The community gathers for the groundbreaking of Fruit Fairs rooftop greenhouse project.
Reminder Publishing photo by Tyler Garnet

CHICOPEE — Fruit Fair Supermarket, located at 398 Front St, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its rooftop greenhouse project on May 31.

Local and state officials and the public attended the event to learn more about the project and benefits of urban agriculture.

The initiative is designed to enhance urban agriculture and promote sustainability within the community. It will transform the roof of Fruit Fair in a productive greenhouse providing fresh, locally grown produce year-round.
Fruit Fair Co-owners Sam and Jared Newell were at the event to express their excitement for the project.

Sam Newell said, “We’re excited to break ground and get going with the project and I hope when everything is all said and done and growing, you guys can come back and check it out. Keep it local, keep it fresh.”

She also talked about what the greenhouse will be able to provide for Chicopee.

Sam Newell said, “It’s been a wild ride. We’re going to start construction and put the greenhouse on top of the roof and grow some fresh produce year-round. We are going to sell some of it in the store itself. We’re going to try and get the HIP program so a lot of people can have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”

The Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program, or HIP, puts money back on your EBT card when you use SNAP to buy healthy, local fruits and vegetables from HIP farm vendors.

The project also aims to inspire other urban centers to adopt similar green practices.

Mayor John Vieau talked more about how the project can set a precedent for others to follow.

“This project is very unique,“ Vieau said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind project, especially for Western Massachusetts and the commonwealth. I believe it will be a model for others to follow so let’s make sure we do it right.”

State Rep. Shirley Arriaga (D-Chicopee) also talked about how this smart thinking is needed to help address food insecurity issues locally and nationally.

She said, “What they’re doing here is really thinking outside the box, it’s commendable. We need more of that; we need more innovative minds to address all the different issues that we are facing in the commonwealth and in the nation.”

Fruit Fair provides fresh, high-quality food to its community and eliminates food insecurity for the area and surrounding underserved communities.

Sam and Jaret Newell bought the supermarket in 2019, but the name has been around a lot longer than that.
Fruit Fair Supermarket is Chicopee’s oldest grocery store and has been around since 1936. It was founded as a small farmstand, offering local produce grown by the owner but slowly expanded to the store it is today.

Fruit Fair Supermarket was recognized as one of the Massachusetts Sustainable Businesses of the Year. Each year, the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts seeks to recognize and celebrate the work of local businesses that embody the mission of building strong economies that are local, green and fair.

State Sen. Jake Oliveira (D-Ludlow) also applauded Fruit Fair for all the hard work they do to help the community.

Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll were at Fruit Fair last year to highlight the work they are doing in Chicopee to ensure people have access to fresh produce.

Oliveira said that urban farming is unique, but the growing of the practice is essential.

“It’s the greater recognition of what we are trying to do in the commonwealth. This legislative session we’ve actually established a committee on agriculture specifically to focus in on the important role that agriculture plays in the economy. Having something that is sustainable on the roof that you don’t have to rely on the weather is beneficial,” he said.

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