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From TSL: Volunteering on the Farm is Cool – Even When It’s Hot Out

Weather in Boston has cooled down (thanks to a few rainy days) since our first heat wave of the year nearly two weeks ago. Most New Englanders made sure to stay inside and enjoy the air conditioning, while quite a few headed to the nearest lake, beach or pool. The Public Service Committees of the Environmental Law and New Lawyers Section, however, were braving the sweltering heat on one of the hottest days of the year to spend three hours on a farm, volunteering with the Food Project’s “Serve & Grow Program.”


TSL has posted on The Food Project, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting urban and suburban sustainable agriculture before, but here’s a quick rundown. The program is essentially split into two parts:

  •  The Youth Program, where teenagers from Greater Boston and the North Shore cultivate farmland, participate in workshops, work with hunger relief organizations, and lead volunteers in the fields.
  • Serve & Grow Program, where volunteers help the Food Project achieve their mission by visiting our farms to help tend the fields planting, weeding, harvesting, washing vegetables, and preparing beds.

Naturally, after hearing about this volunteer experience, TSL wanted to know more, so we touched base with Staci Rubin of Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), who serves as Co-Chair of the Environmental Law Public Service Committee to learn more about the experience.

1)      Why did you choose The Food Project as a volunteer opportunity?

We chose to volunteer at the Food Project because we wanted to continue the BBA’s practice of supporting The Food Project’s work and exposing the legal community to a rewarding community service opportunity.  One recommendation of the BBA’s Sustainability Task Force was that a group from the BBA volunteers annually at The Food Project.  The Food Project manages 40 acres of farmland in Eastern Massachusetts (Beverly, Boston, Lincoln, and Lynn), primarily through the work of young people and volunteers.  At the West Cottage farm in Dorchester, we had the opportunity to help maintain crops that will be sold to farmers’ markets and donated to hunger relief organizations.  This event was a nice follow-up to the urban agriculture brown bag lunch on February 28 sponsored by our committee.

2) What was your experience like?

We began the day learning about the food system: the process of getting food from the earth (through cultivation, production, transportation, distribution, and consumption) to people.  The youth from The Food Project led us in a series of exercises to learn facts about the farm bill, worker conditions, and the average price growers get for producing a pound of food.  We then divided into groups to focus on weeding and maintaining the pathways between beds.  We spent three hours working the land, with plenty of time for water and food breaks.  We then had a short closing conversation to reflect on the day.   A highlight for me was meeting new people and engaging in good conversations while weeding the beet beds.  The aroma from the nearby chives and hot sun provided the perfect setting for a morning on the urban farm.

Kudos to our volunteers for their commitment to continuing the hard work of the BBA Sustainability Task Force and working with a community initiative that increases the accessibility of fresh produce to low income families. On a 91 degree day, no less.

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Environmental Law Committees

  • Air Quality and Climate Change Committee
    This committee reviews federal and local air pollution control, including source permitting, air quality planning, transportation planning, compliance monitoring, hazardous air pollutants and indoor air pollution.

    Contact Information

    Marilyn Levenson

    Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

    Aladdine Joroff

    Harvard Law School

  • Energy and Telecommunications Law Committee
    This committee addresses regulatory and related issues affecting the natural gas, electric and telecommunications industries in Massachusetts — on the federal level and in other jurisdictions. Members typically practice before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and state and federal courts.

    Contact Information

    Jamie M. Tosches

    Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

    (617) 727-2200

    James M. Avery

    Pierce Atwood LLP

    (617) 488-8125

  • Environmental Law Public Policy Committee
    The BBA is very active in legislative and regulatory changes. Environmental attorneys are asked to lend their expertise.
  • Environmental Law Public Service Committee
    This committee has a number of annual service events including planting trees for Earth Day and volunteering with the Food Project. The committee also focuses on practice-specific pro bono projects and brown bag programming.

    Contact Information

    Mina S. Makarious

    Anderson & Kreiger LLP

    (617) 621-6525

    Korrin Petersen

    Buzzards Bay Coalition

    (508) 999-6363

  • Environmental Litigation Committee
    This committee focuses on Chapter 21E, CERCLA, insurance, clean air and clean water litigation.

    Contact Information

    Seth Schofield

    Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

    (617) 727-2200

    Katherine Kimball

    Ball Corporation Headquarters

    (303) 460-2589

  • Hazardous and Solid Waste Committee
    This committee informs members about issues relating to federal and Massachusetts laws governing oil, hazardous materials and hazardous waste, including CERCLA and Chapter 21E.

    Contact Information

    Bonnie Heiple

    Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

    (617) 526-6745

    John D. Beling

    Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

  • International Environmental Law Committee
    This committee is for members interested in international environmental issues and the laws of foreign countries.

    Contact Information

    Stuart L. Canton

    (781) 652-0135

    Cicely Ott Parseghian

    Foley Hoag LLP

    (617) 832-3038

  • Steering Committee
    The leadership committee of the Section organizes programs and discusses policy. To inquire about opportunities, please contact the Section Co-Chairs.
  • Wetlands, Waterways and Water Quality Committee
    This committee keeps members abreast of changes in local, state and federal statutes, regulations and by-laws relating to discharges to surface water, groundwater and wastewater treatment plants.

    Contact Information

    Rebekah Lacey

    Anderson & Kreiger LLP

    (617) 621-6500

    Margaret M. Callanan

    Executive Office of Environmental Affairs

    (617) 626-1146