Learning from The Food Project

As the farm education intern here at Land’s Sake, my summer has been dedicated to leading Green Power. From helping to coordinate daily activities with Doug Cook (Education Director) to scurrying around the farm making last minute preparations every morning, I have learned from experience how to carry out a summer youth program that gives young people the opportunity to learn work skills on a production farm. Last week, though, as Green Power had a week off, I had the serendipitous opportunity to learn off the farm from the experience of a leader in youth programing in sustainable agriculture: The Food Project. The Food Project Institute, held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of last week, is a workshop that runs twice a year and is geared toward farm educators, community members, farmers, and other interested folks who want the chance to get an inside look at The Food Project.

I have difficulty describing all that I did in those three days — I surely could fill pages with the important lessons I learned and experiences I had last week. Held at the Lincon farm on Wednesday and Friday and at the Dorchester urban farm on Thursday, the workshop gave me the understanding of how The Food Project runs their Summer Youth Program. This program employs around 90 youth from all over the Greater Boston Area every summer to work on their farms. On Wednesday morning we plunged into the history of The Food Project. We learned that since it’s infancy this organization has been unwavering in it’s dedication to carrying out it’s mission through creating a strong management system and a culture of community support. Throughout the week our focus was also directed at understanding their farming models, learning about fundraising, and discussing the other programs that The Food Project run.

On Thursday and Friday I had the chance to see the Summer Youth Programs in action. At the urban farm in Dorchester we met two crews harvesting produce for the farmer’s market that afternoon. With the program being more than halfway finished, the youth in these crews looked more like groups of childhood friends clearly enjoying their time together while also working hard to harvest as many tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers as possible. I got to watch youth leaders preparing the crews for a day of hard work by creating a sense of fun, excitement, and support with in the group. The crew leaders at The Food Project are responsible for leading the youth in field work and do so masterfully so as to best create a strong, productive community in the youth program.

This week, as I settle back into leading Green Power, I am struck by the subtle adjustments I have made in my leadership style already. This morning I enjoyed playing “Face-off” and “Everybody’s It” with the Green Power crew to energize them before setting off to weed the strawberry patch, the result of which were one and a half long beds well weeded. They became connected to their work, wanting to work a half an hour longer to finish the job. Green Power offers an opportunity for youth to learn about farming, food, and service through hard work and from the community they each help to create. I am excited to continue sharing my experiences from The Food Project Summer Institute with Green Power and Land’s Sake.

Brittany Dunn

Green Power and Farmers Unite!

As I type this, our full time Monday crew (3) is harvesting garlic with volunteers (3), our weeding crew (4), educators (2) and their Green Power teen farmers (10!) That adds up to a very dreamy total of 22 harvesters! When we popped the garlic in the ground last season, we planted 13 beds that measure 275 feet in length. There are three rows planted in each bed, and the are spaced plants at six inches apart in row.  We’d already gotten one bed’s worth out of the earth for our spring garlic harvest, so that left us with approximately 19,800 plants to pull out of the ground.

garlic tables

Doug (our Education Director here at Land’s Sake) and I spent a good amount of time this winter dreaming up different ways to incorporate the Green Power teens into the farm so that the experience would be both helpful to the farm and rewarding for the them.  Land’s Sake’s roots are in growing food with kids, but as the farm and education divisions of this organization grew over the years, they both became more professionalized, and as a result grew to become completely separate endeavors.  The Green Power program eventually even became geographically isolated from the farm and its farmers.

This evolution, while perhaps not always ideal, makes a lot of sense, and is one that happens at many other community farms. Separate gardens for the education program, and separate work projects as well.  Land’s Sake, while a community farm, is also a working farm with a budget to meet.  We are managing 25ish acres, and this year, growing on almost 20 acres, spread around the town of Weston.  There is a lot of work to be done.  Most people think “the more help, the better, right?”, but can actually be quite difficult to occasionally incorporate unskilled labor into a farm operation.

Doug and I came up with a plan.  The first one was that we could have the teens harvest crops that we normally exclusively reserve for pick-your-own, and that the farm would keep half the profit, the kids the other half.  The farm crew doesn’t have quite enough time to pick peas, beans, or cherry tomatoes, but probably about 2/3 of customers that come to the stand would prefer that we have these items pre-picked.  These crops happen to be ones that people LOVE, so they are guaranteed to sell, provided the teens do well with quality control.  Win for the farm, win for the Green Power Farmers, win for customers who don’t have the time or ability to pick-their-own.  So far, it is working really well!  We have sold out of every Green Power harvested crop that we have had on the stand.

