RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2022
Urban Agriculture Festival to Celebrate 30 Years of Community Service
Harvest Festival at La Finca – September 24, Noon to 4pm
Holyoke, MA – Local grass roots organization Nuestras Raíces will celebrate three decades of supporting urban agriculture and helping improve the lives of residents in Holyoke and Western Massachusetts with their 30th Anniversary Harvest Festival later this month.
The festival, slated for Saturday, September 24 from Noon to 4pm, will feature an afternoon fete filled with food, dancing, a farmer’s market, kids’ activities, and live music performed by local groups Raquel y su Nuevo Impacto and Sensacion Urbana. The Harvest Festival will be held at La Finca, a 30-acre urban farm the organization oversees.
Nuestras Raíces was formed in 1992 by a group of farmers who immigrated to the area from Puerto Rico, like so many of their fellow community members. Living in a city with few opportunities to grow, they discovered an abandoned lot in South Holyoke that was covered with trash, used hypodermic needles and frequented by criminal activity. They worked together to transform the lot into the area’s first community garden. That lot sparked the birth and growth of urban agriculture in Holyoke under the umbrella of the organization.
“From a fairly simple start, we’ve grown to more than 600 members,” said Hilda Roque, Executive Director of Nuestras Raíces. “Our members include community gardeners, local farms, tenant farmers, local small businesses, local business people, and a number of volunteers,” she said. “We are very excited to celebrate the fact that we’ve been working with our neighbors to improve local food availability for 30 years. We hope our friends and neighbors will join us in the celebration and help us grow even more.”
The non-profit Nuestras Raíces provides many more services than just advocating for local urban agriculture: they work to support low-to-moderate income families who cultivate and sell crops traditionally grown in Puerto Rico; they lease their commercial kitchen and restaurant facility in downtown Holyoke to food entrepreneurs; they operate a mobile market that offers fresh produce to Hampden County residents, who otherwise might not be able to get fresh, culturally appropriate produce; they offer financial literacy and farming/technical assistance classes to local Latino entrepreneurs and aspiring farmers; and they collaborate with public schools in the region to help develop a strong Latino youth labor pool.
Among these extensive activities, the organization’s crown jewel is a 30-acre urban farm called “La Finca” where a number of local farming tenants grow familiar crops originating from their home island. The farm is the location for the Harvest Festival, as well as a number of other festivals throughout the growing season, and to the organization’s farm store.
Ms. Roque cited their partnership with The Trustees of Reservations, Massachusetts’ largest preservation and conservation nonprofit, as a catalyst for Nuestras Raíces’ success. “We are are delighted to have such a great partnership and for their trust as stewards of that land,” she said.
The Trustees was founded in 1891 and cares for more than nearly 27,000 acres around the Commonwealth. Twenty-five acres of land for La Finca was donated to the Trustees in 2009 by the Sisters of Providence, a congregation of Roman Catholic religious sisters founded in 1892, now a part of the Trinity Health system. Nuestras Raíces owns the remaining five acres.
EXHIBITORS, RAFFLE DONORS AND SPONSORS
Nuestras Raíces would like to express our gratitude to these amazing local businesses who donated funds, material, raffle prizes, or will be exhibiting at the Festival. Please patronize their businesses at the Festival or in the Holyoke area.
- MD Beauty Salon 2 Gift Certificates
- La Isabela Mini Market 2 $75 gift card
- Fiesta Café 4 $50 certificates
- Sol Karibe Restaurant and Bar 2 $40 Certificates
- Paraiso Colombiano Restaurant 2 Certificates (to dine-in at their location)
- Trader Joe’s-Hadley MA location 1 grocery basket
- Alexander Cordero, Realtor® 20 Vacation Vouchers
- Andujar Craft & Art
- Coquito Chukito
- D’ Coco Soap
- Local Farmers
SPONSORS & PARTNERS
- Bresnahan Insurance Agency, Inc.
- Holyoke Gas and Electric
- Marcotte Ford Sales, Inc
- Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation
- New England Farm Workers’ Council
- Partners for Community
- Trustee of Reservations
- United HealthCare Community Plan
DONATIONS ARE WELCOME
While Nuestras Raíces receives some funding from USDA and other federal grants, Ms. Roque says they are largely supported by the local community. “We always welcome new volunteers or financial donations to help fund our programs. There is always a need — never enough money or enough volunteers,” she said. “We work extremely hard to help local residents learn to farm, or understand how to manage their money, or obtain their food handler license. Definitely, you will be supporting a great cause.” She said they accept donations on their website.
FESTIVAL ADMISSION IS FREE
The Harvest Festival will include Puerto Rican style music, games, activities for kids, and more. Special live musical performances feature local groups Raquel y su Nuevo Impacto and Sensacion Urbana.
The Harvest Festival will be held at La Finca, a working urban farm managed by Nuestras Raíces, from Noon to 4pm, Saturday, September 24. Rain date is the following Saturday, October 1. La Finca is located at 24 Jones Ferry Rd, Holyoke, MA. Festival admission is free.
All attendees to the festival are eligible for FREE RAFFLE PRIZES from our sponsors.
This event would not be possible without the collaboration of the USDA, and support from community members. See complete details on the website here: https://nuestras-raices.org/event/harvest-festival/
Join us on September 24 from Noon to 4:00pm at La Finca, 24 Jones Ferry Rd, Holyoke, MA.
ABOUT NUESTRAS RAÍCES
Nuestras Raíces is a grassroots urban agriculture organization based in Holyoke, MA. Our mission is to create healthy environments, celebrate “agri-culture,” harness our collective energy, and to advance our vision of a just and sustainable future. For more information, or for interview opportunities, please contact Hilda Roque at (413) 535-1789 x 205.