Quabbin Food Connector plans self-guided farm tour to complement ‘Crossroads’ exhibit

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-18-2023 2:36 PM

ATHOL — Just as crispy bacon pairs with fresh scrambled eggs, Quabbin Food Connector has planned a seven-town, self-guided food and farm tour on Saturday to complement “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” the traveling exhibit that is on display at the Athol Public Library through June 23.

“North Quabbin Crossroads Tour: Food, Farms, Future” will consist of farmers and food producers on site to speak with visitors during designated time slots, though many of the included sites are also open to the public at other times. The food and farm tour will allow participants to explore the questions of change and continuity posed during the exhibit, which is produced by the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program.

“We wanted to add an element to the Smithsonian tour that focused on the current-day struggles of those trying to farm and produce food currently,” said Pam Harty, who organized the tour with Cathy Stanton, of Quabbin Food Connector, a nonprofit tackling food supply issues among farmers and low-income families in the North Quabbin region. “Because rural … isn’t necessarily synonymous with agriculture, but in this part of western Mass. it can be, and tends to be.”

According to the event’s brochure, The Farm School in Athol, Red Apple Farm in Phillipston and Quabbin Harvest Food Co-op in Orange will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Petersham Country Store and Diemand Farm in Wendell are next on the schedule that day, from noon to 2 p.m. Jared Duval, of Coolidge Hill Farm in New Salem, will be available at the food co-op during this time slot. The tour ends at Chase Hill Farm and Creamery in Warwick or New Salem Preserves from 2 to 4 p.m.

Harty said all the food producers who were contacted were enthusiastic about opening their doors to the public. She said purchasing products from small businesses “keeps dollars local and it keeps our food system resilient.”

Stanton, a writer and historian of food and farming, said she thought a self-guided tour would be a fun way for consumers to better understand what it is like to be a farmer today and to learn where their food comes from by visiting farms, “which is really fun to do.”

Jean Shaughnessy, director of the Athol Public Library, said “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” opened at the 568 Main St. library on Monday morning following a sneak preview for the Friends of the Athol Public Library and their guests the day prior. The exhibit “offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century,” according to the Crossroads website. Shaughnessy explained the exhibit materials came in 16 crates and were installed in about four hours with help from her husband, L.S. Starrett Co. employees and some library Friends.

“It looks terrific,” she said.

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The exhibit is largely the same as the one displayed at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls earlier this year, though host locations on the Smithsonian’s tour are required to add a local element. Shaughnessy mentioned there are a couple of display cases and bulletin boards featuring two postcard collections and there are some items from the Athol Historical Society as well. She also said donations are accepted for inclusion in the exhibit.

More information about “Crossroads” at the Athol Public Library is available at: bit.ly/3WgEmte. More information about Quabbin Food Connector is available at quabbinfoodconnector.org.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.

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