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Nourishing Our Community and the Earth

Dear Friend,

The acceleration of spring energy has me out and about, especially on the Community Farm, to the point where it was hard to find the time to write this opening letter. A gardener recently said, “You are the most hands-on organization I’ve ever encountered” and, this time of year especially, I can’t argue with him. Among many other things (which you can read about below), we are welcoming four new farmers to our land and helping provide a space for them to collaborate and support each other. We had a first meet-up this weekend on a blustery day, and the farmers toured each other’s plots, and shared their plans, questions, and concerns. Excitement and hope abound for the season to come!

Enjoy these updates about our programs, upcoming workshops, and ways to get involved.

Michael Skillicorn
Associate Director

Spring cleaning! Ellena and Michael clearing some brush on the edges of the South Parcel. 

Quick Links


Volunteer Signup


SNAP Share Signup

Tuesday Market


Spring Garden Workshop Series

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Food Access In Action

Food access is a large part of what we do here at Grow Food Northampton. What does "food access" mean and what does it look like within the context of our local food system? Simply put, food access refers to how people obtain, cook, eat, and share the kinds of foods they are interested in consuming. At GFN, our goal is to shift power and actualize the ability of community members most affected by food insecurity to have agency in the local food system. This means creating lots of different systems for people to get the food they want in a way that suits them. From our Community Food Distribution Project’s free weekly produce delivery to SNAP Matching at our farmers markets, to subsidized farm shares at Crimson & Clover Farm, GFN's food access programming aims to make fresh, local produce available to all.

Here's a round-up of some of the current food access happenings: 

The Food Access Advisory Committee (FAAC) is a group of talented individuals who provide guidance to GFN on all things related to food access. They are community members who have lived experience with food insecurity and are connected to friends and neighbors who also experience food insecurity. FAAC members are gardeners, cooks, expert shoppers, and expert eaters! At weekly meetings with GFN staff, FAAC members offer direct feedback to GFN so we are able, together, to provide equitable, culturally appropriate, and effective means of accessing food and better programming, education, and events. With FAAC’s input, we have, in partnership with the Survival Center, revamped the Community Food Distribution Project, our weekly delivery service of no-cost local produce to affordable housing sites in Northampton. FAAC members have designed and distributed recipe cards to our produce recipients and filmed instructional cooking videos for the average home cook looking to snazz up their repertoire. They're also in the process of planning an educational series on gardening and art and foraging wild foods for medicine and nutrition.

Seedling Distribution! We'll be handing out beautiful seedlings on Tuesday, May 24th at Hampshire Heights and Meadowbrook Apartments, and on Thursday, May 26th at Salvo, Cahill, Tobin, and Forsander. We will have FREE vegetable and herb seedlings as well as containers for residents to take home.

Community Food Distribution Project Celebration! On Tuesday May 3 at Hampshire Heights and Meadowbrook Apartments, we'll be celebrating the past two years of successfully distributing free, local produce to our neighbors. We will have staff on site to help residents sign up for our weekly distribution, as well as snacks and kids activities.

Stay tuned for information about our upcoming Kitchen Appliance Swap and other food access events!

Tuesday Market Starts Next Week!

Tuesday afternoons are about to get a lot more vibrant! Make Tuesday Market part of your weekly routine and enjoy the best selection of fresh local produce, meats, farm products, flowers, and prepared foods, plus live music and live community!

Get the weekly scoop on Tuesday Market by subscribing to the Farmers Market newsletter. (change your settings at the bottom of this email or sign up here!)

Do you have SNAP benefits or know someone who does? Stretch those SNAP dollars at Tuesday Market. Look here to learn about how to get $80+ extra each month when you shop at the farmers market! 

Look for our Tuesday Market poster popping up around town and grab one for yourself at the purple market tent. Thank you to our featured artist, Sabrina Dorsainvil!  

Spring Workshops- Sign Up Now!

Grow Food Northampton will once again host a series of workshops at our Community Farm this spring. Join us to learn about a variety of gardening topics. All workshops will take place in person at 140 Meadow Street in Florence.

Find all of the details and sign up links here

Volunteers Needed!

Can you feel it? The buzzing of springtime in the community? Join the buzz and volunteer with us!
We have volunteer opportunities at our Giving Garden, Tuesday Market, and the Community Food Distribution Project.

Sign up here. Help us grow food and share food with the community!

