Hardwick, News

Atkins Field Meal Builds Community

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HARDWICK — Volunteers and members of the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) hosted community meals at Atkins Field on Monday, June 24, and the following week, on July 1.

photo by Colin Anderson
Katherine Arnold contemplates a response at the Center for an Agricultural Economy’s “River of Life” event, Monday, July 2 at Atkins Field. The weekly Monday supper offered attendees the chance to share their reminiscences about Atkins Field and ideas for its future.

Behind the grill on June 24, Reeve Basom and CAE intern Finn Atwood were kept hard at work grilling and cheesing burgers and hot dogs, which were offered free of charge for attendees to enjoy, accompanied by a wide selection of sauces and toppings located at the build-a-burger buffet section.

Bethany Dunbar, Hayley Williams, Ally Howell, Kate O’Neill and other community connections team members for the CAE assisted in preparing and producing the community barbecue.

Following the barbecue, attendees were invited to partake in an art activity to bring unique pieces to life. They will be used to adorn the community garden at Atkins Field.

The next week’s meal was pulled pork sandwiches accompanied by coleslaw, potato salad, garden salad, other sides and assorted cookies.

Approximately 30 people joined for the meal, then many stayed for an event billed as “River of Life Storytelling” in which small groups told stories about how Atkins Field has affected them.

“The nonprofit Center for an Agricultural Economy has been stewarding the Atkins Field community green space for 16 years. This land has been a key to Hardwick’s economic and community life for much longer than that,” an open invitation noted.   

Those who gathered added notes to sections of the paper that would become the giant River of Life poster with stories from the community’s past along with dreams and goals for the future.

Those joining the community for these meals have an opportunity to use locally famous plates that, for two weeks in May of 2017 held an unofficial world record for the most dishes simultaneously washed by hand. Then, “a soapy scrum of 346 people gathered    . . . to break the Guinness World Records’ mark for the most people simultaneously washing dishes by hand,” reported Seven Days. That group surpassed an earlier record of 300 people set the previous year in the Philippines, but the record was broken again just two weeks later, before it was officially verified.

The community barbecue will be held under the Atkins Field pavilion every Monday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the remainder of the summer. The CAE encourages community elders, and youth (and all other ages) to attend.

Megan Cane

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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