Hilltown Digest: Hilltown Mobile Market expands options for customers, farmers

  • STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/20/2022 12:35:30 PM
Modified: 3/20/2022 12:34:41 PM

CHESTERFIELD – Hilltown Mobile Market is switching to a new format this year, allowing participants to order local produce online and giving farmers the ability to pick produce to order.

“We were just bumping up against the limits of what we can do with an in-person shopping model,” said Seva Water, who runs the program.

The Mobile Market, which is a Hilltown CDC program, connects hilltown farmers with residents looking to buy the nutritious food they produce. The market has a number of options for those with limited means to pay and accepts SNAP/HIP, WIC and senior coupons.

The online platform the Mobile Market is premiering this year will allow customers to order eggs, cheese, meat and pantry items as well as produce, and customers will get to pick up their orders from several brick and mortar establishments in the hilltowns, such as the Chesterfield General Store, B&D Variety in Huntington, the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington, and Sena Farm Brewery in Worthington. 

“We’re really trying to do this for the hilltowns,” said Water, who noted that people are driving long distances to the grocery store or farmers’ market when there are farms around them.

She also said that while the expansion of broadband service in the hilltowns contributed to the adoption of the platform, the market is committed to workarounds for those for whom the internet is still difficult to access.

“We’re still small. We’re flexible,” she said.

This will also be the first year that eggs, cheese, pantry items and meat will be offered

“People have been asking for it from the beginning,” Water said.

Weekly stops at three senior living complexes will also be made, and in-person payment will be allowed at these stops for those using SNAP, WIC and Senior Coupons.

This system will go live on July 16, and every week customers will be able to place orders from Saturday until Tuesday at 3 p.m., with either Thursday or Friday pickups. There is a minimum order amount of $20, and participants can also purchase farm shares before the start of the season — which provide credit that can be used to buy from the market throughout the season.

The plan is for the market to run through mid-November this year.

For low income residents who do not qualify for SNAP, a Food Security Share can be purchased for $150, which provides a total of $200 in credit at the market. This will be partially funded by Helping Hand Shares, $500 shares that include a $100 donation to the Food Security Share program.

Those on SNAP/HIP are automatically eligible for $40 to $80 toward their CSA monthly for produce, which can be incorporated into the market.

“We can do that,” Water said.

Everyone on SNAP automatically qualifies for HIP benefits. More information about the Mobile Market can be found at http://www.hilltownmobilemarket.info.

New hiking trails open in Worthington

Three miles of new hiking trails have officially opened to the public in Worthington, the result of a partnership between Hilltown Land Trust and MassWildlife.

“We’re just thrilled,” said Sally Loomis, executive director of the Hilltown Land Trust. “It’s a lovely property that we took ownership of in 2017.”

The trails are located on the trust’s Conwell Property which consists of 70 acres of forestland along Route 112. The property also includes part of Eagle Nest Ridge, a small pond, and 0.5 miles of frontage along the Little River.

“It packs a lot in to the 70 acres,” Loomis said.

Loomis said that the property had a network of trails when it was donated, but that it wasn’t opened up to the public until this month because of a concern on where people would park. The parking issue was solved by the construction of a parking area on adjacent MassWildlife property, which also provides access to the Hiram H. Fox Wildlife Management Area. Loomis also noted that while Worthington has a lot of protected land, it doesn’t have a lot of maintained public trails.

Changing of guard at Plainfield Volunteer Firefighters Association

Earlier this year, Dan Shearer won a contested election to replace John Westwood as the president of the Plainfield Volunteer Firefighters Association. The two men remain active in the organization.

“It wasn’t a contentious fought thing,” said Plainfield Fire Chief David Alvord.

The association is a nonprofit dedicated to raising money to support the Plainfield Fire Department.

Shearer, a Plainfield firefighter, said that he hadn’t intended to run for the presidency, but that “one of the other members thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get involved.”

Shearer ended up getting more votes than the incumbent Westwood, although both Shearer and Alvord said that this wasn’t because of dissatisfaction with Westwood’s performance.

“He definitely goes above and beyond,” said Shearer, who noted that Westwood continues to attend meetings and is involved in projects with the association.

As for the health of the association, Shearer said that its fundraising  campaign has already been a massive success this year.

“I’ve been on the association for years,” Shearer said. “It’s nice to be running it as the president.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.
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