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Local Farms and Local Food: Feeding Neighbors in a Time of Need

Quabbin Harvest Food Co-op Store Front in Orange

Quabbin Harvest Food Co-op provides subsidized fresh produce through a range of programs and partnerships aimed at supporting low-income eaters.

Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust has protected dozens of local farms since 1986. Even working remotely since March, the trust conserved Sunset View, the landmark farm in Winchendon in collaboration with the North County Land Trust. This summer, Mount Grace will complete its first farm project in Templeton.

Today, these vibrant local farms are feeding our community. Local food has seen a steady increase in sales since the crisis began. As Mount Grace Deputy Director Emma Ellsworth notes, “Local farms and co-ops have a shorter supply chain because they are selling food grown by them and their neighbors.”

“We’re so inspired to see so many of our farm partners helping the community through this crisis” she adds. “It was great to hear from our Board members Al Rose and Phil Stevens that Red Apple Farm in Phillipston is open daily for curbside pickup and Barre’s Carter & Stevens farm store is open Wednesday-Sunday.”

Quabbin Harvest—the food co-op located at 12 North Main Street, Orange, in a building Mount Grace bought to support local food—has added remote ordering and curbside pickup. “Just email your shopping list and we will shop for you,” explains Quabbin Harvest’s Store Manager Julie Davis. “When the order is ready, we’ll call you back to take the payment by phone. When you arrive, our staff will bring the groceries to your car.” Davis has also started a Facebook Live tour of the store Wednesdays at 1pm. “Tours allow you to “walk the store” with me, to see the variety we offer and guide your shopping and grocery lists,” she adds.

Diemand Farm in Wendell, which protected land with Mount Grace in 2017, now has online ordering, curbside pickup, and limited delivery services. “We have customers that are older or immunocompromised that don’t feel comfortable going out for groceries, so we deliver to them,” shares Annie Diemand. “Customers can still shop here in person with a face mask, and we had a community member donate masks for customers if they don’t have one. Customers feel more comfortable shopping here because they know the people who are providing the food.”

“Helping farms protect their land and stay viable as businesses is what our farm conservation program does,” says Ellsworth.

Nothing is more essential than food, and the farms and stores that feed us have stepped up to the challenge of staying open to feed their neighbors during the pandemic. As Davis sums up: “I’m thankful for the community’s commitment to us. They trust us with their food! I don’t think there’s much more that you can trust someone with.”

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