Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Northeast Harvest, North Shore Community College, North Shore Arts and Theatre

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Northeast Harvest…Your guide to Fresh Food Grown Locally

Northeast Harvest is a collaborative venture of the Essex Agricultural Society and the Essex National Heritage Commission. These two organizations have joined together to help sustain the farmers and the other agricultural producers of Essex and Middlesex Counties. Together we are working with many other local organizations as well as individual growers in the region to highlight the number and variety of farms and food products that are available in northeastern Massachusetts. To put it simply, our mission is to help consumers discover, enjoy and support the farmers and local agriculture in this part of the State of Massachusetts.

In northeastern Massachusetts, within a 35 mile radius north of Boston, there are hundreds of local farms producing a wide variety of fresh products, You can find a wide variety of fruit and berries, vegetables, cheese, honey ice cream and baked goods as well as unique products like llama wool and rare varieties of flowers. For more information on this collaboration please visit the web site at At that site you can also sign up for a periodic newsletter that provides current information on the farms and products of the region. Also it seems appropriate at this time to once again remind you that the Topsfield Fair that is offered at this time each year by our partner the Essex Agricultural Society is in full swing from now through the Columbus Day weekend. Visit the Fair this week to get a first hand flavor of the products offered by the farmers of this region.

North Shore Community College to Break Ground for a New Building

On October 29, 2009 on the Danvers campus of the North Shore Community College, the College will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the newest addition to the campus. The college has recently secured funding to build a new Health Professions and Student Services Building on the campus that is located just off Rt. 95 in Danvers. The new building will add to an already busy campus that along with the other college campus in Lynn is experiencing substantial growth in the number of students attending classes. Due in part to expanding programs and to the difficult economic times, the number of attending students has grown to a record enrollment. In the last year alone, the college has seen the enrollment of students in degree programs increase by almost 1000 students. The groundbreaking for the new Health Sciences building will also bring attention to the plan to make this new building one of the first in the State to produce more energy than it consumes. The new facility will be a model of green technology complete with solar panels, wind turbines and rainwater harvesting. While the funding for the construction of the new building is in place, there will still be a need to raise additional funds to furnish the building before an official opening. The college received substantial funding from the Commonwealth, but like all other public colleges in the State only a portion of the needed funding comes from public sources, and there always remains a need to raise private funds. The College has established the North Shore Community College Foundation to help with that task, and I am pleased to serve on that Board. The College has recently announced that it will be undertaking a major gifts campaign over the next several months to complete the furnishing of the new building. For more information on this project contact Sandra Edwards, Vice president of Institutional Advancement at sedwards@northshore,edu. Essex Heritage is proud of the partnership that it has established with the North Shore Community College and will continue to work with the College as it improves this region through education.

North Shore Music Theatre Facility Foreclosed

It was particularly sad to see that a foreclosure auction was held recently at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly. It was not surprising to see that the lead bank in the consortium of financial institutions that held the mortgage on the property was the successful bidder at the foreclosure sale. In similar cases where the outstanding debt is so high, potential bidders are usually content to wait until after a financial institution has total control of a facility before beginning an exploratory attempt to acquire the property from the financial institution. I do not have any inside information, but the region can only hope that there might be an arts or theatre group in the area who might begin discussions with the new property owner to learn if some kind of deal can be struck. The loss of the theatre in Beverly has created a major void in the arts and theatre world in this region and it would be most positive to learn that there is a local group somewhere preparing an approach to bring theatre back to the region. The Essex County region is poorer for the loss of the North Shore Music Theatre and hopefully in the near term, a local group will surface with a new plan. Essex Heritage long ago recognized the need for the arts and for the kind of entertainment offered in this region, and maybe positive news on this front will be forthcoming.

As always your questions, comments and observations about the work of Essex Heritage or about anything that you see in these postings are most welcome. I can be contacted at Thanks Tom Leonard

1 comment:

  1. To be correct, the Essex Conservation District started the Buy Local program and when funding ran out, Christine Rasmussen funded the program with her own money for years. Her efforts were successful enough that the program was recognized by the state with a $50,000 grant. With that money alone it was determined she did $250,000 of work promoting farms, providing farmers with information, developing and administrating surveys, paying ENHC staff to update the website and doing displays and speaking with numerous groups. Unfortunately, she also reached out to ENHC to develop a map of farms. The ENHC decided that suddenly they were interested in local farms and even though Mr. Leonard promised Christine that their interest was a one-year effort and they would not compete with her for funding, when the next round of grants were annouced, the Essex National Heritage Commission applied for the funding. After a typical non-profit fight over money, they won and Northeast Harvest was formed which received $100,000 in state funding in two years and has put together a website based in large part on the work that Christine did in finding farms in Essex County and laying the groundwork to move into Middlesex County.

    Christine as a farmer, was dedicated to promoting local agriculture and keeping farms. She devoted a great deal of effort and a huge amount of money to the effort. However, since ENHC has received the promotion money they have iced her out of the program.