Categories
Summer 2017

Guest Post: Michelle – The Power of Choice

Michelle David (2017) has been working at The Farm since her freshman year as a volunteer.  We are so lucky to have had her on our team as the Assistant Manager this season. A natural leader with a ready smile and a great work ethic, we are so thankful that she has been able to join us for two seasons in a row.  Below she shares a bit about her time at The Farm over the past 4 years. Enjoy!

A woman kneels with her hands on a yellow bucket of dark harvested "All Blue" potatoes
Michelle with some of our “All Blue” potatoes – post harvest happiness!

The Farm at Stonehill has been a part of my Stonehill experience since freshman year.

 

I first came to the farm as a new freshman, looking for a way to get involved and make new friends.  Little did I know that I would fall in love with the mission of the farm, and find myself as a regular volunteer, a summer farmer as a rising senior, and again now as an alumnus.  The Farm has become a home for myself, where I can see with my own two eyes how much good can come from a small piece of land when people who care about environmental and food justice work together.

Five people gather behind a table at the market to sell yellow buckets of various veggies at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center.
Melissa, Cris, Jackie, a nutrition educator from UMASS extension and Michelle (left to right) set up the greens at our 63 Main St location at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center.

As an English major at Stonehill, I was often times asked why I had taken such an interest in the Farm and agriculture as a whole.  The answer was always fairly simple for me: as someone who eats food, I should be concerned about where my food comes from, how it is produced, and how its production affects others.

A couple of the Farm workers show their smiling faces on a busy day at the market
Michelle is an excellent planter, grower, harvester and people person (at the farm and at the market!).

This summer, I have had the privilege of working more closely with the Mobile Market, which brings fresh produce to two different locations within Brockton.  The market has become one of my favorite parts of the week, as I get to actually meet with the people who receive the crops we grow each week.  I feel the recent addition of the mobile market provides something more that we could not provide by donating all of our produce: the power of choice.  The mobile market provides the opportunity for people to actually choose what they want to eat, and to be able to purchase nutritious food at a reasonable price, rather than receiving donations, which can be quite liberating for people.

A close up on some of the yellow trays of fresh veggies for sale at the market, marked by a blackboard sign with colorful chalk
Farm Fresh Veggies at The Mobile Market!

Overall, I feel that my time at the farm has helped shape who I am today.  I appreciate the natural world around me more than I did before starting to volunteer at the farm.  I have also grown an appreciation for all people who work in the agricultural business, as it is hard, laborious work which often times goes unrecognized and unsupported.  I am also much more aware of my role as a consumer, and the power that I hold in my purchases.  When shopping, I often take into consideration how the food was grown (organically, sustainably, or conventionally) and where it was grown in order to understand how the food I purchase effects communities around me and future generations of people.

A woman sits proudly among colorful bouquets on the shed floor
Michelle is also now one of the main bouquet makers at The Farm.

As I prepare myself to move away from Stonehill, I hope to take what I have learned at the Stonehill Farm and bring it either into my future work, or at the very least into my future home, and to continue supporting organizations that work to ensure that all people have access to healthy food.

“Almost certainly, however, the first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind.” – Norman Borlaug  

A few large yellow sunflowers light up the fields
Sunflowers brightly decorate our fields – attracting pollinators who pollinate our crops and also attracting smiles from the crew and visitors to the farm.
Categories
Summer 2017 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Guest Post: Celia Sees

Six of the Farm helpers gather at one end of the picnic table and use freshly harvested veggies to put together a meal

This summer, we were lucky to have (from left to right) Melissa Mardo (2017), Michelle David (2017), Jackie Lerner (2019), Gianna Desrochers (2019), Alex Pica (2018) and Celia Dolan (2019) on our summer farmer crew – quite the dream team!  For the next few weeks, we will give you and inside peek into what these summer farmers experience working at The Farm through guest posts. 

We will begin with Celia Dolan (2019) who has been an essential member of our team for two growing seasons!

 

One of the Farm crew members enjoys a plate of veggies at sunset on the Farm
Celia and the crew enjoyed a delicious veggie feast together at The Farm in July.

 

 

“Farming is in your blood,” he said.

