As students at Leverett and Erving elementary schools dig into their vegetables this fall, they may be getting a taste of local farms thanks to a new collaboration of the Franklin County Community Development Corp. and the Hampshire Regional Council of Governments.
HCOG’s Purchasing Cooperative and the CDC have announced a Pioneer Valley Vegetable Venture for 16 school cafeterias and organizations around western Massachusetts, one that will offer locally grown fruits and vegetables for their menus.
The co-op links schools and other bulk food buyers as far apart as Williamstown and Petersham with local farms and processors. They are all to be part of a purchasing bid in a contract with Thurston Foods through next July 1. Thurston is a wholesale food distributor in Connecticut that serves the Northeast.
Arranging to sell more local produce to institutional consumers through the bulk flash freezing process provides more business for local farmers.
With the CDC’s new cold-storage facility now being built at the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center in Greenfield and its Individual Quick Freeze equipment in place, institutions like the Amherst Survival Center, Hampshire Regional High School and elementary schools in Leverett, Erving, Williamstown, Williamsburg, Lanesboro and beyond have become part of the group bid to purchase produce that is harvested and flash frozen at peak freshness from local farms.