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Cellars and Cave Tour with the Heath Agricultural Society

Sheila Litchfield in the Dell

The Heath Agricultural Society gave us all a chance to  go exploring the cellars and caves of our neighbors  this past Saturday. Root cellars, cider cellars and a cheese cave. Who could resist this opportunity? Over 50 people signed up for this tour, many of them from towns beyond Heath. Even Springfield! I took one group around beginning with Sheila Litchfield who first explained the basics of cheesemaking. Chemistry. Bacteria. Sheila is a nurse so she knows all about bacteria. When Sheila isn’t milking her three goats to make cheese, serving as Rowe’s town nurse, and serving as a member of Heath’s selectboard, she spends ‘her spare’ time canning the produce from the large Litchfield garden. Oh, and she also gives cheesemaking workshops!

Cheese Cave

Sheila built her cheese cave in the cellar. Here, with carefully monitored temperature and humidity, she stores cheese that needs aging.  She explained that she can only have one kind of cheese in this small cave, because the different cheese bacterias will infect each other, to the benefit of neither.

Litchfield Root storage

Our group got a bonus! Sheila showed us how she stores root vegetables, in crocks, on the bulkhead stairs. Not too much left at this time of year.

Andrew at Benson Place Blueberry Farm

Then it was off to the Benson Place Blueberry Farm, where noted artist Robert Strong Woodward  often painted, and where  I often took young grandsons to pick their own low bush blueberries. Andrew and his family have been farming here for three years. When the basement was given a cement floor in the 1960’s a corner space was left unpaved, in expectation of a root cellar. Andrew finally finished the root cellar which now has two cement foundation walls, and two walls built of rigid silvery insulation panels, extra fiberglass insulation and heavy weight black plastic. His root cellar has a window which makes it possible, with the help of flexible ductwork, to bring extra air circulation. At this point Andrew says they buy bulk vegetables from farms like Atlas Farm to store. They also use the root cellar for other foods like yogurt and meat when the refrigerator is too full.

 

Draxler root cellar

Andy and Sue Draxler could not put their root cellar in the cellar because their furnace made that space too warm. They poured a cement floor in their large garage/workshop, but left one corner unpaved to provide the necessary moisture for their root cellar. While Andrew’s root cellar is a little room with a window, the Draxlers built what is essentially a large closet. It is divided in two, with the intention of providing dry cold storage on one side, and moist cold storage on the other.  That has not worked out as they expected, and both sides are quite moist. Sue Draxler explained are working on a fix  for that. They do have their potatoes on one side and apples on the other. These two should never be stored together because the apples produce ethylene gas as they ripen, and this will cause the potatoes to sprout more quickly. Like, Andrew, the Draxlers have very little left in their root cellar at this time of the year.  Sheila, Andrew and Sue all acknowledged that they had some produce loss because of the extremely cold temperatures for an extended period this year, made it impossible to keep root cellar temperatures above 32 degrees. Generally speaking root cellars should be keep between 40 and 55 degrees.

Bob Bourke and his cider press

After root cellars, we went off to explore cider cellars.  Hard cider, that is. Bob Bourke took everyone down to  his cellar to show his equipment  and fermenting carboys of cider. Then we all went up to the porch to see his cider press. Bob  bought his house and property about five or six years ago and was happy that it came with a cider orchard. He has 45 trees of various apple cultivars like Golden Russets, Baldwins, Northern Spy, Gravensteins, Jonathans and others. Good, complex ciders depend on a flavorful mix of apples.  Making cider also depends on controlling the yeasts, which means cleanliness and isolation in air-locked barrels and carboys. Bob explained that it is not really difficult to make cider, but cleanliness is vital. It is also very  timeconsuming when it is time to sterilize the bottles, fill and cap them.  He gave out samples to our thirsty crew.

