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November is a month for gratitude – for a season of good harvests, strong farm businesses, happy customers, and improved access to healthy food for our community members who are struggling.  These are the things that SEMAP works, plans, and fights for and we are thankful for the opportunity to work for the region.

The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) has been a significant reason to be grateful.  The program is offered to Massachusetts users of SNAP (formerly food stamps) and is a 1:1 match for fruits and vegetables bought from local farmstands and farmers markets.  The incentives have been extended to February 28, 2019 instead of closing next week as previously announced.  Farmers started the year planning on a full season of matching incentives but the success of the HIP has made the program a bumpy one.  The program will resume in the spring of next year.

Winter markets are returning for your holiday vegetable needs and there are lots of opportunities to shop locally.  Where are your ingredients coming from?  With a fairly mild autumn, there are lots of choices available – potatoes, carrots, squash, garlic, onions, herbs, salad greens, and of course cranberries!  And with a dozen markets spread across the region, you will be able to fill almost all of your Thanksgiving vegetable needs from either a farmers’ market or one of the many farm stands.  In recent years we’ve gained many local protein sources:  oysters, beef, chicken, and pork.  And don’t forget the locally-grown turkey from Copicut Farms. Find the market nearest you with SEMAP’s Winter Farmers Market Guide.

Annual Meeting – this year did not fly by – it has been too full of new projects and exciting opportunities and last year’s meeting at Groundwork in New Bedford seems very long ago.  Please join us this year for SEMAP’s Annual Meeting – we are 20 years strong and looking forward to showing our progress.  Join us this Thursday at Round the Bend Farm for a local supper, updates from our partners and SEMAP as well at SEMAP’s annual awards. RSVPs are gratefully appreciated.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Karen Schwalbe
Executive Director