids under 18. We also provide produce and other farm products to two local restaurants, Belly of the Beast and Haymarket Cafe, to create prepared meals for adults that are offered at the NPS meal distribution sites each week. By procuring local farm products for the meal distribution program, we are fulfilling our mission of building and strengthening a sustainable local food system.

The NPS Food Service Department's grab and go community meals are available to pick up at four locations around Northampton on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-12pm. Everyone is encouraged to participate in school meal service regardless of income status.  Participation in school meal programs makes the school nutrition department more financially viable, allowing for more meal variety and higher meal quality including buying from local farms. Eating school meals helps the community and the school.

All families are encouraged to visit the meal distribution sites to pick up meals for all children in the home 18 years of age and younger. Find all of the details here 

Please DONATE to support our work!
The Giving Garden is funded by Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

Thanks to our featured Business Sponsors!

Curran & Keegan Financial

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