The Local Food Report | WCAI

The Local Food Report

Elspeth Hay

I first met Roe Osborn on a cold January evening at a WCAI pub night. Today, it’s hot and rainy, and we’re standing outside looking at a patch of leafy plants in his garden.

The last time that we spoke, he was excited about celery.

Elspeth Hay

I’ve been thinking about how long it takes to really get to know a place. Take the wild cherries, for instance.

Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust

Stephanie Morningstar is coordinator for the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust. The group started in 2017 as an informal alliance between farmers of color at Soul Fire Farm and Wildseed Farm in New York and Global Village in Grafton, Massachusetts. 

Elspeth Hay

When Dave Ross bought his first cranberry bog in the 1980s, the berry plants were over a hundred years old. In fact, most of the cranberry bogs in the area were built in the mid to late 1800s.

Liz Lerner

For decades, Anne Averill has been researching how our agricultural systems impact native bees. More specifically, she's been studying the diversity and abundance of bumblebees for 30 years now. 

Elisabeth Swan, 2017

Here’s what I know about asparagus: it’s delicious, usually green, and, most importantly for us, my friend Scott Britton grows it in North Falmouth. But his doesn’t look anything like the tidy bundles you find in the supermarket. And it sure doesn’t taste like supermarket asparagus—which is exactly what led Scott and his wife Liz to growing their own. It all started when  some friends gave them some wild asparagus….

Elspeth Hay

The other day, my girls and I visited our friend Stephen Spear at his pick your-own blueberry farm in Dennis. He walked us out to the woods alongside the fields, where a box of bumblebees had just arrived from Michigan.

A Local Food Economy That Works like an Apple Tree

May 21, 2020
Sam Willsea

Alice Maggio got interested in economics because of the local food movement. Her family had always kept sheep. And when she read Michael Pollan’s groundbreaking book the Omnivore’s Dilemma, she saw that this small act was part of something bigger.

Elspeth Hay

We’ve been talking recently on the Local Food Report about honeybees—why we need them, what challenges they face, and what local beekeepers, farmers, and citizens are doing to safeguard them. But native insects that act as pollinators are also part of this conversation. 

Elspeth Hay

I first tasted milkweed a few years ago. I was at Ceraldi in Wellfleet—a restaurant known for its focus on hyper local ingredients— and I tried the plants’ shoots. They were bright and snappy and so gloriously green-tasting that I wanted to learn more. Co-owner and chef Michael Ceraldi explains what Asclepias syriaca, or Common Milkweed is.

Elspeth Hay

With many restaurants shuttered and others limited to take-out, we’re eating and cooking at home more than ever before. Plus, there’s panic buying. For some local food sectors, this has meant an increase in business, for others, a steep decline. But across the board, it means meant change. Eric Glasgow runs Grey Barn Farm on Martha’s Vineyard, which includes a general farm stand and a specialty cheese operation that also wholesales to grocery stores. He explains how supply chain disruptions are happening.

Elspeth Hay

Back in the 1980s, the Eastham Historical Society started an oral history project. Interviewers recorded dozens of old timers—people who had been in town since the early 1900s. Some were early summer people, others had been here for generations. In almost every single interview, the people from Eastham mention asparagus. Asparagus was a big industry in town in the 1920s and 1930s. This week’s piece weaves local voices together, to tell the story of what asparagus season during this time was like. 

Courtesy Scott Lindell

For years, Scott Lindell has been interested in a big idea, food from the ocean that could feed the masses. 

He started with farmed striped bass. Then he moved on to shellfish. These days, he’s researching seaweed.

Elspeth Hay

Now that it’s getting warmer out, I’ve been checking my foraging spots. I’ve got two for stinging nettles and one for watercress but I’ve been wondering—what else could I be getting? So I put out a call to my foraging friends. Are you going out? I asked. What are you finding? The voicemails started coming in.

Elspeth Hay

Will Bonsall and I are standing in a small, dusty room that overlooks his 85 acre farm. Shelves run from floor to ceiling, and they’re filled with thousands of carefully organized and labeled packets. Bonsall is in his seventies, and he’s has been collecting and propagating seeds since he was a young farmer.

Elspeth Hay

Sarah Reynolds North is marking time with bread. She starts each night around 10pm.

It’s a late night feeding of special sourdough. Her kids are asleep and she’s alone in the kitchen. It's just one little step before bed for her daily bread.

Wikimedia commons

Until a few generations ago in most cultures, food stores got low this time of year. Newfoundlanders still refer to the long and hungry month of March; further south the Cherokee word for February is kagali, or the Hungry Moon. To see us through, Barnstable gardener Dave Scandurra recommends Jerusalem artichokes. He first told me about the roots this fall.

Migratory Beekeeping

Mar 12, 2020
Peter Nelson

Twenty-five hundred miles away in California right now, a million acres of almond trees are blooming. And migratory honeybee keepers from all over the country—including those from eastern Massachusetts—are there with their hives, paid to show up and pollinate. When documentary film producer Peter Nelson first learned this, he was fascinated.

Sustainable Nantucket

Nantucket is one of the most expensive zip codes in the country. It’s also highly protected— roughly forty percent of the island’s acreage is in permanent conservation restrictions.

But, according to Dan Southey, a new farmer on the island, “nobody can buy land to farm on Nantucket.”

Elspeth Hay

There’s a flu going around. Hacking coughs, sore throats, noses running faster than the cheeks they crown. In our house we’re fighting it every way we can: with summer-dried teas of foraged blackberry leaves and rosehips steeped with local honey. With ice-cold smoothies made from last year’s frozen peaches and mulberries. And of course, chicken soup.


After the Cold War Cuba was forced to grapple with a series of agricultural crises when their industrial system suddenly lost access to chemical fertilizers, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In 2014, MDAR Commissioner at the time Greg Watson traveled to Cuba to study the takeaways from this country’s reluctant experiment.

Elspeth Hay

It’s that time of year again. Seed catalogs are pouring in through the mail, and home gardeners are plotting and planning for the growing season ahead. It’s fun, but it can also be overwhelming. This year, rather than muddle my way through alone, I decided to talk with someone a bit more experienced. I met master gardener Celeste Makely in her home greenhouse, and she told me what seeds she’s planting this year.

Elspeth Hay

Brent Hemeon has five acres in Harwich. And everywhere you look, there are apple trees.

He has around 175 of them. He started his garden in 1990, but then it got big. "Too big,” he says.

Elspeth Hay

People don’t typically think about eating nuts that grow in our local woods. Before Europeans arrived, the forests of Cape Cod were more diverse. Stands of nut-bearing hickories, walnuts, beeches, chestnuts, and hazelnuts—all rich food sources—were much more common. Mashpee Wampanoag food activist Danielle Hill says that her people still use and remember these foods.


It’s seed ordering time again. While the cold blows in under the doors and through cracks in the windows, the catalogs pour in through the mail. And it’s time to start thinking about this year’s gardens. What are we going to plant? Well, together with his wife, Peter Staaterman runs Longnook Meadows Farm in Truro, and he has an idea.