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From Nepal to Truro, with love

From Nepal to Truro with love, April 2018 Cape Cod LIFE |

For Bhala and Digree Rai, their time in the garden is truly a labor of love.

A key component in Sustainable CAPE’s mission is to make healthy local produce available to people from every socioeconomic tier, and its basic lesson is that local food is good for the health of both the community and the individual. This message is particularly poignant in a time when 10-packs of nuggets made mostly from factory-farmed corn sell as “chicken” for under $2 while an 8-ounce carton of raspberries goes for twice that. Randolph says, “When we started the farmers’ market, only one level of customer was coming.” Mark Bittman wrote in a 2014 New York Times article that farmers’ markets must overcome the generalization that prices are significantly higher than those in chain stores. He states that while this notion may often hold true, there are frequently bargains available. For example, he writes, “At the Truro Farmers’ Market, I bought lobsters for 40 percent less than they cost in local stores.” Randolph has addressed the issue of pricing by linking with organizations such as Wholesome Wave, whose programs serve to work with doctors to prescribe produce for patients’ health and to double the value of food stamps, or SNAP, at farmers’ markets. Likewise, in partnership with Emerald Physicians, Sustainable CAPE has created the FLAVORx Program, which also allows doctors to write prescriptions for healthy food. Randolph notes that “Patient biometrics are documented, measuring how increased access to fruits and vegetables can impact health.”

Hamlet famously described the world as “an unweeded garden that grows to seed,” and one can only imagine what he would think of modern society with its dubious food products. Fortunately, the local food trend has been gaining traction and allowing people to get back to their roots. “Truro is really taking off,” Randolph says. “We’re selling a lot of food; Digree and Bhala have been instrumental in this work because they offer a tremendous amount of produce.” Even so, demand is outstripping supply as more and more people desire fresh vegetables. Randolph also hopes that the example set by Janice Allee and Ron Singer will inspire others. She asks, “Wouldn’t it be great to have more people who want to have their land farmed?”

After a long battle with cancer, Janice Allee passed away on August 4, 2017, but her husband Ron Singer and the Rai family continue their efforts to keep her vision alive. A visit to Down Home Farm is spiritual; a deep love for family, community and land radiates even in the gloom of a rainy February morning. The warmth of Bhala’s traditional Nepalese tea, prepared with black pepper, seems to foreshadow the rich heat of summer. Throughout the winter, Bhala has been cutting firewood, and he and Digree have begun preparing for the upcoming season. “We will begin planting in March,” Digree says, “in the greenhouse.”

The extended community surrounding the Truro Farmers’ Market has also been invaluable to the success of Down Home Farm. Says Bhala, “Everyone has been really helpful.” For example, though the Rais own no vehicle, Henry Lum of Truro uses his truck to help them transport their vegetables to market. “There’s a real generosity of spirit through this work; everyone involved with the Truro Farmers’ Market has a compelling story,” Randolph says. “And Digree and Bhala are standouts in every way—they are talented growers, with incredible warmth of personality, and they are generous beyond compare.”

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