Community Farms Outreach and Staff
Community Farms Outreach
Waltham Fields Community Farm
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Community Farms Outreach
ANNUAL REPORT 2004

by CFO Board of Directors and Staff
December 2004

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The 2004 board was a group of individuals who worked together to expand upon and strengthen CFO's work in farmland preservation, hunger relief, and education. In committees and at monthly board meetings, board directors fulfilled their oversight roles as a governing body, monitoring the organization's financial status, developing several new policies, and revising two important policy documents, the CFO Personnel Policy and the Financial Policies. Using selection and hiring procedures created by the 2003 board, the board hired new management staff.

Board directors worked individually and as committee members to orient new management staff, maintain our website, publish the CSA and CFO newsletters, create an informational display about CFO, create the 2005 CFO budget, and recruit and nominate new board directors. Board directors maintained computer systems, coached and assisted staff of the Children's Learning Garden, and secured newspaper coverage of our work in the local paper. Board directors, with the help of nonboard members and volunteers, also organized and held our annual Spring Fling and Silent Auction fundraiser in May and the Historic Waltham Days event in June.

The CFO board of directors and management staff in 2004 began preparing to undertake a strategic planning initiative in 2005. Several board directors and our Farm Manager attended a workshop on strategic planning for nonprofit organizations in early 2004. A Strategic Planning Leadership group comprised of board directors, CFO staff, and CFO members has been formed and is coordinating this work.

FINANCIAL STATUS

Community Farms Outreach is entering 2005 in sound financial condition. As of December 1, CFO's 2004 income was $162,318. Income generated from our Community Supported Agriculture program was $113,108. We received $18,000 in foundation grants and we were awaiting pending grants. Expenses as of December 1 were $125,034.

Investments in our agricultural operation included the restoration of a donated tractor, and the purchase of a tractor with a front-end loader, a variety of farming implements, and a 30' x 72' heated hoophouse. As of December 1 we had invested $30,510 in capital improvements. The change in net assets as of December 1, 2004 was approximately $36,000.

Community Farms Outreach received financial support in 2004 from many individuals, area businesses, community groups, and foundations. Individual supporters contributed more than $25,000 to our work this year. Over sixty area businesses, temples, churches, universities, and community groups made financial contributions or donated goods and services to support our fundraising efforts. Our Spring Fling and Silent Auction, our Annual Appeal, and corporate contributions have all brought in income that exceeded our budgeted goals for the year. Foundations that supported us in 2004 include the Jane B. Cook 1992 Charitable Trust, Charles and Sarah Goldberg Charitable Trust, Robbins- de Beaumont Foundation, Draper Laboratory, Green Leaf Foundation, Foundation M, George A. Ramlose Foundation, and the Porter Family Foundation.

Our Administrative and Development Manager generates monthly financial statements and quarterly reports using Quickbooks Premier 2003 Nonprofit edition, which was purchased and installed in 2004. Another improvement to our accounting system includes a cash flow chart that allows finances to be tracked on a cash basis. CFO retained an accountant, John M. Monticone, CPA, of Medford, MA, who completed a financial review of 2003 in accordance with nonprofit accounting regulations. A copy of this review is available at our offices for viewing.

FARMLAND PRESERVATION

Waltham Fields Community Farm

The 2004 farming season was a year of transition and growth for our farm. Our land under cultivation grew to nine acres with the rental of three acres of farmland at the Lyman Estate, a property owned by Historic New England one mile from our Field Station site. This expanded both our capacity to preserve farmland and our ability to produce high-quality organic food for our CSA shareholders and hunger relief partners. Capital improvements, including a new tillage tractor, heated 30'x 72' hoophouse, Celli spader, Perfecta cultivator, and plastic mulch layer, provided the foundation for the development of new farming systems on our land. Soil test results show that our land management practices are making progress towards long-term ecological sustainability, the growth of our community supported agriculture program (CSA) is helping our farm make progress towards economic sustainability, and our hunger relief and education programs are continuing our work towards a more socially just and sustainable food system.

