Local Food: Building Our Delicious Future

food.80Did you know that, today, the food we eat travels, on average, 1500 miles before it arrives on our plates?

On April 6, John Waite, Director of the Franklin County Community Development Corporation, will moderate a discussion about our Local Food System. Panelists will include Tom Clark from Clarkdale Fruit Farm, Jason Deane from Foster’s Super Market and Glenn Brunetti, from Chartwell’s Food Service.

They will explore how we can recapture the abundance and excitement of what the rich soils of the Pioneer Valley and Yankee ingenuity can offer.

“Many people believe we are on the edge of a major shift in the food market that will improve our lives and the food we eat,” said Carol Letson, member of The Pioneer Valley Institute and the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee, co-organizers of the event. “The CDC, headed up by John, is playing a major role in this shift by supporting businesses and growing the market for locally-grown food.”

For the past 50 years, cheap oil and labor, and the economic advantages of large-scale farming in warmer climates have made food from far away cheaper than what we could grow locally. “I believe the demand for healthy food, and the vision and creativity of farmers and business people is fueling this revolution,” said Waite. “Growing the local food economy will help us avoid some of the impacts of spiraling fossil fuel costs and the effects of climate change and reconnect us to the abundance of what the Pioneer Valley can offer.”

John Waite is a long-time advocate of the Franklin County Community Development Corporation’s mission to “stimulate a more vital, rural economy, to maximize community control over our future economic destiny.” He has been involved in economic development for over 25 years, and has become increasingly involved in the local food system since building the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center at the CDC’s Venture Center.

Tom Clark is the owner of Clarkdale, a fourth generation fruit farm located in the beautiful hills of Deerfield, MA.  They grow and harvest over 100 varieties of apples, peaches, plums, pears, cherries and grapes.  They practice Integrated Pest Management and strongly believe in sustainable agriculture.  They are primarily a retail farm operation with pick-your-own apples, they make cider, participate at Farmers’ Markets and wholesale to local businesses.

Jason Deane is CEO of Foster’s Super Market and along with his brother Matthew they took over operations of the business from their Grandfather, Bud Foster, in 2006.  Bud started in the business in 1941 by operating the Student's Store at Mount Hermon, in Gill MA. Later he purchased a grocery store on Chapman St. in Greenfield, expanded to a larger space on Silver St. in 1952 and eventually moved to their current location at the Corner of Conway and Allen Streets in 1974 and it has continued to grow and serve the needs of area residents since. Foster’s stocks a great deal of local products and is a CISA Local Hero market.

Glenn Brunetti is the Northeast Regional Executive Chef for Chartwell’s School Dining Services and oversees the operations of school dining services at 500 schools throughout New England. Last year he was the Director of the Holyoke Public School Dining Services and purchased thousands of pounds of frozen fresh vegetables form the CDC’s Food Processing Center.  He also joined Michelle Obama and Chefs from around the country as part of the “Let’s Move” campaign to end childhood obesity.   

Co-sponsors: The Pioneer Valley Institute (PVI) and the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC) are co-organizers of this talk. PVI is a program of the Greenfield Community College that celebrates the Connecticut River Valley’s past, present and future and examines its history, cultures and arts, geology and natural life, and its agricultural and industrial traditions. GGEC is a citizen group that works with the Town to use ‘greening’ as the inspirational and economic engine to build a sustainable future to current and future generations can enjoy life in this beautiful abundant valley. For more information call 774-5038 go to or Google Pioneer Valley Institute.