by Mike Gioscia
Fill Your Plate Massachusetts!
Do you have a minute and nineteen seconds to spare? That’s how long it took me to sign up for the BRAND NEW Massachusetts ‘Choose Fresh & Local’ license plate. Sporting this colorful plate on your vehicle will identify you as someone who cares about our local food system, and shows your support for farmers and artisans, while backing the work of food-based organizations.
Eight or nine years ago, the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, based in Lowell, had the idea to release an agricultural license plate in support of their farming programs. They soon realized the Massachusetts State Department of Agriculture already had similar plans underway, so they shelved the idea. When the State’s plans didn’t materialize, New Entry picked up where they left off, and the license plate is ready for launch…well, almost ready! Before production can begin, New Entry needs to gather the names of 1,500 residents who are committed to purchasing a plate.
“It only costs $20 more per year than your regular license plate, and renews just like your old one, every two years. It’s an easy way to support local farms and local food,” said Jennifer Hashley, Director of New Entry. “This plate is launching a program that will support our work for years to come,” she added.
New Entry started in 1998 as a program to assist immigrants and refugees with farming backgrounds to find agricultural work in Massachusetts. Today, New Entry teaches farm business planning courses (online & onsite), runs farmer trainings, coordinates an ‘incubator’ program which matches new farmers with landowners, organizes initiatives that help low-income residents gain access to food, and more.
All proceeds from the ‘Choose Fresh & Local’ license plate program will be split between New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Mass Farmers Markets, and Beginning Farmer Network of Massachusetts.
Have a “greenie” on your holiday list ?
Spend a minute signing them up !
Then check them off your list!
To sign up right now:
Beginner Farmer Network of Massachusetts (BFN/Mass)
Mass Farmers Markets
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
155 Merrimack Street, 3rd Floor
Lowell, MA 01850
Mike Gioscia is a filmmaker, writer, blogger, DJ, chicken wrangler, drummer, and sustainability consultant. He is also a Board Member at The Soule Homestead in Middleborough. He runs a sustainable consulting business called the GreenDad.com.
Town Wharf General Store
by Dee Levanti
As you might expect from its name, the Town Wharf General Store is located in a gloriously old wooden building just off the sidewalk, right on Mattapoisett’s town wharf. What you may not expect, is the treasure trove of locally made goods you find behind the glass paneled doors.
Built in 1798, the structure’s original purpose was to support the thriving whaling shipyard. Current proprietors, Chris Demakis and Vince Cragin, had the entire space gutted before opening in May of 2013. With the help of old photos and a very talented custom carpenter, they rebuilt the shop, restoring the historical character of the store both inside and out. From there they set out to populate the space in a way that benefits the Mattapoisett community, embodies their own food and consumer values, and allows them to have fun expressing their creative interests.
The goods that Chris and Vince found to satisfy those requirements span quite a range and fill many household and culinary desires. From an amazing spread of artisan cheeses, to scrumptious snacks for a trail walk, to contemporary cocktail mixes, Town Wharf offers all the basics and then some. The neatly hung cast iron pans, assortment of locally inspired cookbooks, and mason jar martini shakers resound the creativity and self-sufficiency of the modern homestead. Town Wharf also features well-crafted items which bring the old world to the modern home; rope wreaths made by a local ropesmith, boat bags made by a retired sailmaker, and hand-bound brooms made with Sassafras wood handles by the same farmer who provides the shop’s maple syrup. Some other gems to be found are the “Tired Old Ass Soak,” medicinal grade chocolate sweetened with raw honey, and a pocket harmonica in the small but strongly present toy section; all perfect ingredients for a Gift Crate, assembled in-store and available for shipping.
According to co-owner Demakis, “we are putting a new spin on an old tradition.” In this writer’s opinion, they have succeeded with flying colors.
Town Wharf General Store
10 Water Street
Mattapoisett, MA 02379
Dee Levanti has farmed in Cohasset since 2011, and previously in Rhode Island. Born in Connecticut, she is a Southern New England mutt who enjoys listening to coyotes howl at dusk.
Farm to Fork by the Numbers: New Report Assesses the Food System in Southeastern Massachusetts
Southeastern Massachusetts Food Security Network
by Stephanie Reusch
Each quarter, eSS&SC readers are treated to stories about new and delicious ways that local foods are moving from “farm to fork.” A recent report from the Southeastern Massachusetts Food Security Network fills in the numbers behind the stories, providing baseline data on all facets of the region’s food system, an assessment of the potential for increasing both production and consumption of local food, and an examination of food insecurity in the region and the barriers keeping healthy local foods from reaching many residents.
The report, the Southeastern Massachusetts Food System Assessment, covers Bristol, Plymouth, and Norfolk counties. Organized according to the steps involved in bringing food from farm to fork, the Assessment includes chapters on food production; processing and distribution; food access; “closing the loop” through food waste recovery; and policy issues affecting the region’s food system. Each chapter includes a section on “Gaps, Barriers, and Needs.”
Southeastern MA Food Security Network
Office at the Dartmouth YMCA
276 Gulf Road
Dartmouth, MA 02748
(508) 993-3361 x16
Among the report’s findings:
- Southeastern Massachusetts has over 1700 farms and 108,000 acres of farmland, producing over $157 million in market value.
- Almost 1 in 10 people in the region experiences food insecurity, including nearly 1 in 5 children in Bristol County.
- The 12 food distributors headquartered in Southeastern Massachusetts generate estimated annual sales of $2 billion.
- Direct market sales of local foods (from farmers’ markets, CSAs, and farmstands) increased by 64% since the last Census of Agriculture, but still total only $13.42 per household per year.
- Nationally, 40% of food is wasted. In October 2014 Massachusetts banned large institutions from sending food waste to landfills, incentivizing more local food recovery.
The full Assessment and summary infographic are available at http://smfsn.weebly.com/food-system-assessment.html.
The SMFSN is a coalition of food pantries, farms, foundations, and social service agencies working together to promote local food security. Quarterly meetings are open to the public.
Stephanie R. Reusch currently splits her days working between Mass in Motion New Bedford and the SMFSN. As a nutritionist, she is dedicated to connecting her communities back to the importance of food. After hours, you can find her hanging out with her American Guinea hogs.