Harvest data

In 2004, we grew flower, herb, and vegetable crops on six acres of land, while primarily building up the Lyman Estate acres with cover crops. Our total harvest (excluding flowers and perennial herbs) was valued at $140,191, or $23,367 per acre. Our 185 regular CSA shareholders, seven work shares, and five farm staff and interns received twenty-one weekly shares. The value of these shares was $102,834, making the average retail value of a CSA share from Waltham Fields Community Farm $556.00. The total value of produce designated for hunger relief was $37,891, or 27% of the total value of our harvested produce.

Production issues and land care

Our purchase of a tractor with a front-end loader increased our capacity to produce compost on-site in 2004. We constructed large compost windrows that will enhance our ability to make use of our waste products to promote soil fertility and, in the long run, decrease our purchase of off-farm inputs. In 2004, we purchased 30 cubic yards of compost and spread it on a number of fields that did not receive it in 2003. Soil tests show that our soil contains substantial amounts of organic matter, an average of 7.3%, and high to very high levels of nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Our work in the coming year will be to continue to increase soil organic matter in our fields while taking steps to make soil nutrients available to crop plants. Ongoing cover cropping, including the use of quick summer cover between crops when possible, will help us smother weeds and enhance fertility while contributing to the health of our land. Use of a variety of tillage methods, including our spader and disk, will help us avoid the compaction and plow pan that can be related to repeated use of the same tillage method.

Weeds continued to be an issue at both the Field Station and the Lyman Estate this season, decreasing productivity to a noticeable extent. Our farm staff will take an extremely proactive approach to weeds in 2005, including intensive stale seedbed preparation, regular flame weeding, and rigorous tractor cultivation along with hand-weeding and hoeing.

Insect pests are also an issue at our Field Station site, which has been continually cropped for many years. In particular, onion maggot, cabbage root maggot, corn earworm in peppers, potato beetles, and flea beetles were the cause of substantial crop damage and reduced yields this season. We will create particular plans for dealing with each of these pests in 2005. Woodchucks are also an ongoing problem at the Field Station site and at the Lyman Estate.

The construction of a 30' x 72' heated hoophouse in November of 2004 represents a tremendous asset to our agricultural infrastructure at Waltham Fields Community Farm. This hoophouse will enable us to produce high-quality, well-timed transplants throughout the growing season, and will serve as a storage and curing facility for crops such as onions and winter squash. It will also allow us to use our 14'x48' unheated field hoophouse for season extension in 2005.

Farm personnel

Our farm staff for the 2004 season consisted of a Farm Manager, two full-season Assistant Growers, two part-time 13-week Education and Agriculture Interns, and seven work share positions. A work sharer exchanges labor for a share of produce. Three regular work sharers joined the staff in the fields each week throughout the season. Our flower and herb grower, also a work share position, joined us once again for the 2004 season. In addition, CSA work sharers oversaw our two on-farm produce distributions and coordinated the visits of groups and individuals who volunteered their services at the farm.

Friends of Waltham Field Station

We continued to face concerns in 2004 regarding our tenancy at the Waltham Field Station because of fiscal restraints and management changes at the University of Massachusetts. CFO made a concerted effort to address uncertainty about the future of the Field Station by taking a leadership role in site preservation efforts. These efforts included strengthening the network of site tenants and supporters, enhancing communication among users, and consolidating this support into an informal association, Friends of Waltham Field Station. Monthly meetings of this group were held from January through June, culminating in a site-wide Open House on June 12th during Historic Waltham Days. To support this effort, a database of Field Station users and supporters has been developed, along with an e-mail list and chat group to facilitate the exchange of information among groups. In addition, surveys were disseminated and information tallied to identify common concerns and interests in the site.

Working with the Friends of WFS, we developed and submitted to the University a proposal for a joint UMass-CFO planning task force. The proposal sought to engage UMass administration in a constructive dialog to insure the continued use of the site by community groups and to address issues regarding site preservation. A Steering Committee composed of CFO members, board directors, and other Field Station supporters was formed to guide this effort by developing a viable business plan for the Waltham Field Station with the input and support of current users. CFO sent this proposal to the UMass Outreach and Extension administration. When it became apparent that UMass would not formally respond to the proposal, the Steering Committee decided to proceed with the work of developing a business plan with detailed objectives and goals to keep the Field Station open and flourishing.

