We at Grow Food Northampton understand that Thanksgiving is a holiday fraught with problematic origins. Commemorating an autumn feast between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag people in 1621, what followed was centuries of genocide and the colonization of what we call the United States today. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated each November.
Whether you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving by traditional means or not at all, we also understand that holidays centered around gathering and feasting can be stressful for our food insecure neighbors. This November, Grow Food Northampton’s Food Access Advisory Board, made up of community members with lived experience with food insecurity, have teamed up with the GFN’s Winter Mobile Market to produce a Holiday Box. Grow Food’s Mobile Market team will be distributing this special box of fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs, and whole chicken to 9 different low-income housing communities across Northampton and Florence.
The box will include ingredients to prepare a meal in celebration of the bountiful local harvest season– Brussels sprouts from Kitchen Garden in Sunderland, apples from Pine Hill orchards in Colrain, sweet potatoes from Red Fire Farm in Montague, pasture-raised whole chickens from Reed Farm in Sunderland, and more!
The Food Access Advisory Committee also produced several cooking videos to demonstrate how to turn these fresh, local ingredients into a beautiful meal! Our very own Kia Aioki shows us how to prepare an apple galette, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, in her home kitchen at Hampshire Heights. Kia focuses on how to cook for a crowd in a small space, and highlights simple culinary techniques to elevate your cooking. You can check out these videos below and on the Grow Food Northampton youtube page.
The Food Access Advisory Committee is planning a series of gatherings and workshops this winter, along with the regular “farmers market style” free Mobile Markets. Looking further ahead are potlucks, seedling distributions and installing community gardens. These events and projects help to build community and give people who are sometimes isolated a chance to get out of the house and connect with others around food.