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Celebration Promotes Locally-Grown Produce

By Janie M. Tankard

The Harvard Square Business Association held its First Annual Urban-Agricultural Fair at Winthrop Park in Cambridge yesterday, in an effort to celebrate locally-grown Cambridge produce and goods. The grassy area located in front of Peet’s Coffee Shop dates back to 1635 and was the location of the first marketplace in Newtowne, the city that predated Cambridge. The event, which lasted from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., featured cooking demonstrations, recipe sampling, and advising information and drew over 30 participating vendors and organizations. Fair-goers were exposed to a wide range of local businesses that offered specialized knowledge and shared strategies to facilitate the process of urban produce-growing. Jessie Banhazl, owner of Green City Growers, discussed the use of raised bed produce farms, as small as 4x4 feet in size, as a means to address typical city limitations of space availability. Raised beds furthermore address the issue of soil toxicity in an urban environment, Banhazl said. The fair also hosted a urban-agriculture goods contest, with medals awarded to the best fruit, pickled vegetable, vegetable, flower, baked goods and soup entries. “The best vegetable that I saw today was a huge brussels sprout that was very impressive because of its sheer size alone,” said celebrity judge Chris Durkin, who is director of membership and community relations for Harvest Co-op Markets. Both attendees and organizers said that they were pleased with how the event turned out. “I couldn’t be happier with how everything went,” said HSBA executive director Denise Jillson, who oversaw the organization of the fair. “People always love to be in Harvard Square and here is a really fun event where you learn about so many different things—from composting to growing your own garden to chicken roosting.” Cambridge City Councillor Henrietta Davis said that she was impressed by the size of the crowd, adding that she hoped it would encourage locals to be more involved in their communities. “It’s great because it’s the first only one and there are so many people,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what this fair will look like in years to come.” Fair-goer Rebecca J. Cohen ’12 said that she thought the event reflected the community’s heightened focus on sustainable and thoughtful farming. “It’s not just a fringe belief; people are really trying to support it,” she said.

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