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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Dornbusch’

A Lancaster, Massachusetts, woman who came to the country at age 12 without a word of English is giving back by helping immigrants get a start in farming — and her model is being picked up around the nation.

Jane Dornbusch at the Boston Globe writes, “Maria Moreira, 62, is fond of the proverb ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ When her kids were small and she and her husband had a dairy farm in this Central Massachusetts town, she had plenty of milk, hungry kids to feed, and a need to make a little money.

“So she started a business making a soft Portuguese cheese — she calls it simply Portuguese fresh cheese — that reflected her roots in the Azores, where she was born.

“That was in 1986. A year earlier, she had seen another need, and, in her own inventive way, she’d set about meeting it. Moreira and her husband, Manny, had a 70-acre field, not far from their farm, that they used to grow corn.

“A Hmong woman, an immigrant from Laos, approached Moreira about using a small corner of the field to grow her own crops. Soon, word spread, and little by little the entire field was given over to immigrant farmers, each in charge of his or her own plot. Today, says Moreira, 275 farmers are growing more than 75 kinds of vegetables at what is now called Flats Mentor Farm. …

“Gus Schumacher, former Massachusetts commissioner of food and agriculture, came to know Moreira’s work when he served as a USDA undersecretary in the late ’90s. He notes that she was among a handful of leaders — others included John Ogonowski (one of the pilots killed on 9/11) and Jennifer Hashley, of New Entry Sustainable Farming Project — supporting refugees and immigrants in establishing themselves as farmers and market gardeners. It’s a movement that has since gained momentum nationally, he says. ‘But it all started in Massachusetts.’ ”

More at the Globehere.

Photo: Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff
Maria Moreira, of Flats Mentor Farm, holds some lemon basil.

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I saw an article in the paper today about 3-D machines making protein snacks for soldiers. The results looked like not very appealing beef jerky.

Other 3-D food creations in the works run the gamut from unappealing to gorgeous.

Jane Dornbusch wrote in a September Globe article, “The most popular application in 3-D food printing seems to be in the decidedly low-tech area of cake decoration.

“Well, not just cake decoration, but sugary creations of all kinds. The Sugar Lab is the confectionary arm of 3-D printing pioneer 3D Systems, and it expects to have the ChefJet, a 3-D food printer, available commercially later this year.”

3-D printing, says ChefJet co-inventor Liz von Hasseln, “is additive manufacturing. Instead of carving away at something, with 3-D printing you build something up layer by layer. That’s the hallmark. You build it exactly as it exists in a file.” More here.

As lovely as the sugar sculptures in the Globe story appear, the beef jerky, veggie burgers, and chicken nuggets are kind of scary. But let’s put it in context: could they be any more strange than certain staples of your childhood? 3-D burgers are probably no worse than, say, canned fruit cocktail. Here is poet Amy Gerstier on that old-time delicacy:

what was fruit cocktail’s secret
meaning? It glistened as though varnished.
Faint of taste and watery, it contained anemic
grapes, wrinkled and pale. Also deflated
maraschino cherries. Fan-shaped pineapple
chunks, and squares of bleached peach
and pear completed the scene. Fruit cocktail’s
colorlessness, its lack of connection to anything
living, (like tree, seed or leaf) seemed
cautionary, sad.

Photo: 3-D Systems
3-D printed sugar design by The Sugar Lab.

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I blogged before about the idea that one and one and 50 make a million, the idea that little actions by many people can make big change.

It speaks to me. So I loved this food-for-the-hungry story in yesterday’s Boston Globe. Volunteers at Community Cooks in Somerville, Massachusetts, provide part of a meal for a charity once a month. It’s relatively small commitment that adds up. Vicki I founded it 20 years ago.

She tells the Globe‘s Jane Dornbusch: “My friend heard the Somerville Homeless Coalition wanted some food support. … It was an era when many young professionals who were interested in helping the community were moving to Somerville, so we were able to recruit very easily.”

Derek Neilson makes potato salad for Community Cooks.

Derek Neilson makes potato salad for Community Cooks. Photograph: Barry Chin, Globe staff

Dornbusch adds, “Community Cooks is just that: a community of cooks that prepares food for the community. Each volunteer is assigned to a team that provides a meal once a month to a partner organization; these organizations include homeless shelters, women’s and family shelters, youth development programs, providers of support for the developmentally disabled, and more.

“The team leader hands out dish assignments — main course, salad, side, dessert — and each volunteer purchases the necessary ingredients and prepares a homemade recipe to feed about 15. Then the volunteer drops it at a central location. Each team serves a particular organization, so volunteers develop a sense of community and partnership with one group. It’s not an overwhelming commitment.” But together the cooks make a big difference  Read more.

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