Building Purchase to Support Local Food, Farms, Economy
For Immediate Release Wednesday, May 28, 2014
For information please contact:
David Kotker, Development Manager, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust
(978) 248-2055 x 19, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Borezo, Chair, North Quabbin Community Coop
BUILDING PURCHASE TO SUPPORT LOCAL FOOD, FARMS, ECONOMY
Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust has purchased the former Workers’ Credit Union Building in Orange to serve as the new home for Quabbin Harvest, the retail store and headquarters for the North Quabbin Community Co-op.
Mount Grace and the Co-op are joining together to support local farms with a robust local market for their produce. "The opening of a locally owned market on Main Street in Orange is the culmination of years of work and thousands of hours of volunteer labor,” said Amy Borezo, President of the Board of Directors of the North Quabbin Community Co-op. “The Co-op is thrilled to collaborate with Mount Grace on this project and begin transforming this building into an outlet for the best produce and products our region has to offer."
The innovative partnership has received national attention, and in June, filmmakers from The Conservation Fund will arrive to shoot footage of the project for a video compiling some of the most creative work The Conservation Fund is currently supporting around the US. “This effort is all about giving residents of Orange and the nearby communities better access to locally-grown, healthy food – which not only supports local farmers and producers, it also improves the overall quality of life for everyone,” said Reggie Hall, Director of the Fund’s Land Conservation Loan Program. “We’re excited to help make this dream a reality for Mount Grace and the North Quabbin Community Co-op, and we look forward to seeing their vision for the site take shape and become a wonderful gathering place in the community.”
The Co-op approached Mount Grace for assistance with its search for a home in late 2012. “Mount Grace has been helping local farms find new ways to protect their land and sustain their work since the 1980s,” added Mount Grace Executive Director Leigh Youngblood. “Our mission is to benefit the environment, the economy, and future generations by protecting land and encouraging stewardship. We’re excited to collaborate on a project that will provide the infrastructure our farm partners need to expand their sales, reach new customers, and keep their farm land and farm businesses viable for the long-term.”
Volunteers have already begun a clean-up of the 5,000 square foot building at 12 North Main Street in Orange, which has been vacant since 2009. A dozen volunteers met on Saturday, May 17 to begin cleanup of the building. These energetic efforts of volunteers from Orange, Athol, Petersham, and Warwick laid the ground work for future renovations. AmeriCorps members from around the state will be meeting at the property on June 4th for a second clean-up day as part of Mount Grace’s Massachusetts Land Initiative for Tomorrow AmeriCorps program. "Collaborative efforts like this one between Mount Grace and the Co-op ensure that farmers have access to local markets," said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. "Increasing the availability of fresh, healthy food to our communities improves our quality of life while supporting local businesses."
The new store location will provide greater visibility for the Co-op, which has been operating since 2009 at the Orange Innovation Center, and will also provide extra floor space to expand inventory and product offerings, café seating for coffee and snacks, and a street-level entrance. The Co-op will provide healthy, local food for Co-op members and shoppers, including distributing co-op shares to seniors and low-income residents of the North Quabbin region.
Jeannette Fellows, of Chase Hill Farm, added “Local farmers are also looking forward to the opening. The Co-op is the only outlet I have in the area, and I am excited to have more of our own neighbors have access to our cheese.” Warwick’s Chase Hill Farm is one of nearly a dozen farms which both supply the Co-op and have partnered with Mount Grace to protect their land.
Funding for the project has been provided by donations from community members, pledges to Mount Grace’s Local Landscape Collateral Fund, and by a loan from The Conservation Fund’s Land Conservation Loan Program, which provides flexible financing and capacity to help local trusts swiftly purchase high-priority properties. Contributions are still needed to support the new project, and may be made to Mount Grace or to the Co-op. More information is available at www.mountgrace.org and at www.nqeats.org.
The North Quabbin Community Co-op was founded to provide healthy food at an affordable price while building community, supporting local agriculture, and respecting the natural environment. Since 2009, the Co-op has purchased over $100,000 worth of produce from local farms and producers.
Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust is a regional land trust serving 23 towns in Franklin and Worcester counties and is supported by more than 1,000 members and by private, state and federal grants. It protects significant natural, agricultural and scenic areas and encourages land stewardship in Massachusetts for the benefit of the environment, the economy and future generations. Since 1986, Mount Grace has helped protect more than 27,000 acres.