The Steering Committee has collected and analyzed data about who uses the site, how often and for what reasons. Information provided by users indicates that more than thirty groups with a total membership of almost 5000 people use the facilities on a regular basis for a wide range of agricultural purposes. The committee has begun the process of assessing the physical plant, operational and administrative costs, and staffing levels. The initial business plan, expected to be complete early in 2005, will provide CFO and the Friends of WFS with facts and figures to describe the current status of the site.

More importantly, the business plan will provide a framework from which to model new programs and site improvements as reflected by the needs and interests of current users. It will be adaptable and responsive to community input through time. If new programs are identified and agencies are found who can partner or provide funding, this plan could be an integral part of such endeavors. Whether UMass continues to maintain ownership and/or if they begin to develop alternative plans for the site, CFO and the Friends of WFS will be better prepared to advocate on behalf of our collective interests.

Lyman Estate Farmland, Newton's Angino Farm, Gann Academy Garden Projects

CFO has been actively supporting other local efforts to preserve and reclaim farmland.

A small parcel of farmland in Waltham became available in the spring of 2004 when our neighboring farmer, Steve Parker, decided to consolidate his farming operation elsewhere. CFO made arrangements to take over the management of this land. This three-acre field is located on the Lyman Estate and is owned by Historic New England (formerly the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities). Originally part of a much larger estate, this land has long been used for agriculture. Now part of Waltham Fields Community Farm, this field will allow our farmland preservation, hunger relief, and farmer education programs to expand.

CFO board directors, staff, and members had the privilege of supporting the work of a group of Newton citizens whose efforts have resulted in the preservation of the last farm in Newton. On December 6, 2004, the Newton Board of Aldermen voted to approve the purchase of the Angino farm, 2.3 acres of land located on Nahanton Street. Supporters envision the farm as a resource for the Newton community, providing residents with educational experiences and organically grown produce.

The Gann Academy, a private Jewish high school in Waltham, has long brought their students to Waltham Field Community Farm for service-learning experiences. Recently, the Academy moved to Forest Street in Waltham, a site with a good deal of open space. Aware that a farm could serve as a wonderful platform for engaging youth in science, environmental education, religious studies, and community service, the Gann headmaster and faculty soon began talking about creating their own farm. At their invitation, CFO board members and staff have been providing support and guidance to the Gann faculty as they plan to construct a heated greenhouse and begin farming almost an acre of land.

HUNGER RELIEF

In 2004 we continued our efforts to tailor our hunger relief donations to the specific needs of our partner organizations. In addition to meeting with our partner organizations before the season began to discuss their scheduling and produce needs, we conducted a mid-season survey to ascertain how the quantity and variety of produce we were supplying was meeting those needs. The surveys helped us provide produce that would be most useful to each partner organization. It is clear that more information on the varieties of produce, along with simple recipes in several languages, would be helpful to all of our partner organizations.

We provided produce on a regular basis to emergency food programs at the Waltham Salvation Army, the Red Cross in Waltham, and Food for Free in Cambridge. In addition, we delivered produce twice a week to Sandra's Lodge, a local shelter for homeless women and children. The value of produce delivered to emergency food programs and shelters totaled $21,285. It is our plan to steadily increase the value of the produce that we donate to our hunger relief partners in 2005 while continuing to develop the integrity and specificity of our donations program.

In addition to continuing our work with emergency food programs in 2004, CFO embarked on a new type of program to provide produce to low-income families on a regular basis. Our organization partnered with the urban agriculture program at Re-Vision House, a shelter for pregnant and parenting women in Dorchester, to provide 50 shares to low-income residents of the Lena Park Housing Development in Boston. These shareholders paid a reduced price for their shares and received produce for 19 weeks. The value of produce delivered to our Lena Park shareholders totaled $16,606, or $332 per share. Re-Vision House paid CFO $250 per CSA share using money from a USDA grant. In 2005, we hope to make connections with agencies and populations in our own community to pilot a similar program locally.

Five CFO members contributed more than 100 hours of volunteer labor to provide delivery of produce on a regular weekly schedule to our hunger relief partners in 2004.

