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MassLIFT Returns to its Roots

AmeriCorps members from across the state gathered in Greenfield on a cold November morning to help Just Roots put the Greenfield Community Farm to bed for the winter and to clean up and beautify Greenfield Energy Park.

Among the volunteers were 21 members of Mount Grace’s MassLIFT-AmeriCorps program, who helped plant and mulch 4,000 cloves of garlic, pick tons (literally) of rocks out of the fields, insulate a 100’ long greenhouse, and harvest fresh vegetables for market.  Just Roots has video of the volunteer day here.

The Just Roots connection to AmeriCorps goes back to 2008, when Greenfield citizens looking to promote vegetable gardening and grow food on municipal land held meetings coordinated by Kate Kerivan, a member of Mount Grace’s Commonwealth Corps, the program that later became MassLIFT.

“Just Roots and the Greenfield Community Farm are great examples of exactly what Corps programs hope to achieve,” said Sean Pollock, who directs the MassLIFT-AmeriCorps program, managed by Mount Grace. “I remember touring this property back when Just Roots was getting started.  It’s fantastic to return and see a thriving group that’s a real force for good in the community.”

Three weeks’ worth of work was completed in three hours at the farm, according to Just Roots Director of Management and Administration Jessica Van Steensburg.  "Just Roots is thrilled to host this volunteer day,” added Van Steensburg. “AmeriCorps’ focus on communities, collaboration, and civic engagement is in sync with the efforts of Just Roots, who through our community's expressed need, created the very farm upon which the volunteering will be taking place: the Greenfield Community Farm. We believe whole, healthy, local food is something we all deserve, and together through efforts like this, we are addressing food insecurity, building skills, and strengthening our community."

At the Greenfield Energy Park, the team weeded and raked paths and removed invasive plants.  “When Sean called to say he could bring 50 volunteers, I was thrilled!” said Nancy Hazard, who volunteers at the Energy Park. “We have gotten behind in several areas this summer, so we were very happy to have the help to get ready for a good start next spring!”

The Student Conservation Association and DIAL/SELF RISE, joined AmeriCorps Cape Cod and MassLIFT-AmeriCorps for the service day, which is planned as an annual event.  “It was great to see the rest of the MassLIFT team again and to meet AmeriCorps members from different programs,” said Shannon McGowan, MassLIFT Community Engagement Coordinator at Mount Grace.  “We had a lot of fun volunteering together and it was very inspiring to see how much we got done.  It reminded me why I wanted to be an AmeriCorps member in the first place.”