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Both Amy and I are very excited for the summer education season to officially start. I will be heading up the Green Power (GP) program that involves participants entering the 6th through 9th grades in the process of community farming at the fields on Merriam Street. Amy is leading our newest program, Farm & Forest Explorers (FFE) at the 40-acre farm that will get participants entering the 4th and 5th grades excited about and feeling comfortable on the farm, in the forests, and in other ecosystems through nature-based activities and small scale farming.
Since the beginning of the year, we have been planning our curriculums, putting our plants into the ground, and readying our projects. One of our most exciting projects will utilize the chickens pictured below. Both the GP and FFE participants will care for the chickens throughout the summer learning about animal husbandry, rotational grazing and egg production.
The other project will be the donation of kid grown food to area food banks. Last year the GP participants grew over 3,000 pounds of food that was directly delivered to needy individuals and families at the Walnut Street Co-op in Brookline, MA. This year with the help of help of the FFE participants I am sure we can top last year’s number.
Casey Townsend, Education Director
To register for these programs, please visit http://www.landssake.org/education/greenpower/registration
Just like an old-time Tavern!
Smiling faces, clinking glasses and plates full of farm-fresh local gourmet delights!
Last Thursday we held the first Land’s Sake Supper Club at the Josiah Smith Barn in Weston Center. Chef Sam Hunt prepared a feast using local and seasonal food. A crowd of about 40 enjoyed the meal at one very long table. We started with a fabulous pottage of spring dug parsnips from Verril Farm. As you leave root veggies in the ground for the winter, they kinda sweeten up, so in the spring, you can get a very enjoyable parsnip. Land’s Sake provided asparagus wrapped in wild leeks from nearby and Sam created a really good pearl couscous/lentil/other small things bed to lay under the asparagus. I’m sure it had a name but I didn’t catch it. The main was a succulent breast of naturally-raised chicken from Giannone Farms in Maine. The dessert elicited coo’s and ahh’s as a sour cream ice cream with a consomme (that is a reduction-prepared syrup) of our farm’s rhubarb. It was a great meal!
The setting was delightful. Floral arrangements were provided by Pam Swain, Sam’s wife Lindsay’s mother, who even found a few blossoms at Land’s Sake to put on the tables. She is on the Josiah Smith Tavern and Old Library Committee here in town working to restore the building to an active culinary use. She was thrilled. So was Irvonne Moran – of the Women’s Community League who take care of the Barn and rent it out for community events – she hopes the future of the barn has nice dinners just like Supper Club. Nick Danforth even made a toast to our continued success and wanted me to start singing show tunes, but I held off on that this time. (It’s a long story going back to Weston High). Luckily it was more important to focus on the coincidence that it was our Board member (and Nick’s sister) Nina Danforth’s birthday! So we all raised our glasses and sang Happy Birthday. Quite festive indeed.
Who has a birthday next Thursday? Well come on down, Land’s Sake Supper Club is happening on the 28th at 7pm. The menu is just about ready and you can read more of the details on our website. Thanks for being excited about Farm-to-Plate at Land’s Sake. See you at Supper!
We had a great volunteer day on Earth Day, April 22 when we put about 2,000 shiitake mushroom plugs into fresh cut oak nursery logs. We had a couple other small projects and a good group of volunteers came out to help. A reporter from the Globe came and talked to a few of us, as well a few other local community farms. You can read the article here. I think everyone at Land´s Sake is glad for the growing interest in farming in the suburbs. I hope to see you at the farm real soon. If you want to sign up to volunteer at the farm, please contact Jim at email@example.com. Thanks for your enthusiasm!
Grey Lee, Executive Director
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