The first of two places that I learned about was the Food Project, an organization that uses youth and volunteers on several farms throughout Massachusetts, including urban farms in Boston. Self described as promoting “social and personal change” for young people, with a hallmark of a “focus on identifying and transforming a new generation of leaders by placing teens in increasingly responsible roles, with deeply meaningful work”, the Food Project both provides resources and acts as a resource for education and agriculture. This work is on the farms, and results in food for sale in farmers markets and donated to hunger relief organizations. Similar to some of the Vermont resources that I’ve seen, the organization also has community programs and training resources to help others learn to grow their own food.
While I was unable to visit a farm, I was able to visit a farmer’s market where the produce was being sold, and talk to one of the people working the stand. I happen to love farmer’s markets in general, so this was a fun field trip for me. Not far from Boston, it was an easy trip, and also showed me that even in urban environments, access to healthy, locally grown food does exist (albeit on a much harder to find basis). I talked to a man who seemed to be in charge, and whose name I cannot for the life of me remember, standing behind a large stack of peppers. While I didn’t get much information other than what I had already learned from the website, I gained other valuable insights.
The farmer’s market resembled the one in my hometown in New Jersey which resembles the one here in Middlebury, Vermont. This is what struck me more than talking to anyone about the Food Project itself: a farmer’s market, an easy symbol for local/sustainable/green/healthy/accessible food, exists in a growing number of places. The work to increase this access (along with food security, nutrition, etc) must be working, even if it is slow. I left the farmers market with a sense of optimism that I haven’t felt all too often in this course. There are still (obvious) things wrong with our national and local food systems, but (at least some) things are working to improve.