West County families snap up ‘free’ farm-fresh produce

  • Dave Lewis buys some eggplant and peppers from Maria Topitzer of the Lyonsville Farm in Colrain at the Farmers Market in Greenfield. Recorder file photo/ Paul Franz

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Here are some brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

Lyonsville Farm in Colrain and the Mary Lyon Foundation, ever an innovator in helping schools in western Franklin County, have found a way to offer eight weeks of fresh produce distributed at the schools especially for low-income residents who use SNAP benefits.

Families that choose to pay with state SNAP funds will have the cost automatically reimbursed to them through the state’s $1.35 million Healthy Incentives Program, which gives an automatic dollar-for-dollar rebate for SNAP money spent on local fruits and vegetables.

This school-based program offers an opportunity for parents in western Franklin County to bring home to their children healthy locally grown food and to support a small local farm. Sounds like a win-win, or should we say, a grow-grow.

 Updated view of our home

After a month of work by 100 volunteers, the mural overlooking Veterans Memorial Mall has been refurbished and updated to reflect how Franklin County has grown over the 27 years since the montage was first painted.

Rebecca Tippens of Colrain, who produced the original mural, organized its revival.

“This has truly been a community effort that has not only given brightness to the county, but will also be an important historical record of our county,” she observed after the  finishing touches were applied.

The mural, which features images of Franklin County landmarks and now includes images of alternative energy sources and Wi-Fi; artistry including easels, palettes, brushes and musical instruments; fruit; cross country skis; contra dancers; a rag shag parade and people advocating for freedoms.

Thank you, Rebecca Tippens.

Laptops for all at Frontier

Every Frontier Regional School student will have a take-home Google Chromebook laptop this year. This is a great service – ensuring that everyone can have what has become essential in today’s schools, whether they can afford it or not.

The school now has close to 700 laptops after investing about $20,000 this past year.

Teachers remotely control student computers when they are doing school work, and the software prohibits students from browsing other sites while in a learning environment. When students aren’t signed into the school’s GoGuardian learning platform, teachers can’t observe their screens.

High school students can take the Chromebooks home and use them as they wish — with internet filters. Middle schoolers can only use them at school.

Young democracy

Earlier this year, the adult voters at town meetings of Ashfield, Shelburne and Wendell agreed at the urging of teenagers Aaron Nelson and Max Carr to petition the Legislature for permission to lower their voting ages to 16, the first time that voters in western Massachusetts have done so.

Nelson and Carr, a pair of local high school students, are continuing their campaign to other towns, seeking to lower the age for voting on local issues.

“In this era of lackluster voter turnout, rising partisanship and deteriorating civic education, efforts like this are especially important. That is why we are creating Vote16 Hilltowns — an organization that we hope will help other towns and cities in western Massachusetts lower their local voting age,” the two said in an op-ed piece in the Greenfield Recorder.

We hope they are right and successful. Our democracy these days needs all the help it can get.