2019 Local Hero Awardee: Liz O’Gilvie

Each year, CISA presents Local Hero Awards to farms, businesses, or individuals who exemplify our mission of strengthening farms and engaging the community to build the local food economy. We applaud their hard work, social responsibility, and many contributions to sustaining local agriculture.

Liz O’Gilvie wears many hats as an advocate within our local food system: she is chair of the board at Gardening the Community, the youth development and urban agriculture organization in Springfield. In that role, she has provided leadership that helped GTC buy their own land and to take the bold step of building a permanent, year-round farm store on Walnut Street – both the result of a big vision.

Liz is also the chair of the steering committee and working director of the Springfield Food Policy Council which does so much great work, including school gardens and Breakfast in the Classroom at Springfield Public Schools, and advocacy for the brand new Springfield Culinary and Nutrition Center, which will bring scratch cooking to Springfield and Holyoke public schools. Liz and the Springfield Food Policy Council have also advocated for HIP, the Healthy Incentives Program, and founded the City Soul Farmers’ Market, and over the next year she is working with CISA on a project designed to identify resource gaps for food businesses in low-income areas and communities of color.

Liz’s work is varied and vital, and so much of it has happened in partnership with other amazing people and organizations and businesses. But Liz herself really deserves the spotlight: to all of this work, whether she’s focusing on urban agriculture, school food, or food access programs, she brings nuanced, inclusive, big-picture, systems-level thinking. Liz is rooted in her hometown, Springfield, but she is always reaching across geographical boundaries, organizational silos, and racial divides to find common ground and build coalitions that are so much stronger and more effective than working apart. She is tireless about working to undo racism in our food system and calling others in to do the same, and so often her voice is a clarion call to participate bravely in hard conversations, expand narrow thinking, and to dream broadly about possible futures. So for all that, CISA is proud to present Liz O’Gilvie with a 2019 Local hero award.

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