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Edible Arrangements fighting to survive

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Edible Arrangements fighting to survive

Since 2007, Toya Farrar’s Edible Arrangements has been an important fixture in the South Boston community — but recent problems with her landlord could put Farrar’s store out of business.

 According to Farrar, her landlord wants to take back possession of the storefront — a violation of their lease — and in about 30 days she will have to relinquish the unit back to him. While another property is available for lease on East Broadway that Edible Arrangements could possibly relocate.  Farrar must first raise enough money for the move.

 Demonstrating her signature optimism and determination, she decided to “think out of the box” for grassroots ways to raise the requisite funds.

 “I will fight for my business to stay alive,” Farrar said.

 Farrar’s solution is “Operation Relocation,” a plan to sell 2,000 boxes of strawberries for $25 each in just 30 days. Realizing that these are difficult economic times for everyone, she decided on strawberries — over the pineapple, grapes, apples, oranges and cantaloupe that Edible Arrangements also sells — because they are inexpensive and what the store is known for.

 Because Farrar has given so much back to Boston — she donates leftover fruit to Roxbury’s Haley House, hires employees from the Boston Pre-Release Center, and gives away fruit bouquets to families in need during the holidays — she has received an outpouring of community support during this struggle.

 After launching “Operation Relocation” on TouchFM radio, business owners and community organizations have called to ask how they can help.

 “I’m an optimist,” Farrar said, “I have no doubt that this will not happen.

 “This helps me become a better business woman . . . I can’t let one person control my destiny.”

 To purchase strawberries for “Operation Relocation,” visit the store at 613 East Broadway or call at 617-464-2600.

Caitlin Yoshiko Buysse

Head of Mass. Latino political group to step down

The leader of a Latino political group credited with helping elect dozens of Latinos to offices around Massachusetts during the last 10 years announced she is stepping down.

Giovanna Negretti, a founder and current executive director of ¿Oiste?, told The Associated Press she is leaving the group in September to pursue other “professional opportunities,” but declined to elaborate.

“It’s been an amazing ride,” said the Puerto Rican-born Negretti. “It’s been great to see the political growth of Latinos in Massachusetts, but also the political growth of Massachusetts in general. I think we made a difference.”

The 38-year-old helped found the group in 1999, when only a handful of Latinos in Massachusetts held any public offices. Since then, the nonprofit group has trained and supported Latino candidates who have won offices in Lawrence, Springfield and Boston. The group helped launch the political careers of former Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo and eventually became a “go-to group” for many candidates seeking to garner Latino votes.

Under Negretti’s leadership, ¿Oiste?, which means “are you listening?” has also filed voting rights lawsuits in Lawrence and Springfield and helped increase voter registration numbers across the state.

Jose Masso, a former board member of ¿Oiste? and current host of “Con Salsa!,” a 35-year-old Latin music show on Boston University’s public radio station, said Negretti’s efforts directly aided historic gains for Latinos, including last year’s election of Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, the first Latino elected mayor in the Commonwealth.

“She had a vision to move beyond the smallness and get us more involved in civic engagement,” Masso said. “She built coalitions and she did not hold back.”

An aide to former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, D-Boston, who resigned last year after being charged with accepting bribes, Negretti remained fiercely loyal to Wilkerson.

Masso said that experience help ed Negretti build connections between Latinos and African Americans in Massachusetts.

Negretti also remained active in trying to get the Boston Police Department to diversify its high ranking command.

A recipient of the 2008 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, Negretti said she has not ruled out running for office herself.

Associated Press