On a brisk December day with flurries in the air, we gathered together at the Hampshire…
Dear Grow Food Northampton community,
You are all in our hearts as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. In times like these, it only becomes clearer how much our communities contribute to our health and well-being, how much we rely on each other, and all of the ways in which our daily interactions help us to grow and thrive in our lives. Like gardeners who tend to their seeds and shoots with love and attention, we nurture one another. It is our collective spirit of mutual care that sustains us, even if right now the form of that care is primarily virtual. It is in this spirit of mutual care that Grow Food Northampton is reaching out to tell you about our work in the coming weeks and months to continue to nourish our community – literally — through the provision of gardening opportunities, activities for kids, and the strengthening of emergency food systems in the Northampton area.
Though we have closed the Grow Food Northampton office and staff are working remotely, you can still reach us at our office phone numbers and by email. We are continuing to work hard to help you – our community – to keep growing, thriving, and staying healthy. Please let us know if you have information you’d like us to publicize, and don’t forget to stay abreast of breaking developments on Grow Food Northampton’s website and Facebook page.
Here are our program updates, as well as some resources and opportunities:
- Together with our State Representative, Lindsay Sabadosa, Grow Food Northampton has taken the lead in convening Northampton-area organizations working on food insecurity, emergency food provision, and other food systems issues during this pandemic to share information and collaborate on the implementation of cohesive systems for food availability and distribution. In doing so, we will be able to develop a common message to advocate more effectively for what we need at the state and federal levels. Look out for report-backs from upcoming meetings and follow-up actions and activities!
- The Grow Food Northampton Community Garden is a place of beauty where gardeners can sink their hands into the soil and get some grounding in these unsettling times. We all know well the healing power of working the soil, being out in the crisp spring air, and watching the crocuses bloom. Our seeds will still grow even when we are social distancing! We are gathering research-based information on how best to keep people safe and will soon send out our Community Garden Policy and Procedures document. We are also gathering gardeners’ thoughts about how best to keep people safe. In the meantime, gardeners are welcome to visit their plots while keeping a minimum of six feet of distance between themselves and others. Please bring your own tools as the shed will be locked and no shared tools will be available for use. Pat will share more information with Community Garden gardeners soon!
- Our Giving Garden will soon serve as an excellent place of refuge where people can connect safely. In the coming weeks, as garden prep becomes more necessary, we will let you know about volunteer opportunities. We envision a small number of people at a time working together with wide margins of distance between them. Bring your own tools! We will provide sanitizer as needed. Over the coming months, what we produce in the Giving Garden will be more necessary than ever.
- Our Grow Food Kids program in the Northampton and Easthampton public elementary schools has been suspended while the schools are closed. Ellena and Melissa are developing kid-friendly growing, cooking, and food-oriented resources for families that we will send out via email, make available on our website, and share with teachers and principals to include in their virtual instruction of students. More to come soon in this arena!
- Our Farm to School programming is on hold while school is not in session. Our second annual Farm 2 School Summit that was going to be held at Smith College on March 21 has been postponed indefinitely. Meanwhile, Northampton Public Schools will be providing meals to children under the age of 18. Times and locations can be found here in English and in Spanish.
- The Tuesday Market launch, originally planned for April 21, is in question. While we have an initial go-ahead from the Northampton Health Department to conduct the Tuesday Market, this could change at any time. And the use of cash, SNAP tokens, and other forms of payment remain an unanswered public health question. However, since our vendors at the market have produce ready to sell, and our community needs fresh, locally-grown food to stay healthy, we are exploring two possibilities: an earlier launch of the Tuesday Market and/or a home delivery system for purchased goods. We are working closely with Tuesday Market vendors and the city to figure this all out and will be in touch again soon with an update. We are continuing to seek out business sponsors for our SNAP Match program at the Tuesday Market. If you’re interested in finding out more, please email Niki Lankowski, our Tuesday Market Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Crimson and Clover Farm is accepting sign-ups for their CSA, including the SNAP Share that Grow Food Northampton supports. For those paying with SNAP benefits, a 20-week or 24-week CSA share is half-price or less thanks to our discount and HIP reimbursements. To learn more or sign up, visit https://crimsonandcloverfarm.com/snap-shares/. We continue to welcome donations to Grow Food Northampton’s SNAP Share project, especially now when so many additional people will be in need.
- Sawmill Herb Farm, situated on the south parcel of Grow Food Northampton’s Community Farm, specializes in growing organic medicinal and culinary herbs. Help support Farmer Susan and strengthen your immune system by purchasing a CSA share now for the upcoming growing season. Sawmill Herb Farm is also selling certified organic vegetable and herb starts and is taking pre-orders now.
See the other resources we’ve gathered below and let us know if you have any questions. We are thinking of you here at Grow Food Northampton and sending our love.
-Alisa, Executive Director, and the entire GFN staff: Ellena, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Niki, and Pat
- Northampton Public Schools will be providing meals to children under the age of 18. Times and locations can be found here in English and in Spanish.
- For gardeners who want to start working on their Community Garden and home-based plots: we are told that Hadley Garden Center is making it possible for people to call in orders and have them delivered to their cars.
- Please support our local farmers by ordering from them directly. Check out this resource for home delivery: Mass Food Delivery (“Farm Fresh Food Delivered to Your Door”).
- Don’t forget to support our local restaurants by ordering from those who remain open for curbside pick-up and delivery! Check out this (ever-changing) list of retail resources prepared by the Downtown Northampton Association.
- Order’s Up is organizing donations to restaurants to help keep them financially viable. With donations, they will cook and deliver meals to those in need.
- CISA’s COVID-19: Online Ordering, Home Deliveries, and Closures Page
- Massachusetts Food Systems Collaborative’s COVID 19 Resources
- Northampton Survival Center
- Northampton School Closure Working Group (on Facebook)
- Western MA Community Mutual Aid Spreadsheet
- Western MA Community Resource Master List
- Franklin County Food Access Resources
And just in case you need it, you can find continued guidance on prevention at these online locations: