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Community Community Partners Our Vision Summer 2020 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Finding My Way in Nature’s Chain: Carrying The Farm’s Nourishment Into My Post-Grad Life

Guest post by Celia Dolan, Class of 2019

Inch by inch, row by row

Gonna make this garden grow

I hear the opening lyrics to The Garden song as I head out for work.  On my way, I pass by The Farm at Stonehill and am reminded of the tremendous growth abundant in those fields.  In my first year at Stonehill, I volunteered at The Farm essentially on a whim and it transformed what I studied, what my career goals are, and who I am.  I grew a thirst for knowledge about sustainable agriculture and food justice.  I grew an interest in learning about how my food choices and consumerism impact other people and the environment.  I grew new friendships and mentorships.  The Farm allowed me to grow the garden of my life, especially this year.

Three students stand in the field with trays and plants for first time volunteer hours
Brett Smith (’19), me, and Marissa Beachell (’19)
at one of my first volunteer hours.

In an effort to avoid bringing up the oft-discussed challenging circumstances of 2020, which we all recognize and understand, I will simply say that this season at The Farm was different.  The crew was small, but beautiful.  The crops planted were fewer, but abundant and delicious.  This summer was the end of the familiar and the start of adapting, embarking on a new journey, finding a new strategy for survival.  Such a sentiment felt especially real to me as I acknowledged that my time at The Farm was winding down and I’d have to seek out new ventures.

Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
‘Cause the time is close at hand

That seeking led me to my current position as direct service associate at My Brother’s Keeper (MBK).  Truly, I have The Farm to thank for this opportunity; had I not gone to MBK to deliver Farm produce and talked with their manager of the food assistance program, I wouldn’t have known about the opening.  I have the privilege of serving others each day and bringing food to those in the surrounding community – an effort to mitigate food insecurity similar to my work at The Farm.

Five people stand, arms around each other, in front of the Mobile Market van parked in a lot
Farm Director Bridget Lawrence-Meigs, Tim Watts, me, Cassie Pavain (’21), and Natalie McDonough (’20)
standing in front of our Mobile Market van during a market at 63 Main Street in Brockton.

 

The growth that I experienced at The Farm, first as a student, then as the assistant farm manager, continues today despite not being at The Farm on a regular basis.  Now, I work each day at MBK, but constantly feel my roots deeply planted down the street at The Farm.  Thanks to the amazing power of The Farm to feed my soul and my curiosities and passions, I have taken what I learned in the fields and classroom into my everyday life.  I continue to grow relationships and connections to The Farm in my new position.  Just last week, I spoke with Dennis, a volunteer at MBK, who was in the warehouse when Bridget stopped by with a donation of produce.  He chatted with me after, asking how long The Farm had been at Stonehill and how I got involved there.  He is a Stonehill alum, but never knew Stonehill’s farm existed and was moved by the mission and impact it had on me.  Another volunteer and alum, Bob, has exchanged gardening tips and sourdough baking methods with me on a regular basis.

A man and woman carry boxes of freshly harvested produce from the Farm through a parking lot to donate to MBK
Bob Grenier (’86) and me at MBK receiving freshly harvested and donated produce from The Farm.

A student volunteer from Bridgewater State University has had deep conversations with me about food justice, nutrition, the industrial food system on a regular basis.  She is full of excitement and enthusiasm that reminds me of the magical ways that food connects all people and all things.  One coworker of mine was previously involved in the restaurant business and loves talking about cooking, heirloom varieties, and various foodie topics that have exposed me to entirely new ways of seeing food.  Clearly, the growth and nourishment that started for me at The Farm continues to shape my life.

 Find my way in Nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music from the land

The Farm’s music is like a background melody for me as I load vans with food for deliveries.  And as I encourage our volunteers to compost spoiled food while making food boxes, rather than throw it in the trash.  And as I learn about people’s traditional foods, like cachupa and cus-cus from Cape Verde.  And when I spy urban beekeepers perched on the roof of a house near where we deliver.

An urban beekeeper spotted on a rooftop in Brockton with boxes of bees during a food delivery
Urban beekeeper spotted on a rooftop in Brockton during one of my food deliveries.

I miss The Farm dearly, but it is never truly gone from me, nor I from it.  It is a part of me, and a part that I carry unwaveringly.  Just as I, hopefully, will always be part of The Farm.

