A Bicycle Built By Lu

By Bill Braun


Photo Courtesy of Bill Braun

I first heard of Lu Yoder through the grapevine. I had been saving and processing vegetable seed by hand with aspirations of better infrastructure, when peer farmers told me “you have to meet Lu.”

Lu’s is a brilliant mind that comfortably navigates through disciplines, from RISD-commissioned public art installations to sailboat construction. Yet his passion for sustainable agriculture and empowering growers has earned him legendary status among local farmers. He not only perceives farming gaps needing to be filled; Lu recognizes the South Coast as an ideal place to re-establish a culture of local food. “The Portuguese elders in New Bedford and Fall River are the original urban farmers,” he noted, “and yet their grandchildren are at high risk for diabetes. A small step toward celebrating this incredible heritage—growing and eating healthy food, and the vigorous exercise that goes with raising it—will be a giant step forward for the health and happiness of our community.”

Among his many creations, Lu is well known in the farming community for his bicycle-powered inventions, scaling down the physics of industrial machinery to the pace of a small farm. Why bicycles, when an engine could arguably prove more efficient? Economy of scale, for one—small farms with limited resources can easily adapt Lu’s machines to their operations—but there is an element of community involvement in riding bicycles that generates palpable excitement. “If you told your kid they were going to wash carrots,” Lu remarked, “would they even look up? What if the carrot washer was so much fun to operate that the kids not only washed the carrots, but continued washing them again and again long after the work was done?

The practical use of bike power seems insane in today’s world, but people love it!” In short, bicycle power brings people into the picture where an on/off switch otherwise wouldn’t.

Lu is the recent recipient of a SARE grant (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) for the bicycle-powered seed cleaning machines. The grant allows for the plans and 3-D drawings to be released open-source via Farmhack.org—an online community of farmers worldwide who build and modify their own tools, and share the outcomes with others. The seed cleaning machines enable farmers to process their own seed for saving, as well as grain and dry bean crops intended for sale or consumption.

Farmers have always been creative and innovative, both by necessity and as an extension of working with the land and Mother Nature. Thanks to Lu, that creative potential has the exponential power of a flywheel.

Bill Braun is a vegetable grower and seed saver at Ivory Silo Farm in Westport, MA. You can see (and ride) Lu’s bike-powered seed cleaning machines this fall at the Ivory Silo farmstand on Hixbridge Road.

All Are Welcome in Middleboro

By Kate Strassel


Photo Courtesy of All Are Welcome

When Karen Cook was first developing her plan for All Are Welcome (AAW), a ‘pay-as-you-can’ restaurant, she was unaware that the concept of community cafes was beginning to gain momentum. “At AAW, we developed a model that treats everyone equally, regardless of the ability to donate,” said Cook, with the restaurant now four years in operation.

Community cafes have been providing disadvantaged people and families across the country with low- or no-cost meals since the early 2000s. AAW’s beginnings as a joint mission with The Church of Our Saviour, Episcopal in Middleboro, is typical of many other community cafes that have been started. Ingredients are chosen with a focus on lower fat, sugar, and sodium content—the cafe strives to offer seasonal dishes using the finest ingredients.

Serving two meals a week in Middleboro, the restaurant, unlike a soup kitchen, is a place where all are invited to enjoy a nutritious, home-cooked meal. At the end of the meal, each guest or party is given a meal order slip accompanied by an explanation of the donation process, and a volunteer form. Everyone is invited to donate as they are able—for some, this means paying just as they would in a traditional restaurant; for others, it may be a few dollars, or nothing at all. To ensure that everyone feels equal and welcome at AAW, the bottom portion of the check, the volunteer form, along with any donations are deposited in a donation box when exiting the dining room.

Operating costs are supported by AAW’s two major fundraisers: a 5.5k race, and a family fun day. The 5th annual Run for Your Lunch 5.5k took place on Sunday, January 17. Nearly one hundred participants ran or walked the North Middleboro course and enjoyed a post-race lunch of chowder and fresh bread (lunch was also open to non-participants who purchased tickets). In June, Beans and Brews Family Fun Day makes a return for its second year with carnival games, a barbeque lunch, an Equal Exchange iced-coffee station, vendor booths, and a Home Brew beer tasting and voting (the highlight of the 2015 event).

Cook is thrilled to be celebrating AAW’s fourth anniversary in March 2016. She has plans to expand the restaurant’s marketing efforts to encourage more of the public to sample the menu at the two-meals-a-week restaurant.

For more information about All Are Welcome, including many volunteer/donation opportunities and upcoming events, visit their website and Facebook page.

Lunch: Thursdays 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Breakfast: Saturdays 7:30 am – 11:00 am

All Are Welcome
64 Union Street
(inside The Church of Our Savior)
Middleboro, MA 02346
(774) 419-3982

Kate Strassel is a freelance writer, editor, and a longtime advocate of local farms and seasonal eating. She is also the communications coordinator for Old Colony YMCA.


