Land Care & Food Justice

Volunteers harvest collards at the Field of Greens

Right around the time the founders of Land’s Sake set their dreams in motion here in Weston, a like-minded group of folks in Cambridge founded Food For Free. A non-profit like Land’s Sake, Food for Free sought to connect families and individuals around Boston most in need of food assistance with the massive amounts of “excess” within our food system. Food for Free visited super markets, wholesale clubs, bakeries, farms and farmers markets, “rescuing” the end-of-the-day leftovers from being discarded as “waste” and distributing it within the local emergency food system.

Nowadays, Food for Free is still going strong. In 2010, it “rescued” 1 million pounds of fresh food, distributing it to 25,000 individuals via 76 food programs in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.

Food for Free also now runs a small, ¼-acre farm in Lincoln, MA called the Field of Greens, of which I am the manager. The land as well as the seeds, organic fertilizer, tools and invaluable advice is donated each year by Lindentree Farm and head farmer Ari Kurtz. Every Wednesday from 8 a.m. until mid-day during the growing season, my assistant farm manager and I oversee the planting, cultivation and harvesting of cabbage, collards, beets, carrots and swiss chard. These crops have a high nutrient density, store well, are popular amongst the families and individuals who receive the food, yet are rarely donated to Food for Free.

Each week, we are assisted in our work by a crew of approximately 10 regular volunteers and occasional groups. By seasons end, we will see more than 50 volunteers at the Field. The food that we produce at the Field of Greens goes directly to meal programs, shelters and pantries; it is either prepared or taken home by a family the same day we harvest it. In 2010, we harvested just over 7,000 pounds of food!

My work at the Field of Greens has been a great compliment to my work as Conservation Land Manager here at Land’s Sake. In both capacities, I am able to affect, in a very real way, the relationship we all share with the natural world. As Conservation Land Manager, my work in maintaining the town’s fields and hiking trails as well as the grounds of our main farm seem equally important in ensuring a connection between us humans and the land around us. Though the farm crew here at Land’s Sake does all the important work to grow such amazing food, I feel like I’m cultivating something as well: a respect for our common land through my work maintaining the towns fields and trails and an appreciation for the cultural heritage of New England farming towns through my attention to aesthetics at the main farm and our work on field-edge preservation projects.

At the Field of Greens, we often play host to volunteers’ first experiences with growing food. The power of those first experiences with farming is multiplied tenfold when volunteers learn that the organic and highly nutritious food they are helping produce is going directly to families that desperately need it. Respect for the land, an interest in our food system and an awareness of its strengths and inadequacies are all in cultivation at the Field of Greens.

In the end, it might be these experiences in farming and food justice that are more important than the actual food itself. However, that won’t keep us from trying our best to produce as much healthy, tasty organic produce as we can 🙂 Our goal for this season is 5,000 pounds of food. As I write this in mid- August, we have harvested just over 2,200 pounds of food thus far. I think we can do it!

Jordan McCarron, Conservation Land Manager