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Natural Awakenings Boston

Local Food Superstars

Feb 28, 2014 10:52AM ● By Katelyn Betrovski

The Boston local food scene is thriving, and there are many opportunities for involvement and learning to become more conscious of our role in our food systems. Here is a sampling of some groups and businesses that are making a difference in our community:

Boston Local Food (BostonLocalFood.org), a program created by Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, works with nearby farms, restaurants and other food producers and distributors to promote growing a sustainable and healthy local food system. While still in the early stages of planning some of their 2014 events, Boston Local Food is excited to bring the Local Food Trade Show to the area from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., March 4, at Northeastern University, and will feature more than 35 local food producers. Vendor registration is still open. Later, they will host the 3rd Annual Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest (BostonLocalFood.com/our-events/localcraftbrew) on June 13 and 14, at the Center for Arts at the Armory, in Somerville, where local beverage producers can showcase brews incorporating local ingredients.

Another business inspiring city members is City Growers (CityGrowers.wordpress.com), a company that transforms vacant lots into healthy organic gardens in response to the growing need for natural, chemical-free food in the city. They aspire to revitalize the economy in some of the most needed Boston areas, with local neighborhoods playing a pivotal role in the development of small-scale agricultural production. City Growers works collectively with community groups to acquire land, prepare it for planting and train growers to cultivate it using carbon-free practices. Ultimately, their farms will be managed and worked by local community residents. While they regularly seek volunteers, City Growers’ mission includes creating livable wage employment opportunities for community members.

Not to be confused with City Growers, Green City Growers (GreenCityGrowers.com), in Somerville, is a group of experienced and passionate organic farmers specializing in building, maintaining and harvesting raised-bed produce gardens, which can be placed anywhere the sun shines— yards, rooftops, decks or parking spaces. GCG was established to offer families, schools and businesses throughout New England a professional and experienced “helping hand” to install and maintain chemical-free vegetable gardens. They offer full maintenance plans, hands-on growing consultations and educational programs, as well as winter growing products and services.

Since 1993, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) (BuyLocalFood.org) has been working to strengthen the connections between farms and the community, by creating and running programs that link farmers, community members and markets. This year they have set a goal to double the amount of local food in our diets, currently at only 12.5 percent in Boston. To assist in that goal, CISA has been hosting a Winter Farmer Workshop Series on farm labor to help farmers understand the legal framework and financial implications of farm labor choices, and improve labor management strategies to build a stronger and more productive farm crews.

Katelyn Betrovski is a freelance writer living in the Boston area. Connect at [email protected].

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