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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Westchester Local Food Project: Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Community Engagement

Mar 31, 2023 09:31AM ● By Martin Miron
Allison Turcan, founder of nonprofit D.I.G. Farm, in North Salem, has formed the Westchester Local Food Project (WLFP) with a passion to create a more sustainable and equitable food system for the community. After working with Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms in France—which changed her perspective on food, our food system and communities—it became her mission to reconnect communities to the essential values of a local food system, support food justice and combat food insecurity.

“The Project is made up of passionate individuals, including farmers, garden educators, regenerative agriculture believers, herbalists, holistic practitioners, local chefs, self-taught gardeners and marketers, all working together toward a common goal,” says Turcan. They are committed to empowering and educating the community about ways to grow, cook and preserve their own food, with the hope that everyone in Westchester has access to fresh, healthy, locally grown produce.

She explains, “We believe in a future where the community is empowered and educated in building a new, sustainable local food system. That’s why we collaborate with organizations, schools and the community at large, embedding education at every step of the way. By encouraging volunteerism, participation and engagement through educational events, we aim to create a new thriving and equitable local food system for the benefit of all in Westchester.”

WLFP is also committed to closing the gap on food justice in other towns by reclaiming shelf space in food pantries and introducing fresh, locally grown produce and meals made from those ingredients, instead of highly processed foods. In that way they want to make a positive impact on communities and create a better future for generations to come.

The Bedford chapter works with childcare centers and local schools, including Bedford Hills Elementary and Fox Lane’s middle and high schools. A recently added homeschool program is now held on Mondays. During the summer, there are classes on regenerative and permaculture techniques, and WFLP donates food to the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, Community Center of Northern Westchester and Neighbors Link.

A second chapter, in Mount Vernon, has worked with West Help homeless shelter to offer plants for its daycare garden and establish a garden at First Presbyterian Church, a collaboration with church members and a local group Roots and Wings. WLFP also teaches waste-free cooking and cooks leftover produce for food distribution centers using the church’s kitchen.

Turcan hosts popular farmer potlucks where food grown by volunteers using regenerative and permaculture methods is donated and classes are taught. Schools interested in integrating gardening into their curricula can get seeds, seedlings and startup help from WLFP.

Upcoming WLFP events include Foraging Wild Edibles Workshop with Heather Flournoy, of Wild Nearby, at 1 p.m., April 22; Farm-to-Table: Spring Vegetable Salad Dressings, with Chrys Napolitano, owner at Two Wrasslin’ Dogs Farms, at 1 p.m., May 6, and 3:30 p.m., May 7; and Stock Your Pantry for Sustainability: Learn to Cook Plant-Based, with Elisa Bremner, RDN, at 1 p.m., May 13. This season is packed with diverse, enriching cooking classes, foraging expeditions, gardening workshops and more. The expert instructors are passionate local farmers, chefs and specialists that bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to each class. Fun and engaging kid-friendly programs inspire and educate the next generation of food enthusiasts.

Turcan adds, “We’re excited to be a part of this movement towards a more sustainable future, and we invite you to join us on this journey. Together, we can make a difference and create a better future for all in Westchester.”

To support Turcan and her initiatives, donations are welcome at To volunteer, find a full schedule of classes and events, or donate to support WLFP, visit