The second thing that we agreed upon was that we could have kids occasionally jump in on larger weeding, harvesting and planting projects.  The Green Power crews have done an excellent job so far of weeding the strawberries, for example (keeping the strawberries weeded is an epic battle for us). If the past couple of weeks are any indication, they will be jumping on even more farm projects as the Green Power season continues.  Which brings us back to today’s huge, huge garlic harvest.

The garlic field is the one that Doug chose to leave to the farm last year after deciding to relocate the home base of Education programming to the Wellesley Street location.  We planted the garlic in early November, also around the time that Doug began his planning for this year’s education programming.  It is fitting that nearly eight months later, we find ourselves completing the garlic harvest side by side with the Green Power teens.

I truly am looking forward to completing many more work projects with the Green Power farmers and their educators/leaders.  It’s amazing to be working in partnership with my peers at this organization to foster something that is larger, more engaging, and more compelling than the amazing work that we already do.  The potential seems almost infinite!

Melanie Hardy, Farm Manager at Land’s Sake Farm

Land’s Sake and Experiential Education

Land’s Sake’s Green Power 2011 program has made several significant shifts in design and goals from previous years.  We now have full days, packed with amazingly unique variety of projects to engage these students(13, 14 and 15 year-olds) with the farm, the community and with each other.  Our first week started off very rigorously as we worked hard to show how, from growing food to serving it, we are  all connected with food access and hunger in our area.  We began with lofty goals and can happily say that we achieved them.  Here is a list of our goals and the projects we completed every day:

  • Monday: Work Hard.  We spent the morning “learning the ropes” for the week, introducing everyone to their goat and sheep chores and harvesting shelling peas to sell at the farm stand.  During the afternoon we worked on rehabilitating last years chicken tractors and making them better.
  • Tuesday: Work Together.  We amped up our efficiency and harvested 24 quarts of sugar snap peas for the stand, finished the chicken tractors and played team building games.
  • Wednesday: Show Leadership.  We harvested many, many pounds of fava beans, meticulously weeded the newly planted strawberries, and built structures for our goats to play on.
  • Thursday: Give back.  We traveled to Jamaica Plain and spent the morning preparing meals at Community Servings, an amazing organization that delivers meals to homebound clients with critical illnesses.  by this time in the week we were all looking forward to relaxing at the Weston Town pool for the afternoon.
  • Friday: Live Local.  We harvested, Garlic Scapes,  Fennel and Rhubarb from the Education Garden, and with the help of Ellen Touart-Grob our favorite local chef, prepared Land’s Sake veggies to share with the Land’s Sake farmers and staff.
In one week this young group of leaders contibuted to several local communities on a variety of levels. By staying focused on accomplishing our weekly work goals we were able to make a truly positive impact.  We were also focused on creating a unique Green Power community, one where we can have fun, reflect, work, and learn together.  Looking back on this week and all of our successes, we are all really forward to making this new program a leader in the field of experiential education.
– The Green Power Crew

Considering Agriculture through Paint

Hello! My name is Eliza Murphy. Growing food and its implications has been very important to me for a long time, and I owe a lot of that to the summers I worked at Land’s Sake. Currently I am not farming but focusing on my art practice, in which agriculture is integral.  A lot of how I understand the food system and farming comes from my experiences working on farms, and I want to pursue some works that study how other people relate to farming and food. In order to delve into these ideas about the relationship to land and farming, I am creating a series of paintings.

Specifically, I will look at the way people relate to farming and memory in two very different places, starting with Boston, MA and Bolero, Malawi. In each of these disparate places, I will interview a sample of people. In order to get a fuller idea of their experiences, while I record the interviews I will also sketch, take notes and photographs. From this gathered material, I will paint portraits, either of the interviewee’s likeness, or the memories they relate to me. Through the paintings and information I gather, I will study the variables and facets that make up the communities relationships to food and agriculture. I will build up a series of paintings that will work alongside these findings, that address the comparison between the two places and whatever else may come up. As a vehicle for this work, I will create a book, which will provide a different mode for expressing my findings.

To view a video about this project or to provide support, please click here.  Please become a backer if you can!!

