August marks the start of our pilot youth crew program, employing local teens to work on the farm and sell produce at the Waltham Farmers' Market on Saturdays. Our five crew members, Annie, Calvin, Danny, Kira, and Lizzy have been settling in and getting to know the crops and our farmers. So far they've spent time with Sutton learning about harvesting, joined in with the weed crew, made farm-fresh snacks in our solar kitchen, learned about the principles of organic farming and helped maintain the Learning Garden. They'll be harvesting their hearts out this Friday, and you can look forward to meeting them in pairs at each of the next three Saturday Farmers' Markets in downtown Waltham!
Four of our Youth Crew members work on the living fence under the direction of our Youth Crew Leader, Alex Lennon-Simon, who has rejoined our education team after working with us in 2010.
Farmer for a Week - Program in the Learning Garden
9am-3pm, For students entering 4-6th grades
Just a few spaces left for the last of our summer programs. Sign your child up today for a week of fun & learning on the farm!
Shop at Artefact Home/Garden
Sat., Sept. 21
1000 Pleasant St.
A 2013 Best of Boston award for
decorative accessories for the home is just the latest in a stream of much-deserved recognitions for sisters Maureen and Sue Walsh, owners of Artefact. Maureen and Sue are also incredibly supportive of Waltham Fields, with Sept. 21st set aside as a day for community members to check out Artefact's wares and purchase them at a discount, with proceeds benefitting the work of the farm. Phone orders count as well!
Workshops: Peppers & Purees
Pepper Variety &
Sun, Sept. 22
At the Farm
w/ Chef Joh Kokubo of Kitchen on Common Restaurant and Farmer Dan from Waltham Fields. Registration opens mid-August
Make Your Own Baby Food
Sat, Oct. 12
At the Farm
Join Educator Kim Hunter for instruction and practice making organic vegetable purees and other tasty meals for your child/children.
Registration opens mid-August.
Community Events On and Off the Farm!
NOFA Summer Conference
Over 200 sessions on organic farming and gardening, land care, nutrition, policy, and more! Includes programs and entertainment for all ages.
Don't miss this year's Big E, with exhibits like Farm-A-Rama and Butter Sculpture among food, games, and live music. This event is put on by Eastern States Exposition, a nonprofit working to preserve New England's heritage through agriculture, education and industry.
Waltham Farm Day
Sat., Oct. 5
At the Farm
SAVE THE DATE! Free event celebrating local farming and MA Harvest for Students Week.
EVENT VOLUNTEER HELP NEEDED leading up to and during Farm Day. Contact Kim to lend a hand.
Boston Local Food Festival
Sun., Oct. 6
Now in its 4th year, the BLFF is presented by the Sustainable Business Network of MA. The festival offers a wide variety of demonstrations and entertainment, samples & products from farms, artisan producers, and area restaurants.
Efforts in Lexington and Waltham
Coming to Fruition
Waltham Fields is teaming up with the LexFarm nonprofit to create a community farm in Lexington: In 2009, the Town of Lexington purchased an 8-acre farm property from the Busa family, and since then, it has been leasing the land back to the family to continue farming until new uses begin. With a number of reuse options on the table, LexFarm organized to engage citizens in advocacy for preserving the farmland and creating a community farm. With broad constituency support, the Town's Selectmen voted in favor of this vision in March 2012, with a half-acre set aside for construction of affordable housing units. And just this past week, the Town accepted a proposal from LexFarm to manage the lease and programming, in cooperation with Waltham Fields running the farm operation and farm store. We are excited about this new opportunity for expanding organic vegetable production in our region, with important linkages to our farmer training and food access work. We look forward to sharing more details as the planning progresses.
Community Preservation Commission considers City of Waltham purchase of Arrigo farm property: The Waltham City Council has adopted a resolution to sponsor an application to the Community Preservation Committee to acquire the Arrigo farm site under open space and historic criteria for the purpose of leasing this farmland for local farming. This acquisition will permanently preserve the farm for the benefit of current and future generations. Arrigo farm is one of the oldest existing family farms in the country - since the 1600's. It sits on the northeastern side of Waltham, on the Waltham/Watertown border, less than a mile from the UMass-owned site where Waltham Fields is based. With no farmers left and descendants living elsewhere, the Arrigo family is interested in selling the property. Approached by members of the Waltham Land Trust and Waltham Fields Community Farm, the family responded favorably to holding off on selling to developers to see if Community Preservation Act funds could be accessed to have the land preserved as a working farm. Waltham Land Trust is leading the charge in coordinating action steps around this application. See their website for more information or to get involved.