 

“I want to love the land before I’m gone

And can only hope it will remember me fondly

My worn paths and retraced steps and froglet offerings

My songs whistled, hummed, and sung”

-Excerpt from a poem I wrote in August

 

Thank you, 2020 crew, for a wonderful, beautiful, roller coaster ride of a season!  I wish you all the best and pray that The Farm will continue to shower blessings on you and everyone who steps foot on that beautiful ground.

Four students rest on a small wooden porch among yellow buckets of a varied harvested produce from the Farm
Owen de Graaf (’21), Bridget Lawrence-Meigs, Olivia Reed (’21), Joe Weber (’22), the 2020 crew,
basking in a beautiful harvest at The Farm.

 

Categories
Spring 2019 The Farm at Stonehill

A Snowy, Sleepy Farm

At this time of year, with snow layered over cover crop and around the hoop houses, The Farm looks as sleepy as ever.

A circle of benches with snow sitting on top and a snow-surrounded hoop house in the background. Grey snow clouds in the sky give a foreboding appearance.
Although this area may not seem warm and welcoming right now, we anxiously await the time when volunteers will gather here in the spring to learn about The Farm.
Snow has been shoveled aside to clear a path to The Farm shed and hoop houses. A blue clear sky promises spring weather soon.
These snow-surrounded hoop houses will soon be a home for seedlings and sprouts!

The two hoop houses are surrounded by a layer of snow as they are slowly but surely shoveled out

The white Mobile Market Van with deep snow on its roof
The Mobile Market Van waits out the winter until our first Market in June!
Large orange tractor resting in the hoop house for storage.
It’s quite possible that our tractor may be the warmest thing on The Farm right now! Nestled in one hoop house to stay out of the snow, it sleeps until the first field is plowed in the spring.

And Zuri is just as sleepy as the rest of The Farm!

White dog yawning in The Farmhouse
Yawning Zuri, The Farm’s happy (but sleepy) hound.

Despite the deep snow settled like a blanket on The Farm, we are anticipating spring and the new growing season that will come with it!  We’ve begun preparing for our ninth (!!) season, hosting our first “Farm Friday” volunteer hours last week.  Seven volunteers joined us in the greenhouse behind Shields Science Center before leaving campus for spring break and helped to plant onion and snapdragon seeds.

A group of six smiling volunteers pose in the greenhouse after helping to plant seedlings
(Left to Right) Marissa Beachell, Daniel Farnworth, Natalie McDonough, Brett Smith, Jillian Tavares, and Celia Dolan.

In addition to the first planting of the season, we have been keeping busy in other ways at The Farm.  At the end of February, we visited Caffrey Towers in Brockton and had lots of fun with our partners at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center and UMASS Nutrition Education Program.  Keryn from UMASS NEP cooked a delicious Haitian soup with a wide array of vegetables, including potatoes and onions from Langwater Farm.  Participants enjoyed the soup and took home a bag of ingredients to make their own bowls of this yummy dish!

A pile of Campus Farmer Summit bags holding the soup ingredients.
Soup ingredients were gathered in bags for participants to recreate the soup they’d tasted.

We welcomed Celia Dolan in mid-February as the new Assistant Farm Manager.  She graduated in December with an environmental studies degree, business minor, and a passion for sustainable agriculture.  After volunteering and working at The Farm since her freshman year, she was honored to accept this position upon graduating a semester early.  She is excited to work with Bridget and the volunteers who make The Farm the inspirational place that it is!  While keeping up with the usual winter farm duties, Celia and Bridget are planning a seed saving garden to nurture heirloom seeds and the stories that they hold.  Celia spoke on a panel at SEMAP’s Annual Agriculture and Food Conference about The Farm’s efforts to Grow for the Greater Good and described plans for the seed saving garden.  Just as she was a voice for The Farm on the panel, Celia is happy be the voice of The Farm on this blog post and more posts to come!

Assistant Farm Manager, Celia Dolan, holding a heart-shaped potato in the dirt fields
Celia hopes to share her love of farming and food justice with volunteers. Apparently this potato has similar aspirations!

Bridget and Celia look forward to a new season at The Farm.  We hope to work with you soon in the spring weather, when the snow has melted and The Farm begins to awaken.  Until then, we remain ever-hopeful that sunshine and warmth are around the corner.  Stay happy and healthy, friends!  ~Celia