Dear Friend, 

Ahh, December, the last month of the year: time to commence the holiday rush, dropping temps, and soul-warming soups.

This month represents a magical time of year for many. As I reflect on this magic to try and get myself in the spirit, I wonder where all that holiday cheer really comes from. What's behind all the frills of the holiday season?

It doesn't take long for me to find the source of true holiday cheer, as I'm involved in the community-centered work of Grow Food Northampton. Small gestures of kindness and care to and from our community have been shared through so many of our programs recently. Maybe it's the collective feeling that these times are harder to navigate for many, with the lack of sunlight, increased barriers to fresh local vegetables, and the challenges that persist for loved ones. With those challenges in mind, the little things start to stand out as those that matter most, things like making memories with loved ones by volunteering, or baking cookies for your neighbors, or enjoying a warm hearty meal on a snowy night.

Just this week, we added freshly baked cookies from Florence Pie Bar to our weekly produce deliveries through the Community Food Distribution Project (CFDP), a small way we hope to spark a little more joy and a reminder that we care. To add to the sweetness on delivery day, we gathered to celebrate the 20 months that the CFDP has been delivering fresh local food to our neighbors. As we came together to share a toast of apple cider and appreciation of all who've made this work possible, it became obvious that this was the magic I was looking for: connecting with neighbors who've played various roles in the CFDP, all with the same mission to increase access to fresh food for those experiencing food insecurity in Northampton. From community members to volunteers, funders, our elected officials, and our staff and board, together we continue to make a difference for our community! That's the magic.

Wishing everyone a warm, healthy, and delicious holiday season,

Megan Saraceno
Community Engagement Coordinator

Thank You to All Who Gave on Giving Tuesday!

In the last 21 months of pandemic, Grow Food Northampton has seen an enormous increase in our financial needs due to how we’ve shifted and ramped up our work to not only meet the immediate needs of pandemic-related food insecurity in Northampton, but to build and strengthen our local food system for the long haul. We have so many generous partners in this community to help us meet those needs – and we are so grateful for all of you. Giving Tuesday was on November 30 this year and Grow Food Northampton raised almost $5,000! Thank you, dear friends!

Meanwhile, we continue our end-of-year appeal, as well. Please join us in both bringing local farm produce to community members experiencing food insecurity, and in ensuring that our local food system is strong. DONATE HERE

CFDP Holiday Celebration: Toasting 20 Months of Partnership and Healthy Food

Earlier this week, we gathered together at the Hampshire Heights delivery site with elected officials, program participants, volunteers, Grow Food Northampton staff and board members, and friends, to toast the success of the Community Food Distribution Project (CFDP) over the last 20 months. 

GFN's Executive Director Alisa Klein began the celebration with remarks about the program and thanked those in attendance. Northampton Mayor-Elect Gina-Louise Sciarra spoke to the group about her own personal experience as a volunteer with the CFDP, as well as its important impact on combating food insecurity in the city. Next up, Kia Aoki, a CFDP participant, spoke about the ways in which the CFDP has benefitted her and her neighbors, and how serving as a member of the Food Access Advisory Committee and soon-to-be GFN board member has enriched her life. Finally, GFN’s Associate Director, Michael Skillicorn, led us in a toast with local apple cider to the CFDP and food security for all. After the remarks and toast, folks set out to deliver this week's food packages which included a special treat from Florence Pie Bar for the holidays!

Thank you to the large group of elected officials who joined us to celebrate including State Senator Jo Comerford, State Representative Lindsay Sabadosa, City Council President and Mayor-Elect Gina-Louis Sciarra, School Committee Member Rebecca Busansky, School Committee Member Susan Voss, City Councilor Michael Quinlan, City Councilors-Elect Jamila Gore, Marissa Elkins, and Stan Moulton, and School Committee Member-Elect Gwen Agna.

Check out these press links for more on the CFDP Holiday Celebration:

WRSI’s Monte Belmonte “Grow Food’s Pandemic Pivot Party”
WWLP- 22 News coverage

Next Winter Market is This Saturday December 18!

The biggest Winter Market of the season is coming up! Plan to visit the Northampton Senior Center on Saturday, December 18 for a huge selection of produce, bread, cheese, eggs, meat, herbal products, honey, maple, prepared foods, crafts, and more from 24 vendors. Stock up on food for the holidays and gifts for those on your list. Gifts from the farmers market are the best! 