Doug Mason in his cider cellar

Doug Mason gets most of his apples from Bob. They  do a lot of work – and tasting – together. He has some additional equipment that we hadn’t seen at Bob’s. To cut down on the time required for washing and sterilizing bottles, he has bought several stainless steel kegs, like those that beer  comes in. Much easier to clean a keg than  bottles for an equal amount of beer. He also has a bottling and capping gadget that, with a two man crew, makes this operation fairly quick. He also gave out samples. Warming!  And very nice. This cider cellar is about 50 degrees. Chilly. Doug ferments his cider in the barrel for  about a year or so, then bottles it, and keeps it for another year. Bob’s cellar is warmer, and it takes the cider longer to mature in Doug’s colder cellar. So much to learn.

Lunch!

Back at the Community Hall we could warm up. Hours spent talking about food and drink prepared us for a fabulous lunch, chilis, soups, breads, pies and cider! All prepared for tour participants by members of the Heath Agricultural Society. That is Justin Lively, Society President, in the center rear of the photo. Lots of enthusiastic conversations! The big question? What other kinds of tours can we have in Heath? What kinds of tours might other towns create?

Welcome to the Greenfield Garden Club Tour on Saturday, July 6

Welcome to the Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour.

Welcome seems to be the theme on the Greenfield Garden Club Tour which will be held on Saturday, July 6 from 9 am to 4 pm. This beautiful garden on a challenging slope in Gill has several garden rooms, from the small sunny garden with its fountain and pool surrounded by astilbes, ornamental grasses and bright coreopsis to the woodland garden with its gravel paths and colorful mushroom ornaments. Each garden has its own welcome sign, and its own seating. This gardener knows it’s all very well to invite a person into the garden, but there must be a place to sit and visit, or to meditate, depending on one’s mood.

This garden with such a variety of moods and welcomes is only one of the nine gardens, mostly in Greenfield, that will be welcoming visitors on the Tour. I have visited a couple of the gardens on previous tours and I am interested to see how they have changed over the years. If a garden is anything, it is change.

One garden has had to change because storms have decreed the removal of two large trees. Where there was shade there is now sun. The garden has also changed because of changes in the gardener’s energies and interests. More native plants, and less lawn.

One Greenfield garden is a veritable Eden of fruit trees including figs! Another garden illustrates how much can be done in a short (in gardener’s terms) period of time. In just three years this garden has turned a tangle of invasives into productive fruit and vegetable gardens, as well as a small pond to provide wildlife habitat, and hardy native woodland plants.

A Gill Garden

It is interesting to me to see how many of these gardeners are interested in sustainability. They are looking to sustain their own health by producing their own food, while they are also sustaining the health of our environment by eliminating lawns that can use so many resources.

One garden is planned as a pollinator’s paradise. In addition to planting a few vegetables as well as apples, rhubarb and an assortment of berries, the garden is filled with Echinacea, sundrops, New England asters, sunflowers, red clover and many other flowers that attract those important pollinators, native bees and beautiful butterflies.

In addition to these nine idea filled gardens, the Greenfield Club Garden Tour will also offer complimentary refreshments and a lottery where you might win a moss garden, a hypertufa trough or other prize. Tickets are $12 and are available at the Trap Plain Garden at the corner of Federal and Silver Streets. Tickets will be available from 9 am til 1 pm on the day of the tour, Saturday, July 6. The rain date is July 7, but only in the event of a washout.

Proceeds from the garden tour go to fund the Club’s civic projects, including and especially grants for school gardens.

**

Peony in bloom, without ants

While I was preparing for my own garden party, the work crew, daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters spent considerable time weeding the Peony Bed. Reactions to the ants crawling on the fat peony buds ranged from “Eeeeeuw!” to “What are the ants doing, (great) Granny?”

