Hood Food Improves: Sustainability Series 1

Posted May 25th, 2012 by Joel and filed in Greening Dorchester, Healthy Dorchester

Reminder: The Bowdoin-Geneva Farmers’ Market will have its Grand Opening on Thursday, June 28th. Read on for details, or view the flyer here.

Dorchester is paving the way towards a sustainable future. Call it triple-bottom-line, the “three-legged stool,” call it “people/planet/prosperity” – it’s about community power. This is the first in a series of posts highlighting what we can bring about together.

As the City of Boston unites Boston’s Farmers’ Markets under a single slogan – “My city. My market. My food.” – and launches a new “Greenovate” brand, community groups, faith institutions, health centers and for-profit ventures are building the neighborhood from within. Partnerships between Bowdoin Street Health Center, the Dorchester Community Food Co-op, First Parish Church in Dorchester, GreenDorchester, Healthy Urban Initiative,  The Food ProjectSustainability Guild International and The Trustees of Reservations (City Harvest) are revolutionizing the Bowdoin-Geneva area. Read on for news of fish, farmers, food trucks, a community café, workforce development and more.

Bowdoin Geneva Food in the Hood does it again! The Bowdoin-Geneva Farmers’ Market will have its Grand Opening on Thursday, June 28th, and will continue to run from 3 to 6:30 p.m. each Thursday through October. Bowdoin Street Health Center hosts the market at 230 Bowdoin Street, Dorchester. Cash, Credit, Debit, EBT/SNAP and WIC/Senior Farmers’ Market Coupons accepted, and you can double your dollar when you pay with your EBT card with Boston Bounty Bucks. Two vendors are particularly notable for their youth and workforce development. City Harvest’s youth-operated stand is just part of “a farm-based program that fosters a connection to the land and local food through hands-on, agricultural experiences while teaching critical work and leadership skills.” Heaven’s Harvest Farm will help create local jobs by working with Healthy Urban Initiative to staff the Heaven’s Harvest stand. The BG market was one of several selected to run a special pilot – they’ll be selling fish this summer! What’s more, we hear on the grapevine that vendors from a popular Boston food truck, Mei Mei Street Kitchen, may be making an appearance during select markets this summer – check back for details as they arrive. Download a market flyer in English or Portuguese, or head over to Food in the Hood for much more market information. You can also contact Maura at 617-754-0026, mbeaufai@bidmc.harvard.edu with questions. Food in the Hood has a lot of great programming going on besides the market –  collectively, these efforts distributed over $20,000 in fresh, healthy food to our neighbors in Bowdoin Geneva in 2011.  The Farm to Biz program is particularly striking. As we see over at the Food in the Hood blog:

Interested food businesses can join the Farm-to-Biz Buying Club which entitles them to marketing assistance, promotional signage, recipe transformations, and more!  Participating businesses can visit the Bowdoin Geneva Farmers Market after 5 p.m. any market day and receive 10% off their purchase of $30 or more from a participating vendor.

Signage around the Bowdoin-Geneva area shows which businesses are buying fresh produce and helps consumers to be informed and aware. Youth “Healthy Champions” publicize and promote food access at events, on the radio and through social media. This program, along with a Farm to Family CSA (in partnership with The Food Project) expand on a Healthy Corner Store Initiative, similar to those running in East Boston and Mattapan, which was piloted in 2011. These efforts are wholly revamping food access and nutritional education  in the area – or, Food in the Hood puts it, enhancing “year-round retail foodscape revitalization.” This plays directly into an idea area food activists have been discussing for some time – that cooperative stores, health centers, farms and merchants can work together to create a “Dorchester food hub” – a new social-nutritional-economic network. You can eat out cheaply, heathily and well in Bowdoin Geneva: during the summer of 2012, the Dorchester Community Food Co-op (DCFC) will launch a Community-Supported Café at the First Parish Church in Dorchester (10 Parish Street, Dorchester, MA). The Café will be a series of six Friday evening dinners that will provide a nutritious “night out” for community residents, complete with a healthy meal, cooking demonstrations, and family entertainment. Café cooks will provide vegetarian options every evening, but the café’s cuisine will shift focus from meat-based to balanced meals – emphasizing how moderating meat-consumption is better for budget, health, and the environment. This series of 6 dinners is a pilot project to test the Community Supported Café model as supplement to the future co-op – a full-service, cooperatively-owned, brick-and-mortar grocery store. The community mobilization and workforce development components of the café are essential. Three part-time coordinators will receive training in business practices, community organizing, nutrition, communication and marketing, food preparation and food safety (including ServSafe certification) and collaborate with a mentor-supervisor during the training and implementation phases of the pilot café. Additionally, they will participate in training through the 100 for 100 initiative of the Sustainability Guild (engaging 100 inner city residents in the design, development, and implementation of 100 small projects focused on clean energy, growing, waste, and design) in the Bowdoin Street neighborhood. 10 community volunteers will support the food prep and nutritional work, outreach and logistical operations needed to run the cafe. Tune in next time for another delicious dishing of sustainable progress: we’ll be covering topics like air quality, urban greenspace and energy.

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