Food as Medicine

 

Hello, Everyone! My name is Krystal Graybeal, and like the other students here, I will be sharing aspects of my internship journey with you. For the past couple of years I have been studying Permaculture with (among many talented others) Abrah Dresdale -our dedicated Farm and Food Systems coordinator and mentor extraordinaire-, as well as Home and Advanced Herbalism with the wonderful Brittany Wood Nickerson in Amherst, MA. Individually, these two subjects have proven to be the most valuable and engaging of my educational experience so far– so imagine my wonder when Abrah suggested a melding of the two- Local Food as Medicine! (Keep your eyes peeled for my next post to find out exactly what I mean by that- it’s likely not quite what you might think!)

How are these two subjects related?
Permaculture is about much more than growing food. One of my favorite definitions of Permaculture comes straight from Ryan Harb, Permaculture Academic Coordinator at UMASS Amherst. “Permaculture is really about solutions. It’s about taking all the problems we have in the world and making something good out of them.” To me, it is about healing the land itself, as well as our human connections with the land, and with one another. And Brittany’s motto is “Healing Starts at Home.” How true. So much can be accomplished when we all take small steps in the same direction.

Here, over the next several weeks, I will update with local plant profiles, do-it-yourself tutorials, and highlight some of the local folk who made these things their livelihood.

I would like to leave you with a question today: What sort of relationship do you have with the land around you? Or with the food you eat?

 

“The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The End.

On March 16th we not only wrapped up the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market season and my internship, but also we held the last winter market in the Greenfield High School (at least for a few years, as they are getting ready to start a large renovation project).

It was a much calmer market (after the excitement of Winter Fare last month), with fewer shoppers, vendors and products.  But it was a great farewell market none the less.

I really enjoyed my internship as the assistant market manager.  I learned a lot, and made several important connections to people in the food and farming community.  All in all, it was a truly valuable learning experience.

Please plan on patronizing the Greenfield Summer Farmers’ Market.  It runs every Saturday from 8-12:30 in Court Square, Downtown Greenfield.  The first market is on April 27th. 

 

 

 

 

Working To Double SNAP Dollars

At the beginning of my internship, one of my first tasks was to work on the Double Your SNAP Dollars Program.  For those of you that don’t know what SNAP is, it is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly know as food stamps).  It is a government funded program to provide food assistance to low income individuals and families.

In the past several years, farmers’ markets across the country have started to accept SNAP benefits as payment at their markets.  According to the USDA, farmers’ markets have seen a 624% rise in SNAP redemptions in the last five years.  Farmers’ markets accepting SNAP payments is beneficial in so many ways.

People who may not normally have access to fresh local food can not only purchase nutritious, wholesome food with their SNAP benefits, but also meet the farmer that grew it.  The food is sold right in their town or neighborhood, limiting the need to travel great distances to shop (and making it more convenient for people relying on public transportation).  The benefit dollars stay in the local economy, and the markets get new customers.

Many markets now have a Double Your SNAP Dollars Program, which entitles SNAP customers to double their dollars….getting twice as much food.  In order to run this program, market organizers must do a certain amount of fundraising.  They seek out financial donations from local businesses and organizations.  As mentioned above,  one of my first tasks was to draft a letter for this purpose. The Greenfield Farmers’ Market’s Double Your SNAP Dollar Program received several donations this way, in addition to the proceeds from the Winter Fare soup cafe (see previous post).

By far, the success of the Winter Market fundraising effort was due to the generosity of one wonderful, kindhearted person named Eveline MacDougall.  If you have ever been to the Winter Market, you would have seen her at her Sweet Pea Cottage Industries booth, or read about her in the Recorder.  She crafts these amazing handmade greeting cards and envelopes, and donates some of her profits each month to the Double Your SNAP Dollar Program. 

Because of Eveline and our other sponsors and donations, we were able to double SNAP benefits (up to $10) at both the February and March markets, and we still have enough money in the account to kick-start the Double Your SNAP Dollars Program for the summer market season.

It was very rewarding to see the smiles on peoples’ faces and witness their gratitude when we were able to hand over an extra $10 in tokens.  I only wish that all of the generous people that donate to the fund could share in the joy.

 

Winter Fare

Winter Fare is a week-long celebration of local food that has been happening in Greenfield since 2008.  Every year, there are are lectures, film screenings, workshops, community potlucks, seed swaps and a Winter Farmers’ Market.

This year CISA, along with a loyal group of volunteers organized Winter Fare events not only in Greenfield, but also in Northampton, Amherst and Springfield.

In Greenfield, where Winter Fare has its origins, it is held in conjunction with the monthly Winter Farmers’ Market, where I am doing my internship.   Not only did we have our usual array of vendors, but there were also information tables, workshops, a barter fare and a soup cafe.

