We’re in the news again!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Worcester community farm Nuestro Huerto offers shares for 2015 growing season
By Amanda Roberge CORRESPONDENT
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WORCESTER — There is something intriguing about the juxtaposition of a city farm. For every viewpoint that is rich with the promise of vegetables, there is one that reminds the viewer they are amid abandoned factory buildings. For every chirping bird that may happen by, there is the trill of an ambulance, the screech of tires.

Smokestacks, traffic and chain link fences are the scenic backdrop of Nuestro Huerto, a small urban farming project that calls a half-acre space on Southgate Street its home. Recently, in a plot of land on nearby Camp Street, the nonprofit project has added a community garden.

But the charm — and relevance in the city of Worcester, which has an 11.2 percent poverty rate, according to the US Census Bureau — is as obvious as the importance of such farms. For a geographically dense and culturally rich, area of the city, the need for food itself is as dire as the need to understand how it is grown, said Nuestro Huerto volunteer Mandy Leetch.

As the volunteer workforce gears up for another season of the farm’s popular Community Supported Agriculture program, which offers only 22 shares but also requires shareholders to get their hands a little dirty from time to time, they are looking for participants who will see as much value in Nuestro Huerto’s mission as they do.

In a CSA, shareholders, in exchange for a one-time fee, receive a portion of the weekly crop from June to October. At Nuestro Huerto, which is part of the Worcester Roots Network, shareholders are also invited to participate in a taste of the work, which allows for a shared workload but also helps the volunteers to share their knowledge and mission to the local residents.

“For me, this whole project is about being able to transform peoples’ relationship to the food they are eating,” Ms. Leetch said.

Being involved in this type of CSA, she said, helps on a microlevel, where people become healthier because they are consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, but also on a macrolevel, where communities become more supportive and peaceful because of the ways in which they function together to create sustenance. Somewhere in between all of that, families start to have new conversations about health and community.

The project was the brainchild of Amanda Barker, who began it in 2010 as part of her master’s degree program at Clark University. She has continued her involvement in recent years along with bringing on a new flock of volunteers who lend their energy and enthusiasm each new growing season. What began as an effort to construct 10 raised beds has now grown to 50 beds this year.

Located adjacent to the South Worcester Industrial Park, the land belongs to Iglesia Casa de Oración (House of Prayer Church).

“We have access to clean water, safe soil, a tool shed and the fenced in property,” wrote Ms. Barker on the farm’s website. “We could not do what we do without their generosity and support.” Furthermore, the land and soil have undergone numerous tests and have been determined to be safe for unrestricted use.

Worcester residents looking to become shareholders of the 2015 Nuestro Huerto CSA season may contact nuestrohuertoworcester@gmail.com”>nuestrohuertoworcester@gmail.com.

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