Dear Friend, 

How do we make sure that everyone in our community has access to healthy food? How do we create a just and sustainable local food system that supports local farms, keeps people fed, and encourages members of our community to grow their own food? Since its founding ten years ago, and in the best of times, Grow Food Northampton has tended to these questions by offering tools, opportunities, education, and land to community members; during COVID times, these questions take on even deeper meaning and greater urgency. The Community Food Distribution Project (CFDP) that Grow Food Northampton launched with other community partners just days after the pandemic hit Western MA is a direct outcome of how our organization has addressed these questions over the last decade. Our longstanding mission and work allowed us to pivot quickly to create a just and sustainable food system for these emergency times.

Earlier this month, the Brookings Institute released a report that tells us that because of the pandemic, tens of millions of American families are experiencing food insecurity or hunger. By the end of April, 40 percent of households headed by single mothers with children under the age of 12 reported that they were running out of food and didn’t have the means to purchase more. Locally, we are seeing a similar increase in numbers of individuals and families needing food assistance.

Meanwhile, local farms have watched their usual markets dry up in the pandemic. The colleges, universities, and other institutions to which they sold their produce closed. Many restaurants, catering companies, and other food businesses that sourced produce from farms shut their doors. Farmers’ markets were put on hold across the region. Uncertainty about the future made it difficult for farmers to know how much to plant for the coming season. 

Grow Food Northampton knew we could help both our local farmers and our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. Through our Farm to School and other education programming, our community farm, and our connection to Tuesday Market vendors, we had relationships with local farmers interested in selling us their winter storage crops, fresh produce, and other farm products. With the expertise and community connections Grow Food Northampton staff has developed conducting mobile markets over the last several years, we knew how and where to deliver food to our community members who need it the most, and what kinds of food people want. 
In collaborating with wonderful community partners, particularly the Northampton Survival Center; Community Action Pioneer Valley; and Local Roots Care, a funder collaborative founded just after the pandemic hit; we have been able to ensure that the Community Food Distribution Project is serving as a cornerstone of a food system that lifts up the local supply chain and feeds community members. The outpouring of community support has been deeply moving and a testament to how so many of you, and so many of our local institutions and businesses, understand that a sustainable food system is the foundation of a healthy community. You can read more about the CFDP in this newsletter and find more details on Grow Food Northampton’s website. Financial support for the project is much appreciated, and volunteers are always welcome

As Vijay Prashad, local scholar and Director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research, wrote in the organization’s recent newsletter on world hunger, “It is not enough to distribute groceries.” Grow Food Northampton takes this caution to heart. While Tricontinental’s suggested solutions are broad-ranging and radical, one serves as the foundation for all of the work that we do at Grow Food Northampton: “Communities should have direct control over the food system where they live.” Please join us as we create opportunities for engagement in Northampton’s local food system. The Community Food Distribution Project, our Community Garden, our Giving Garden, and so many other opportunities we offer are great places to start!

Hoping that you remain healthy and looking forward to seeing you soon,

Alisa Klein
Executive Director

We're growing our team!

We have three positions open right now: Part-Time Food Access Coordinator, Part-Time Market Assistant and Terracorps Youth Education Coordinator.

Shout-out to our Community!

In the weeks since COVID changed life as we knew it, we've been continually struck by the generosity, ingenuity and power of our community. Here are just sample of examples: 
  • The Valley Book Rally Project, headed by Lexi Walters Wright of High Five Books and Hannah Moushabeck of Interlink Press have begun giving out free books at our food distribution site at the Lumber Yard.
  • So many people have made masks for us to share with community members at our Community Food Distribution Project (CFDP) sites including: GFN founder Lilly Lombard and the WesternMAsk Project, Claudia Lefko, Diane Scott, Carol Boyer, Kristen Jensen and Linda Shaugnessy.
  • Extra thanks to loyal volunteer and supporter Marta Rudolph who not only made masks for the Giving Garden crew but has also volunteered to make custom aprons for Tuesday Market volunteer and staff!
  • Our great partner River Valley Coop came through again with a donation of paper bags for the CFDP. 
  • Northampton City Councilor Michael Quinlan and his sons Patrick and Tucker joined our volunteer cadre for the CFDP. 
  • Keli McLellan from Star Light Center (one of our Giving Garden delivery sites), and Sue and Armando, the owners of Laughing Tomato Pizza, have all become regular volunteers at Tuesday Market while they have the extra time in their schedules. 
  • Wingate Farm ended their day at Tuesday Market by making some last-minute sales for Thursday's food distribution, a win-win for all! 
  • Our Community Garden members were given the opportunity to complete their required service hours by volunteering in the community. Gardeners jumped at the opportunity and found fulfilling options like helping out at Northampton's emergency cot shelter and for the CFDP. 
  • Wes Malzone of Berkshore donated fish this week for our CFDP food distributions and hopes to continue doing so in the months to come!
  • Haymarket Cafe and Belly of the Beast are providing meals for adults in conjunction with the school meals program, a great example of how businesses can give back to their community. 