 

I nodded my head in agreement with Jay McHugh, my distant cousin, whose pig farm I went to visit last weekend.  Well, I’m not sure that it can be called a pig farm considering pigs no longer live there.  In fact, it is hardly even a farm.  Weeds have taken over, the barns have dilapidated, and equipment has rusted.  For decades, miserly developers tried to buy the land from Jay and his father; a few times they stooped low enough to attempt to burn them out.  After putting up such a big fight, it seems a shame to sell the land.  Yet, that is what Jay decided to do.  And it does not take much imagination to wonder why.

Three people sit in the back of the truck among stacked baskets of wrapped up veggies, ready for delivery on a rainy day
Celia (on the right) helps Jackie and Gianna load up the truck for a delivery to one of our community partners in mid-May.

 

The farmer who once worked the land seems to have fallen apart alongside his fields.  He is tired, needs knee replacements, and is anxious to move off his family farm.  While we talked, he recalled times when his neighbors called to complain about his livestock grazing.  In his area, there is little support of local farmers or open land.  People push for progress, with money and bulldozers to do the pushing for them.

 

As I gazed at the drooping pasture gates and thriving weeds, I was reminded of how nature dictates our actions and how we are so closely tied to the land.  However, I would never have recognized such a connection if I did not recently start working on a farm myself.  In fact, I probably never would have visited my cousin’s pig farm in the first place.

Seven people gather on each side of a bed of stringy plants as the sun sets on the Farm
Celia (in red) volunteers on a regular basis throughout the school year and took an IDEAS class about our food system taught by Jeremy and Mark (both members of the Class of 2017).

Last summer, I volunteered at the Farm at Stonehill often enough to apply for a full-time position working there this summer.  I loved it last summer and I have continued to love it this season.  It seems that each day I learn something new at the farm.

 

We’ve eradicated potato beetles with the organic finger-pinching method.  We’ve discussed blossom-end rot on tomatoes, types of mildew that attack plants, how to store seeds – we were even lucky enough to have a crash-course in rototiller tractor driving (though we have not actually done and driving or tilling)!

A hand shows off three bright red tomatoes harvested from hoophouse 2
Beautiful tomatoes from Hoophouse 2 – definitely worth the effort!

We learned about which battles you should choose to fight.  Do you make a third attempt to grow produce in a hydroponic garden?  Do you pull up weeds in an area that will soon be tilled, or simply till them under?  Do you grow tomatoes next season when tomato blight seems to have a strong hold in the soil?  Often, it seems there are no right or wrong answers.  Rather, Bridget demonstrates how we take signs from the farm.  She once said that unlike people, plants don’t tell you what they need.  While this is true, I have learned that plants communicate in other ways.

A red basket filled with loads of harvested green beans picked by Camp Shriver campers
Green Beans picked with Camp Shriver campers.

They show us when they are thirsty, or hungry for nutrients.  The plants communicate with each other, helping each other grow as the Three Sisters – beans, corn, squash – do.  Or they try to tear each other apart, as weeds compete for nutrients, sun, and water.  In this way, plants are not very different than people; they know what they want and they aren’t afraid to show it.  When they do show it, we farmers act accordingly.  We work for and with the plants.

 

We also work for and with each other.  As a result, we have also learned a lot about human connections.  Each farmer has asked questions, made suggestions, or offered ideas about the farm and how it operates.  We divide up tasks and have our go-to harvest crops.  For example, I usually meander through the summer squash rows, while Michelle proclaims that she is going to zucchini land and Alex peeks under prickly leaves to find cucumbers.  Gianna gathers hundreds of cherry tomatoes and Jackie searches for eggplant.  We share our knowledge with each other.  If one of us notices something, like a new bug or suspicious mildew on a plant, we ask Bridget.

A line of young Camp Shriver campers work with the Farm managers to plant sunflower seedlings in a dirt bed
Some of the Camp Shriver campers who Celia and our crew welcomed a number of times this summer. Pictured here planting sunflower seedlings they planted from seed 4 weeks earlier.

Our learning extends beyond the work day, as well.  Bridget shares farm newsletters and emails that she receives from other local farmers.  She helps us stay active, leading barre class every week.  We’ve cooked and shared food with each other using fresh veggies from the farm.  With all that we do, we see our hard work come full circle.  From seeding, to transplanting, to harvesting to cooking, we have helped plants grow, and we have also grown alongside each other throughout the season.  Walking through the farm and connecting with nature, I feel completely satisfied with our hard work.

