Hoosac Harvest Members Open Gardens for Annual Tour

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Hoosac Harvest is offering a self-guided tour of local farms and gardens with proceeds going to support low-income access to fresh produce.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Hoosac Harvest will hold its second Homestead Extreme Garden Tour fundraiser this Saturday.

People who sign up for the tour can visit nine different host gardens throughout Williamstown and North Adams to see what kind of gardens people are growing in their yards.

Hoosac Harvest's Secretary Lee Venolia said the event focuses on spreading gardening knowledge and motivating people to start their own gardens.

"People who come on the tour tend to be gardeners, but last year it turned out to be an exchange of information; I was giving people ideas and they were giving me ideas," Venolia said. "The goal is, besides raising money for a good cause, is to empower people to grow food in their yards."

She added that even people who are not interested in farming have plenty to gain from the tour.

"There are a lot of people in this country who don’t know what happens between a seed and what appears on their plate," she said. "Some kids who think potatoes come out of boxes and things like that so this is a very easy way to see that everybody has the ability to grow in their yard or in a containers."

The event costs $15 per carload and participants can visit the nine locations between 10 and 3. Venolia said people can go to whichever gardens they want at any time.

"It's fun; you could ride your bike if you wanted," she said. "It is a self-guided tour so you schedule yourself and go to whichever ones you want."

She said people can bring a picnic if they want and the North Adams Community Oven on River Street, across from The Porches, will be handing out freshly baked samples from noon to 3.

Venolia said there are many different kinds of gardens on the tour. She said one host garden makes its own kombucha (a fermented tea), hard cider, mead, dandelion wine and yogurt. Another home garden has an orchard with 50 trees.

"There are bees to see, chickens, goats, and ducks, and one host talked about a compost fort, but I have yet to figure out what that is," Venolia said. "We just try to cover a whole range of things you may be growing in your yard and find out how they work."

All proceeds support subsidized shares for community members at two Community Supported Agriculture farms, Many Forks Farm in Clarksburg and Square Roots Farm in Lanesborough. When Hoosac Harvest supports a CSA farm, the farm gives a share of produce each week throughout the growing season to a low-income community member.

"This money goes directly to trying to feed your neighbors, and I think that is a worthy cause," she said.

This fits in to Hoosac Harvest’s main goal to get locally grown healthy food to people regardless of income. The six member group volunteer their time to spread gardening knowledge and to help people who need food get the healthiest option.

"I think we are going to need every bit of food we can get coming down the pike…so we are doing things on a small scale, but we are doing things in a sustainable way," Venolia said. "The more people that know how to do it the better because they can help spread the message."

Tickets are available at Shima Boutique in North Adams and Images Cinema, Wild Oats Market, and Where’d You Get That in Williamstown. They can also be purchased by emailing to hoosacharvest@gmail.com

Tags: CSA,   farming,   fundraiser,   gardens,   

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