Savoring the Seasons: Passing the Baton of the Free Harvest Supper

The Recorder, August 18th, 2015, by Mary McClintock

I don’t know if Juanita Nelson ever ran a relay race, I know I haven’t since I was a kid in gym class. But somehow, the image of a relay race is what keeps coming to me as we get closer to that magical evening on the Greenfield Town Common called the Free Harvest Supper. Simultaneously, I feel like I’m both the runner who is sprinting up to the hand-off zone to pass the baton to my teammate who will run the next leg of the race, and the person who has just been passed the baton and who is trying to get up to speed as I race on.

The first Free Harvest Supper was Juanita’s idea back in 2005 and she helped organize the Supper for many years. Juanita passed away in March this year and I’ve thought about her a lot since then. The Free Harvest Supper is just one of many ways that Juanita influenced me and many of us in our community, inspiring us all to live our values of supporting local farmers, justice, peace, and community.

What’s the “baton” Juanita passed to me and all of us?

Rather than try to describe that “baton,” here’s a brief essay Juanita wrote for The Recorder before the 2008 Free Harvest Supper (see below). Her words stirred something in me then and continue to remind me of the larger context of the Free Harvest Supper and the work many of us do.

What’s the “baton” I’m passing to the new organizers?
I thought about Juanita when I looked around the table at an early meeting of this year’s Free Harvest Supper organizers and saw all the new faces of those who volunteered to help organize this year’s Supper. I remembered many Free Harvest Supper meetings with Juanita and other long-time Supper organizers, laughing, figuring out all of the many details it takes to feed 1,000 of our neighbors on the Town Common. I am thrilled there are new organizers, especially since I’ve been too busy with work to be part of this year’s organizing group. Along with practical things I’ve learned over the years of Supper organizing, I’ve tried to pass along my enthusiasm for the Supper, locally grown food, and community coming together.

I am grateful for all of the hard and smart work that long-time and new Free Harvest Supper organizers are doing to create this year’s Supper, the delicious food grown by farmers in our community, and the creative cooking being done by local restaurant chefs to prepare that food for all of us to enjoy. Clearly, they’ve taken the baton from Juanita and are continuing on her path.

How has Juanita and the Free Harvest Supper inspired you? How are you taking steps toward Juanita’s vision of a peaceful and just world where everyone has plenty to eat? I’d love to hear how you’re carrying the baton Juanita passed to us all.


One Thing Leads to Another, I Hope

by Juanita Nelson (written for the Aug. 13, 2008 Recorder Food Page)

The Free Harvest Supper has become a remarkable event, bringing neighbors together for a joyous time of eating together the food grown, prepared, and served by neighbors.

But the supper will be truly successful only if it leads us further. Obviously, the next step is to prepare local foods in our homes, in restaurants, for church suppers. This would be healthier than transporting produce from around the globe, save energy, support local farmers, and encourage young people to take up farming and gardening. It could free land in other countries for raising food for their own populations. (I dream that the local food initiative might lead to a more equitable distribution of land.)

It is also possible that an emphasis on eating locally could help usher us to a more peaceful world, in which there would be less greed, less exploitation, more equality, certainly no more hunger. Maybe even no more war. A tall order to get from here to there, but, as the saying goes, the longest journey begins with one step.

I hope you’ll take that first step by savoring the food and camaraderie of the Fourth Annual Free Harvest Supper. Though not an end in itself, it’s fun and may get you prepped for going a step further: preparing local food meals at home all year, perhaps using a part of your lawn for a colorful vegetable garden.
(Be sure to bring your own place settings!)

The 11th annual Free Harvest Supper At-A-Glance:

When: Sunday, Aug. 23 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: Greenfield Town Common/Court Square (intersection of Routes 2A and 5 and 10)

The Free Harvest Supper celebrates local food, farms, and community. The supper is free to all and donations are used to support the Farmers Market Coupon Program run by the Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry. The Supper includes a bountiful meal of locally grown food prepared by chefs from local restaurants and caterers, entertainment provided by local musicians, and a Really, Really Free Market.

