Nuestras Raices readies for new growing season
By Lori Szepelak
HOLYOKE -- With the recent temperatures reaching into the 80s and 90s, there was plenty of dust being kicked up at Nuestras Raices on Main Street.
As Amy Calandrella worked on plowing the fields, several farmers were already surveying the land and making decisions about what to plant this season. The farm officially opens for the season on the first weekend of June.
Farm plots are at a premium and 20 farmers are already signed up to work the land. Farmers interested in reserving a plot for next year should contact Eric Toensmeier, farm project director, to be added to a list for 2010.
"Nuestras Raices attracts visitors as a tourism site, provides small business opportunities, and educates the public about the rural heritage from Puerto Rico," Toensmeier said during an interview with Reminder Publications.
Toensmeier explained that many of the farmers grew up on the farms of rural Puerto Rico and many first came to the Northeast as migrant farm workers. Though they may live in the city now, they are farmers at heart, he added.
Nuestras Raices was founded in 1992 by the members of the La Finquita community garden in South Holyoke to manage the garden, with the goal of developing a greenhouse in the downtown area. Fast forward to today, and Toensmeier noted that the organization addresses environmental concerns, economic development, substance abuse and food security issues on an ongoing basis.
Toensmeier noted that new this year is an improved farm store, featuring fresh eggs and meat sales. Farm store visitors will also have a wide variety of herbs and flowers to choose from, as well as a host of fruits and vegetables including watermelon, tomatoes, Caribbean squash, zucchini, onions, peppers, corn, beans and pumpkins.
Volunteers are also always welcome at the farm and for ideas on how to help, contact Calandrella during the week at (617) 838-5431. For farmers interested in staking out a plot of land in 2010, contact Toensmeier at 535-1789 for more information.
Area residents interested in events at the farm should visit www.nuestras-raices.org
for up-to-date details.