Eliza Murphy, Guest Blogger

On how being a rabbi and a farmer are connected.

by Assistant Grower Joseph Berman

This week is the one year anniversary of my ordination as a rabbi.  What did I do after ordination last summer?  I’ll give you a clue:  I followed in the tradition of my Biblical ancestors…  I attached myself to the land and headed to the farm.  After spending five years in rabbinical school cooped up inside sitting and studying ancient texts, I decided that I wanted to be active, outdoors, and working with my body.  I was blessed to land a gig as a summer intern at Land’s Sake where I fell head-over-heels in love with farming.  Three weeks ago I returned to the farm as an assistant grower:  this season I am becoming a farmer.

On the one hand, I simply came to Land’s Sake for a change of pace: after the monotony of the classroom and the disembodiment of the computer screen, being outside all day working in the dirt just seemed like the right thing to do.  And it was.  I love (and sometimes hate) the sweaty, dirty, back stretching work of pulling weeds.  Then I really love looking back after 5 hours of weeding on our hands and knees and admiring the weed-less fennel and beet leaves blowing in the wind.  And of course, I love operating the tractors.  I love these pieces of the work and many others.  Surprisingly though, I have also discovered that the work of farming is deeply connected to my work as a rabbi.

I have learned from my congregants at Temple B’nai Israel in Revere what community is.  Community is not primarily paying membership dues or coming to services, although both of these things are an important part of community.  Yet it is possible to do these things and still live with the fiction that we are autonomous individuals exist on our own.  My congregants know this is not true: they are deeply concerned with the well-being of one another and they act on it.  They call and visit when a member is sick, they celebrate each other’s birthdays and milestones, and they take on each other’s congregational responsibilities when someone is away or unable to do them.  They have taught me that community is acting on the underlying belief that we are intimately connected to on another.

At Land’s Sake I have come to understand that this sense of community, this sense of interconnectedness, must extend beyond our own species. Sometimes we presume, in the words of the philosopher Norman Wirzba, “to be the authors of ourselves and our destinies” thinking that we “exist by, from, and for ourselves.”   But this is not true, we are part of a much larger Whole.  In order to live, we need to eat.  In order to eat, we need to grow food. And in order to grow food, we need healthy bodies, smart flexible minds, and a well-oiled team (and tractors) but we also need healthy soil and the right amount water and animals for fertilizer and decent weather and and and…  Through farming I have learned that we are dependent on things much greater than ourselves that I can only begin to comprehend.  As such, I am called to live responsibly.  In the words of the agrarian theologian Wendell Berry:  “There is, in practice, no such thing as autonomy.  Practically, there is only a distinction between responsible and irresponsible dependence.”

Make no mistake about it, farming is very hard work.  It is hard on the body and we work for little pay.  And yet I love it.  I love it for many reasons.  And chief amongst them is that I am learning not only how dependent and interconnected I am to the rest of the planet and Something much greater than myself; at Land’s Sake, I am also learning how to be responsibly dependent.

beets

Communities that Work Together, Stay Together

Many hands make quick work.

When ever we get a request from a group to help us out on the farm, the first things that flash through my mind are logistics. Do we have the time, resources and the need for a mass of people to join us in the fields or forest? There are a lot of moving pieces and to top it all off we are completely at the mercy of mother nature’s whims. Coordinating so many details can be a daunting task, but one that I can assure you all is well worth it.

This Spring a group of 25 freshmen from the Rivers School in Weston came to work on the farm. Together with the Land’s Sake farm staff we planted nearly 5000 strawberries in about an hour and a half. That is a serious amount of work. A project that may have taken days of time out of the farm staff’s limited schedule was accomplished in one fell swoop.

Jeanette Szretter, Director of Community Service and Spanish Teacher at Rivers School, said, “The weather cooperated and our faculty and students have nothing but raves about the success of their work with you today! What an impressive amount of strawberries! Thank you so much for your willingness to host us and to partner with us. We look forward to many more such opportunities!”

These projects go far beyond the tangible work that is accomplished. By focusing our physical energy on a common goal we build stronger connections with our friends, neighbors and to the community as a whole. My experience at Land’s Sake over the past two and a half years has been that when we call upon our community for support in a time of need we are often rewarded by a profound outpouring from all over.

When I arrived at Land’s Sake I felt like I was immediately adopted into a truly unique and strong community. Every day I am proud and grateful to contribute to an organization with such deep roots. Now in our thirtieth year we are working harder then ever to assure that those roots remain healthy and will support us for another thirty years. If you live anywhere near Weston and want to feel connected to an amazing community, don’t hesitate any longer, explore all we have to offer. Join us in working towards a sustainable and rewarding future any way you can.

