Anne Cody

           Anne Cody is a consultant for the Massachusetts Farm to School Program, which is a program created to help farmers distribute their fresh food to their local school community.

The program is beneficial on many different levels to both the farmers and the school system. Local farmers benefit not only from having a large year round paying customer but even get to sell some of the foods that would have otherwise been rejected by other consumers (for example potatoes that would have been too small are PERFECT for tater-tots!). The Schools are able to serve healthier, better quality food to their students, create a relationship with their local farmers (students get to go on field trips to the farms) and remove a large portion of their imported food.

When Anne Cody isn’t building bonds between schools and farms she’s working on her other program: The Kindergarten Initiative, which, similarly to the Mass Farm to School Program, helps offer locally grown snacks and nutrition education to Worcester kindergarteners and their parents.

Some of the toughest obstacles that Anne faces are convincing some of the lower income schools to buy local food because of the difficulties of organizing school financing. She feels her job is making a large difference in society and is an exciting change for the school system. She is grateful to live in a community, which is such a large support for local food and I believe that with her successes already, her program could eventually join local farms and schools together all over country!

 

Farm to School: http://www.farmtoschool.org/MA/programs.htm

On our way to a “nation of farmers” in Amherst, MA

Michelle Chandler and one of her backyard meat rabbits

Michelle Chandler made a decision shortly after September 11, 2001 – she was going to be less dependent on fossil fuels and begin to live a more sustainable lifestyle.  The result is 100 rabbits, dozens of laying hens and a couple of milk goats in her suburban yard in South Amherst, MA.  Chandler quotes John 21:17, when Peter was asked by Jesus, “Do you love me?” Upon answering, “Yes,” Peter is instructed to “feed my sheep.”

Chandler’s “sheep” are her four children, ages 8 to 13, as well as neighbors and friends who enjoy the results of her bounty produced at Blessed Acre Farm and Rabbitry, where she raises several rare and heritage rabbit breeds – Cinnamons, Thriantas, Californians, Cremes d’Argent, Palominos, and American Blues.

According to an article in her local newspaper, those interested in raising rabbits should start with three, which would cost about $60 to get started. “For someone who wants rabbit on the table once a week for a family of four, you could realistically get by with one buck and two does,” she said. Then there’s the cost of building or buying hutches, at around $50 to $75 apiece, and providing the feed. A 50-pound bag costs $14.

Although her own property was far enough from the center of town to be exempt, Chandler was instrumental in helping to pass a new bylaw that allows up to 12 chickens or rabbits by right anywhere in Amherst.

“I feel strongly that Amherst will be better served by being able to feed itself,” said Chandler. “People are always going to be hungry, and if people have another food source, that’s a good thing.”

 One of Michelle Chandler’s close friends, Sharon Astyk, has written a book called “A Nation of Farmers” in which she claims raising your own food in the backyard must become a more common feature of the American landscape if we are to adjust to Peak Oil.  Chandler’s backyard has become a living example of this trend.