This is a common question. Ants do not seem to be anyone’s favorites insect. In fact, when faced with most insects, many non-gardeners, and some inexperienced gardeners tend to react with a yell for the bug killer. This is often unnecessary, especially when it comes to ants on peony buds. As it happens, peony buds have an exterior scale that exudes a sweet nutritious nectar and the ants are just chowing down. They are neither hurting, nor helping the peonies in any way. However, the ants are so fond of this nectar that they can ward off other insects that might cause damage to the bud.

When the peonies open there is no more nectar and the ants abandon the plant. Don’t worry about the ants, and definitely, don’t run for some poison.

We are organic gardeners and do not use any poisons in the garden. We don’t use weed killers or bug killers  – well, except for wasps nests right next to the door. That means our lawn is a flowery mead and not fine turf. I was horrified to read that after applying some lawn fertilizer/herbicide, or walking on that treated lawn,  you should remove your shoes before coming into the house. All summer. I prefer the flowery mead and see no need for the extra work that fine turf requires.

As for bugs, we don’t seem to have serious problems with bugs here at the End of the Road. Once, long ago, while chatting with my next door neighbor, we watched my 5 very young children climb out of their low, ground floor bedroom window to play in the yard when they were supposed to be taking naps. She just sighed and said that God protected drunks and fools. I don’t drink so you can see where that left me.

I put down milky spore disease nearly 30 years ago and now have only a handful of Japanese beetles every year. Maybe it is because our garden is so isolated. Maybe I am just lucky. Maybe I am still under the Almighty’s protection.

Many mysteries in the garden. I have always said so.

Between the Rows  June 29, 2013

 

Sunday Afternoon with Mozz, Feta, Chevre, Cajeta and more

Sheila of Dell Farmstead

Actually my neighbor Sheila of Dell Farmstead started her cheesemaking workshop at 9 am! Fortunately, she included a beautiful lunch in the day’s schedule. By the end of the day we had made: chevre, a goat cheese; 30 minute mozzarella; feta; cheddar; creme fraiche, soft goat cheese, and a Tomme unique to Dell Farmstead.

Curds and When

We learned that all cheese begins with separating the curds from the whey – with the help of additives like citric acid, and starter cultures including rennet that are different for each type of cheese. Animal rennet is extracted from the 4th stomach of a calf, but vegetarians can use a rennet made from plants like thistle flowers and stinging nettles. We also learned that whey, the liquid that is left after the milk solids are removed is considered a pollutant. That means it cannot go down the drain into a septic system or sewer system. Sheila feeds the whey to her hens or dumps it on her garden where it does no harm.

Heating the milk

The very first step is to warm the milk. How hot it needs to be and for how long depends on the type of cheese being made. A cheese thermometer is vital because it gives small increments. All utensils were stainless steel and very clean. No oil or soap residue can be left behind.

Ricotta?

When the whey has been totally drained, the curds can look like this. I’m not sure if this is the ricotta or the chevre. Both look very similar.

We didn’t make any cajeta which is a Mexican caramel made from goat milk, but Sheila had some ready for us to sample. She also made dark chocolate covered goat milk truffles which you can see us tasting, while one devoted member of the group was deputed to keep his eye on the thermometer.

Luncheon Table

The truffles did not ruin our appetites. We sat down to a wonderful lunch of paillards of chicken with a creme fraiche (that we made)  sauce over rice and a lovely green salad. Sustaining.

Feta Cheese - almost

Feta cheese is not really feta until it has been brined.  for three days.

30 minute mozzarella

I couldn’t believe it only takes 30 minutes to make mozzarella. It uses the magic of a microwave, and some taffy-pulling technique.  Most of the cheese we made used commercial milk, but only Guida and Our Family Farms milk because these two are only pasturized, not ULTRA pasturized which would have killed every single bacteria. You need bacteria, good bacteria, to make cheese.

Cheese Cave

We only made one cheese that will end up in Sheila’s ‘cave’ which made use of an old cistern in her basement. She lives in an old farmhouse.  Many of the cheese recipes we used are in Ricky Carroll’s book Home Cheese Making. Ricky is known as the Cheese Queen and everything you need to make cheese is available through her website. Sheila took Ricky’s workshop nearly 30 years ago – and has been making cheese ever since.