Let Them Eat Pork*

By Sam Vandewater


Photo: © Michael Hart

What event has invested the most in working with and promoting responsibly raised heritage breed pigs? Cochon555! Launched in 2008, the event was created as a platform for farmers to educate chefs, for restaurants to source exceptional ingredients, and to showcase responsibly raised proteins to consumers. It is a nationwide culinary tour, competition, and event that collaborates with farmers, chefs, and consumers to broaden knowledge of heritage breed pigs.

In January 2016, the South Shore became home to pork royalty when a pig from Brown Boar Farm (BBF) won Cochon555’s kick-off event in New York City. Marshfield farmer, Peter Burrows, and his family who operate BBF, partnered with Chef Angie Mar of the famed West Village Beatrice Inn in New York City for the competition. “It was just so extremely exciting for us because Cochon555 is an organization that is completely aligned with what we do as farmers,” said BBF’s Meaghan Burrows Swetish, who enjoys working with an event that shares similar values, “and to have our pig win was the icing on the cake.” The Cochon555 US Tour produces pork-filled competitions between teams of chefs and farmers with a focus on ‘heritage breed pigs’ and all their parts. Each event pits 5 chefs, 5 pigs, and 5 wineries against each other to create six distinct dishes, judged by chefs and eventgoers. Snout-to-tail recipes abound, guests can taste succulent pork in all its forms and each event uses locally raised pigs, creating a mouth-watering environment for enthusiastic locavores.

Conceived by founder Brady Lowe as an “ultimate quest of flavor”, the national tour makes ten stops, including major cities like New York, San Francisco, Miami, and Los Angeles, with winning chefs traveling to Aspen in June to compete for the ‘King or Queen of Pork’ title in the Grand Cochon finale.

Cochon555 events cook up an innovative approach to spread the word about heritage breed pigs. The competition and tastings along the US tour offers guests a hands-on lesson about the farms and farmers—who work strenuously to raise their pigs conscientiously.

Cochon555 also works with culinary schools to advance awareness of heritage breed pigs, leading to droves of new chefs who expect the distinctive flavor of happily raised pork to star on their menus. This has also helped support and grow a national network of farmers who raise meat humanely.

Maybe the most innovative aspect of Cochon555 is using the whole pig, not merely select parts, to create culinary art. Brady Lowe says about the competition, “It’s about planning every inch of pig fat, skin, ear, and muscle before making the first incision.”

Ultimately, the event lets farmers, chefs, and foodies relish the flavors only a heritage breed pig can yield, truly in all its glory.



*Title taken from name of a dish created by Chef Angie Mar using a BBF heritage breed pig during the New York event.

Sam Vandewater just returned to the South Shore after studying in Cape Town, South Africa for two years. He has been enjoying the local foods he missed while continuing to learn more about the new foods he discovered through his travels.

Kristi Marsh Taking Nontoxic Living Mainstream

By Elle Maynard


Photo courtesy of Kristi Marsh

Toxins. Certainly not an uplifting topic to bring up in conversation. Local author and advocate, Kristi Marsh understands. She also realizes the importance of educating the mainstream about the potential dangers posed by the overwhelming presence of toxins in many food, personal care, and cleaning products.

As a 35-year-old mother of three, Kristi was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. Using this health crisis as a turning point, she has risen to become a nationally recognized and celebrated advocate for what she refers to as “personal environmental health”. Determined to dash the doom-and-gloom cloud that hovers over the term toxins, Kristi authored the award-winning book, Little Changes: Tales of a Reluctant Home Eco-Momics Pioneer, founded the organization Choose Wiser, and used her story as a platform to educate and empower others to take positive steps towards nontoxic living.

Most recently, Kristi launched the Savvy Women’s Alliance (SWA), a nonprofit welcome wagon for the curious. It provides members with easily accessible and reliable resources, “to ensure that every woman who wants to learn, participate, and make a difference—whether a beginner or passionate change-maker—has a home to do just that.” SWA’s unique strategy combines online communities, with local on-the-ground chapters.

The Alliance is guided by dedicated founding board members, insightful advisors, and founding non-profit partners that include Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Silent Spring Institute, Women’s Voices for the Earth, Safer States, and Made Safe. A band of writers selected for their willingness to step out and share personal stories as well as their ability to craft messages appealing to a broad audience, provides much of the content. According to Marsh, “SWA connects women eager to make a difference with companies making safe products and food.”

Kristi is one of us: Cancer survivor, wife, friend, mom, consumer. Determined not to let circumstances define her, she’s expanded her knowledge, broadened her reach, and is leading the charge to create real and positive change in the lives of many.

Ready to join Kristi? Sign up as a member the Savvy Women’s Alliance, follow them on Facebook, or get involved in one of the local chapters being established country-wide. There’s a place for you at Savvy!


Elle Maynard resides on the South Shore with her husband, two teenage sons, and two middle-aged dogs. She actively attempts to reduce toxins in her family’s life, and figures that if she must carry plastic, her Library Card not her ATM card, should be the most utilized plastic in her wallet.