April 14: A vital day for giving in the Pioneer Valley

  • Just Roots held one of their Feastivals at Oak Courts in Greenfield, providing a healthy, free community meal open to everyone. Honey Mustard Chicken, baked squash, rice pilaf, cheesy baked turnips, corn chowder, salad and baked spiced apples and ice cream for dessert. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Just Roots on a Tuesday afternoon off Leyden Road in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • At Just Roots community garden in Greenfield, gardeners can purchase 20-foot by 20-foot plots of land. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

  • Meryl Latronica sets out produce for Just Roots weekly CSA distribution and farmers market next to Green Fields Market in 2017. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 4/10/2020 2:59:09 PM
Modified: 4/10/2020 2:58:53 PM

The unfolding coronavirus pandemic is not only a health crisis, it’s also exacerbating existing challenges faced by the region, such as food insecurity.

“Many are disproportionately impacted, including low-income individuals and people of color,” according to a statement issued by Just Roots, a Greenfield-based community farming initiative. There are many organizations stepping in to fill the void, among them Valley Grows, which is “a collective effort among small, community-based nonprofits throughout the Pioneer Valley that are working to grow just and sustainable food systems for our communities.”

To that end, April 14 marks this year’s Valley Grows Day, a fundraising push to raise money for farming and food access. Participating organizations this year are: Just Roots in Greenfield; Grow Food Northampton, Abundance Farm and Pioneer Valley Workers Center in Northampton; Gardening the Community in Springfield; and Seeds of Solidarity in Orange. The initiative is particularly important right now.

“Across the diverse communities in our region, these groups expand access to healthy local food for everyone and create opportunities for the next generation of urban and rural farmers,” the statement notes. “This critical food access work can only happen with your support, and Valley Grows is especially vital in 2020. Now, more than ever, farming gives our valley strength.”

The fundraiser was originally started in 2018 by Jessica O’Neill, executive director of Just Roots and Alisa Klein of Grow Food Northampton.

The 2020 giving day was planned for late May, but the two founding organizations along with the partner organizations decided it was best to move the day forward to April in order to secure funds now to meet the community’s immediate needs.

“What really excites me about this day of giving is the collaborative spirit Valley Grows Day delivers. On a normal day there is already so much innovative and critical work happening around food, land and access in our valley, but when a crisis hits, we are all even more pressed to ensure food and resources get to where it is needed most,” O’Neill said. “This year, we are focused on leveraging the dollars raised through Valley Grows Day to help the partnering organizations pivot, adapt, maintain and expand services to address the needs of their communities in light of COVID-19. When we work together, we deepen our organizational relationships, share resources, broaden our reach and amplify our impact.”

Each organization has its own goal for Valley Grows Day that will be promoted on each partner’s page on the valleygrows.org website. Combined, these total a collective goal for the day of $69,400. Some organizations have match commitments from their own donors and business supporters.

Visit valleygrows.org for details on each organization, and information about what donations made on April 14 will support, particularly in relation to COVID-19.

According to the statement, Just Roots is a social justice organization that builds equity, connection, health, pride and empowerment in the community through a wide variary of food-based programs. Among other things, it is the largest SNAP-enrolled low-income CSA in the state.

Elsewhere in Franklin County, Seeds of Solidarity Education Center in Orange works with youth, families, farmers, and people who are incarcerated to grow food and create climate-resilient lives and communities. In partnership with Orange-based Quabbin Harvest food coop, the organization provides free boxes of farm-fresh food to families and elders facing hunger. More information is at seedsofsolidarity.org.

Andy Castillo can be reached at acastillo@recorder.com.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy