There is a movement afoot in Groton that is aligned with growing sentiment around the country. Although it may seem somewhat corny or radical to some, “buying local” to create and support local businesses and economies is gaining momentum here in New England.
The town of Groton has two active community organizations dedicated to that ideal — Groton Local, and the Groton Board of Trade. Groton Local is a non-profit organization working to reduce energy consumption, promote local agriculture, support the local economy and to ensure sustainability for future generations by becoming locally self-reliant. Certified as a 501C3 non-profit organization, Groton Local has about 60 dues paying members. The organization is a non-partisan group that organizes local events to help raise awareness about the importance of supporting local businesses, and in particular, agriculture.
“We try to celebrate collaboration within the community,” said Groton Local President, Tucker Smith. “We offer opportunities for people to educate themselves, especially about the industrial food complex vs. locally produced foods.”
The group sponsored a showing of the documentary film, “King Corn” which exposes the pervasive use of corn syrup in industrial food production and its ill effects on health. One of the film’s creators, Ian Cheney, attended and there was a lively discussion afterwards about industrially produced food vs. local organic agriculture.
In June, Groton Local partnered with the Groton Grange and the Middlesex County Beekeepers Association to show the film, “Vanishing of the Bees.” The film exposes how important bees are to food production and how the collapse of bee colonies negatively affects agriculture.
Groton Local has a subcommittee called, “Farm to School” — a group whose mission is to educate parents and school children about eating fresh foods and buying locally grown produce. They are working with the Dunstable and Groton school food directors to include more fresh produce in school cafeterias. The group is participating in “Harvest Week” — a state-wide initiative to raise awareness in schools about local agriculture and eating fresh locally produced foods.
Local organic agriculture is growing in Groton. The John Crow Farm on Old Ayer Road is a CSA producer of meat. CSA farming is a new approach to supporting local agriculture. Consumers can buy “shares” from the farm and in return receive organically produced commodities each week. The John Crow Farm raises grass-fed, pasture-raised meat and poultry. Their beef, lamb, pork and eggs are free of hormones, antibiotics, and the factory grains typically fed to industrially produced meats.
John Crow Farm also partners with Gilson Herb Lyceum, which is a CSA “Potager Farm” — a fancy name for a producer of the down-to-earth ingredients that go into soup. Shoppers who visit the Gilson’s farmer’s market can buy locally produced meat, vegetables, herbs, eggs, and other items such as handmade soaps, sauces, and jams.
The Clover Farm Market in West Groton village also offers a wide variety of locally produced foods.
“We try to buy as much local produce as possible,” said proprietor Janice Hurst. “We offer locally produced milk, eggs, jams, honey, maple syrup and more from Stillman Dairy in Lunenburg, Dragonfly Farm in Pepperell, and Twisted Acres in Peterborough.”
Hurst noted that the store is working toward complying with FDA regulations to offer packaged meats.
In addition to its fresh offerings, Clover Farm Market also sells locally made prepared foods, such as breads, spaghetti sauce and locally roasted coffee. The store has a deli which serves breakfast and lunch as well as prepared meals.
“We have wonderful customers who want to support local businesses,” said Hurst. “Having a market like this right in West Groton village adds to the quality of life here.”
Buying local is not limited to just agricultural products. Groton’s Main Street features many locally owned shops. Barbara Scofido, proprietor of the noa Fine Handcrafts and Gift Shop, is a passionate proponent of buying local.
“So much of what is offered in stores now is not even made in the U.S.” said Scofido, whose store features handmade items crafted by local artisans. “Supporting local businesses has a ripple effect because the money spent stays in the community. When you shop at a big box store, all the decisions are made and the profits sent elsewhere.”
Supporting local businesses is the mission of the Groton Board of Trade. Formed in 2010, the Groton Board of Trade is a group of business people living or working in Groton. Its goals are to provide an effective mechanism for advancing Groton’s business community. This includes working closely with town government to generate a business-friendly climate in Groton, providing a platform for spreading the word on the business interests in Groton, and encouraging new businesses to form and move to town.
Board President Michael Rasmussen, an executive at the North Middlesex Savings Bank in Groton, said the group is very parochial.
“We are totally focused on developing the Groton business community,” said Rasmussen. “Our mission is to make Groton a better place to live, shop, work and do business in.”
The board has taken responsibility for organizing the annual Groton Fest, where many local businesses display their goods at exhibition booths.
“The board is looking for ways to help businesses give back to the community,” noted Rasmussen. “Businesses do well when they do good at the local level. When you work side by side with people, you gain their trust and win their business.”
The Groton Board of Trade is open to all Groton residents, and their next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 24 at the Groton Country Club.