Community Farms Outreach
Waltham Fields Community Farm
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Community Farms Outreach Annual Report 2003
by CFO Board of Directors with Staff contributions
The past year was a period of growth and stabilization for Community Farms Outreach. We are proud to highlight our main accomplishments in the following Annual Report. CFO is grateful to its members and supporters for the successes we achieved.
Board Of Directors
The 2003 Board was an ambitious and productive group that worked to develop structures and procedures to anchor the organization within a sound foundation. Meeting monthly, board members deliberated on ways to improve CFO's projects and programs, in addition to fulfilling their oversight roles as a governing body. Through the course of the year, individuals participated in a broad range of volunteer activities. They also monitored the organization's financial status, developed and implemented policies, and guided a membership based community farm and staff. The following comprehensive documents are now part of CFO's operational protocol: CFO Personnel Policy, Financial Policies and Accounting Procedures Manual, Safety Policy Manual, and Board Member Guidelines. In addition, the board engaged in a planning process over the summer to assess farm staffing needs and a proposal to increase revenue through agricultural production. As part of this review, new job positions were created along with a revised benefits package. For the '04 season, the following positions were created: Farm Manager, Assistant Growers (2) Agricultural Apprentices (2) and Administrative and Development Manager. Procedures were adopted for the selection and hiring of CFO managerial staff. A board member redesigned website has allowed us to spread the word of our efforts, and resulted in a number of new volunteer and community connections.
CFO's income is currently projected to be $125,000 this year, with an additional $12,732 carried over from 2002. Expenses through the end of the fiscal year in December are estimated to be $128,000. Our total earned income was $78,600. and we were awarded $31,000. of foundation grants. (We are awaiting the results of a pending grant.) Individual supporters contributed approximately $10,000. to the organization in 2003. We expect to carry over at least $9000. into the new fiscal year. CFO's net assets including large farm equipment, are approximately $10,000. CFO's first comprehensive financial review was completed at the end of Dec. 2002, by Kendig and Miano, Certified Public Accountants as required by law. A similar financial review will be completed for the 2003 fiscal year early in 2004. CFO instituted newly developed financial controls this year by implementing the procedures outlined in our Fiscal Policy and Accounting Procedures Manual. Our Associate Director maintained our financial records using financial software and developed and implemented a fundraising schedule along with members of the Development and Finance Committee. Monthly financial statements were provided to the board who also oversaw the budget through the season.
Waltham Fields Community Farm
The 2003 farming season was very successful in terms of harvest yields, weed management, and the development of two important farm resources: a new harvest tracking system and a skilled crew of shareholder and volunteer fieldworkers. This year has also been notable because of several capital improvements to our farming and CSA operation including the purchase of a mower, new plow and the building of a new distribution shelter.
This year we leased six acres of land, about five of which we used to produce vegetables, flowers and herbs. By November 1, our harvest yields had exceeded those of 2002: 83,551 pounds of vegetables and herbs had been harvested, with a retail value of 154,017. One hundred and fifty-two WFCF CSA shareholders and fourteen worksharers and farm staff received twenty-one weekly shares. The value of these shares was $107,890.00, making the average retail value of a WFCF CSA share $650.00. Produce delivered to emergency food programs totaled 27,464 pounds, for a retail value of $46,128.00.
A system of tracking our harvest data from field to distribution was developed this year. This new system allows us to more accurately track the value of our shares, the type and amount of food donations that various emergency food programs receive. Over the long-run, it will provide useful information about our landís production capacity.
Production issues and land care
Compost and manure was applied to some of the fields and cover crops are now growing on much of the land we farmed this season. The plan for the farm is to increase the amount of organic material in the soil to further increase the soil fertility. On-site composting is one option we are exploring. The single biggest hurdle to making our own compost is the purchase of a tractor with a front-end loader. Since we need to purchase a primary tillage tractor next year, it would be a good investment to get one with a front-end loader.
Weed management was greatly enhanced this year by the purchase of a new mower and over 3,000 hours of shareholder and volunteer fieldwork. The help of many shareholders, volunteers and worksharers was invaluable in keeping the weeds at bay. The help of a team of AmeriCorps volunteers during the peak season for both weeding and harvesting also helped increase our production. We made significant progress in weed control and there were fewer weeds in the fields this year than last. There are still a lot of weed seeds in the soil, and this will continue to pose a challenge in the future. However, the farm has definitely turned a corner in the area of weed management.