At the workshops, one could learn about food preservation, cheese-making, backyard sugaring and vermicomposting.  The barter fare offered an opportunity to trade something that you had a lot of (butternut squash, perhaps) for something that you wished you had (like some dill pickles).  I saw many happy people leaving with arm loads of goodies.  The soup cafe was awesome-four kinds of soup created with local ingredients made by area restaurants.  All proceeds from the soup cafe went to the Double Your SNAP Dollars program (more on this later).

All day long the market was bustling with shoppers…learning, listening (to great music), loving (the soup, coffee and conversation), and loading (their cars full of produce and other locally produced goods).  This year the Winter Fare was held on February 2nd.  If you came, you know how wonderful it was.  If you missed it, try to catch it next winter.

 

 

 

 

help feed the community by feeding the community

Community based agriculture is the answer to all of our problems. With a serious shift in our cosmology humans will be able to live symbiotically with the land. I recently saw a presentation by a UVM graduate student, Connor Stedman, describing the importance of applying permaculture on a large scale to repair Bioregions with Regenerative Agriculture. He described how control of the land should be shifted from seeing it as a commodity to be bought and sold to a resource to be used for food and shelter. The land that we live in is our “ecologial womb”. And society has cut the umbilical cord. We pull our nourishment from a global resource bank that we do not replenish. We do not recieve what we need from the land we live in anymore; most people don’t even know how. We must rebuild our “wombs” and the natural capital in those “wombs” through community based farming (agroforestry, urban ag, permaculture, and more).  Help feed the community by feeding them!

Leaping Frog Farm interning

Leaping Frog Farm is located between route 112 and the Deerfield river.  It is three acres in total. On this property one would find wild grasses on the southern bottom edge that are used for thermal mass insulation during the cold season and also for composting. Above this is where the produce will be planted and harvested.  There are now currently three hoop tunnels set up west to east, the largest one being about seventy feet long. (picture inside hoop house with beds being preped).

This hoop house consists of three hoop tunnels lined up, done with magical farmer ingenuity. This hoop house will support a large amount of kale and some collards which is used as members “cooking greens” for Leaping Frog’s CSA share, which is weekly through out the winter! The other two hoop tunnels are used for producing “salad greens”, being a large mix of tasty spinach, arugula, claytonia, swiss chard, pea sprouts and hybrid mesclun.  These other two hoop houses contain herbs and a soil blocking station as well.  These pictures show the property before our chilly winter swooped in.

Introduction….Tales from a Farmers’ Market Intern

Hi, my name is Holly Zimmerman and this semester I am doing an internship with the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market.

Each winter season, the market is held once a month at the Greenfield High School from 10 am to 1 pm.  There are approximately 20-25 vendors each month selling a wide variety of homegrown, homemade and locally-produced products.  You can find produce, meat,eggs and cheese, pickles and preserved goods, honey,syrup and jam, grains and flours, hops, popcorn and vinegar, yarn, body products and greeting cards.  Need I say more?

O.K., I will……There are information tables.  You can talk to a master gardener or someone from CET about energy efficiency.  Just Roots is coming again this month. The market showcases a different musician each month too.  You can also grab a hot coffee and some prepared food.  So obviously, not only is the farmers’ market a place to shop for wholesome delicious food, but a place to meet up with friends and neighbors to socialize, educate yourself or just listen to some good music.

Please come to our last market of the season on Saturday March 16th from 10 am to 1 pm to see what you can find.

 

Save the veggies!

There was a suprise gas leak today at gcc! And it took quite some maneuvering to get everybody their shares. I found a trolley as we all were evacuating the building and ignored all that told me I was going the wrong way. Because I had to save the veggies! We got them all out of the building safe and sound. I then carted around the parking lot looking for people to take their shares. I found almost everyone on their way leaving campus so happy to have found their veggies. Today I had to improvise so I hope everyone will be please with the outcome. Save the veggies!

zoe

Introducing the Stone Soup Cafe/GCC Internship…

Where do you go to eat in downtown Greenfield on Saturday @ Noon???…..

The Stone Soup Cafe’ of course!!! Especially if you want delicious local and organic food on a pay-what-you-can basis.

Here’s a link to an awesome Cafe’ video that describes how and why the Cafe works so well…

Stone Soup Video

The Stone Soup Cafe is a weekly community event committed to offering a nourishing space and meal to whoever walks in the door, regardless of how you are able to contribute.  Simply showing up to enjoy the good food, connective ambiance, and live music, and there is always a variety of ways to be involved to help support if you want.

YUMMY!!

Stone Soup has teamed up with GCC and Just Roots to work on bringing more fresh, local foods, including meats and dairy, on to the cafe’ menu.  We’ll also be looking for other avenues to address the needs and concerns of local food access in Franklin County.

Here’s a link to the Just Roots website to find out more about the awesome work they are doing in our community…

http://justroots.org/

I’ll be reporting in here on the blog on a regular basis to update folks on our developments as we transition from winter into the growing season…

cheers, Joshua Freund