It’s September, peak harvest season here at Mill City Grows and with it comes our annual celebration of the season – Harvest Festival! This free community event is one of our favorite days of the year, when gardeners, neighbors, food lovers and friends old and new get together and enjoy the taste, sights, smells and delights of the local gardening and farming scene. This year is the 4th Harvest Festival, but the first time it will take place in Lowell’s beautiful North Common Park, also the site of our latest community garden.
So what can you expect to do at Harvest Fest? Taste lots of locally grown and locally made foods, so come hungry! There will be local food demonstrations and samples, each hosted by groups of community gardeners. If you have a sweet tooth, head for the local fruit-flavored shaved ice or fresh pressed apple cider. Those who like a savory treat will enjoy a cup of community-made Harvest Soup, and herbed popped corn. But don’t expect to eat and run – stay and give the cider press a few cranks, or chop some garden fresh veggies to add to the soup pot, and chat up a local gardener while you’re at it.
If the food demos aren’t enough to satisfy your curiosity (and hunger), head over to the food vendor area, where the Mobile Market and other local producers will have all the bounty of the harvest season to offer. From apples to garlic to kale to pumpkins, Mill City Grows Mobile Market can make the simplest or most elaborate farm-to-table dreams come true. For those with a more immediate hunger, a range of food trucks and vendors will be on site: local favorites like Café UTEC, and Spiceventure, plus some new flavors from Fresh Food Generation and others.
To learn more about where all these delicious foods actually come from, check out the garden itself, and hop on a tour with a resident gardener. Though the North Common garden is brand new, the folks who garden there have decades of experience and grow some really amazing crops. On your way out, cast a vote for the People’s Choice garden award, to be announced later in the afternoon.
Entertainment from local celebrities DJ Manny, Brown Boot Boys, and The Party Band will get you up and moving. If you are feeling lucky yourself, swing by the raffle tables (one for grown ups and one just for kids) and take a chance on some delicious prizes.
Activities for the whole family abound – pumpkin painting, apple printing, garden stories, community weaving, DIY pallet gardens, tai chi and garden yoga, a garden petting zoo to name a few. Local artists will be on site, creating original works of creativity, some of which will be up for auction at the end of the day.
Amidst all the activities, don’t forget to say hi to your neighbors near and far – the Harvest Fest has been known to draw a crowd. But above all, relax and enjoy what we hope will be a beautiful fall day in a gorgeous city park, filled with the best crop Lowell’s gardens, farms, schools and markets have to offer: community.
Mill City Grows’ 4th Annual Harvest Festival
Saturday, September 26th
North Common Park, 413 Fletcher St.
Parking at UMass Lowell Fletcher St Lot (enter on Dane St or Whiting St)
If you would like to volunteer at Harvest Fest, send us an email with your interest!
This year’s Harvest Festival would not be possible without the support of our generous sponsors, who continue to keep our event free and open to the public. We would like to thank Microdesk and the Nancy and Richard Donahue Charitable Foundation for sponsoring us at the Farmer Level. At the Grower level, we would like to thank Susan Mitchell and Jim Waldo. Our Gardener Sponsors this year are Enterprise Bank, Align Credit Union, UMass Lowell, the Miracle Providers Northeast, the YWCA of Lowell, Eastern Bank, and Sungevity. We would also like to highlight our Friends of Harvest Fest, including Lowell General Hospital, Woodard & Curran Foundation, Princeton Properties, Whole Foods, Middlesex Community College, the Chowder Factory, Darren End & Bill Reedy, and Market Basket!