The whole group in front of a beautiful mural in a Holyoke community garden
This week we got to come back to our roots (nuestras raices) in Worcester and have a packed screening of Ciclovida at Clark, as well as meet some incredible folks at Nuestras Raices in Holyoke!
We got back to Worcester late on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday had the chance to stop by Worcester Earn-a-Bike, where the whole bike system was built, to do some tune-ups on the bike system while we are in our hometown.
Community Fire at Clark
That night, we had an intimate community fire with Clark librarian Rachael Shea, who for the last 3 years has hosted monthly Sacred Fires for all in the Clark community. It was a great chance to connect, talk, and share food around one of the most primal, instinctual ways of gathering. As a regular fire-goer, I know the smell of the fire almost makes you forget that you’re in the city and brings you back to your connection to land and earth. We laughed, shared stores, and had great converstaion.
Jarabe performing at Clark
That night, the Worcester screening brought out a huge crowd (of almost 100 people!) from Clark as well as the broader Worcester community. We had a couple special guests: Sergio Castillo, local Worcester activist, film-maker, and musician, and Loren Feinstein, co-producer of Ciclovida. Many friends, neighbors, and fellow organizers turned out for a wonderful high-energy event.
Discussion after the movie at Clark
The night concluded with discussion including Ivania and Inacio sharing that they had certain perceptions of the United States before coming here that are shown by the market and the media, but that they are happy to find many people in the United States resisting capitalism.
On Thursday we rode out to Holyoke and had an incredible time with all the great folks at Nuestras Raices. We were welcomed and given a tour by Diego and Ramiro, two incredible organizers with Nuestras Raices who showed us their aquaponic system in their greenhouse and also explained their work over the last 5 years to get fresh, healthy food fo local schools by connecting them with local Puerto Rican farmers.
Sharing seeds in Holyoke
They have worked to get culturally relevant food for young people (in a city that is 36% Puerto Rican) by getting produce that is typical of Puerto Rican cooking, raised by Puerto Rican farmers, and served as Puerto Rican food in Holyoke schools (for example changing Friday Pizza Day to serving a Puerto Rican dish every Friday).
We got the chance to meet several local farmers who showed us around 3 incredible community gardens that are supported by Nuestras Raices. Each one had its own feel but all proved to be important community spaces that are clearly a source of nourishment and vitality in Holyoke.
That night we had a wonderful event at Nuestras Raices where the whole Readnex Poetry Squad joined us for the first time and rocked us all!
Readnex Poetry Squad
During the discussion, an audience member raised a really interesting question about what the greatest challenge was during Ivania and Inacio’s journey. Ivania shared that the hardest point in the trip was when they passed through one stretch of Brazil where they didn’t encounter one farmer for 5 days! They passed by vast stretches of industrial agriculture, sprawling green monocrops, feeling isolated as they saw only a single person driving a big machine to harvest crops and spray pesticides. She said as they went through this really tough portion she just asked “Why are we doing this? We rode off on our bikes to connect with farmers, and we are not meeting any farmers here!”
Forest garden in Holyoke
The next day we closed out our visit in Holyoke with a tour of the incredible “edible forest” of Matt’s Holyoke friends who we stayed with. We got to explore the incredible bounty of their permaculture garden, sampling sweet violet flowers, potent garlic chives, spicy mustard greens, fresh cilantro, and sea kale.
Our bounty in the forest garden
We had the most beautiful breakfast all picked right from the garden, with eggs from their 3 chickens in the backyard as well. Then, as if we hadn’t had enough amazing agriculture, we got a tour of the Nuestras Raices finca where they farm over 7 acres of land, provide a place for farmers to learn new skills, raise livestock and animals, and provide education programs to get kids gardening and farming.
Nuestras Raices Finca
It was a gorgeous place with such great potential and possibility for growing local produce and giving people a place to get back to the earth.