EDUCATION

The 2004 season was extremely useful in helping us better understand how our organization can sustainably link education with meaningful work. Because we are a working farm, each group that visits Waltham Fields must engage in productive work in order to justify the staff time that we spend on education. We believe that even the youngest visitors can make a contribution to the work of our farm, and conversely, that even the most hard-working volunteer experience should include an educational component. In 2004 our staff developed and piloted an introduction to our land and our mission that connected each volunteer and educational group with the context for their work. Making each group aware of the connections between the particular task they are doing on the farm and each aspect of our mission both contributes to their educational experience and enhances the quality of the work that they do on the farm. In 2005 we will work on refining our educational offerings based on our experiences this season to ensure that every group that visits the farm has a service-learning experience with us: an educational encounter against the backdrop of a meaningful contribution to the work of the farm.

One of the most important types of educating that we do at Community Farms Outreach is to teach the members of our community. We continually educate our members about our mission using our CFO newsletters and our seasonal weekly CSA newsletters. These tools, along with the face-to-face education that we are able to do at our CSA distributions, provide an ongoing education in the deeper aspects of our work to the people who support it. Our annual events, including the Spring Fling, the Annual Meeting, and our new seasonal celebrations, all contain an educational component aimed at connecting members with an ongoing discussion of the concepts of farmland preservation and hunger relief, as well as with their concrete manifestations.

A summary of CFO's three major educational components follows.

Farmer Training Program

Our Assistant Grower positions-newly conceived for the 2004 season as advanced opportunities in farmer training for individuals with one or more seasons of farming experience-attracted many highly qualified applicants. The two staff members that we hired did an exceptional job in these positions. One is moving on to graduate studies in sustainable agriculture and natural resource management, while the other is searching for an advanced management position in organic farming. Regular feedback sessions, ongoing in-the-row education, and intense practice with farm decision-making and personnel management contributed to making these positions very successful farmer training tools in 2004.

We also continued our engagement with educating our local agricultural community through our participation in the Eastern Massachusetts Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training.

Service Learning Program

School groups from Waltham, Newton, Framingham, Lexington, and Cambridge visited the farm during the 2004 season. Beaver Country Day School in Newton and the Gann Academy/New Jewish High School in Waltham made repeated visits to the farm to help with all aspects of our spring and fall agriculture work. Framingham Charter School brought our largest school group: 70 sixth graders helped cover our garlic crop with straw mulch and learned about cover cropping, composting, economic and environmental sustainability, and many other aspects of our work. Our youngest group, a preschool, hunted for bugs and dug potatoes. Individual high school students from Lexington, Cambridge, and Boston contributed more than 100 hours of volunteer labor on the farm to fulfill community service requirements, a resource and educational opportunity that we will definitely tap more fully in 2005.

In addition to school groups, more than 40 corporate, religious, and university groups visited the farm in 2004. In all, over 50 education and volunteer groups made visits to the farm, contributing a total of more than 4000 hours of labor. Individual volunteers, including CSA shareholders, high school students, visiting farmers, and others, contributed more than 3500 hours.

CFO was proud to host an AmeriCorps/NCCC team at Waltham Fields Community Farm again in 2004. These eight committed young people spent eight weeks serving and learning with us in July and August, the height of the growing season. Our Farm Manager and Assistant Growers developed a service-learning curriculum for the team this season that provided them with a well-rounded perspective on our local food system, including volunteer days at other local farms that contribute to hunger relief, at emergency food programs including our own hunger relief partners, and at urban agriculture projects in Boston. Team members also completed service-learning opportunities that introduced to them to other aspects of ecology, including invasive species elimination at the Lyman Estate. The AmeriCorps team also took part in weekly seminars at Waltham Fields Community Farm on topics including community food security, organic pest and disease management, tractor and equipment basics, cover cropping, and season extension. Weekly feedback sessions contributed to the group's development as a team and as individuals during their time on the farm.

Children's Learning Garden

Camp counselors described our sixth season of working with Cambridge Adventure Day Camp, a summer program serving at-risk youth in Cambridge, as "the best ever." Building on our 2003 model of having campers visit several times and augmenting each visit with a farm-based cooking activity, our education intern engaged children in scavenger hunts, cooperative games, and worm investigations with the help of a board member. Activities from Seattle Tilth's Teaching Peace Through Gardening curriculum were very popular with the campers and will form the basis for next season's summer program.