-Douglas Cook, Education Director

The heart, and soul, of Weston

One handful of Dandelion at a time

Land’s Sake is one of the greatest things about Weston.  I have long believed this since ‘discovering’ it during my third year as a Weston resident. Driving by the farm one warm May day, I decided to enter the long driveway to poke around  and see what the wooden farm stand, and the fields, were all about. A tall, thin man with a long beard was there, hoeing a field. It was a wonderful sight for my Wyoming-raised eyes that ached for familiar scenes of farmers working their fields.

“Hi. Do you work here?” I asked, naively.

“Sort of,” the man answered, with a bit of a grin.

Little did I know that I had just met Brian Donahue, a co-founder of Land’s Sake, an internationally known academic and a champion of suburban farming and forestry programs, of which Land’s Sake was a national model.

And little did I know that Land’s Sake would forever change my life.

Now, eight years later, I am honored to serve as Board Chair of this great organization and to work for the Land’s Sake community.  As a mom, a customer, and a volunteer, I can attest to the many impacts that this land, and the people who work on and for it, have made on my family. Whether it’s stopping by the farmstand on a steamy July day for fresh basil and carrots for dinner, or watching my children frolic in the farm and forests that Land’s Sake staff help maintain, the memories we’ve made are fresh and powerful. I have grown attached to this part of our town in a way that I never expected.

Land’s Sake is a place, a model of sustainability, a community of dedicated citizens that value open space, working landscapes, and community involvement. It is a source of healthy local food, a proud steward of forests, an inspirational teacher to children and adults. It is a board of leaders and a hardworking, talented staff, it is the tired hands of volunteers that give of their time, and the smiles of children that depart their buses and discover where their food comes from. Land’s Sake is all of this, and much more.

Interestingly, as our roots grow deeper in Weston and my kids experience more of the farm and forests, I find that Land’s Sake keeps on affecting my family in new and memorable ways. My oldest son, a 4th grader, decided to ‘try’ the After School Explorers program just last week. He’s always enjoyed being outside, but I’ve been careful not to inundate him with too many farm-related outings—not to push the agenda, if you know what I mean.

After one day of sign painting, planting, watering, playing, learning, and doing valuable outdoor work, the sports nut fell in love with Land’s Sake on his own, much to my surprise. He now has the Land’s Sake “bug,” and has returned to the farm as often as his program will allow. Thanks to Doug and Geeta, our dedicated education staff, and the magic of the land that sits in the geographic center of Weston, my son has been turned on to science, farming, and community service in a new way. Here, in his words, is the proof.

Mom: What made you interested in the After School Explorers program?

Lukas: My mom told me about it and I wanted to give it a try.

Mom: What did you think of the first day? What did you do?

Lukas: We planted some seeds in the education garden and took a tour of Land’s Sake. We did Name games, had snack, and met the nice teachers.

Mom: What is the favorite project that you’ve done in your last four visits?

Lukas: My favorite thing about it is that I bring something special home to my mom each time, such as a bouquet of various things around the farm, a cup of worms from the Norway maple, blossoms from the Norway maple, and rhubarb. I liked to paint signs for the education garden, work with other kids, and be around the farm.

Mom: How does the After School Explorers program compare to other sports or music activities?

Lukas: I like it the same amount and it’s different from other sports because we walk around a lot outside in nature.

Mom: What else would you like to say about the after school program?

Lukas: I would really recommend it to someone who likes to be outdoors and in nature a lot.

So there you have it. A new generation of smitten Land’s Sakers are sprouting up before our eyes. Our job, as parents, Westonites, and Land’s Sake supporters is to ensure that this story continues. Through your support as a member, donor, or parent that enrolls your child in the after school or Summer Programs, you can help this community gem keep on giving. And that way, when you or your child are at the farm, you too will be part of its community and its special history.

– Alyson Muzilla, Board Chair

Check out our New Education Garden

Farm-Based Edcuation Association Conference at Appleton Farms

In early April I attended The Farmer Project Seasons Workshop at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, MA. In two nights and two days of workshop programming, I experienced an outpouring of hospitality. I was well fed and cared for by gracious hosts, and it rubbed off on me that welcoming guests and sharing your space must be part of the farm-based education experience.

‘To inspire enthusiasm’ was one of the early intentions set out by the workshop leaders, and that they did. The general excitement they built got me stoked and ready for the nervous buzz of setting up our student crews.

