A Community Farm Vision

 

Ned Rossiter, Land's Sake Board president
Ned Rossiter, Land's Sake Board president

The visitor coming to the farmstand one still summer morning takes in the blaze of color in a field of flowers next to the road. A few women and children move slowly through the rows cutting stems. In the morning haze before the heat of the day sets in, there is a sense of calmness and serenity on the farm. Later, a breeze makes the shade of the maple tree next to the farmstand cool and pleasant even in the worst heat. The stand features a glorious display of tomatoes, greens, carrots, and flowers. Bottles of farm-produced honey and maple syrup are arranged and a nearby board displays information about the farm, how various crops grow, and upcoming events. Visitors linger to chat about the produce, share recipes, and catch up. 

The stand will be busy all day. People will come to sit at the tables under the big maple; some with children to watch the hens and bee hives, others to chat with farm staff, and others to cool off after berry picking in the hot sun. Two Board members arrive at the stand to pick up produce. They chat easily with staff and hear how the season is going. One of the Board members needs a lot of produce for a dinner she is catering and the conversation turns to recipes for an upcoming potluck supper for CSA shareholders.

This morning, middle school children arrive for the Green Power summer program where they have their own small farm. Today they will go to a nearby farmers’ market to sell what they have grown. The students have learned the names of the varieties of tomatoes and peppers and greens they are selling. They talk knowingly to customers about sustainable agriculture, soil maintenance and organic principles. At night they ask their parents why their family buys produce grown in Mexico. The answers do not satisfy.

The visitor notices many young people at the farm. High school- and college-age students are busy weeding nearby. Many of the staff are young and eager, yet mix easily with older staff, some of whom are retired volunteers. The farm manager directs the activities for the day: replace a tractor belt, irrigate the new strawberry plants, mow several fields in town, and harvest for tomorrow’s CSA pick up. The length of the to-do list is daunting, but priorities are made and soon staff are off to their assigned tasks in various parts of town. Later this afternoon, the farm manager will attend a meeting with the board farm committee to discuss how things are going and trouble shoot, if necessary.   

The manager of the education program is joined by a group from two churches in Mattapan to make plans for a special two-day camp program later this summer at the farm which is funded by a grant. A team of educators from the Board and staff offers a camp curriculum which has been tried and tested by the many school age groups who visit the farm throughout the year. 

After a quick trip over to some fields on the north side of town to check in with the farm crew and to see how things are going, the Executive Director heads over to Town Hall to review contracts with the Conservation Commission: one regardging food shipments to the soup kitchens in Boston (which the town pays for) and the other regarding payments for mowing the fields on the town’s conservation land.

Tonight, the Executive Director will attend the summer Board meeting to report on the farm season and discuss plans for a new cooperative education program with a local university. It will end up being a twelve-hour day for him. Tomorrow he will meet with a member of the local Forest and Trail Association to discuss a trails clearing project needed in the town forest and to invoice for contract payments for trails work.  

Another typical, busy summer day at the farm, and the visitor leaves thinking that the small farmstand is, indeed, the center of many wonderful things in Weston. 

Ned Rossiter, Land’s Sake Board President

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