 

Knowing what a healthy farm looks like made the dereliction of my cousin’s farm even more painful.  I found myself teary-eyed over losing a farm that was never mine to begin with.  I imagined what it must have been, could see what it looked like now, and feared what it would look like in a year.  Pristine and identical houses would stand where pigs once roamed and where nettles grew now.

 

I wondered how someone could so easily give up on a farm that he had worked hard on his entire life.  Working at the farm with Bridget and the other summer interns taught me so many valuable lessons that I could not learn anywhere else.  I cannot thank her enough for sharing that with us and I would not trade a day that I have worked there for anything else.

A colorful seasonal bouquet colored with pinks, reds, purples, and yellows contrasts against the gray gravel path
It’s always fun to visit the farm – or take some home with you (ex. seasonal bouquets and honey).

So, if you have yet to visit the Farm at Stonehill, I highly recommend stopping by.  Who knows what you might learn!

~Celia Dolan,  Summer Farmer Extraordinaire!

Categories
The Farm at Stonehill

This Week at The Farm 7.14.17

This Week at The Farm…

Four people carry bags and veggies to a collection of yellow baskets of harvested produce gathered next to the Farm truck

Alex, Jackie, Gianna and Brian packing up bags of produce for Mobile Market clientele.

At The Farm:

Four Camp Shriver visitors join an older worker to harvest cucumbers and gather them into a yellow bucket

Camp Shriver participants help Alex harvest pickling cucumbers.

We were excited to spend time with Camp Shriver – planting sunflowers at their base camp on Monday and then hosting 1 of 4 groups on Thursday to tour the Farm and pick cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

A few young helpers at the Farm hold harvested veggies

Harvesting our cukes rain or shine with Camp Shriver.

The rain is helping our veggies grow – when the sun returns we know we will be running to keep up with the plants!

In the Community:

Due to stormy conditions, we created mixed (and bursting) $10 veggie bags for Mobile Market clientele instead of hosting a market.  Our partner, Alexandra then distributed them to patients both market locations. We will be at 1380 Main St next week from 3-4:30.

Hope Weaver, Class of 2018, updated our Brockton Community Garden Map. It now shows active sites, what is growing and which sites welcome volunteers.

A map of the Community Gardens of Brockton, marking the various buildings across the area

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Flowers

To order your small: $5 (10-15 stems), medium: $10 (~25 stems) or large: $15 (~35 stems) bouquet click here or email: bmeigs@stonehill.edu

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 Volunteer Hours:

TODAY (Friday) from 3-5pm

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Find The Farm at Stonehill on Facebook and “like us” of follow us on Instagram (#thefarmatstonehill) to stay connected to Farm happenings.

The Farm at Stonehill is a community effort and we invite you to stop by to visit and lend a hand.

Categories
The Farm at Stonehill

Summer 2017 is Here!

A few bright yellow sunflowers held with some other smaller, duller ones
A few of our glorious sunflowers.

It’s been an incredible start to the 2017 season. As usual, we are blessed with a positive and hard working crew.  This year’s crew members include Michelle David, Melissa Mardo, Jackie Lerner, Alex Pica, Gianna Desrochers, and Celia Dolan.  In addition, Brian Kennedy, C.S.C. – a Holy Cross Seminarian – is joining us for the month of July.  We are not always all at the farm together, but when we are there is a festive and productive feeling in the air (weeds weed themselves — ha ha, I jest —  but the truth is that a lot of hard work gets done and miraculously the crew keeps smiling). I feel very lucky to have them! I will take the time to introduce each of them more over the next couple of weeks.

The second hoophouse is filled with tall leafy cuke plants growing up trellises
Cukes growing up their trellises in Hoophouse 2.

One of the reasons for a successful start to the season is our supportive VP for Mission, Father Jim Lies. For the past few years, we have felt his strong support in so many ways and it has allowed us to grow and thrive. He has been with us every step of the way as we cultivate our living classroom by adding the Mobile Market, welcoming groups to the farm, taking good care of our soil, and growing biodiversity along with nutritious and fresh produce for our community partners.  We will miss him, but wish him the best of luck as he starts his new position in London with Notre Dame.

