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Savoring the Seasons: Variations on a Theme



Tuesday, June 30, 2015
(Published in print: Wednesday, July 1, 2015)

Standing in the buffet line at last Friday’s Franklin County Chamber of Commerce breakfast, I chatted with a woman I’d never met who told me about a community event that’s happened in Athol for the past four years. She talked about gathering donations from local farmers and gardeners, supplementing that with food paid for with donations, and producing a harvest meal for the community. She said they’ve had about 400 people in past years and she’s one of the cooks pulling it all together.

I said, “Wow! That sounds like the Free Harvest Supper!” I’d never heard of the Athol event, and she’d never heard of the Free Harvest Supper in Greenfield, but both meals have a lot in common: diverse segments of the community coming together to prepare and eat a meal and celebrate the bounty of locally grown food … and, more tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini than the cooks can handle!

I look forward to learning about the Athol event and will let you know what I find out.

It wasn’t until we’d served ourselves breakfast and returned to our seats that I realized the woman I’d been talking with was Susannah Whipps Lee, the new state legislator for parts of Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. Susannah was there along with Stan Rosenberg, Steve Kulik and Paul Mark for the chamber’s annual Legislative Breakfast. I am impressed with their smart/hard work on our behalf and am very grateful to be so well represented in state government.

I was at the breakfast in my new role as interim executive director of Franklin County Community Meals Program to promote two upcoming events that support hungry people in our community: the Fill the Belly Bus Food Drive on Aug. 7 and the Free Harvest Supper on Aug. 23. Check out the Franklin County Food & Farms section to learn more about both events.

I sat next to the woman I now think of as my “new big sister,” Amy Clarke, the former director of the Community Meals Program. As we enjoyed the tasty meal, Amy mentioned a dish served for a number of years at the chamber’s Legislative Breakfast. I’d never heard of Devonshire Eggs, but it sounds incredibly rich and luscious.

Of course, I asked Amy for the recipe! She said so many people asked Chamber President Ann Hamilton for the recipe the chamber published it in their newsletter.

The original recipe sounds delicious, and I’m imagining variations of it. What about making something like this with spinach or other chopped greens or crumbled sausage instead of ham? Or a southwest-type version with black beans and salsa? Or a Greek version with eggplant and feta? For generations, people from different cultures have worked with the same basic foods — milk, cheese, eggs, meat, vegetables — and come up with many flavor variations.

Variations on a theme … that’s what I thought when I talked with Susannah about the harvest meal she helps create in Athol and the Free Harvest Supper. Working with the same ingredients of caring for each other and a bounty of locally grown food, we come together as community, across the state and across the world.

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