Creating a productive framework, however, involves setting firm limits. Physical limits, safety parameters, and interpersonal limits are all important when pushing towards an abundant season.
A student group from Gann Academy in Waltham did a wonderful service week with us at the end of March and they brought with them this quote:

“We had entered an era of limitlessness, or the illusion thereof, and this in itself is a sort of wonder. My grandfather lived a life of limits, both suffered and strictly observed, in a world of limits. I learned much of that world from him and others, and then I changed; I entered the world of labor-saving machines of limitless cheap fossil fuel. It would take me years of reading, thought, and experience to learn again that in this world limits are not only inescapable but indispensable.” — Wendell Berry

It is within those ‘indispensable’ limits that we can create an expansive world, explore minutiae, be flexible, and fill in gaps. Providing adequate tools and reasonable space to fill and nurture is our task at hand.

The last thing I took from the conference was be a fun friend! It makes work more fun. Food system inequity, the need for service, and hungry households here in Massachusetts are heavy on our minds, so let’s make it joyful to work towards the harder stuff.

Ciao for now,

Geeta Bhasin

Two Months as a Land’s Sake Educator

It has been nearly two months since I started working as a farm-based education apprentice at Land’s Sake. Two days after moving into the Melone House I got a call from Doug telling me I was parked in front of our neighbor’s garage.” I ran up the driveway to move the car. The kindly neighbor was none other than Anna Melone.  “I was born in the room you are living in,” she told me. I read in my history book that her father made a living as a subsistence farmer on the land around the house.

Now the amazing Land’s Sake crew is a part of that tradition he set in motion. It has been exciting imagining the levels of community and civic participation we can achieve and work towards those goals slowly but surely. Most of this winter I have spent planning the education garden and developing thought provoking curriculum for our farm-based summer camps.  While planning is mentally stimulating, carrying heavy Maple sap through the forest and over giant snow banks kept me fit.

 

Are those bees sleeping?

I started by leading Winter Farm Tours under a heavy blanket of snow. Weston kindergarteners and first-graders put on their snow pants to experience Winter on the farm, and using all five senses to detect life under the snow. Digging deep to uncover perennial herbs, the students discovered that the snow provides a time of rest and nourishment for some and a moment of quiet for others. Students discovered by noting tracks in the snow that some remain busy and hopping about during the winter months.

 

A few weeks ago I attended the Massachusetts Agriculture In the Classroom Winter Session, a day of workshops affirming that agriculture can support and nourish a community of diverse individuals. The workshops throughout the day provided linking opportunities between the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and interdisciplinary farm-based learning programs. The Curriculum Frameworks provide broad teaching standards. The challenge at the grassroots level is to connect ecological literacy, healthy living, and local history to today’s standards so that they are relevant values. Through our winter education programs, we have provided our community with tools so that at any age they can be responsible for upholding these values and understand the relevance and importance of upholding them.

The Maple Sugar House Tours I’ve been leading have allowed us to share with students from the Boston and Metro-west areas, the wonder of conditions coming together just right to make a world famous added-value product in their own backyard. Through tapping, tasting, and climbing on our truck, students experienced the sugaring process as another connection to the land. Our young friends began to fill in the story and understand the cycles involved in bringing syrup to their stack of pancakes.

Loading wood into the firebox.

In a moment with vision-impaired students, the sugarhouse became a sensory classroom. As they experienced the pointy buds and rough bark of the sugar maple, the smooth rubber hose, the hard plastic of the sump-pump, the billowing scented clouds of steam rising off of boiling sap, the cold steel of a 10 gallon pot, and of course the taste of hot syrup, the students demonstrated that the sugarhouse is a vivid place with eyes closed.

I have spent many afternoons helping the Maple after school program, a dynamic work project for the students of Weston Middle School. The Maple group trucked around the town twice a week to collect sap from the 400 buckets in the sugar-bushes of Weston. Hard physical work such as carrying loads of up to 10 gallons of sap across snow banks and hilly contours, splitting and stacking wood, helping Steph stoke the fire, and tapping trees were lessons of both mind and matter.

 

These physical chores were symbolic of working towards goals, earning profits, and beginning to shoulder responsibility while making assessments of efficiency, team building, and conflict resolution. Every drop of sap was literally a ‘drop in the bucket’ toward a successful maple season. We hope the successes and challenges of the season were reaffirming to the Green Power students. Demonstrating that to have a great time and make something valuable you only need your own two hands. Now we are on to the next challenge: the farm season!