The Community Food Distribution Program Heads into its Second Month

An update from Michael Skillicorn, Associate Director: This week was one of our largest distributions yet, with over 400 households served on Tuesday and Thursday. And yet, it felt like the smoothest and richest week yet. Our volunteers are humming, fresh produce is coming in from local farms, and other organizations are joining us to provide value, like the wonderful books provided by the Valley Book Rally Project, and MA-caught fish donated by Berkshore, a Tuesday Market vendor. I'm truly impressed by the quantity and quality of the food we're providing. 

The CFDP has served approximately 7.5 times the number of new households than the Northampton Survival Center would typically see in a given month. But the numbers have stopped growing as dramatically as they did in the first few weeks, giving us the time we need to stabilize and strengthen our operations. 

It's been special to see how so many people and organizations have come together in open and trusting ways to make this project happen. Volunteers and food recipients have brought their best attitudes during the hardest of times, and organizations like the Northampton Housing Authority and Michael's House have stepped up in new ways to serve their residents. This project involves a close collaboration with the Northampton Survival Center. Every week we discuss what produce to order and how to best package, store, and cook it; the needs of specific food recipients; and much more. We are so grateful for these partnerships that allow us to support both our local farms and members of our community in need.  
Click here for Food Pick up and Delivery- Days, Times and Locations

Interested in Volunteering? 

Our need for volunteers has grown with the launch of the Community Food Distribution Project and to manage the flow of customers at Tuesday Market. We have other volunteer opportunities throughout the year, as well. 
Click here for more information on volunteering.

Tuesday Market is Happening!

Tuesday Market opened for the season on May 12. We have a smaller crew of vendors but a great selection of produce, plants, flowers, cheese, maple syrup and sugar, honey and some meats. Hear from Market Manager, Niki Lankowski on what it took to launch Tuesday Market this year in this great piece on WGBY PBS's Connecting Point. Our part starts at the 10:20 mark. 

Tuesday Market is every Tuesday until November 10, 1:30-6:30pm. Some things to know about visiting the market this year: 
  • A maximum of 20 customers are allowed in the plaza at once; there may be a line, especially before 4pm.
  • There is one entrance and exit on the parking lot side of the plaza.
  • Everyone must wear a mask or face covering over their nose and mouth.
  • Customers must use hand sanitizer (supplied by us) on the way in. 
We have SNAP Matching again, up to $10 per week, thanks to Valley Home Improvement. We also have at least five vendors who accept HIP (Healthy Incentives Program). 

Do you receive the Tuesday Market newsletter each Monday? If not, change your settings at the bottom of this email. 

Live from the Giving Garden!

This time of year, there's magic around every corner in the Giving Garden -- asparagus popping up, cover crops getting tall, plant starts all in tidy rows, and garlic growing larger by the day -- never mind moments like last week's full rainbow arching over the garden! Ellena and Melissa have been giving live tours of the garden each Wednesday at 12:30 on Facebook. Join in live each week or check out the archives here. Each video focuses on a few aspects of the garden like the shiitake mushroom operation, using a broadfork, dissecting an owl pellet found by the GG sign and much more. 

Welcome New Board Members, Donna Wiley and Aimee Francaes!

Donna Wiley brings the experience of a long career in philanthropy and not-for-profit management, as well as a deep commitment to organic gardening and healthy food for all,  to the GFN Board, which she joined in 2020. She has worked to develop and maintain the Pollinators Garden at GFN since 2017, under the auspices of the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. Donna and her husband have lived in Whately since 2009.

“I’m enormously impressed with the breadth of Grow Food Northampton’s work and the impact it has on the community, supported by a small staff and dedicated cadre of volunteers. It’s exciting to join the Board at a time when the need for GFN’s services has never been greater.”

Aimee Francaes is co-owner/operator of Belly of the Beast, an eatery in downtown Northampton which is mission-driven to serve the community ‘comfort food, mindfully made’ with locally-sourced farm-direct produce and bringing in whole animals from local farms to butcher, cure and smoke in-house. Previous to this ownership, Aimee has had an extensive career in culinary arts. 

“I am ever seeking ways that the community can come together around locally-sourced food. Be it the kitchen table at home, giving access to locally-sourced, nutrient-dense foods to everyone in our community, at a beloved resturant, a year-round farm stand or farmers market. Grow Food Northampton was built upon these same values and ideals. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this community-driven organization.”

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

Thanks to our featured Business Sponsors!

Curran & Keegan Financial

Copyright © 2020 Grow Food Northampton, Inc., All rights reserved.

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