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Tomato Day at the Dudley Greenhouse

Attendees prepare to transplant.
Attendees prepare to transplant.
On Saturday, March 24, 15 community members enjoyed a day at the Dudley Greenhouse for The Food Project's tomato planting event. First, the group helped to plant tomato seedlings in the greenhouse’s enterprise bay. The tomato plants were started as seeds at Atlas Farm in Western Massachusetts, which belongs to The Food Project's former urban grower.

On Saturday morning, TFP intern Emily Walls explained how to plant the tomato seedlings to the group. She demonstrated digging a deep hole where there was a patch of fertilizer, gently placing the tomato in the hole, and patting soil firmly around the plant. After the demonstration, volunteers worked in pairs, speedily getting all 800 tomatoes in the ground.

After their hard work, the group gathered in the community bay for a workshop entitled "Workers in the Food System." Led by two of The Food Project's youth interns, the workshop highlighted the conditions faced by tomato farmers in Immokalee, Fla., where most of the country's tomatoes are grown. Calling attention to cases of modern day slavery in Immokalee, the interns connected the stories back to our work in the greenhouse, highlighting the importance of knowing where your food is grown as a way to guarantee that the people growing it are being treated fairly. The workshop sparked a discussion about food justice amongst the participants, and the conversations about processed food and diet-related disease continued into lunch.

For lunch, the group ate pasta with tomato sauce that TFP interns made using last season's greenhouse tomatoes. As they ate, guests doodled responses to the prompt "Tomatoes make me think of..." on the paper tablecloth. Responses included "summer," "spaghetti," and "dirt."

This Saturday, March 31, interns will return to the greenhouse to help trellis the tomatoes. The tomatoes will be ready to harvest at the end of May, and they will be sold to restaurants in the Boston area, as well as at The Food Project's farmers' market in Dudley Town Common.

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