Mount Grace fundraising efforts to help fight food insecurity

  • Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust Executive Director Emma Ellsworth (left) hand delivers a check to Noonday Farm founders Bob Jennings and Beth Ingham (right) in Winchendon. Contributed photo

Staff Report
Published: 3/25/2021 1:29:51 PM
Modified: 3/25/2021 1:29:50 PM

ATHOL — Two area organizations will benefit from the more than $500 that Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust raised during its 2020 annual appeal that gave donors the option to add $5 to support the fight against hunger.

The money will be split between Noonday Farm in Winchendon and Just Roots in Greenfield, two organizations that Mount Grace has collaborated with in the past to conserve the land they now use for farming.

“The pandemic has had a huge effect on all of us, between the anxiety, social isolation and loss,” Mount Grace Executive Director Emma Ellsworth said in a press release. “For some of us, those impacts have been magnified with additional financial devastation. This is one way the Mount Grace community has come together to help keep food on the table for all of us.”

Noonday Farm in Winchendon is a nonprofit founded by Beth Ingham and Bob Jennings to serve residents of Winchendon and Gardner. According to the release, the farm provides free organic food to those in need and offers educational programs in growing healthy food and sustainable living practices. Back in 2013, Mount Grace protected the 18.5-acre farm with a conservation restriction.

“We are so grateful for this donation from Mount Grace as it will allow us to buy seeds for this upcoming season and grow the much-needed produce to feed our communities,” Ingham said.

In 2008, Mount Grace began working in Greenfield to create a community garden to secure local food production by and for the community. Widespread support for the idea of a community farm soon led to the creation of Just Roots on 32 acres that was protected with an agricultural preservation restriction in 2011, according to the release.

Just Roots’ mission is to increase access to healthy local food by connecting people, resources, land and know-how. Its Franklin County-based CSA (community-supported agriculture) operation of 250 members has a flexible sliding scale and payment plans, which results in at least half its memberships going to low-income households. According to the release, Just Roots also offers free meals, available for pickup or delivery, through its monthly FEASTivals.

“We are delighted to accept this generous donation made possible by Mount Grace, which will contribute to the CSA subsidy pool for low-income Franklin County residents,” said Jessica O’Neill, executive director of Just Roots.

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