Two people pose alongside some beds of plants in the Farm

Good luck in London, Father Jim! We will miss you!

~~~

This remainder of this post will share just a few things we have been up to. More to come soon!

At The Farm:

We have already harvested and delivered ~1,500 pounds of veggies this season.

We are harvesting zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, kale, kohlrabi, scallions, pac choi, lettuce, basil, other herbs, peas, a few cherry tomatoes and beautiful flowers (see link below to order your bouquets)!

In the Community:

Our markets at BNHC are going well! Going forward we will offer a market every Wednesday from 3-4:30 and alternate between 63 Main and 1380 Main.

A poster advertises the Wednesday afternoons, 3:00-4:00 time slot for "The Farm at Stonehill Mobile Market" with a series of dates and locations above pictures of various veggies
Mobile Market Dates, Times and Locations.

Brockton’s Community Garden Network!

Thanks to the hard work of our Brockton’s Promise Americorp Vista, Sara Morris, the community garden network in Brockton has been strengthening! Please visit: www.brocktonspromisegardens.weebly.com (co-created by Sara and Jackie Gorman) to check out sites and resources for effective community gardening.

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Flowers

Would you like some beautiful flowers? To order your small: $5 (10-15 stems), medium: $10 (~25 stems) or large: $15 (~35 stems) bouquet click here or email: bmeigs@stonehill.edu

A collection of purple and white flowers mixed together to make beautiful bouquets
Flowers abound!

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Find The Farm at Stonehill on Facebook and “like us” of follow us on Instagram (#thefarmatstonehill) to stay connected to Farm happenings.

The Farm at Stonehill is a community effort and we invite you to stop by to visit and lend a hand.

Categories
The Farm at Stonehill

This Week at The Farm 10-14-16

This Week at The Farm…

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At The Farm…

A panorama of the Farm on a sunny day, looking through trees and over the stone benches at the crops in the distance
A view of The Farm from the Tine Miller Meditation Area – greens in the foreground, tilled fields planted with cover crops beyond.
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The Farm at Stonehill was recently featured in an article called “Watering Brockton’s Food Desert” by Ross Muscato in Fiorente Health Desk.

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It is a busy time at The Farm as we continue to harvest and deliver our greens to our community partners and prep the rest of the fields for a long, rejuvenating winter’s nap.

We are still harvesting cherry tomatoes in the hoophouse, but will be replacing those prolific plants with winter hardy spinach over the next couple of weeks.

In the fields we are rolling up our irrigation equipment and getting ready to plant garlic and mulch some freshly planted June-bearing strawberries.
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Find The Farm at Stonehill on Facebook and “like us” of follow us on Instagram (#thefarmatstonehill) to stay connected to Farm happenings.

The Farm at Stonehill is a community effort and we invite you to stop by to visit and lend a hand.

Categories
Community Summer 2016 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Mobile Market, Fall Crops, Volunteers and more

This Week at The Farm…

At The Farm…

RA, MSM and ABS leaders

Our RA, ABS, and MSM volunteers helped out on Tuesday!

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We are welcoming RA, MSM, and ABS student leaders to help with some projects in the fields including weeding onion beds, removing black plastic, weeding raspberries, and planting greens in the hoophouse.

We are planting a late succession of squash and cukes in the field and in hoophouse 2 and caring for our kale and lettuce seedlings in hoophouse 1.

We are making the last of our flower bouquets are we start to harvest winter squash and melons in earnest.

In the Community…

Our Mobile Market was featured in the Boston Globe South!

Many thanks to Martin and Marie (our behind the scenes team!) for working with journalist at the Globe to share information about this new project of our farm with our surrounding community.

mobile market

Tim, Father Jim and Sara pause for a smile at the Mobile Market.

Father Jim visited us at our Mobile Market and chatted with some of the clients enjoying the market!

We continue to deliver veggies to our Community Partners!

delivery

Emily and Pat made our deliveries today to MBK, The Table and the Old Colony YMCA.

VOLUNTEER HOURS

Farm Fridays are Back!

Come see us tomorrow, Friday, August 26th from 3-5pm.

Categories
The Farm at Stonehill

Veggies, Sunflowers, Campers and More…

This Week at The Farm…

IMG_3225

Sunflowers – as far as the eye can see… it’s summertime!

At The Farm…

