Open Farms Tour
August 8, 2009
The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (NESFP) is an organization that helps people survive as farmers. I am involved with the project because I have a share in their community supported agriculture program (World Peas), which I have posted about before. On Thursday, New Entry held an open farms tour for anyone interested in sustainable agriculture, the farms their food is grown on, or perhaps joining the CSA. The participants got a good look at what New Entry’s mission is. This project is a valuable resource for new farmers and I believe many more programs like it are needed to help reform agriculture in the country.
We started the tour at Richardson’s Dairy in Dracut, MA. There are no longer any livestock at the site, but there is a fair bit of farmland. This location serves as an incubation spot for farmers, the packaging site for CSA boxes, and the New Entry head quarters. What I mean by incubation site is that young farmers that have taken the New Entry Exploring Farming! course where students learn about risk management in the field, then hop on one to try their hand in farming. They get a small plot and help from the New Entry staff to become more comfortable with managing all of the unpredictability of farming. After three years or less New Entry helps them start their own farm.
There is also a business planning course offered. We spoke with some UTEC (United Teen Equality Center) young adults who are farming at the incubation site at Richardson’s Dairy. New Entry helped them to design a business plan to sell their vegetables which they accomplish through the World Peas CSA, catering, a baked goods and flower CSA, and various events. New Entry gives UTEC the organization and experience in farming that the kids lack, and UTEC offers the labor and the dedication to teamwork and to a better livelihood. With all organic farming, not even the soil loses in this equation.
We took a ride to another farming site in Dracut where New Entry farmers from Africa, Korea and Cambodia had plots. These farmers are dedicated to their crops and to their way of life. Many of them farmed in their home countries before immigrating to the United States. New Entry helps these people who don’t speak perfect English and who aren’t familiar with the farm market in the US to get on their feet, manage their own business, and grow crops that are important to their culture and health. These farmers are innovative and have built among many things hand-made trellises from sticks and installed irrigation systems. They do all of their work organically and by hand. The World Peas CSA and wholesale options keep the farmers afloat, and tending to the land and their crops makes them feel comfortable and self-sufficient away from home.
It feels great to be apart of a program that is dedicated to small-scale farming and to recruiting hard-working and passionate people to the field (pun intended). I hope to take the New Entry courses sometime down the line.
Pictures and recap in the August issue of the New Entry Newsletter.