The CFO Board of Directors and Farm Manager decided to pursue leasing additional farmland, both at the Field Station and at the nearby Lyman Estates. Additional land will increase our capacity to be more financially self-sufficient.
This year, a safety policy was developed for the farm. Our farm staff participated in first aid training, with our Farm Manager and Assistant Farm Manager also getting certified in Child and Adult CPR. Farm staff and some of our regular volunteers received training in the safe use of both mechanized farming equipment and hand tools. Farm staff, interns and volunteers also attended the summer NOFA conference and the bi-weekly CRAFT visits to area farms.
After two years at WFCF, our Farm Manager and Assistant Farm Manager/Associate Director will be moving on to greener pastures next year. We thank them and wish them the very best of luck in the future.
This year, the work of our paid farm staff was supplemented by a crew of ten shareholders and eight work sharers who regularly came to the fields to work and learn about farming. Many other WFCF CSA shareholders and CFO members came to work in the fields once, twice or monthly. Altogether, our members contributed more than 2,000 hours of field labor.
Produce Donations Program
Efforts were made this year to design a produce distribution and delivery program that was tailored to the agencies' needs. Meetings were held with three local hunger relief agencies in the spring to identify program needs and to establish a weekly charity harvest and distribution schedule for each program. These agencies included the Waltham Salvation Army, Waltham Red Cross, and Bristol Lodge Homeless Shelters. Food For Free in Cambridge was the recipient of the large surpluses harvested during the season. This season, 27,464 pounds, a retail value of $46,128. worth of fresh organically produced vegetables were donated to local food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters, bringing our combined totals to 147, 500 pounds since 1995. CSA volunteers organized themselves into a distribution network to pick-up and deliver to local charities on a weekly basis.
During the summer we continued our fifth year working with Cambridge Adventure Day Camp, a summer program serving at-risk youth in Cambridge. Over the course of six weeks, four groups of children visited Waltham Fields Community Farm. Each group visited three times, so the kids were able to see changes and growth. All of the groups were able to use the childrenís garden and the camp coordinated the groups so that kids who visited the farm in the morning did a cooking activity in the afternoon, often using vegetables from the farm. In addition, we worked with local school groups to provide educational programming on the topic of sustainable agriculture.
Our educational mission also involves reconnecting adults with where and how their food is grown. Much of this educational experience is hands-on, reflecting the way people have always learned about food production. People come to Waltham Fields from a wide array of backgrounds. In August we were again able to host incoming first-year students from Tufts University and Boston University for a service-learning experience. This summer we developed a new relationship with The Carroll Center for the Blind, with weekly visits from a crew that was able to simultaneously work on their mobility and provide us with volunteer labor. While some visitors only experienced a few hours on the farm, many others came to the farm repeatedly throughout the season. Groups include school groups, religious groups, corporate volunteers, and others. Overall, these groups logged more than 4,000 hours of fieldwork with more than 70 visits from more than 35 different groups.
Farmland Preservation Project: Friends of Cornelia Warren Farm
We faced a concern regarding our tenancy at the Waltham Field Station this year because of budget cuts at the University of Massachusetts. However, the University opted not to close the Field Station for the moment. Heat will not be available in our greenhouse, but we anticipate partnering with other tenants who still have heat to start transplants.
The CFO board of directors officially approved supporting the work of Friends of Cornelia Warren Farm (FCWF) as its primary farmland preservation project. FCWF, an informal association of tenants and users, has organized to work with the UMass in developing a master plan for the future of the Waltham site. An ad hoc steering committee, including three CFO representatives, met with Vice Chancellor John Mullin to discuss the future of the site in February and to present a vision statement that the group had developed. In October, the group met again with Dr. Mullin, to hear an update regarding future site plans in light of the FY04 budget cuts. It was clear from that meeting, that CFO must convene a planning group to develop a proposal for keeping the facility open in the next fiscal year. UMass expressed support for the concept of having the facility be administered by a nonprofit collaborative for a period of from 3-5 years. Over the next several months, CFO will lead the efforts to analyze the complex issues involved in such an arrangement with the goal of developing a resolution that will meet the needs of those who currently use the facility.