Unique Farming Opportunity in Eastern Massachusetts.
Crystal Spring Earth Learning Center is located in Plainville, MA. This special property has a rich history as a sanctuary for the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Since 1949 the resident Sisters have hosted educational, spiritual and agricultural activities on the 42-acre site.
With a commitment to sustainability and harmony, the Sisters seek a farming tenant who shares their commitment to revitalizing the land. The farmer or farm couple will be offered a long-term, affordable lease for at least 12 acres of mostly open prime farm soils. Other portions of the property are suited to pasture, perennial fruit and/or other tree crops. Thirty-two acres are protected and the property abuts Town conservation land. There is no active farming there now.
The farm portion is appropriate for a small-scale, diversified farm operation. Types of enterprises might include a CSA, permaculture, small livestock and/or poultry, demonstration or community gardens and agro-forestry. The location offers good access to markets and a supportive local community. There are several modest farm structures, plus access to water and electricity.
Various scenarios are possible, including a farmer providing compensated property management services and/or farm-related educational programs. The farmer(s) could live off-site or in a small cottage on the property through a rental agreement.
The two resident sisters are also seeking compatible tenants for the large main house, part of which is rented by Red Tomato, a nonprofit producer marketer.
An open house is scheduled for November 22nd. For further details and information on the application process, contact Kathy Ruhf at email@example.com.
The Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) is excited to announce the hiring of Jason Wentworth as its new Executive Director. Wentworth, who has served as Legislative Aide to State Representative Christopher M. Markey of Dartmouth since 2011, brings a diverse skillset to his new role with SEMAP. “One of my primary focuses since joining the Legislature almost 4 years ago has been working to sustain and enhance agriculture within Massachusetts, and particularly Southeastern Massachusetts,” said Wentworth. “I’m very eager to continue that work as Executive Director of SEMAP.”
Jason started with SEMAP on September 15, 2014. In the first 2 weeks on the job, Jason has been busy visiting local farms and listening to the needs of local growers, connecting with allies across the region, and planning programming for the upcoming fall & winter.
Derek Christianson, Chairman of the Board of SEMAP and owner/farmer at Brix Bounty Farm in Dartmouth, pointed to local agriculture’s experience working with Wentworth as one of many factors why they chose him to captain SEMAP into its next phase. “Jason has been in the fields with many of our region’s farmers already, listening and asking questions, and putting that knowledge to use. He’s been a great advocate and will no doubt continue to work to that end,” said Christianson. He also added that Wentworth’s experiences with budgeting, program management and constituent services will be important as SEMAP continues to strive to support local farmers.
Wentworth noted that his mission and the mission of SEMAP is elementary but of extreme importance. “This effort is going to be farmer driven. We are going to continue to identify how we can best support our local farmers and growers and act accordingly,” said Wentworth. “More people are buying locally these days, and agriculture is still a crucial component of our region’s overall economy. Having said that, farmers know best on what needs to get done. We will continue to build ourselves as the indispensable resource for local agriculture.”
In addition to serving as Legislative Aide, Wentworth was previously employed as Business Manager at UMass Boston, Program Director at ASC English in Boston and LiteracyWorks Entrepreneur at the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board. He has also served as a Town Meeting Member and Member of the Finance Committee for the Town of Dartmouth, as a mentor with SMILES and has been involved with many charitable efforts, most recently running the Boston Marathon and raising money for victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Although this coming weekend’s forecast might feel a little more like summer than autumn, it’s still perfect weather for some fall related farm activities. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Lynn and Peter Reading’s farm in Plympton. Billingsgate Farm not only has great organic produce, but pick-your-own pumpkins and a huge, 3½ acre corn maze. This year’s maze theme is “Pirate Adventure.” When starting the maze, you are given a worksheet with a word game and picture find. As you go through the maze, there are several check points where you can find the answers to these puzzles. Adding this “scavenger hunt” to the maze was really fun (and educational!) Although I spent a long time in the maze, and got plenty lost, I wasn’t able to find all of the story boards and picture stations. It’s quite the challenge! Upon completing the maze, you can take a ride back to the stand on the Grain Train. In addition to the Pirate Treasure maze, there are other activities for children (and young-at-heart adults), such as the Finger Funnies game, the Kiddie Corn Maze, the Hay Bale Maze, wagon rides, and the Corn Box (think sand box, replacing the sand with corn kernels). Later in October, there will also be Flashlight Nights (corn maze after dark) and Dog Days at the Maze.
Billingsgate also had a large selection of gorgeous pumpkins to choose from, both picked or pick-your-own. Additionally, the Readings had a great mixture of fruits and vegetables, as well as local eggs, jams, jellies, syrups, and dressings. I had a great time at the farm and it was wonderful talking with Lynn and Peter. Be sure to pick up some produce if you’re in the area…and have fun getting lost!
It’s September and pumpkin season is in full swing! The South Shore Great Pumpkin Challenge (SSGPC) will be having its annual weigh-in from 12pm-4pm on September 28th at Palm Landscape and Farm in Easton. The director of the film “Rise of the Giants” has been following this year’s challenge, which has been getting not only local, but global media coverage. The SSGPC was only started three years ago, but has grown into something spectacular. This year Todd Sandstrum and Fred Dabney potted and grew 450 Dill Atlantic Giant Pumpkin seedlings and gave out over 600 seedlings. Seedlings have been planted all the way from Worcester to the Cape Cod Canal. Over 50 schools were recipients of these seedlings. Over 100 students at Bristol Aggie alone are growing seeds from the SSGPC.
This year is the first year that the weigh-in will be open to the public. To bring awareness to the event, Todd has started the “Mile of Orange.” Giant pumpkins will be found from the Original Easton Farmers’ Market all the way to the Center Elementary School. Local artists will be carving and painting the “Mile of Orange” pumpkins. On Saturdays September 13th, 20th, and 27th, kids can create their own pumpkin lantern at Simpson Spring Marketplace; lanterns will be illuminating the “Mile of Orange” stretch on the weekend of October 4th to 5th.
The South Shore Great Pumpkin Challenge is working hard to become a non-profit, with the goal of getting children outdoors and interested in growing. They feel that pumpkins can be used to teach math, science, history, and even writing. The SSGPC, teamed with Coast of Maine Organic Products Inc, will be giving out a grant to either a public school, daycare, or nonprofit for an agricultural program or project “keep kids in the dirt.”
The Great Pumpkin Challenge is free and open to the public. This is a great fall event that can’t be missed!