We are harvesting scallions, zucchini, 3 varieties of summer squash, 2 varieties of cucumbers, 2 varieties of eggplant, cherry tomatoes (from the hoophouse), basil, 4 varieties of lettuce, pac choi, new potatoes, and garlic.

We are hosting campers from Camp Shriver who are learning about compost and healthy soils.

IMG_3240

Evan enjoyed picking, smelling and tasting a wide variety of herbs – including mint, lemon balm, oregano and sage when he visited with his group from Camp Shriver.

We hosted about 90 science focused high school students from Brockton High School who were interested in learning more about Stonehill, our farm, and what we do.

We are so thankful for our hard working volunteers who have been putting in full days with us this week: Patrick Cahill, Celia Dolan, John Dunn, and Sara Morris – and on Fridays: Brett Smith, Danny Haffel and Vivian Senatore.

In the Community…

We are delivering our bounty to our 4 community partners and also making it available for purchase through the Mobile Market at The Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC) and The Family Center on Wednesday afternoons.

Mobile Market locations have been chosen to make our produce more available to individuals who lack access to fresh, affordable produce.  Prices are set low to increase access (ex. 50 cents per cucumber or squash) and all sales are deposited into an account that allows us to continue to run the mobile market.  Patients at BNHC will soon be provided with veggie vouchers that they can use to “buy” vegetables through a grant given to BNHC from Project Bread.  The Mobile Market is exciting, as it is serving as just one more way to distribute our organically grown produce to those who need it most.

VOLUNTEER HOURS
Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering this week: bmeigs@stonehill.edu

Categories
Summer 2016

Jumping Through June! – Weekly Update

This Week at The Farm…

 

 

The cherry tomato seedlings in the hoophouse are taller than Emily and Michelle!
The cherry tomato seedlings in the hoophouse are taller than Emily and Michelle!

At The Farm…

 

We are mulching squash and tomato beds and weeding garlic and other crops.

 

We are planting the last of our seedlings (pumpkins and butternut squash) and beans.

Planting Provider Bush Beans on June 23, 2016.
Planting Provider Bush Beans on June 23, 2016.

 

We are enjoying our new picnic table made from lumber saved from a Cypress tree that came down up near Donahue Hall last year.

 

We are welcoming our partners at the David Jon Louison Family Life Center of the Old Colony YMCA into the fields on Friday morning.

 

We are harvesting zucchini, summer squash, bunching onions, basil, Kaboku cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, chard, beets, sugar snap peas, and our first cucumbers from the hoophouse.

IMG_6241
So many greens! Emily and Katie wash and pack our veggies for our partners.

 

In the Community…

 

We are donating these veggies to our partners and offering them and a couple of additions from Langwater Farm (red bunching onions and beets – purchased through a grant from the Vela Foundation) at the Mobile Market.

 

We hosted our second Mobile Market day at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (63 Main St. from 3:30pm – 4:45pm) and the Trinity Baptist Church Parking lot  (1367 Main St. from 5:00pm – 6:30pm).  It was a great success!

Flowers are exploding - loving the sun and our drip irrigation.
Flowers are exploding – loving the sun and our drip irrigation.

 

Categories
The Farm at Stonehill

Mobile Market and More – weekly update

This Week at The Farm…

MobileMarketPoster-v4b

MOBILE MARKET BEGINS

We launched our Mobile Markets on June 15th at The Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (63 Main St) and the Family Center/Trinity Baptist Church parking lot (1637 Main St)!

Melissa Mardo (Market Intern), Angela Beyer (Market Manager), Tim Watts and other volunteers enjoyed a successful first market day – selling lots of greens, kohlrabi, beets, herbs, chard and a few guest veggies from Langwater Farm (spring onions and turnips).

We will continue to donate veggies to our 4 main community partners and one additional crate of seasonal goodness each week to the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center for their cooking classes at their Pleasant St. location.

IMG_2575

AT THE FARM

We are harvesting lots of greens and watching as our first zucchini and sugar snap peas appear in the fields.

We are taking care of our potato plants by controlling those Colorado Potato Beetles (squish!).

We are planting melons and winter squash.

rainbow

FLOWERS and SEEDLINGS

Flower Bouquets are available:

Small (10-15 stems) $5, Medium (20-25 stems) $10, and Large (35-40 stems) $15

…or another size that works best for you!

This year you can place your order via Marketplace or by sending an email to

 

bmeigs@stonehill.edu

https://secure.touchnet.net/C21449_ustores/web/index.jsp?clearPreview=true