Ways to Get Involved:

∎ Attend the Free Harvest Supper and share a meal with your community

∎ Make a donation at the Supper to help support the Farmers’ Market Coupon Program

∎ Bring extra garden and farm produce from 4 to 6 p.m. to the Really, Really Free Market

∎ If you’re a restaurant/caterer/chef, help create dishes of local food for the supper. Contact

∎ Volunteer before or on the day of the Supper. Contact Adelle Ferreira at

∎ To conserve resources and help the Free Harvest Supper reach its goal of being a trash-free event, bring a own reusable place setting and napkin. Don’t forget a cup to enjoy locally produced beverages and ice cream.


∎ 4 to 4:45 p.m.: Charlie King (songs, guitar & harmonica)

∎ 5 to 5:45 p.m.: Annie Hassett & Julia Burrough (possibly with Court Dorsey)

∎ 6 to 6:45 p.m.: Pitchfork with Rob Skelton, Jeremy Starpoli, and others

∎ Roving juggler (with stories): Rob Peck

∎ Balloon artist/construction: Mademoiselle Pixie Belle (Mary Hakkinen) with son

Really, Really Free Market, 4 to 6 p.m.

Gardeners and farmers are asked to donate their extra produce and everyone at the supper is welcome to take home whatever they’d like. In past years, donated produce has included peaches, apples, eggs, tomatoes, squash, greens, flowers, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and more.

Restaurants Preparing the Supper

∎ Hope & Olive

∎ Magpie

∎ Stone Soup Café

∎ The People’s Pint

∎ Green Fields Market/Franklin Community Co-op

Supper Organizing Committee

Suzanne Carlson, Priscilla Cavoette, Jeanne Dodge, Judy Draper, Adelle Ferreira, Jake Ford, Andy Grant, Emily Greene, Norm Hirschfeld, Shirley Holmes, Kristen Leavitt, Jay Lord, Mary McClintock, Paul Moe, Crista Reed, Wisty Rorabacher, Dino Schnelle, Garth Shaneyfel, May Siano, Suzette Snow-Cobb, Marsha Stone, Evelyn Wulfkuhle and Maggie Zaccara.

Savor Summer’s Bounty

Zucchini nachos

By Dale Moss, Buckland

Recently, while trying to figure out a use for the annual zucchini bounty, I came up with the following recipe for a light supper. It’s easy, simple, quick, and a way to sneak extra veggies into a kid’s (or husband’s) meal.

1 zucchini per person, thinly sliced


Cheddar cheese, grated

Heat and oil a cast iron skillet. Add zucchini slices, seasoned with herb salt and pepper, and saute lightly until slightly browned but still crisp. Remove from heat. Dot with salsa, then cover with grated cheese. Run under the broiler for a few minutes until cheese melts.

Cold beet borscht, now and later

By Robbie Lauter

3 large beets, peeled

½ C. lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

5 C. water

1 tsp. sugar

Salt & white pepper

Cut beets into chunks, then chop in food processor. Simmer chopped beets with half the lemon juice (¼ C.) and ½ tsp. salt in the 5 C. water for 40 minutes. Add remaining ¼ C. lemon juice and chill. Note that this will be quite thick. Before serving, thin the soup with cold water, approximately 1 part water to 2 parts borscht concentrate, add salt and pepper to taste. It is traditional to add a dollop of sour cream or plain yoghurt to each bowl (which also turns the soup a fabulous magenta color). The borscht concentrate freezes perfectly, just thaw and add the extra water before serving.

Spaghetti Squash with Bacon, Spinach, and Goat Cheese

By Amy Moscaritolo, Greenfield (adapted from Christine Byrne’s

Serves 2

1 medium spaghetti squash

1 T. olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

6 slices bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 T. red wine vinegar

