FARM TO TABLE: Local nonprofit celebrates year of success

Harold Gill, director of research, and Chris Hudon, director of farming operations, tend to food preparation during the ReGenerative Roots inaugural Harvest Dinner at Sullivan Farm on Saturday. The two are getting ready to take different vegetables off the grill.

NASHUA – One local nonprofit, ReGenerative Roots Association, is actively getting younger people involved with agriculture through different programs aimed at growing locally sourced food, and they celebrated this year’s success with their first annual Harvest Dinner Saturday evening.

“Really the mission beyond trying to strengthen our local food system is to try to make a stronger community in Nashua so it’s a place where people actually know one another,” Andrew Morin, Executive Director, said.

Taking a more grassroots approach to things, the organization was originally started by a group of Nashua natives who had a shared dream of trying to start a community center right off the bat, but Morin said they soon figured out they had to do some smaller projects to build up their credibility in the community first. ReGen Roots began four years ago, and over the last three years they have been doing work at Sullivan Farm at 70 Coburn Ave. Morin said the average age of a farmer in the country is over 50-years-old, and through their three prong programs at the farm, ReGen Roots is looking to get younger generations involved with growing their own food.

“We need to get a lot more young, farming entrepreneurs involved,” Morin said.

One of the programs offered is the Young Farmer Incubator, which is a program where ReGen Roots provides high school students with a $2,000 scholarship and a plot of land at Sullivan farm to start their very own farming business.

Sue McMullen and Gail Laboie make their way down the line, fixing themselves plates of food during the ReGenerative Roots Harvest Dinner at Sullivan Farm Saturday evening.

“We give a lot of land, resources and startup capital and business development guidance and mentorship,” Morin said. “Last year two young ladies interned during our first year of growing, and this year they started the Banyan Branch Farm.”

Those two young farmers, Kylie Braunius and Izzy Gates, now sell their organic vegetables to a couple local restaurants. They also have a Farm to School program at Nashua High School North where ReGen Roots and the Green Club, a student run organization, revitalized an underutilized greenhouse on campus, planted and tended to over 400 seedlings inside and had a plant sale that raised nearly $400 for the club. They also built the Titan Garden, which is a raised garden bed that was tended by three students over the summer who grew organic food for the families. Those students also donated over 100 lbs. Of produce from the garden to local food pantries.

Finally, the third prong is the ReGen Roots Community Farm, which Morin said goes beyond community gardens, with 10 percent of food production during peak harvest being donated to local charities.

So, Saturday’s potluck style Harvest Dinner, brought people together to celebrate the nonprofits success thus far while enjoying different dishes that utilized some of the food grown on the farm. Morin said it’s a way to get to know one another and that there was around a dozen different dishes for folks to dig into. The dinner ran from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Sullivan Farm and drew somewhere around 40 people. The event offered folks the chance to get to know one another better, while enjoying food that they grew, as well as listen to music and play games. Harold Gill, Director of Research & Chairman of the Board of Directors, said next year they hope to make things even bigger, and continue their growth.

Morin also gave a Powerpoint presentation while folks sat at tables inside a red barn, highlighting the work that’s been done so far and thanking those who have participated.

Groups of friends, family and volunteers with the farm sit down to share a meal together, celebrating the year’s success and thanking all those who helped get ReGenerative Roots to where it is now. The nonprofit plans to expand upon this year’s growth next season.

In that presentation he said, “We feel as though that trying to get young entrepreneurs that really support the foundation of our civilization is extremely important.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.

Andrew Morin, executive director, delivers a brief Powerpoint slideshow highlighting this year’s success.

Kylie Braunius and Izzy Gates talk about their experience working with the Young Farmer Incubator program and developing their business, Banyan Branch Farm.