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Greater Quabbin Food Alliance to hold public meeting on local farming

  • Quabbin Harvest’s Mary Ellen stands next to local community-supported agriculture shares ready for pick up. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO



Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

ORANGE — Farmers will come together to share ideas, projects and food this Friday at a seminar focused on local farming and food access. 

From 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Orange Innovation Center, 131 West Main St., the Greater Quabbin Food Alliance is holding a meeting to encourage collaboration between local farmers and food businesses, as well as to spread information about the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, which will provide monetary assistance to local food enterprises.

The meeting is free and open to the public, and will begin with a set of “lightning talks” — five-minute presentations from the Legal Food Hub, Franklin County Community Development Corporation, Many Hands Organic Farm, The Compost Cooperative, Worcester Regional Food Hub and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments.

Attendees will then break into groups to discuss their own organizations and potential projects for collaboration.

According to Kat Kowalski, regional collaboration coordinator for Mount Grace Land Trust, the organization that sponsors and coordinates the Greater Quabbin Food Alliance, the alliance has been a “network of people from Franklin and Worcester Counties working to increase human and ecological health, food access and economic vitality, and sustain local farmers and food businesses” since its founding in 2013. 

A key topic of discussion will be the Massachusetts Food Trust Program and how to access it.

The MFTP, established in 2014, will soon provide “loans, grants and technical assistance to support new and expanded healthy food retailers and local food enterprises,” Kowalski said. Franklin County Community Development Corporation Executive Director John Waite will share information on the program.

“This statewide program will be available to rural as well as urban areas where access to affordable healthy foods is a challenge,” Waite said. “We look forward to getting this capital to innovative entrepreneurs that will help improve our regional food system for everyone.”

Friday’s meeting will also have a “local makers market,” and attendees are invited to bring local, nonperishable, handmade food, as well as farm products like honey, dried herbs, soap, wool products, maple syrup and candles to sell. 

Lunch will be provided by the Petersham Country Store, with a suggested donation of $10. For more information or to RSVP, email farmconservation_americorps@mountgrace.org or call 978-248-2055, ext. 29.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.