UMass Center for Urban Sustainability in Waltham gaining traction: With leadership from Steve Goodwin, UMass Dean of the College of Natural Sciences, and Kathleen Carroll, UMass Extension Director of the Agriculture & Landscape Program, in collaboration with UMass Waltham property tenants including ourselves, the Waltham Land Trust, Mass Farmers Markets, and the GROW community gardens, a plan has emerged to create the UMass Center for Urban Sustainability in Waltham. Executive Director Claire Kozower accompanied UMass representatives on two visits with legislators at the State House last month in order to share excitement for this plan. The Waltham property has enormous potential to serve a broad range of needs as a gathering and learning space, offering education and resources in promotion of local food production, turf and landscape management, and wise resource use. Lease arrangements with current property users will be maintained, with redevelopment focusing on the building footprints. Existing structures in serious disrepair will be removed, and replaced with a 20,000 sq. ft. LEED-certified building with meeting space, offices and a certified kitchen. The demolition of dilapidated structures will also create opportunities for new educational initiatives and demonstrations to be incorporated into the site as well. Stay tuned for more information about how you can lend your support for site revitalization, including supporting a request to earmark dollars for this initiative in the 2014 Environmental Bond Bill.
Our Three Little Pigs Are
Not So Little Anymore!
Zannah Porter's independent project during her second year in our farmer training program focuses on raising three pigs at our Gateways land, integrating them into our vegetable production and land management efforts. The pigs are siblings from the same litter and a mix of several heritage breeds. They weighed between 25 and 35lbs. when we got them in the spring, and are up to about 120lbs. now!
The pigs are being rotated on a field that was sown with forage crops of oats, peas, and a few other grains on hand. In addition they get veggie scraps from the farm and a pelleted pig feed produced by a small company based in Vermont. The pigs are rotated every few weeks in order to give them fresh forage and encourage them to spread out their manure. In order to keep the pigs cool a wallow is dug in each new section of pasture.
These animals are very efficient at turning over the soil. Their noses are incredible digging tools. They root for grubs and plant roots and even dig up rocks (which is very helpful because the fields at Gateways are so rocky). When they are done with a section of pasture they leave behind exposed soil that is ready to be sewn with new cover crop. Buckwheat is being planted behind the pigs, as it is a quick growing plant which can outcompete weeds and shade them out, keeping the field clean for next year's vegetables. Buckwheat is also a great catch crop meaning it takes up nutrients that the pigs have left behind.
Assuming the next couple weeks go well, we'll be letting you all know about the chance to participate in a lottery for some of the meat. Current thinking is to sell off two of the pigs in quarters, with one of them going toward a community meal this fall.
Summer Internships Provide Fulfilling Job Experiences
Ashley Kemembin, Nina Katz-Christy, and Zoe Levitt are moving on after successful summer internships, but hopefully their work with us will have as much of a lasting impression on them as it has had on the farm. From helping with our Learning Garden programs and our farm production (weeding, and more weeding!), to showing up each day with smiles on their faces, a readiness to do whatever's needed, and interest in engaging in thoughtful conversation, it has been a joy to learn and benefit from these energetic young women. Nina and Zoe are Cambridge high school students, whose work was enabled through the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program. Ashely is a student at Temple University and comes to us through the Forest Foundation, which is actively engaged in the leadership development of undergraduate college students and their exposure to the nonprofit sector.
Forest Foundation Intern
Nina Katz-Christy and Zoe Levitt, Interns through the City of Cambridge Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program
Of her experience, Ashley says:
My internship at Waltham Fields Community Farm (WFCF) has been one the most fun times of my life. When I started, I was apprehensive to say the least. I had never been on farm before - besides to pick up a meat order - and I am not exactly what you would call the outdoorsy type. However, I stepped up to my personal challenge of going outside my comfort zone and I entered my new role with an open mind.
I begin each day working with the weed crew, an essential and valued role at this farm. And the rest of my day brings variety to my experience; I can be working in the Learning Garden with Kim, assisting with farm visits, working on my own independent project to create a virtual tour of the farm, or even filing and laminating or other basic office tasks. My various roles set the tone for what working in a nonprofit environment demands: teamwork. I hope when I enter my future careers I am blessed enough to be able to work again in a setting where the staff not only care about their cause, but each other also.
One of the most important skills I have developed is to be a good listener. WFCF listens to what the local community needs then provides it for them. I spend a good chunk of time with many of the volunteers, hearing their stories, and how they ended up at WFCF. Each has left a lasting impression and they have all encouraged me to continue my studies with a focus in public health, which has such clear connections to the work of this farm.
I now know why the advertisements, "Have you thanked a farmer today?" have spread like wildfire all over the country. Farming is an essential but hard job, and only certain types of people can do it. I am just pleased that my internship allows me to thank at least one every day!
Our 2012 Annual Report
Huge thanks to all of our members, volunteers, program participants, and supporters, including our Local Business Heroes, for helping to make 2012 an incredibly successful year! Click here to see our annual report from last year and from previous years as well!