Harvesting Hope takes root in Northampton

Last modified: Sunday, January 10, 2016

So, back on the beat after a few weeks walking in the Rockies. It’s different out there.

Have you heard of Harvesting Hope? I hadn’t, until last Friday. It was Park(ing) Day, an international event during which groups turn parking spaces into parks.

Edwards Church pastor Michael McSherry and others representing Harvesting Hope occupied parking spaces this past weekend to let people know about their work. Their idea: if you have more produce than you can use, put a sign near your garden or fruit/nut trees that reads “Help yourself.”

The group was encouraging passersby to make and take those signs—and handing out some tasty snacks as well.

Harvesting Hope is, according to their literature, a series of events, actions and celebrations organized by pioneer Valley faith, environmental and social justice organizations to connect people around “issues of land and agriculture, earth stewardship, food justice, debt and restful time.”

Restful time: sounds sweet, and these people were finding it, as they relaxed in their parking space under a canopy.

Help Yourself Northampton seems to be part of the movement. On this day, members were highlighting HYS, Help Yourself, an area nonprofit, according to the handout, that designs, plants and organizes volunteer stewards to maintain food forests and medicine gardens in public places in the Valley and beyond, free for all to harvest from.”

Of course, HYS needs volunteers to manage to do all this: crews to help with planting and mulching; stewards to check on gardens and trees, organizers, educators and “sustainers”—who can offer material and financial support.

But there have been signs that their efforts are bearing fruit—literally. Young trees and gardens line the bike path. Volunteers are keeping the weeds at bay, mulching with cardboard.

All this made clear why there’s a big sign plastered under the South Street Bridge that reads (all caps): Help Yourself! Northampton!! Check out the website: www.helpyourselfedibles.org; email helpyourselfnoho@gmail.com to get involved.

A Harvesting Hope farm festival Sunday, Oct. 4, from 1 to 5 p.m., at Abundance Farm (that’s at 253 Prospect St., Northampton, next to B’nai Israel) will feature celebration, food, nature crafts, interfaith ritual, a meditation sukkah (a temporary hut constructed for the Jewish festival of Sukkoth, the ingathering of harvest time); and community organizing. Go to the website www.harvestinghope.net for more information. Communication todayOverheard on the street: A twentysomething couple is seated on the steps outside Tart Bakery. She says to him, “We were texting? (note upward lilt at end of sentence) Or were we talking?”


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