Giving Garden Update

This growing season Grow Food Northampton is working with Regenerative Design Group to redesign the South Parcel of the Community Farm, including the footprint of the Giving Garden and the farm edges. We plan to create a holistic outdoor classroom where we can demonstrate regenerative agriculture in a floodplain, work collaboratively with local academics and researchers on agricultural projects that increase regional climate resilience, and expand hands-on gardening, farming, and food education for all ages.

This transition will mean a change for the Giving Garden. We will be utilizing our staff resources to focus on education and research, and devoting less time to annual vegetable production in the Giving Garden. While we make these changes, we will continue best practices for cover cropping and expand our perennial plantings, including asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, and shiitake mushrooms.

In the location of the Giving Garden, we are collaborating with Star Light Center and Manna Community Kitchen to create 30 Community Beds to continue to support those in our community experiencing food insecurity. These garden beds will be a shared volunteer effort between our organizations to grow a selection of high quality vegetables and herbs that will add value to meals and food pantries at these sites.

Everyone is invited to join volunteer days this season to plant and maintain these vegetables, and to support the changes. A change from previous years is that this season the Giving Garden will host volunteer hours once a week on Wednesday mornings. Sign up here!

Seeds For All!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Seed Swap last month at the Winter Market! It was wonderful to see so many enthusiastic gardeners and to hand out thousands of packages of seeds.

The seed swapping continues at the newly installed 413 Free Seed Libraries at Forbes Library and Lilly Library. Stop by the library to browse the available seeds and to add your own.

Poetry Break: Spring

Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees; 

Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits, 

Swollen with sap put forth their shoots; 

Curled-headed ferns sprout in the lane; 

Birds sing and pair again.


- Christina Rossetti, from the poem, Spring


Welcome Carol, Michael, and Kia!

We're proud to introduce three new Grow Food Northampton board members. They each bring unique skills and experiences to our board of directors. 

Carol Cáceres Lucey brings first-hand knowledge in nonprofit management and partnership-building from her years as former Executive Director and current board member of a national environmental nonprofit in her native Paraguay. While in Paraguay, she also served as Policy Specialist for the President of Paraguay’s Delivery Unit and as Senior Advisor for the Ministry of Public Health. Carol now lives in Northampton with her husband and 10-year-old daughter. 

Michael Quinlan is the Manager of Fine Wine at Table & Vine, which has allowed him to explore vineyards around the World, learning about the agricultural roots of wine growing and understanding the financial and climate impacts on grape farmers. After a term on the Northampton City Council Michael, recognized that there are many ways to support the Northampton community and while searching for new challenges, was thrilled to join the Board of Grow Food Northampton. 

Kia Aoki is originally from New York where she had a successful business as an interior landscaper that decorated with and maintained tropical plants in offices, hotels, and banks. Now proudly living in Northampton for the last 20 years, Kia has become active in working to solve food insecurity and on food justice issues, something she cares deeply about. In addition to being a board member here at GFN, Kia is also a founding partner of the Hampshire County Food Policy Council. 

Ukraine and the Importance of Local Food Systems

The war on Ukraine is deeply frightening and disturbing for so many reasons. One aspect of this war that is just starting to get attention is the way in which it, and related sanctions, are increasing food insecurity and hunger throughout the world. This is because Ukraine and Russia serve as major exporters of agricultural products, particularly wheat and maize. In fact, the two countries are responsible for 14 percent of the global wheat supply, and other countries, particularly those in the Global South, import as much as half their wheat from them. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, other food-related concerns stemming from this war that affect the global food supply chain are: disruption to harvesting and planting; the lack of an agricultural workforce; destruction of crops and other agricultural infrastructure by military activities; and abandonment of agricultural lands. 
On March 24, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a report that lays out how the war on Ukraine is driving global food prices upward with the most severe impact on developing nations that were already ravaged economically by the pandemic. “Soaring food…prices will have an immediate effect on the most vulnerable in developing countries, resulting in hunger and hardship for households who spend the highest share of their income on food,” writes UNCTAD. Ultimately, says UNCTAD, “the loss of purchasing power and real spending will…be felt by everyone.”
Beyond the weaknesses and failures of the global and national food supply chains as evidenced by the COVID pandemic and now the war on Ukraine, what more do we need to know to recognize the crucial nature of local food systems to feed our communities? Join us in strengthening a just local food system in Northampton and the region!


Thank You to Our Generous Supporters!

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