Saturday, March 28, 2009

Read this Book

The Java Room in Chelmsford is a wonderful place to meet people.  While I was waiting for my coffee I noticed the patron in front of me had a gardening book.  I asked him if he had heard Chelmsford was going to have a farmers' market.  He said he had.  I didn't tell him I was one of the people who was organizing it and I was pleased he knew so much which meant the word was getting around.  He asked me if I knew about the Community Garden that was starting.  He said he already had a large garden himself. We got our coffee, but before I left he said, "You should read a book I just read.  It is called ON GOOD LAND and is about an urban garden in California.  I know the book is at the library because I just returned it."

Everyone should read this book.  It is by Michael Ableman and the Chelmsford Public Library has it in its collection.  It is about the fight to save a small farm being encroached upon by sprawl in Goleta, California.  As a native Californian I remember when Goleta was what my grandfather called "a wide place in the road."  By 1998 it had become an example of rampant building with no, or little thought, to maintaining agricultural land.  I like open space as much as the next person, but what I really worry about is agricultural land.  The thought of importing all of our food is very scary and certainly not green.  ON GOOD LAND is short, only 144 pages including lots of photos, and to the point.  

I commend it to anyone who eats...

If you want to learn more, click on Fields of Plenty on the sidebar under Learn More Locavore!

Onward and upward 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's not just about food...

Becoming a Locavore isn't just about serving your family fresh healthy food.  It isn't just about helping the local economy.  It is also about saving our planet and being a good shepherd for our children.

"Consider this: If each of us living in the U.S. ate just one meal a week (breakfast, lunch or dinner) using food that was locally grown and pesticide-free, we would reduce our national oil consumption by more than 1.1 million barrels of oil — every single week." 
(From Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and “The Oil We Eat,” by Richard Manning in Harper’s Magazine, Feb. 2004.)

Who knew that eating locally would be patriotic?  We're only talking about one meal a week, so if everyone in Chelmsford came to the Chelmsford Farmers' Market every Thursday this summer and purchased produce for one meal, they would be helping to reduce our dependency on oil.  

Today I received this message from Jennifer Almeida.  She is our town recycling/solid waste coordinator.  Everyone reading this is invited to participate in Earth Hour this coming Saturday at 8:30 pm:

Hi Folks:

Saturday, March 28, 2009, at 8:30 pm, I am taking part in Earth Hour - a global event in which millions of people will turn out their lights to make a statement of concern about our planet and climate change. I want to invite you to join, too! Sponsored by World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour got started just two years ago and is now the largest event of its kind in the world. Last year, more than 50 million participated and the lights went out at the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the Coliseum in Rome, just to name a few. Even Google's homepage went black for the day! In Israel, President Shimon Peres personally turned off lights in Tel Aviv. On Monday, the Board of Selectmen adopted a resolution adding Chelmsford to the list of cities and towns around the world participating in this event. If you go to you will find Chelmsford among the participating communities.

This year, Earth Hour will be even bigger-already 250 cities in 74 countries have agreed to take part including Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Nashville with more signing up every day. Around the world cities like Moscow, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai and Mexico City will turn out their lights. To get a better sense of the event, check out this video at

Participating in Earth Hour is easy, fun and free. I hope you will join me for this amazing event. To sign up, visit where you'll learn more including ways you can spread the word about Earth Hour, plus creative things to do when the lights go out in case you need inspiration! There’s information on what individuals, businesses and communities can do

As the largest consumer of energy, it would be great if we in the the US could turn out more lights than any other country in the world during this historic event - so please pass this information along to anyone you think might want to take part. Let's all turn out and take action on March 28 at 8:30 pm.


Jennifer Almeida

We can all make a difference by acting locally.

Onward and upward

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Insurance Woes

Why is it that things that seem easy always turn out to be difficult?  We strongly believe in not reinventing the wheel and so we looked at the applications and rules for other markets in our area.  We discovered that some of the markets require vendors to be insured and others don't.  Some markets ask for a specific dollar amount of insurance, others don't.  To be on the safe side we frankly used the same criteria as another market.  We immediately got some negative feedback.

Because we are new at this and we want to be farmer friendly, we did ask for comments.  In the meantime we contacted the Massachusetts Farmers Market Association to find out what their guidelines are regarding insurance.  It turns out that case law has conclusively determined that farmers' markets are associations, even if there is no formal organization.  Because they are deemed to be associations, the vendors are jointly and severally liable for the negligence of any vendor.  This means if someone is injured because of the negligence of one vendor, all the rest will be held liable.  Ugh!  Our market will be insured, but we need to look out for our vendors.  If we don't require insurance, then the insured vendors will be paying for those without insurance.  The MFMA guidelines require all farmers to be insured and all vendors of prepared foods to carry $1M.  I am willing to bet that the vendors and markets that don't require insurance don't know the risk they are taking.  

We knew there would be a few rocks in the road (this is New England afterall!) and we hope once everyone is educated about the liability issue they will understand why insurance is necessary.  

Onward and upward!