1 T. maple syrup

5 ounces spinach

2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400°F and line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut about half an inch off top and bottom of spaghetti squash, and discard those pieces. Cut squash crosswise into rings about 1-inch thick, and run your knife around inside of rings to cut the seeds out. Drizzle olive oil over baking sheet, then spread squash rings over it, moving them around a little so the undersides are evenly coated with a little bit of oil. Season with salt and pepper, then flip rings over and season again. Roast in preheated oven until squash is tender, about 30 minutes. When squash is done, set it aside while you cook bacon and spinach. It’ll be easier to handle if you let it cool for 10 minutes before taking it apart. Heat large skillet over medium heat, then add bacon slices. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, just until the very edges of the bacon start to brown slightly, about 2 minutes. Turn heat down to low and continue to cook until bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered out, about 5 more minutes. When bacon is done, turn heat up to medium and add red wine vinegar while stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet. This will deglaze your pan, so that all of the caramelized bits of bacon end up in your food and not stuck to the bottom of your pan. After about 20 seconds, turn heat back down to low and add maple syrup. Stir everything together just to combine, then add spinach, one handful at a time, stirring after every addition so spinach wilts and there’s room in your skillet for more. When all of the spinach is wilted, turn burner off under skillet and let everything sit in there while you finish the squash. Peel the skin away from squash, then use a fork or your hands to pull the strands apart, adding them to the skillet as you go. When all of the squash is in the skillet, add the goat cheese and toss everything together just to combine. Divide between two plates and serve immediately.

Note from Amy: I used a large spaghetti squash, upped the spinach and a whole 5 oz. thing of goat cheese. Fed four of us, with enough leftover for a little lunch the next day. Totally a keeper!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

By Sandy Clark, Shelburne Falls

This is a way to get vegetable into kids and let them eat it as a dessert.

4 eggs

3 C. sugar

1½ C. oil

3 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate squares, I use Bakers Baking Chocolate

melt all 3 squares and cool

3 C. flour

1½ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

3 C. shredded zucchini

1 C. finely chopped nuts, optional

1 C. semi-sweet chocolate bits for the top of the batter

In a bowl, beat eggs until thick. Add sugar, beat. Add oil and melted chocolate, beat. Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda in separate bowl. Add to egg mixture. Beat on low until combined. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Pour into greased and floured pan 10” tube or a 14” by 10½” pan. Sprinkle 1 C. chocolate chips on top of batter before you bake it. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 65-75 minutes or until pick comes clean. If using darker colored pan, bake at 325 degrees.

“To Everything There is a Season”

By David Fersh, Charlemont

I’m writing in response to your request for recipes using our great local summer produce. When I first moved up here six years ago, you published a meal of mine which used fall foods, particularly root veggies. I called it Rootsy-Tootsy and the column still sits taped and yellowing in my cupboard.

This time, I offer a very simple meal for which I employed what was on hand. I always try to use up perishables and not waste, which often leads to pleasant surprises! I’ve read that Caesar Salad was created by the emperor’s chef who scoured the French countryside during a campaign, and found the ingredients for that classic dish. The beauty of summer eating is that so many combos of fresh, local items are possible.

I call my dish “To Everything There is a Season”… it’s less a recipe than a concept, as one may substitute ingredients, amounts, cut-size, and cooking temperature and time (as any good cook will do). The revelation for me was the tomato(e)s which, in season, I ordinarily eat plain, in sandwiches or salads. As these were good, but early ones, I decided to add them to the sauteed dish with wonderful results. I sat relishing each mouthful thinking “I have never eaten food so simple, easily prepared, nourishing and delicious.” I realize my offering is not much to crow about in comparison with more intricate and exciting fare, but it’s that difference which makes it stand out for me. (I make many a more difficult and intriguing dinner). In these “dog days,” we all need less time in a hot kitchen and lighter food.

Prepare and saute in oil (I used canola and sunflower) carrots and celery, then add (yellow) squash and green beans, and, finally, tomatoes minus the seeds and most of the juice. (I used no onions, garlic, or shallots only because I’d been eating them a lot. Usually, they’re first into the pan.) When it’s all cooked to your satisfaction, remove from heat and add fresh herbs* (the “icing on the cake” for us cooks this season). I used tarragon, parsley, rosemary, and thyme — no sage as Simon & Garfunkel weren’t around.

* I have discovered pineapple and chocolate mint, both great in fruit salads and iced teas. I also served the chocolate mint on raspberry cheesecake!! Lavender can be snuck into a number of interesting concoctions. I learned from eating local blueberry ice cream with lavendar how good that is and now add it and blueberries to good vanilla ice cream.