Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting with Rochelle Bellin, Associate Director of Just Roots, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm dedicated to serving people in the low-income community. It’s the largest such CSA in the Commonwealth. In fact, more than 50 percent of Just Roots’ members are people living on low incomes and are encouraged to participate in the farm using their SNAP and Healthy Incentives benefits.
Rochelle and I talked as she helped manage Just Roots’ Greenfield CSA pick up and put together sample ingredients for gazpacho!
Just Roots grows at the Greenfield Community Farm, on land owned by the city of Greenfield. It’s mission is to “increase access to healthy, local food by connecting people, land, resources, and know-how.” Between helping to manage the market and prepare ingredients for gazpacho, Rochelle told me about the farm’s mobile market, efforts in schools, food clinic, work with the Franklin County Jail, and collaboration with a local health center on a research project to help prove the benefits of eating a more nutrient-rich diet. The farm also maintains a community garden for Franklin County residents which has upwards of 60 plots.
The evening before, I participated in a food security and health forum organized by the Franklin County Food Policy Network, The Food Bank, CISA, and other partners. Right now, approximately 21,000 people in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester State Senate district alone are food insecure which means that the cannot guarantee where their next meal is going to come from and/or their diet is far from nutritious.
Thank you to Just Roots for your ten years (and counting!) of rising to meet chronic food insecurity with creativity, endless passion, and community-based dedication.