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Big Y Foods has joined forces with the Student Farm Enterprise to offer local organic produce in one of its stores. The program consists of University of Massachusetts students from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.
Each student farmer is responsible for three types of crops and creates a plan for how best to grow them. The program enables participants to plant, harvest, clean, package and sell the vegetables they grow locally to Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y, a family-owned company that operates 66 stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and employs more than 10,000 employees.
The nearby Big Y World Class Market in Amherst, Mass., carries organic beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, onions, red and gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, and butternut squash, all grown under the program’s auspices. “The high-quality organic vegetables that [the students] grow are a great addition to our organic offerings at the Amherst Big Y,” noted Kevin Barry, the grocer’s director of produce and floral.
Begun six years ago, the program now includes 12 to 15 students per year and has grown to more than 10 markets and thirty-six crops. After graduation, many students go on to work at local farms.
Big Y is one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England.