Geeta Bhasin

Team Maple

After spending all day Friday in the maple sweat lodge that we call the Sugar Shack, I am afraid that maple season is drawing to an end, and as a farmer often does throughout the year, I feel slightly thwarted by nature.  As most of New England eagerly awaits the increasing number of nights that are above freezing, I have been dreading them, as the maple trees rush toward budding and the end of the season’s sap production. We started off the maple season with chilly days, and the trees were slow to respond to the coming of spring.  Suddenly, we have this past week of balmy nights with no sap flows; somewhere in those few short weeks between, we had a couple of magical days where the sap literally flew out of the trees.  If you broke the tip of a branch, the sap was even forced to flow out the broken bud! What a marvel of nature that is the sugar maple.

This is my first maple season as a farmer. I came into this position of authority over the Sugar Shack with two weekends of “vacation” maple sugaring up at a family member’s sugar bush in Vermont. I say “vacation” because any maple sugaring that involves a hot tub is surely a pleasurable weekend more than a true training experience. This February, I received a quick overview on the operations of Land’s Sake’s Sugar Shack and was left to my own devices…my own forgetful devices. Thank goodness we have a staff of amazing people with varying degrees of experience in maple and all very willing to answer my questions at all hours (Thanks, Doug). To kick off the boiling season, I got the fire roaring in the evaporator and cleared Dave to go get himself some morning coffee, while I tended the fire and sap levels. Since I had forgotten to get vegetable oil, Dave was happy to swing by the store on his way back. Unfortunately, I was a little too good at making big fire fast, which made for big boil fast, which resulted in what I deemed the “foam monster” emerging from the rear pan, grasping at me with bubbly arms and hissing in satisfaction. I panicked. Like kryptonite to Superman, fat is the only way to defeat the “foam monster” of maple, and I was fresh out. I tried to gently comb the foam down, expecting a purring submission, but no such luck. I called Dave and politely asked him to “Hurry!”. Upon his arrival, I was able to break the surface tension of the monster, and since then, I have yet to sight it again. It was just testing me on my first day and, realizing my competence and vigilance, has retired for another year.

The rhythm of the sugar shack is one I can appreciate, as a creature that really loves a routine that I can master and then repeat mindlessly. You would think that a twelve hour day in the Sugar Shack with only two draws and two bottlings would be a day of empty spaces, with time to ponder the upcoming farm season and time to get “stuff” done. Lists, guides, planning, blogs, reading…I had big plans to get all these things accomplished while a captive audience to the evaporator. However, maple season has its own rules about consistency and constancy and quickly turns into a full-time job. Check the fire, push it back, add wood to one side, check the levels in the pans, adjust the float valves, check the levels in the sap tanks, estimate the length of boil until the next draw, check the temperature gauges, skim the foam, rinse out supplies, check the fire, push it back, add wood to the other side, check the levels, draw off, rinse the filters, check the temperature, and so on. Suddenly, the rhythm shifts at 219 degrees and a flurry of new activity kicks in involving bottles and caps, sticky gloves, damp clothes, occasional cracked glass, spills, and attempts to get the last dregs out of the finishing pan and into our mouths. Yes, as you may have suspected, the perks to tending the sugaring process happens to be endless syrup gleanings. I have planned my trip to the dentist this spring accordingly.

 

After completing my first year as Assistant Farm Manager at Land’s Sake, I feel that maple sugaring is definitely the task we undertake that is truly a team effort, a task that unites Farm, Forestry, and Education and links us to the greater Weston community. At Land’s Sake, we all have a to-do list that extends beyond the hours of the day, but when the sap is flowing, we are all on Team Maple. I feel that maple season is the team-building “retreat” every organization needs. We practice maple-themed communication and coordination, sacrifice and support, and frustration and camaraderie. Every day of maple brings new wonders, melting snowdrifts, steamy vistas, the sweetest scent in the world (in my humble opinion), ever-shifting, glowing embers, and my stunningly handsome dog sunning himself, to name a few. I have thoroughly enjoyed the season of maple sugaring, and I feel that I only need another ten seasons before I reach the level of expertise that a nearby farmer has attained, where she is rumored to be able to hear when the maple is at proper syrup density. How amazing is that? For now, it appears that nature may be shutting off the taps, and I turn toward the thawing fields to see what else nature has to bring this year.

Hope to see you all at the Sugaring Off Festival next Saturday, March 26th, from 9 til 1 at the Bill McElwain Sugar Shack at the Weston Middle School! Come for pancakes, sugar-on-snow, bluegrass, maple tours, and of course, our “Weston-famous” maple syrup.

 Stephanie

Assistant Farm Manager and Maple Production Manager