Food Works at Two Rivers Center’s Good Food Good Medicine program takes a seasonal approach to good health and nutrition at two low-income housing sites in Barre. In the spring and summer months, residents at Highgate and Green Acres apartments grow their own food in community gardens or in raised container beds; the fall focus is on harvest, food preservation, and seasonal cooking. A monthly community meal continues throughout the winter with special attention paid to health, wellness, and herbalism.
The program not only increases people’s food security and independence, but also has reintroduced participants to skills that weren’t passed down in the last few decades. “We’re finding a strong desire by people to relearn new skills,” said Joseph Kiefer of Food Works, “and we realized that to have a long-term impact on people’s lives, it took a sustained commitment to relationship building throughout the year.”
Classes include the entire family, with children eager to help cook meals and grow their own food, which leads to exposure to new vegetables, such as rutabagas, parsnips, and Chioggia beets. “Part of it includes retraining the tongue to local, healthy foods and withdrawing from high-fat, high-salt, industrial diets,” Kiefer said. “Meanwhile, the backyard herbalism classes help to address many of the health and wellness issues people are facing, such as weak immune and respiratory systems.” Participants grow their own herbs and learn to make teas, vinegars, and tinctures to support their overall health and wellness.