DO YOU NEED SEEDLINGS? IF SO, PLEASE COME TO THE FARM – WE HAVE SOME FOR YOU FOR FREE (OR A DONATION IF YOU INSIST!) – OR THEY WILL MOVE ON TO OUR COMPOST PILE SHORTLY.

VOLUNTEER HOURS

Stay tuned for another email with this information for this week! Please feel free to visit anytime!

 

 

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Find The Farm at Stonehill on Facebook and “like us” of follow us on Instagram (#thefarmatstonehill) to stay connected to Farm happenings.

The Farm at Stonehill is a community effort and we invite you to stop by to visit and lend a hand.
 

Categories
Winter 2016

Five Years and Growing Strong

Zuri and I visited the farm - Friday, February 5th.
The fields are bundled in a layer of white insulation – Zuri welcomes the snow on February 5th, 2016.

It is a wintery day in Easton, and as the wind whips and snowflakes fly past the window, I fill my cup with hot tea and my head with vibrant images of our farm on warmer days.

It is hard to believe that 2015 was already our fifth season, and our production (exceeding 15,000 pounds), new programs (the Mobile Market), increase in use as a living classroom (more professors and students learning at the farm), and growing family (volunteers and community gardeners) illustrate a clear shift from “chick to fledgling” stage in our development as a farm community.

Our seed order is almost complete and plans for our next season abound, but pausing to reflect on the past five seasons, I’m amazed at how our farm continues to thrive and extend its reach into Brockton and Easton.

Bringing in a healthy garlic harvest with helpers Christine, John, Michelle and Melissa, July 2015.
Bringing in a bountiful garlic harvest with helpers Christine, John, Michelle and Melissa, July 2015.

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Tim and Alana help to polit our Mobile Market - Fall 2015.
Tim and Alana help to pilot our Mobile Market – Fall 2015.

This season we forged new relationships in the community and entered new territory when we piloted our Mobile Market this fall in the parking lot of Trinity Baptist Church and The Family Center (1367 Main St).  Starting on September 16, 2015, and for the following six weeks, we drove our farm truck to this address and set up a veggie stand.

partnering up with UMASS Nutrition services - Ratatouille
We enjoyed partnering up with UMASS Nutrition Services who prepared ratatouille from our veggies and shared the easy and healthy recipe with customers who could then purchase all of the necessary fresh ingredients from our market to make the dish.

This program, supported by a $5,000 grant from Project Bread, allows us to partner more closely with organizations like UMASS Nutrition Services and sell some of our organic produce at or below market prices directly to consumers in parts of Brockton that lack easy access to healthy, fresh produce.

Mobile Market Sprinter Van donation.
This Sprinter Van, donated by Stonehill parents Craig and Lisa Hyslip, will become our Mobile Market van during the 2016 growing season.

Thanks to a generous donation of a Sprinter Van from Craig and Lisa Hyslip, we will be able to transport our veggies to our Mobile Market locations in an environment that protects them from heat, rain, and other kinds of conditions that can impact freshness.  We are currently working with students and staff in Stonehill’s Marketing Department to create a colorful, festive logo that conveys the bounty and health the market will bring wherever it goes!  We will share market dates, locations, and times by the springtime – we are hoping to offer markets two days per week at two different locations.

1 of our 4 main partners
The Easton Food Pantry receives about one-quarter to one-third of all of the produce that we grow at The Farm. I always enjoy dropping off our veggies to Glen on Monday mornings.

As always, we will continue to donate the majority of our produce to our four main community partners: The Easton Food Pantry, My Brother’s Keeper, The David Jon Louison Center of the Old Colony YMCA and The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

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Our farm thrives because of the energy brought in by our visitors – the students and staff who volunteer, the insects that pollinate, and the classes that come to learnand the gifts of the farmnew friendships, honey made from the nectar, and knowledge learned through experiences.

some fall harvesters!
It was such a productive year – here two volunteers help to harvest produce and keep Zuri company (or course!) on a warm October afternoon.