Hoegger’s Farmyard is another company that sells cheese making equipment online.

If you’d like information about a cheesemaking workshop contact Sheila at  sheila@thedell.com. Oh, by the way – we all got to take some cheese home with us.

PS – Don’t forget that tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 14 is the great Winterfare in Northampton. Fresh produce, workshops, soup cafe, and lots of fun all around.

Festival of the Hills – A Crop of Authors

The Authors Tent

The Conway Festival of the Hills is a grand autumnal event in our region. This year I got to share tent space with other authors like Marie Betts Bartlett (left in blue) who brought her book The (true) Story of The Little Yellow Trolley Car and Heidi Stemple (right oogling the baby. Heidi is the daughter of and co-author with Jane Yolen of many books, true, mysterious and delicious.  In the center is Jessica, owner of The World Eye Bookstore who was running the cash register.

David Costello, author and illustrator

David Costello was at the table too, with his new book Little Pig, and his ink and brush. Because of the constant rain we did have a few quieter moments which gave David time to make special drawings, in consultation with some younger readers. This area is so rich in fine authors and illustrators that a whole new roster took the afternoon signing session: Holly Hobbie, John Crowley, Peter Jeswald, and editor of Morning Song, Susan Todd.

Holly Hobbie is well known for her Toot and Puddle series of books, but I love her new books about Fanny. John and Peter write for adults. Crowley takes us to worlds fantastic and real in his novels, while Jeswald is a good man to have a round the house and garden with non-fiction books from Taunton Press and Storey Publishing.

Susan Todd, along with Carol Purington, edited the poetry anthology Morning Song: Poems for New Parents that I wrote about here.

The Little Yellow Trolley Car

I’ve even given a copy of this to my great-granddaughter Bella so she’ll know a little piece of our local history. The book is a delight.

I Can Help

I bought this for my younger great granddaughter, Lola, because even at two she must be learning that there are ways she can help.

Barefoot Book of Dance Stories

I got this signed for Bella but I might wait a year or two before giving it to her. She is always twirling and dancing, but the stories of other cultures and their dances might be even more entrancing for a slightly older girl.

Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep

This is a charming bedtime book with whimsical illustrations of all kinds of animals that hibernate in winter.

I was thrilled that so many people came to have books signed for their children, making sure we knew that they were already reading to them, every day, even if they were only three months old. That is the perfect time to begin, and contemplate years of happy Reading Aloud.

Crops of writers help us grow crops of readers. Very important.

The American Grove

My woodland in the dawn sun

Our house is surrounded by fields, and the fields are surrounded by woodlands.  Trees are an important part of the New England Landscape and I just learned that Massachusetts is about to join Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and 34 other states in an online organization called The American Grove. Their website is full of useful information about planting trees, even coming at how to choose a tree in an unusual way.

We have planted trees for our each of our grandchildren. The Grove makes suggestions for climate appropriate trees on various occasions. I wanted to see how this worked and asked what they would suggest, in my climate, to celebrate a friendship. White fir!  Abies concolor is a beautiful tree and according to The Grove a group of evergreens symbolize friendship that endures over the ages.

I just finished reading Vanessa Dieffenbaugh’s beautiful book The Language of Flowers, so I have been thinking a lot about this Victorian technique of communicating through flowers.  The symbolism of the white fir is friendship, resilience and longevity. I think we all know that a key element of a long-lived friendship is resilience, so I liked this idea very much.

People often think about planting trees in their gardens in the spring, and Arbor Day is always there to give gardeners a little nudge and encouragement. However, This is a perfect time of year to plant trees. You might get a bargain at a nursery, and the sun is not so strong, temperatures are cooler and there are usually soft autumnal rains to help a young tree settle in.  If the rains do not arrive, of course, it is vital to keep a new planted tree (or any other plant) well watered until the ground freezes. Then a layer of mulch will help protect the frozen soil and tree roots.

