Glenroy Buchanan, Pioneer Valley/ New England Growers Co-op
2011 Local Hero Awardee
As a child in Jamaica, Glenroy Buchanan could step out into the yard and pick papaya, bananas, and avocados from the trees. Even if you didn’t have these things in your own yard, he says, you knew someone in the community who did, and was willing to share. Buchanan emphasizes that he didn’t grow up on a farm, but rather in a community with a strong tradition of food self-sufficiency and cooperation.
Today, Buchanan’s life revolves around making fresh locally grown food widely available. In 1988 he approached a Hadley farmer about farm workers growing vegetables for themselves on unused land. The farmer was receptive, and when other farms followed, the Pioneer Valley / New England Growers Co-op was born. Today the Co-op includes growers who have the skills and knowledge to grow food but lack the land. They grow food for their own consumption and for sale at farmers’ markets. In exchange, landowners receive a share of the crop and benefit from assistance with the harvest and sale of their own crops.
Buchanan sells his own vegetables at the Holyoke Farmers’ Market and in Mason Square, a market he helped launch to serve one of the most racially diverse communities in Springfield. He worked with Hampden Bank to establish farmers’ markets in West Springfield, Wilbraham, and Indian Orchard, serving as the market manager for all of these, as well as a fourth in Three Rivers.
Buchanan circulates to farmers markets in six different urban communities every week. In one there is a large Polish and Portuguese population; in another, many of the families originally came from Italy. “In all these places, people appreciate food that is well-grown, fresh, and reasonably priced.” CISA recognizes Glenroy Buchanan for his leadership in promoting diversity of crops grown in the Valley and for ensuring access to fresh food for underserved communities.