Food on the Farm: Nurturing a Sense of Place with Local Food

Grow, Cook, Eat: Trustees Offer Fall Food on the Farm Workshop Series in Holyoke

Workshop series at Land of Providence in Holyoke, MA with the Trustees of Reservations will focus on practical ways to grow and prepare seasonal cuisine.

Teaching our children to connect with their surroundings can help them to learn and grow in countless (and perhaps endless) ways. Children who understand their local landscape are much more likely to value environmental conservation as adults. Building an awareness of local culture and the cultures represented within a community can help children to appreciate and understand the place that they come from, and allowing them to use their knowledge, skills, and time for the benefit of their community helps them to grow deep roots and develop a strong sense of belonging.

However, there is a difference between teaching these things and living them. It is one thing to share ideas, and quite another to live in a way that allows our children to discover these ideas themselves by experiencing them. One way in which to practice a strong understanding of place at home is by using local and seasonal foods into your family’s meals. Committing to eating locally can seem challenging, as the New England climate’s guidelines for growing seasons are strict. However, building a connection between local soil, the seasons, and your dinner plate doesn’t mean that you have to endure tomato-free winters and salad-filled summers; incorporating local foods into your family’s diet can be as simple as tossing greens into basic cheese-and-pasta meals, growing some herbs in your kitchen, and learning to substitute ingredients in your favorite recipes.

This fall, the Trustees of Reservations offer a host of opportunities for families to learn about growing and eating local foods simply and deliciously…

Every Saturday morning in September and October 2013, families can visit the farm at the Land of Providence in Holyoke, MA for Food on the Farm, a series of hands-on, all ages workshops, each of which will include harvesting seasonal foods along with learning and preparing simple recipes. Lead by food and nutrition educator (and manager of the Holyoke Farmers Market) Lydia Mills, the series promotes families’ edible ties to the place in which they live.

Each workshop focuses on a few different foods being grown at the farm, and includes activities like creating a take-home indoor herb garden or planting food in the farm’s raised beds to be harvested at future workshops. Families will learn about the growing process together, while dirtying their hands in the farm’s raised beds! Hands-on activities allow for an experiential component to the educative nature of the workshops – families will not only learn, but do.

 In addition to offering valuable learning opportunities, the workshops also highlight the ease with which families can eat locally. You don’t have to be a farmer or get a flock of chickens and a cow in order to promote local foods at home. Similarly, fancy equipment and advanced culinary skills are not necessary – the foods created at the end of each workshop will be cooked on a camping stove, and there are aspects of each that can be done by even the smallest kitchen helpers.

Interested in promoting a theme of local food and sense of place at home? Mills recommends Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, which chronicles the author’s adventure in eating locally with her own family. Along with learning about growing and eating local foods, one of the best things that families can do is just try things out at home. “I learned by doing,” says Mills, whose experience includes working with the DC Truck Farm, where vegetables are grown in the beds of trucks in urban Washington, DC. The workshops include take-home items like seeds and planters, which families can use to begin their foray into homegrown eats.

Workshops will take place from 9:30-10:30am at The Land of Providence, which is located on Route 5 in Holyok, MA. Pre-registration for workshops in encouraged (but not required), and can be done by calling 413-532-1631 ex. 19 or e-mailing The Land of Providence is farmed by Nuestras Raices, and is also home to a farm store where families can find local eggs and produce. More information is available at the Trustees of Reservations’ website.

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