Dear Friend, 

Halloween not only marks the time to dress up and celebrate in the Florence Rag Shag parade but it marks the time to plant garlic for next summer’s harvest. 

Earlier this month, a group of fifteen community members joined me to plant over a thousand cloves of garlic in the Giving Garden at the Grow Food Northampton Community Farm. Just as everything else around the garden is yielding to the first frosts, there is nothing more satisfying than spreading fresh straw on newly planted beds of garlic, knowing that the first crop for next year is already in the ground. The magic of garlic is that over the next 9 months each clove will grow, with the help of the earth, water, and sunlight, into a whole bulb.

As we placed the individually packaged cloves into their neatly dug holes, we chatted; some of us old friends, and some of us meeting for the first time. We worked together and as has been a tradition on farms I have worked on, we sang songs, to simultaneously celebrate the end of one growing season and the very beginning of the next.

Every year for the last 6 years, as long as the Giving Garden has been around, we have set aside our best garlic bulbs for planting the following year. And each year the bulbs get bigger, juicier, and the taste gets sharper. Nothing beats a garlic clove that’s huge, easy to peel, and has a sharp kick. We save these seeds year after year, connecting ourselves to the past and the future, thereby participating in the ancient practice of seed saving that extends as far back as people have been alive.

Garlic has long been known as a protector plant, warding off evil spirits. Now is the time of year when I start eating more garlic - what’s that saying? - a clove a day keeps the doctor away?? I like to think of the garlic bulbs, tucked in their beds for the winter under a thick layer of straw mulch, as protectors of the garden. Whatever comes their way - snow, rain, winds, even floods--the plants will have already set down their roots- little lights in the darkness underground doing the unseen work of growing for the following year.

Next year this garlic will be donated, as it was this year, to our community partners: Star Light Center, Manna Community Kitchen, CSO Respite, Easthampton Community Center. It feels good knowing that with the help of forces and powers beyond our control, we’ll have lots of garlic to share.


Ellena Baum
Land and Community Education Manager

Winter Market Starts This Saturday!

Our Tuesday Market wrapped up a successful 30-week season last week and now we head indoors for 10 Winter Markets at the Northampton Senior Center. Stock up for Thanksgiving this Saturday! Twenty vendors will be at the November 20 market selling produce, maple products, honey, herbal products, meat, soap, pierogi, kombucha, cheese, crafts and MORE!

Save the dates! The Grow Food Northampton Winter Market will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on 10 Saturdays this winter, November 20, December 4 and 18, January 8 and 22, February 5 and 19, and March 5 and 19 and April 2.

SNAP matched at the market table ($10 per week) thanks to Mass General, Baystate Health and Valley Home Improvement. 

Currently Seeking New Farmers to Join the GFN Community Farm

Grow Food Northampton owns and stewards 121 acres of land in Florence, MA. It is home to multiple farms with leases of terms ranging from 1 to 99 years; a 320-plot community garden; food access and education programming; and a diverse ecosystem on the banks of the Mill River. We are seeking new farmers to join our community.

For details about acreage, infrastructure, requirements and how to apply look here.

Please submit applications via email by December 1st, 2021. You are welcome to visit and observe the land before you apply. To submit an application or to ask a question, contact Michael Skillicorn.

Grow Food Kids Back in Northampton Schools!

The pandemic halted our in-person education with the Northampton Public Schools. With students being remote last year, we pivoted to Zoom classes and workshops and a few in-person garden workshops. This fall we returned to the schools with two sessions of workshops. First we welcomed 20 classes to Virtual Field Trips at Crimson and Clover Farm and now we are currently midway through two weeks of in-person Cider Making Workshops at all of the NPS elementary schools. It's been a joy to be back in the schools and rewarding to see our curriculum sparking connections with every student from kindergarten to fifth grade. 

Community Garden and Giving Garden Reflections

As the growing season comes to an end, our Community Garden Manager Pat James and our Land and Community education Coordinator Ellena Baum took time to reflect on the year, what was accomplished and what we're looking forward to.
Community Garden Reflections: Each spring, GFN Organic Community Garden gardeners agree to use organic methods, avoid non-GMO plants and seeds, keep our plots as weed-free as possible, remove invasive weeds, and generally maintain a supportive, friendly atmosphere for everyone in the garden. We do this because it supports healthy soils, heathy plants, healthy water and air, healthy people and healthy communities... Continue reading 

Giving Garden ReflectionsLast week, one of our elementary school students in a virtual ‘field trip’ to the farm asked me what my favorite vegetable was to grow this year. Great question. Hard to answer because, of course, I love them all. This year we grew 33 different crops in our half-acre Giving Garden. Some of the vegetable highlights were: our first significant asparagus harvest from our prolific plants and our most abundant strawberries yet... Continue reading

2021 Community Garden Photo Contest Winners!

We are happy to announce the winners of the 2021 Community Garden Photo Contest!  We had an incredible amount of entries – all creative, stunning, and full of life – which made the judging very difficult. Still, we have selected 10 winners from various categories with one Grand Prize winner along with one Youth Grand Prize winner! Thank you to everyone who participated. Your photos were inspiring and captured the magic of the garden.

Grad Prize Winners pictured above:
Dramatic Sky and Grand Prize Winner: Madge Evers
Wildlife and Youth Grand Prize Winner: Maggie Goff, age 14

Check out all of the winners here!

Vote Now! Florence Bank Customer Choice Community Grants!

If you're a Florence Bank customer you can help to earn us $15+ with your vote in the Customer Choice Community Grants! Voting is open until December 31st.
Click here to quickly vote for Grow Food Northampton, enter our name in the "Organization Name" field or select Grow Food Northampton under the Environmental category. Thank you for your support!

What We're Listening To

Are you someone who loves to listen to podcasts? Do you have a long drive ahead as you make your way somewhere for the holidays? Do you love to think and talk about food and local and global food systems? If so, do we have some suggestions for you! Here is an array of podcasts on topics ranging from food in different parts of the world, to nutrition, to food justice, to sustainable agriculture, to promoting food access and preventing food insecurity, and so much more! 

Start with Bite that uncovers the surprising stories behind what ends up on your plate. Or Racist Sandwich, the podcast that examines how race, class, and gender shape the way we consume, create, and interpret food. Then there’s Farm to Table Talk that offers ideas and insights from chefs, farmers, policymakers, and researchers on how our food is grown, prepared, and shared. Try the Toasted Sister podcast about Indigenous foods. And how about Culturejam, an “auditory feast of songs and interviews with musicians, chefs, and celebrities.” Another favorite is the Extra Spicy podcast, hosted by Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips, that attempts to, among other things, dismantle diet culture and tackle other fascinating food-related topics. Foodtopia is a brilliant series of interviews that reveals the inequities that have long existed in our food system. Topics include “Making Space for BIPOC Farmers,” and the dangers of food labor in the pandemic. And Hacking Hunger grapples with the hidden, human stories behind food insecurity and hunger.

Other podcasts that we love include: Female Farmer Project; Edible Activist; Farm Small Farm Smart; Food 360; Food for the Future; Foodspace Pod; Gastropod; Home Cooking; Item 13: African Food Podcast; Smart Mouth; Eating Matters; Afro Beets Podcast; The Doctor’s Farmacy Podcast; The Farm Report; The Katchup; Table Underground; Uncooked Women; and Young Farmers Podcast.

Tell us about the gardening, farming, and food justice podcasts that you listen to and what you’ve heard that strikes YOU the most. Happy listening!

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 © 2021 Grow Food Northampton, Inc., All rights reserved.

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