This season, six faculty utilized The Farm as a space to teach about sustainability.  Disciplines included Philosophy, Political Science, Art, Environmental Science, Eco-spirituality and Ecology, and the farm hummed with the energy and activity that these classes brought to the fields.  In a Learning Community called The Origin of Resources: From Farm to Studio, co-taught by me and Candice Smith Corby, our students learned about sustainable food production and how to create natural pigments and dyes from some of the plants growing at The Farm.  With this course, more than any other I have had the opportunity to teach, I learned and subsequently taught about how to preserve the flavors and the beauty of the harvest.  This learning occurred in the fields in the company of Candice, our students, and through the teachings of generous guest teachers like Chef Geoff Lukas and Farmer Linda Reinhardt.

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 These relationships serve to increase my hunger for knowledge about how to sustainably grow food to increase food security, to maintain healthy, biodiverse landscapes, and to understand and celebrate the traditions that support these kinds of connections with the land.

preserving the harvest
Melissa, Madison and Tori prepare tomatoes for a “tomato conserva” under the guidance of Geoff Lukas at The Farm in September.

A relationship is growing with the land that surrounds our production fields.  We often see monarch butterflies in our fields, pausing in the flower beds before moving on to an abutting field to find their beloved milkweed.

Milkweed thrives in the fields behind The Farm - reminding us that our 1.5 acres is a part of a biodiverse mosaic of habitats.
Milkweed thrives in the fields behind The Farm – reminding us that our 1.5 acres is a part of a much larger ecosystem comprised of a biodiverse mosaic of habitats.

We have also witnessed the hue of the honey produced by our bees deepen over the course of the season.  We know this is because they tend to visit more goldenrod in the fall months.  With the long, warm fall this past season our bees were so productive that Best Bees of Boston was able to harvest and provide us with over 75 pounds of honey from our hive!

Our honey made a nice holiday gift - allowing members of the Stonehill community to enjoy the benefits of local, raw honey!
Our honey made a nice holiday gift – allowing members of the Stonehill community to enjoy the benefits of local, raw honey!

  It is our hope that the bees also enjoyed the flowers that we planted in our fields and that also served as bouquets for staff and students – as well as two brides who chose our flowers to help them celebrate on their wedding day.

wedding flowers late August 2015.
Here is one of the bride’s bouquets that we created in August!

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While productivity of our crops and activity in the fields certainly slows during the colder months of the year, I am pleased to report that spinach planted in our second hoophouse in October is thriving.  We will continue to explore other methods of season extension (utilizing more high tunnels, production of micro-greens and maintaining the TowerGarden on campus) in order to learn about the optimum conditions for sweet, nutritious crops at The Farm.

Spinach Harvest - February 1, 2016.
Jake Rafferty (2016) helped me harvest some spinach on February 1, 2016.

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10 pounds of luscious spinach from 3 rows in Hoophouse #2.
Here are the 10 pounds of luscious spinach that came from the three rows pictured above.  They were bagged and donated to My Brother’s Keeper that morning.

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I have come to believe that the success of a farm is tightly linked to the people who choose to spend time elbow deep in the dirt in many different kinds of weather.  In our fields each summer I am always impressed by my hard-working and dedicated summer crew and during the school year it is common to welcome twenty to thirty volunteers to work the fields every week.  I am so thankful for all of their hard work and also for my growing ties with other local growers like my friends at Langwater, Round the Bend, Brix Bounty, Freedom Food Farm, Tangerini’s, and Second Nature Farm. 

so many upbeat and hard working volunteers - the key to our farm's success!
so many upbeat and hard working volunteers – the key to our farm’s success!

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Shoveling out Hoophouse 2!
Madison and Emily met me at The Farm on February 5th to shovel out our hoophouses.

I feel lucky to know that students like Madison and Emily will be ready to meet me when the snow and wind abate – to shovel out the hoophouse once again – and pretty soon plant seeds for the 2016 season!

snowman with a radish nose...
Once the shoveling was done, Maddie and Emily created this little guy to watch over the fields for us until warmer days returns!

Over the past five seasons, I have come to learn that these students, the faculty and staff who teach and volunteer at the farm, the folks who receive the produce we grow, and the other local farmers and farming networks ARE The Farm at Stonehill.  

I have learned so much from you all and I cannot wait to see where we go from here!