Whether as a key contributor, strategic storyteller, editor or content writer, I communicate “the story” in relatable and compelling language that engages and enlightens readers.

How a farmer’s sales strategy turned her parents’ garden into a family business

When the Nyaigoti family came to Massachusetts from Kenya, they brought the seeds they would need to keep growing their favorite vegetables. Those seeds also grew a business. STATES OF FARMING: Second in a series of occasional stories looking at BIPOC farmers in New England. By Jocelyn Ruggiero Globe correspondent, March 23, 2021 LANCASTER — Six days a week, May through October, 33-year-old Henrietta Nyaigoti arrives at Flats Mentor Farm by 7 a.m. She waters the inside of her two high tunnels, checks the progress of the vegetables growing there, and walks her family’s 2 acres to assess any damage from pests and weather. During planting season, she puts seeds in the ground, and during growing season, tills weeds and makes any necessary soil amendments. At 2:30 p.m. on weekdays, she drives 15 minutes home, where she lives with her two young daughters, then showers and changes before heading to her job as an assistant program manager at a group home for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. She works there 50 to 70 hours per week during farm season, and 80 to 100 hours in the off-season. All year round, Nyaigoti spends 30 hours a week as a home health aide at an assisted living facility. She recently began a position as a sales coordinator for World Farmers — the nonprofit that operates Flats Mentor Farm — which has so far been a 10-hour a week commitment, though she expects that will increase. And this May, after three years of hard work, she will complete coursework for her Master’s in Public Health at Southern New Hampshire University. Nyaigoti says, “I work hard because I have an opportunity that many people don’t, especially in Kenya.” Read Full Article.

An urban farm embarks on its first season, determined to serve its community

When Hameed and Ayo Bello moved to Springfield, they quickly realized access to healthy food was limited for people of limited means. They set out to change that. STATES OF FARMING: First in a series of occasional stories looking at BIPOC farmers in New England. By Jocelyn Ruggiero Globe correspondent, March 23, 2021 When Hameed Bello moved to Springfield to attend Western New England University in 2015, he and his wife, Ayo, quickly noticed what the Massachusetts Public Health Association identified in 2017: that Springfield — which has the second-lowest per capita income in Massachusetts — is one of the state’s most severe food deserts, where low-income residents struggle to easily access fresh, healthy foods. The Bellos regularly saw residents on public buses hauling groceries from Walmart, constrained by the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority’s three-bag rule. Hameed started to occasionally drive his elderly neighbor to the store. “If they’re not at the age where they can walk and carry those bags home, they have no access to that food . . . then when you do get to the store and you want to buy organic, it’s really, really expensive. They’re faced with — do I eat organic for one meal? Or do I go to a bodega and buy all this other food for the same price and eat for three meals?” The couple soon got involved with the Springfield-based food justice organizations Gardening in the Community and the Springfield Food Policy Council. Their outrage at the inequity grew until they asked, “How can we be a part of the solution?” Their answer? Agric Organics Urban Farm. Read Full Article

Exploring the many colors of Connecticut’s Last Green Valley

By Jocelyn Ruggiero, Globe correspondent, October 14, 2020 There are few activities as New Englandy as a meandering autumn drive through a magnificent canopy of yellow, crimson, and orange, and there are few areas better suited to this as the stretch of countryside that runs from Northeastern Connecticut to South Central Massachusetts. Designated by Congress in 2014 as “The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor,” the 1,100-square-mile swath is so named because, in a nighttime aerial or satellite view, it is singularly dark, bookended by the brightly-lit sprawl between New York and Boston. More than 84 percent of its 707,000 acres are forest and farmland. Replete with quaint 18th- and 19th-century town greens, homesteads, churches, and mills, in Connecticut, it’s home to 171 properties and districts listed in The National Register of Historic Places. Connecticut state historian Walter Woodward calls the region a “still-beautiful, still-rural, history-proud, and heritage-rich old New-England getaway.” Read Full Article

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