The Grove gives clear and full instructions for planting a tree.

The Grove is created and funded by the Georgia Urban Forest Council (GUFC), the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) and the USDA Forest Service and was beta tested in the Southeast in 2009 and 2010 before its national launch in March 2011. The community is now expanding to all 50 states along with three U.S. territories. I am glad that Massachusetts is joining. I’ll be able to see what people are doing and thinking about because the site already had a good blog and fascinating videos.  What would you like to say or demonstrate?  It’s up to you.

 

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

In yesterday’s NY Times Mark Bittman asked the question, Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? Can you really feed a family for less at McDonalds than at your own table filled with home cooked food.  In spite of the protestations that a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli and other such, the answer is NO!  A meal for a family of four at McDonald’s will come to between $23 and $28.  How many groceries can you buy for that amount? Bittman lays out his plan, and his answer to all the objections about the difficulty of cooking a healthy meal at home. One important point he makes is that the alternative to a McDonald’s meal is not an organic farmer’s market meal. It is simply a trip to the supermarket. I”d like to add that supermarkets often have good sales.

I was happy to be a part of the Food Fest at the Charlemont Federated Church this summer. Various cooks chose a topic, beans, eggs, chicken, and set up a table with assorted dishes.  I chose the chicken table and talked about taking a chicken from the roasting pan, and then then through other iterations in my famous chicken salad with Moroccan spices to chicken with pasta and peanut sauce and even chicken soup.  Recipes complete with nutritional information were available, as well as conversations with excellent cooks. Although we couldn’t eat the samples on the tables (health rules) samples from the church kitchen were passed around all day.

There were cooking demonstrations. I filled in at the last minute to make corn chowder – and ruined it when the top fell off the salt shaker and over over salted the chowder. People got the idea though. Jason Velasquez of Pen and Plow Farm demonstrated making potato pancakes, a great dish in many cuisines.

His potato pancakes were perfect and delicious. We all got a taste.

The goal of the program was to remind us all that a good, economical, nutritious home cooked meal does not need to take hours and certainly doesn’t take more money that a trip to McDonald’s. We are all of a mind with Mark Bittman, and our program proved unequivocally that Junk Food is Not Really Cheaper.

Growing a Garden City

Growing a Garden City

Sometimes a garden is more than a garden. Sometimes a garden is comfort, safety, job training, real good food for  the hungry and a supportive community.

Growing a Garden City by Jeremy Smith (Skyhorse Publishing $24.95) has an all inclusive subtitle – How Farmers,  First Graders, Counselors, Troubled Teens, Foodies, A Homeless Shelter Chef, Single Mothers and More are Transforming Themselves and their Neighborhoods Through the Intersection of Local Agriculture and Community and How You Can, Too. Whew! I’m out of breath.

This book also made me breathless with its description of a city learning to feed itself while it involved various groups of people in a new community.  Missoula, Montana has a short growing season, 100 frost free days, and the same kinds of needs any city  does, hunger, homelessness, students who don’t know where their food comes from, and troubled students who don’t know where they are  going. The city also has people with vision, energy and perseverance.

Missoula now has seven neighborhood farms and community gardens that give a whole new meaning to the term Community Supported Agriculture. It didn’t happen overnight. The tale of the growth of this program over 15 years is told through the  voices of those who participated from Josh Slotnick, Director of the PEAS (Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society)  Farm, students at the PEAS Farm, to single mother Kim Markuson, Greg Price, chef  at a homeless shelter, and many others.

This is such an inspiring story that shows what a  community with land and energy can build.  We are fortunate in our region to have new young farmers on small farms, part of a national movement, that is giving all of us healthy food – and healthy community.

