By Anna Gilbert-Muhammad, NOFA/Mass Food Access Coordinator 

Everyone is looking forward to spring and the fresh air that the season brings.  The smell of compost and soil is in the air seems to bring a little relief to the past pandemicstressed year.  For Open Pantry Social Services Community Garden and their partners, the spring brings hope, renewal, and more fresh produce from the second year of the community garden. 

For the 2021 growing season, the City of Springfield Health Department, Open Pantry and Roca (an at-risk youth organization), will be joined by Arise for Social Justice.  Arise, with Roca’s assistance, will construct four additional garden beds to accompany the two already on site across the street from Open Pantry. This will allow them to provide the community with more fresh food in 2021

Arise has strong roots in Springfield, with over 30 years advocating for issues such as criminal justice, environmental justice (they are the lead organization fighting the biomass site being established in Springfield), public health, housing justice and homelessness. 

Arise sees growing food as a perfect complement to their public health and food justice work.  In collaboration with NOFA/Mass and other partners in the areaArise will educate the community about small-scale gardening, grow food for their Emergency Food Pantry and give fresh produce away to the community at large.  

If you would like more information or would like to donate to the Open Pantry/Arise Community Gardens, visit our Food Access web page and/or contact Anna Gilbert-MuhammadNOFA/Mass Equity Director and Food Access Coordinator, at [email protected].