The Trustees of Reservations organization is best known on the North Shore for the local nature preserves they maintain, from Beverly’s Long Hill to Andover’s Ward Reservation to the beloved Appleton Farms in Ipswich. But The Trustees’ reach extends beyond merely cultivating properties for North Shore residents to enjoy; the organization’s holistic mission has led to their newest endeavor, the impressive 3,200-square-foot demonstration KITCHEN, located in the Boston Public Market.
Founded by the non-profit Boston Public Market Association in partnership with The Trustees, the Boston Public Market is the only all-local, permanent, indoor public market in the nation. More than 38 local vendors offer farm-fresh produce, nutritious prepared foods, and wares from local artisans. “A market like this is long overdue,” says Trustees of Reservations CEO Barbara Erickson. “It’s more than just a commercial space—it’s become a vibrant hub for locals to gather and learn.”
Visitors have The Trustees of Reservations to thank for the market’s educational and cultural offerings; as the market’s lead programming partner, The Trustees “facilitate all programs that take place there,” Erickson explains. “We work with a number of businesses and non-profit entities to plan programming, and many of the programs are delivered directly by The Trustees.” Many of these programs, which include cooking classes, running and walking clubs, and opportunities for nutrition education, take place in The Trustees’ KITCHEN, founded in conjunction with the market in August. “The KITCHEN is a thriving community space that helps promote healthy lifestyles,” says Erickson. The KITCHEN offers dozens of monthly cooking classes and seminars to the public, and many programs are free of charge.
The KITCHEN’s model has been inspired in part by the North Shore’s own Appleton Farms, a Trustees property that offers a rare farm-to-table experience in an age of supermarket shopping. The farm’s Appleton Cooks! program centers on cooking with local, seasonal produce—an approach that many classes at the KITCHEN have adopted. Carolyn Grieco, local chef and founder of Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen, has worked with Appleton Farms for several years to bring sustainable programming to Appleton visitors. Grieco jumped at the chance to extend her classes to the KITCHEN; she explains, “It’s such an amazing space, and a wonderful opportunity to bring my experience with local produce to the city.” Grieco’s monthly workshop teaches participants important skills and methods to carry into their future cooking endeavors, while using seasonal, local ingredients; her winter series featured hearty soups, chowders, and stews. “People have the opportunity to learn hands-on preparation and cooking techniques,” Grieco explains. “By the end, we sit down together to have a wonderful meal that the class has prepared together.” The KITCHEN’s spacious layout is essential to Grieco’s hands-on method; “It’s such a flexible space,” she adds, “We can set up in different ways for different workshops and a variety of class sizes.”
Chef Vanessa Labranche of Project Bread has been another key partner for the KITCHEN, offering a weekly “Fresh, Fast, and Delicious for Less” seminar. Free and open to the public, Labranche’s class highlights healthy recipes and nutrition. “We do a mix of watching and hands-on demonstration,” Labranche explains. “People have the opportunity to ask questions throughout and sample dishes at the end.” Focusing on inexpensive vegetarian meals, the class offers information about appropriate calorie contents, and levels of sodium, fat, and sugar in typical meals. “I try to shake things up, keep the classes interesting and innovative,” says Labranche. “Each class, we learn how to take advantage of the ingredients at the market to create healthy meals.”
Other popular classes include the weekly “Taste of the Season,” sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and “Let’s Talk About Food,” a series of lunchtime discussions about nutrition, agriculture, and food-related issues. “We try to focus the KITCHEN’s programming on fun ways to try local foods in innovative ways,” Erickson notes, “This spring, we have a “DIY Terrarium” class coming up, and a mixology class using shrubs—definitely not your typical cooking class!
While instructors often take advantage of the KITCHEN’s large workspaces and the market’s many edible offerings, The Trustees’ vision for the KITCHEN extends well beyond the preparation of food. “Our holistic approach supports healthy people and a healthy agricultural system,” says Trustees CEO Barbara Erickson, “The KITCHEN is not just a cooking school. We want to get people walking, running, and moving in new, fun ways.” To that end, The Trustees have partnered with outdoor outfitter REI to offer a free, weekly yoga class in the KITCHEN. Open to beginners or experienced practitioners, “our instructors welcome and encourage anyone who wants to join,” explains Leigh Jackson-Magennis, REI’s manager of outdoor programs in New England. “We’ve had a wonderful response from the community and our staff; it’s a great way to add value to the community and extend our partnership with The Trustees.” REI’s motto is, “a life outdoors is a life well-lived,” adds Jackson-Magennis. “We hope our classes will introduce people to fitness and encourage them to stay active outside and indoors.”
A “life well-lived” is the bottom line for The Trustees of Reservations as well. “Our vision is to promote conservation and provide a better life for members of the community,” says Erickson. “With the KITCHEN, we can offer programs that improve wellness and give people access to more local, healthy foods. It’s a true extension of the market, and we’ve received an incredible response so far.” Between opening in August 2015 and January 2016, Erickson estimates that 5,000 people have benefited from KITCHEN programming, and the number is expected to grow: “I look forward to our first full summer,” she adds. “The future looks very positive for the KITCHEN.”
Note: The Trustees welcome new ideas, suggestions, and programming partners; interested parties can visit thetrustees.org or contact email@example.com.
The KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market
6 Congress St.