Winterfare and Ice

4th Annual Greenfield Winterfare

Saturday dawn cold with another storm promised. I dashed right out to the Greenfield Winterfare to stock up, and I wasn’t the only one. Every booth was busy. These young women from Wheatberry Farm and Bakery were selling the wheatberries AND delicious muffins. Ben and Adrie Lester, the founders of Wheatberry are also founders of The Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA.

Simple Gifts Farm

At the Simple Gifts booth I bought lots of roots – and make a shredded vegetable slaw when I got home. Perfect accompaniment to casserole roasted pork. Brooke Werley and Emily Adams say they do everything!  at the farm. They have a brand new tractor at Simple Gifts and they are very excited.

Sunrise Farm

I not only found the Grade A Medium Amber Maple Syrup I had been looking for I found out that the sugar house I pass when I drive from Heath to Colrain is called Sunrise Farm and is operated by a branch of the locally famous Lively family. It is wonderful to have so much Lively-ness in our area. Rocky’s family has been on this farm for over 100 years.

Most of these farms are already signing people up for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. For a full list of CSA farms visit CISA, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture.

One thing I have noticed is that there are more farms selling meat locally. I am buying lamb from a neighbor, and I found out that the new Pen and Plow Farm in Hawley is selling beef – and it doesn’t have to be a whole quarter of an animal.  Hmmmm. Oxtail soup and osso bucco may be in my husband’s future.

I stopped at the library on my way home from Winterfare, but a ‘wintry mix’ was already falling out of the sky.  By suppertime everything was encased in ice. This is the view when we woke on Sunday morning. Beautiful but dangerous.

No lounging in the Cottage Ornee today.

Maybe I’ll be able to finish up my seed orders.

Plumpy’nut and Profits

Every food pantry welcomes donations of peanut butter because it is so nutritious, and every mother has it in her kitchen because no matter what else the kids refuse to eat, they will almost always accept a pb&j sandwich.

Peanuts were the answer to Andre Briend, a French pediatrician, who was trying to find a way to treat malnutrition. He knew about F100, a fortified dry milk that could counter the biochemical effects of nutrition in children. But it had to be mixed with water – which was often  contaminated in countries where malnutrition was rife. And it tasted bad.

Andrew Rice in the Sunday, Sept. 5 issue of the NYTimes Magazine describes Briend’s Aha Moment, coming up with the “idea to mix F100 with peanuts (a legume that is grown widely throughout the developing world), milk, sugar and oil. The concoction was full of protein and fat, which insulated its nutrients from oxygen and humidity and masked their unappetizing flavor.”

The other advantage to this treatment for malnutrition is that it doesn’t need to be administered in hospitals. Children can eat it at home, and gain weight and vigor more effectively than hospital treatments.

Isn’t this great news?  Yes. Except.  Except that a private French company Nutriset, holds the patent – and they have a bottom line that is their concern as much as children’s health.  Unicef buys 90% of its supplies from the French factory.

Paul Farmer of Partners in Health in Haiti, makes his own version using local peanuts calling it Nourimanba.  Navyn Salem of Rhode Island, inspired by Farmer has, built a joint venture factory with Nutriset called Edesia, and raises money to buy Plumpy’ nut. Salem said “. . . malnutrition was killing more than all of them (AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria) combined.” Her focus has expanded to not only cure malnutrition, but to prevent it with therapeutic foods.

Read the article and tell me if you have an idea of how to handle a patent of this type that puts a high price on children’s lives. Costs have to be met, and people even need to make a profit – but how great a profit?  What do you think?

A Field for the Hungry

Ev Hatch's tomatoes for a Community Harvest

Ev Hatch will never forget the seed salesman who talked to him about his upcoming retirement.  Instead of selling seeds, he was  going to plant a lot of vegetable seeds, tend the plot and donate all the vegetables to food pantries.

Over his career Hatch has planted a lot of seeds, in the ground, and in the community as he worked for the Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H. After his  retirement in 1977 from these agricultural state enterprises  he began farming out on Plain Road in Greenfield.  At first he grew a little bit of everything including strawberries, but eventually he focused on strawberries. Hatch’s Patch supplied beautiful berries to the cooks and happy eaters of the area for many years.

