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Bits & Bytes: Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations; winter farmers’ markets

"Imagine in the middle of January being able to buy carrots, watermelon radishes, a variety of potatoes grown here in the Berkshires, plus locally produced cheeses and meat. That’s our vision for the winter farmers’ markets. We are experimenting — these are our first farmers markets in January and February, so we need everyone to join us for them to succeed. If each of us buys directly from a farmer, we build the local food economy.” -- Barbara Zheutlin, executive director of Berkshire Grown

Cantilena Chamber Choir:
 Martin Luther King Psalms & Spirituals Open Sing

Lenox — The Cantilena Chamber Choir will present a Martin Luther King weekend Psalms and Spirituals open sing at Trinity Church, 88 Walker St., on Sunday, January 18th at 3 p.m. Special guests include Boston’s Tremont Street Baptist Gospel Choir and the Taconic High School Choir.  Dr. King will be remembered in poems and speeches, but the focus of the program will be a spiritual sing along with the choirs. The choirs will also separately perform works by Alice Parker, Moses Hogan and arrangements of familiar spirituals such as Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel, Oh happy day and Oh Freedom. Words and music will be provided.

The Tremont Temple Gospel Choir.
The Tremont Street Baptist Gospel Choir.

The Tremont Temple Baptist Church was the first integrated church in Massachusetts, and has a rich history as a leader in the Boston area for social justice, evangelism, and human rights. In the 1830s the struggle for social justice was seen in the fight for the abolition of slavery. The churches were at times defenders of the status quo and even charged for seating. In 1838 a group of men led by Timothy Gilbert started the Baptist Free Church. It was “free” in that there was no rent charged for pews, but more important it was for the freedom of all people, being the first integrated church in America.

The Tremont Temple Gospel Choir was founded in 2006 by jazz and Gospel music artist Geoffrey Dana Hicks.  The choir is a multicultural, multiethnic group of singers of diverse ages united in singing together for the glory of the Lord.   The style of their music is predominately Gospel, although some of their repertoire includes blues and contemporary praise and worship music.  They sing at Tremont Temple Baptist Church in downtown Boston once a month, as well as in a variety of concert settings such as each year with the Black History Concert at Tremont Temple.

The Cantilena Choir, now in its 11th season, recently received a Peers grant award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is a recipient of the prestigious Choral Arts New England’s Alfred Nash Patterson Award for unique programming. Cantilena Founder and Director Andrea Goodman also serves as the Music Director for the annual summer Saratoga Choral Festival in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Admission is free of charge but with a suggested donation of $15 per ticket. Trinity Church is located at 88 Walker Street in Lenox. Those interested in more information can visit www.cantilenachoir.org. Phone: 518-791-0185 or email satbchoir@yahoo.com.

— H.B.

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Music and dance to celebrate MLK holiday

Great Barrington — Multi-generational music and dance will highlight the interfaith celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday in South County. The 16th annual gathering will take place on Monday, January 19 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. at the First Congregational Church in Great Barrington.

Young people from Olga Dunn Dance Studio will offer dance and sign-language tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. Students from Railroad Street Youth Project and Multicultural BRIDGE will share their experiences and vision. A student representing Berkshire Center for Justice, Inc. will connect Dr. King’s words with local justice issues.

Luci Leonard from Macedonia Baptist Church will perform a gospel solo, and John Arthur Miller from Christ Trinity Church will lead singing of the hymn and the civil rights anthem. Nancy King from Christ Trinity Church will be the organist.

Clergy participants include the Rev. Charles Van Ausdall (First Congregational Church of Great Barrington), Father Bruce Teague (Our Lady of the Valley Roman Catholic Church), the Rev. Dr. Janet Zimmerman (Grace Church), the Rev. Mattie Conway, and Rabbi Robert Ourach (Hevreh of Southern Berkshire). Other scheduled speakers include Wray Gunn from the Interfaith Committee of Southern Berkshire.

The Southern Berkshire Clergy Association and the Interfaith Committee of Southern Berkshire invite those attending to bring a nonperishable food item for the People’s Pantry.

The interfaith service will start promptly at 12 noon and the reception will begin at 1 p.m. Both will take place in the Parish Hall of the First Congregational Church at 251 Main Street. Early arrival is advised to get seating and to find close parking.

Later on Monday afternoon, Railroad Street Youth Project is hosting a coffee hour from 3 to 4 p.m. at 60 Bridge St. to discuss how Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders have influenced today’s youth.

For more information or questions, contact Vivian Orlowski, Coordinator at the Southern Berkshire Clergy Association: peace@southberkshirefriends.org.

–H.B.

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WinterHarvest
Photo: Jonathan Hankin

Berkshire Grown inaugurates first Winter Markets

Great Barrington — We no longer have to wait for summer to go to the Farmers’ Market. Berkshire Grown will host its first Winter Farmers’ Markets on Saturdays, January 17 and February 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Monument Valley Regi Middle School (313 Monument Valley Road) in Great Barrington. These markets are an extension of Berkshire Grown’s Holiday Farmers’ Markets, which enjoyed record attendance this past November and December, with 2,300 shoppers at the markets in Great Barrington and 2,700 shoppers at the markets in Williamstown. These events feature locally grown and produced foods, plus live music, lunch fare, and activities for children, during months when most farmers’ markets are not open in the region. Admission is free.

“Imagine in the middle of January being able to buy carrots, watermelon radishes, a variety of potatoes grown here in the Berkshires, plus locally produced cheeses and meat,” said Barbara Zheutlin, executive director of Berkshire Grown. “That’s our vision for the winter farmers’ markets. We are experimenting — these are our first farmers markets in January and February, so we need everyone to join us for them to succeed. If each of us buys directly from a farmer, we build the local food economy.”

The January and February markets will showcase the Berkshire winter bounty of apples, pears, celery root, potatoes, carrots, beets, winter squash, leeks, kale, lettuce, onions, garlic, and chard, as well as eggs, grass fed pork and beef, over a dozen different kinds of locally produced cheeses, yogurt, jams, chutneys, pickles, dried herbs, fermented vegetables, cordials, vinegars, cider, maple syrup, honey, and delicious baked goods. Grilled sausages and wood fired pizza with locally grown toppings will be on sale to eat at the festive event.

The January market will feature musical entertainment by Sax O’ Fun and Cosby Gibson. Children’s activities will include hands-on snack-making with Food Adventures and origami with Alison Reisel.

Major sponsors of the Winter Farmers’ Markets include Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), and Williams College. Berkshire Grown received funding from MDAR to promote Massachusetts Grown…and Fresher! at the markets. The Williams College Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program and The Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives support the markets as a community partnership to further incorporate the principles of sustainability into the fabric of campus life. For more information on the college’s ongoing commitment to sustainable food, visit sustainability.williams.edu.

Berkshire Grown is grateful for generous support from the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Co-op Market, Berkshire Organics, Greater Berkshire Agriculture Fund of The Carrot Project, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Kimball Farms, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and Sweet Brook Farm.

Berkshire Grown supports and promotes local agriculture as a vital part of the Berkshire community, economy, and landscape; its mission is to “Keep farmers farming!” Through events, workshops, promotions, advocacy, and education highlighting locally grown and produced food, Berkshire Grown helps to create a thriving local food economy. For more information or to become a member of the nonprofit organization, see berkshiregrown.org or call 413-528-0041.

— D.S.

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