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Mount Grace Fights Food Insecurity in Our Communities

Posted Wednesday, March 10, 2021
— News

Executive Director Emma Ellsworth (left) hand delivers a check to Noonday Farm founders Bob Jennings and Beth Ingham (right) on the farm in Winchendon.

For Mount Grace’s 2020 Annual Appeal, supporters were given the option to add $5 towards their donation that would go directly towards fighting food insecurity in the Mount Grace region. “The pandemic has had a huge effect on all of us, between the anxiety, social isolation, and loss. For some of us, those impacts have been magnified with additional financial devastation. This is one way the Mount Grace community has come together to help keep food on the table for all of us,” shared Executive Director Emma Ellsworth. Mount Grace received over $500 from supporters and will be donating it equally among two organizations that Mount Grace has collaborated with in the past to conserve the land they now farm on, Noonday Farm in Winchendon and Just Roots in Greenfield.

Noonday Farm in Winchendon is a nonprofit founded by Beth Ingham and Bob Jennings to serve residents of Winchendon and Gardner. The farm provides free organic food to those in need and offers educational programs in growing healthy food and sustainable living practices. 90% percent of what Noonday Farm produces is donated to local organizations that provide food for families experiencing poverty and food insecurity. Back in 2013, Mount Grace protected the 18.5-acre farm with a Conservation Restriction. “We are so grateful for this donation from Mount Grace as it will allow us to buy seeds for this upcoming season and grow the much-needed produce to feed our communities in Gardner and Winchendon,” said Beth.

In 2008, Mount Grace began working in Greenfield to create a community garden to secure local food production by and for the community. Widespread support in town for the idea of a community farm soon led to the creation of Just Roots and plans to site a community farm on 32 acres at the old Town Farm, which the Town of Greenfield protected with an agricultural preservation restriction in June 2011. Just Roots now leases this land, which became the Greenfield Community Farm.

Just Roots in Greenfield is a farm with a mission: to increase access to healthy local food by connecting people, resources, land, and know-how. Their Franklin County based CSA operation of 250 members is notable for its flexible sliding scale and payment plans, which results in at least half its memberships going to low-income households. Farm Field Trips demonstrate the benefits of healthy food for visitors of all ages. FEASTivals—free community monthly meals —offer up healthy, prepared meals available for pickup or delivery at several locations in town. Just Roots has expanded by integrating with healthcare partners to bring the CSA to 150 food-insecure patients of Boston Children's Hospital clinic sites in Hampden and Hampshire counties. They are vigilantly working to build the systems change necessary to ensure everyone gains equitable access to local, healthy food. “We are delighted to accept this generous donation made possible by Mount Grace which will contribute to the CSA subsidy pool for low-income Franklin County residents,” shares Jessica O'Neill, Executive Director of Just Roots.