Save the dates! The Grow Food Northampton Winter Market will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on ten 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

Lilly Library Garden Project

Just up Meadow Street from the Grow Food Northampton Organic Community Garden, GFN Community Gardeners completed phase one of a collaborative project with Lilly Library in Florence to create a native plant teaching garden and story walk. 

Each Saturday in November, the dedicated community gardeners and other volunteers removed several truckloads of invasive plants, shrubs, and trees; moved 16 tons of rock dust to create an accessible path; and planted almost 400 native species. What a labor of love for both gardens and libraries!

Special kudos to Grow Food Northampton’s Community Garden Manager, Pat James, who created this collaboration with Lilly Library’s Director Adam Novitt, and coordinated the multiple volunteer events to make the new garden happen. The garden was designed by Owen Wormser of Abound Design and funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Next spring, community gardeners will continue work on the project, and will tend this garden going forward as a joint project of Grow Food Northampton and Lilly Library. Stop by in the spring to see this beautiful new garden come alive!

Cider-Pressing Workshops Return Grow Food Kids to the Schools

After a pandemic-induced hiatus of in-school teaching over the last many months, Grow Food Kids was back at it!  Over the course of two weeks in November, Ellena and the Grow Food Kids team visited every elementary school in the Northampton Public Schools to offer Cider Pressing workshops. We pressed cider with 54 classes in total! For 30 minutes each, classes ranging from pre-K through 5th grade visited us outside for a hand-on, delicious experience.

After a quick introduction and overview, each student took a turn at grinding an apple. Once the apple mash was moved to the press, everyone took a turn spinning the cider press four times. Throughout the different classes, we were inspired to count to four in as many languages as we could – including English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese. As the plate began to press the mash, the oohs and ahhs of watching fresh cider press out of apples was a thrill every time!

Check out this blog post with more behind-the-scenes views of the Cider Pressing Workshops! 

Check Out Our Strategic Plan for 2021-2023

Grow Food Northampton’s current Three Year Strategic Plan is here! In early 2021, our staff and board embarked upon an eight-month strategic planning process to guide our work for the next three years. We’re happy to share the results of this thoughtful work and planning. Look here for more details about our goals as we all work together to create a just and resilient local food system that nourishes our community and protects and enriches the earth!

Welcome, Erin Ferrentino!

We're happy to welcome Erin Ferrentino to the GFN team as our new Food Access Manager! Erin will be managing the Community Food Distribution Project and our other food access work. They have spent the past 12 years in the Valley growing and distributing food in a wide variety of settings. From production farming to opening a cafe, Erin’s main focus is helping people connect to themselves and each other through sharing food! 

Donor Spotlight: Susan Voss

One thing was clear from our first Farm to School Summit in 2019 and subsequent meetings with the Farm to School Committee of Northampton Public Schools students, teachers, administrators, and community supporters: composting in our public school cafeterias is a top priority. And so, Grow Food Northampton has been facilitating a Farm to School Committee Composting Subcommittee to work on this issue. Northampton High School (NHS) students who have been participating in the subcommittee have taken the lead to make this priority a reality.

Another member of the Composting Subcommittee, Northampton School Committee Member-at-Large Susan Voss, also stepped up to the plate to make composting at NHS a reality! As she retires off the School Committee at the end of this year, she has made a generous donation to Grow Food Northampton from her now-closed campaign fund to make this composting work possible. Susan’s generosity will help with the purchase of compost bins, signage, and other composting tools. The NHS students are very close to seeing this through, and we look forward to supporting their efforts with Susan’s help. Thank you, Susan! And stay tuned for more about composting at NHS soon!

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 Reading This Month

Here at Grow Food Northampton, we are on a mission to learn more about the myriad ways in which the U.S. food system was created and is sustained by the labor and ingenuity of Black, Indigenous, Latinx people, and other People of Color. Often lost in these histories and narratives is how Asian Americans have played a deep role in farming, fighting for farm laborers’ rights, and the introduction of new crops and farming techniques to U.S. agriculture. This fascinating article is a great place to start learning more about the key role Asian Americans have played and continue to play in our local and national food systems: Deeply Rooted: How Asian American Farmers Shaped U.S. Agriculture

Do you have an article or other resource you’d like to share with us? Let us know! Send them to Happy reading!
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

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