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Mill City Grows to present third annual Harvest Festival

Marlon Pitter
Connector Editor

For the third year in a row, Mill City Grows invites the Lowell community to take part in their annual Harvest Festival. With free food, fun and games to abound Saturday afternoon, the local non-profit organization dedicated to “food justice in Lowell” aims to have their biggest turnout to date.

Harvest Festival will feature some of the organization’s farmers’ markets, local vendors and apple cider pressing, as well as information about sustainability, healthy lifestyles and more. The event will be friendly to attendees of all ages, including games and crafts for kids and raffle prizes for children and adults alike.

Mill City Grows co-founder Lydia Sisson says that Harvest Festival was designed to expose people to the work the organization does regularly, from increasing food access in Lowell to educating city residents about organic food.

“Harvest Festival is a lot of people coming together to celebrate the hard work we do producing local food,” says Sisson.

Since its inception in late 2011, Sisson says, the city of Lowell has embraced Mill City Grows with open arms. “The city has been great to work with,” she said. “All of our community gardens are on city-owned property, and even private land owners have allowed us to use some of their space.”

Sisson says the community’s response to Harvest Festival and Mill City Grows is part of the reason why they continue to operate and put on events.

“We had about 500 people attend Harvest Festival last year and about 250 the year before that, our first year,” said Sisson.

As well as great local food, fun and games, other local organizations and businesses will make their presence felt at Harvest Festival, including Girls Inc., the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell, United Teen Equality Center (UTEC), Lowell Parks & Recreation, Brew’d Awakening, Sweet Lydia’s and more.

Mill City Grows employee Alexander Desrosiers says UMass Lowell students should attend Harvest Festival for a multitude of reasons, and it’s more than just free stuff.

“Students should come out to meet other people in the community, celebrate the end of harvest and definitely to try some new foods,” says Desrosiers.

Preparation for Harvest Festival is so extensive, according to Desrosiers, that the entire organization turns its undivided attention to it in the days leading up to the event.

“We stop everything to get ready for Harvest Festival,” said Desrosiers. “We totally change gears.”

Additionally, there are numerous ways for students to get involved with both Harvest Festival and Mill City Grows, according to Sisson, including service learning, co-ops, internships and research opportunities.

“[Working with Mill City Grows] is just a tangible way to be connected to the city you live in,” she says.

Harvest Festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Rotary Club Park, located at 10 Chase St. in Lowell, Massachusetts. The event is free and open to the public. For more information on Harvest Festival or Mill City Grows, visit

Marlon Pitter is a former editor-in-chief of the UMass Lowell Connector. Hailing from Hartford, Conn., he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in journalism and professional writing and a digital media minor in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @marlonpresents.

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