Four years ago he gave up farming, but continues to grow his own garden. His land is rented to Kyle Bostrom who uses Hatch’s greenhouses to grow and sell vegetable starts and bedding plants. A new sign for The Patch still welcomes gardeners in the spring.

With his farming days finished the words of that seed salesman came back to Hatch.  He had land available, and he had labor available at his church, First Congregational Church in Greenfield, as they planned their Feet, Hands and Voices to Faith project.

He plowed up a quarter acre and he had a flashback.  When the tiller broke he remembered that what he hated most about farming was equipment that broke down just when you needed it. Everything had to stop while you figured out how to repair it. Nothing was broken in the hearts or hands of a crew from the church who helped with planting the field on May16th.

He speaks with such passion about the aggravation of farm equipment that I had to ask what he liked about farming. That was easy, he laughed. “I like the independence. You can do what you want.”

I allowed as how Mother Nature had something to say about what you needed to do at any given moment, and he agreed that was true. “But a farmer can figure out what the market wants, and how he can fit into the system. There is always a challenge, and you figure out how to meet the challenge yourself. No one is telling you what to do.”

If fixing equipment is his least favorite farm chore, he said his favorite is hoeing. “I love to hoe. I just stand there and zonk out.”

However, we have come to the season where there is no time for zonking out.  When I first  talked to Hatch about the field of tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, winter squash and broccoli I asked how could he ever manage the harvest and get the produce to the food pantries. He said he would need help.

Help is being organized now, as the harvest season officially begins on July 12.  Mark Maloni, Projects Coordinator at Community Action is scheduling volunteers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9 to 11.  You don’t have to be an experienced gardener who has been picking vegetables for years, but you do need to call Maloni and let him know when you can come, or when he needs volunteers. He hopes that most volunteers will be able to commit to two or three (or more) sessions,  but if you can only come once, any help is welcomed.

Packing crates will be located in the greenhouse. When filled they should be moved across the street to the Hatch home where they can rest in the shade.  The Franklin Area Survival Center will pick up the harvest one day a week, the Center for Self Reliance will pick it up another day, and the Orange Food Pantry will take the harvest on the third day. Volunteers should bring their own drinking water, hats, and sunscreen.

If you cannot help harvest Hatch’s field, but have a productive garden, you can donate any extra produce to any one of the area food pantries or meal sites. Open hours and coordinators’ names for at least 11 food sites are listed on the Plant a Row website: www.parwwmass.blogspot.com.

The number of families in our area who are enduring food insecurity continues to grow. An indication of the severity of this problem is the growth in the Eat 4 Free program. This federal program for communities with more than 50% of children eligible for free and reduced meals in the schools has been operating for 20 years. “The number of children being served has tripled in the last eight years,” said Bernie Novack, Director of Food and Nutrition Services for the Greenfield Schools.

Novack said that after the long Fourth of July weekend 750 breakfasts were served, and 1250 lunches. “Many of these children hadn’t had a good meal since Friday,”

I have seen Eat 4 Free signs posted at some of the meal sites as I’ve driven around town, at Federal Street School, Greenfield Gardens, Greenfield Swimming Pool and 10 other sites. Depending on the site, the program will run for between six to nine weeks. All a child has to do is walk in. No questions asked.

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The only question asked at local daylily sales this weekend and next is “How many do you want?” Lorraine Brennan on Rt 10 in Northfield is selling daylilies July 10, 11, 17 and 18 from 9-1 pm.  Richard Willard at Silver Garden Daylilies on Glenbrook Road is digging daylilies on July 10 from 9 am – 4 pm, and on July 17 he is holding the Annual Daylily Festival with edible daylily treats. Logon to www.silvergardendaylilies.com for full information.

Between the Rows   July 10, 2010