Pay it Forward Friday-Keeping it Local with The Food Project

Aug 2012
One of the biggest challenges this country faces is the growing health crises. The food system is in shambles, and some of our inner cities most vulnerable citizens have little access to fresh and healthy produce. Luckily here in Boston, there is a group that is working towards partnering with that dying breed-the small farmer- to try and solve this dilemma and bring the two groups together. Pay it Forward Friday features The Food Project.

One of The Food Project’s Farms
Harvesting lettuce since 1991, The Food Project has built a national model of engaging young people in personal and social change through sustainable agriculture. Each year, they work with over a hundred teens and thousands of volunteers to farm on 40 acres in eastern Massachusetts in the towns and cities of Beverly, Boston, Lincoln and Lynn. It is considered their hallmark to focus on identifying and transforming a new generation of leaders by placing teens in unusually responsible roles, with deeply meaningful work.

Food from their farms is distributed through their Community Supported Agriculture programs, Farmers’ Markets, and to hunger relief organizations. The young people working in the programs participate in all of these distribution streams, giving them valuable job experiences and a personal connection to our food system and issues of food justice.

In addition to producing and distributing food, they help others grow their own through their Community Programs, and provide training resources based on the history of the program since it’s inception.

The Food Project is a founding sponsor of the Real Food Challenge, a campaign organizing students to increase the amount of real food at their schools.

Below is a list of Farmer’s Markets in the Boston area where you can find their food:

Beverly, MA: Veteran’s Park, next to Beverly Depot. Mondays, 3:30 – 6:45 p.m., June 18 – October.

Lynn, MA: Central Square Farmers’ Market, corner of Union and Exchange in downtown Lynn, Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., July 5 – October 25.

Lynn, MA: Ingalls School Farmstand, Ingalls School on Collins Street Terrace, Mondays, 1:30 – 3 p.m., September 10 – October 29.

Lynn, MA: Lynn Housing Authority Mobile Markets, rotating location, Tuesdays, 1:30 – 4 p.m., July & August.

Roxbury, MA: Roxbury, MA: Dudley Town Common, at the corner of Dudley Street and Blue Hill Avenue, Tuesday and Thursday, 3 – 7 p.m., June 5 – October 30.

At each of the farmer’s markets, The Food Project is committed to providing customers with a wide variety of fresh, local and sustainably grown produce. Much of it comes from their urban farm sites, only blocks away from the market, while the rest is harvested by youth on the farms out in Lincoln, Beverly, and Ipswich. In addition to their own produce, you may also find fresh fruit from local orchards, homegrown veggies from neighborhood gardeners, bread and baked goods from local bakeries, flowers from the farm, and local honey from the Boston Honey Company.

In order to better serve the needs and tastes of the diverse Boston community they also grow and sell local favorites. “Tongue of Fire” shell beans (used in Cape Verdean cuisine), assorted hot peppers, calaloo (used in dishes from the Caribbean) and Asian cooking greens are all grown per request of their market customers. As another aspect of their commitment to the community, The Food Project tries to match the prices of conventionally grown vegetables at local supermarkets or bodegas.

By locating their markets in neighborhoods that have limited access to fresh, local, and sustainably grown produce, they are making a huge contibution to the road to healthy living and giving back in a meanigful way to the communities which host their urban farm lots.

To learn more, visit The Food Project. Their upcoming annual fundraising gala is held on September 12th and features a wide variety of local produce, fresh from the farm on a menu created by local chefs and the projects’ youth.