Of the Earth: A bountiful harvest of food datelines

  • BLIXT

For the Recorder
Published: 10/9/2018 2:45:30 PM

Taken together, our recent news reflects a vibrant region that is overflowing with compelling stories about how we use our land, what we produce and how we feed ourselves.

SHELBURNE FALLS — The Forever Farmland Initiative map shows the mosaic of land protection in the Pioneer Valley. The red splotches of unprotected land look reassuringly small. Still, some 67,580 acres of active farmland, including 47,608 acres of prime soil, remain unprotected. This is why I noted with thanks and praise, but was somewhat saddened by, the retirement of New Salem’s Richard Hubbard, who has long been the go-to guy in matters of land preservation, first as head of the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program, and then as director of the Franklin Land Trust. He helped put land protection on the map.

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), in conjunction with Whole Foods, has once again reopened its Emergency Farm Fund to provide non-interest loans of up to $10,000 to farms impacted by the summer’s heavy rains. The application deadline is Oct. 31.

KEENE, N.H. — The nonprofit Land for Good is helping to match experienced retiring farmers with young aspiring farmers, many of whom feel priced out of the land market.

TURNERS FALLS — Steve Alves’ documentary film on food co-ops, inspired in part by Green Fields Market, is being shown in at Temple Israel in Greenfield on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. and at Leverett Crafts and Arts on Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. In all, the film is being shown at 50 locations in 27 states this month.

GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Community Development Corp. has established the PVGrows Investment Fund, which is providing a critical financial and technical boost to some of the most innovative, and sometimes hidden, agricultural initiatives.

MONTAGUE — Sarah and Ryan Voiland of Red Fire Farm have drafted weevils into the organic armed forces of integrated pest management to fight the advance of “Polygonum perfoliatum, also known as the devil’s tail or tear thumb, which can grow up to six inches a day and is covered in sticky, thorn-like hairs that make removing the vine by hand a painful task,” writes reporter Sarah Robertson.

BOSTON — The Healthy Incentives Program, which helps bring locally grown food to low-income people, is being suspended in coming weeks to help extend funding later on.

And I missed every single one of those stories.

Each story was covered admirably by my talented and committed news colleagues. But I missed them, and am left feeling just a little “beat.” Not “beaten,” as in what might happen to you in a back alley or on the business-end of a nightstick, but rather “beat,” as in missing a story that then runs under somebody else’s byline, and that leaves one in the dust, clueless and trying to catch up.

In the same vein, the word “follow” is spelled “folo” in newsroom lingo, and it refers to the sometimes humiliating process of catching up on a story — often one on which you have already been “beat.” The seven items at the top of this column are folos.

Likewise, a “lede” is the most important (and generally the first) sentence in a news story, spelled to distinguish it from “lead,” the molten metal once used to form letters dispensed by a newspaper compositor’s linotype machine.

Here is my lede (in this case, called a “buried” or “delayed” lede):

If you are a grower, a farm hand, a farmstand hand, an agriculture academic, a policy wonk, a researcher, a cook, a foodie or (those most endangered folks) an interested reader, please know that whatever you are doing in the field, in the kitchen or at the table represents a good story. I need those stories, and those recipes.

You might think that getting beat is not a big deal for a farm and food writer, a niche where the stakes are low, the subject matter is wholesome and folks are invariably kind. All true enough. But I still hate to get beat.

So, drop a dime, as they say in the biz. Please. Tell me your story and what’s cooking. I’ll be gentle with both.

Wesley Blixt lives in Greenfield. He is a longtime reporter and is the author of “SKATERS: A Novel.” Send him recipes, stories and suggestions at wesleyblixt@me.com.




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