We are very fortunate. North Country Sustainability Center recently moved into the old Veterans Memorial School in Ashburnham, MA.  This is a great place to build our momentum and coordinate our growth toward our ultimate goal – a Worcester County Food Hub.  The arts are a critical part of our programming, but so are the dogs, the agricultural program and our local food system.  Our current place is a great place for learning crafts, marketing artisan goods, and showing we’re serious, but there is a real need for the rest of the project.

People hear all the time about issues with their food. This morning it was fruit juices. Last week it was the source of eggs and chicken. What’s safe and what isn’t?
Which is better, organic or local?  How do families that can barely put food on the table choose to be particular about their food? How can they afford the best food?
It has long been an ethical dilemma for me.  Wanting to help people, and wanting farmers to be able to continue farming? Farmers market to the high end of the food audience, yet those at the lower end of the food budget totem pole are also entitled to high quality food.

North Country Sustainability Center is meant to be an answer to those issues.  People can come to us and learn what different food choices mean, and learn to stretch their dollar further.  If they want to raise their own, NCSC will help them learn how to.  If they want to find a source of locally grown food, they can. IF they are already growing, but want to grow more, or make it into something value-added, we want to make that possible for them too. And for our neighbors they can grow along with those visitors as they need places to eat, stay, shop or just hang out at. The arts, the education, the skills and the shops will make this place a destination for many others with similar interests.

But Worcester County has a unique role in New England agriculture. We are the center of the region, between north and south New England, between east and west Massachusetts. There is a need to construct a transportation system and a distribution center for locally made food.  We have a shortage of processing centers for meat and poultry, but there are other needs that farmers and growers have, and NCSC wants to help those get met.

Many people don’t know the shortage of information, the lack of infrastructure for local agriculture.   NCSC’s goal is to help educate those people as well as those who already know the problem, but feel powerless to change it.  NCSC is about empowering people and providing opportunity. I hope you’ll join us and make it happen.

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