Nestled in a sweet spot between routes 24, 495 and 44, Freedom Food Farm is the embodiment of farm riding a wave of excitement and enthusiasm. Since their move from Rhode Island two years ago, Freedom Food Farm’s growth has been intensive, building both infrastructure – coolers, greenhouses and a new farm stand – as well a customer base in their new location just north of Rte. 44 in Raynham. The integrated farm uses organic and biodynamic principles to manage vegetable production and animal husbandry practices.
Leasing an 88-acre parcel, formerly the Leonard Beef Farm that abuts the Taunton River, farmer Chuck Currie worked with the owner to create a financially viable farm lease on agriculturally preserved land. But as most of us know, farming is not a business for the faint of heart and growing at such a large scale, and so quickly, requires herculean effort. Chuck leads the farm crew of five people, most seasonal but some year rounders, doing renovations, veggie production, animal care, and sales. The results of these efforts are apparent in the new infrastructure and repairs, busy day-to-day operations and lively business in the farmstand.
Using an integrated, holistic approach to growing, Chuck and crew incorporate both organic and biodynamic practices. Rotating production fields with grazing animals and poultry adds nutrients and biological activity to the soil, increasing fertility and reducing insect pest pressures. Chickens are ‘tractored’ in mobile pens, and pigs, sheep and goats are also used in seasonal or yearly rotation. Animals are a big part of the allure of the farm with the piglets just recently born getting a lot of attention. The result is a nutritious range of vegetables using fewer outside inputs and a tasty variety of pasture-raised meats and eggs.
As one of the larger and more diversified farms in the region the farm produces food year round. Even in the depths of winter their farmstand is full of scrumptious squashes, luscious greens, pasture-raised eggs and a freezer full of Freedom Farm raised meats. On a sunny Friday afternoon in January, sales to four Saturday farmers’ markets, their CSA, wholesaling and the newly built farm store had staff intent on their work harvesting and preparing for market. To keep up with customer demand they have expanded their effective cold storage – arranged to accommodate the storage needs of different root crops and squashes, an assortment of hoop houses containing different winter greens, fields under row cover and year-round meat and egg production.
Their CSA model has developed over the years with a set of options to meet most customers needs: winter or summer or short spring seasons; vegetable, meat and egg shares; pre-packed or free choice; and pick up location options as well. In keeping with the farm’s philosophy on access to nutritious foods to all members of the community, sliding scale payment or work options are possible. CSA members get first priority with the farm’s offerings and members also receive free access to the pick-your-own crops and to the farm’s series of educational workshops.
The farm stand, more of a small store, sells not only their own produce, eggs and meats, but select cheeses, milk and honey from other regional farms. The goal is to make the farmstand a one-stop shopping destination. This winter, Freedom Food Farm can also be found at Somerville, Roslindale, Cambridge, and Pawtucket farmers’ markets (all on Saturdays). Chuck’s future plans for the farm include more value added selections from farm produce, increased farm stand sales, and hopefully in the near future land purchase.
Part of the farm’s mission is to keep people aware of and connected to their food sources. The farm staff holds workshops – think chicken processing, mushrooms and fermentation – open to the public and free to CSA members. Most fun are the occasional farm celebrations whether the store opening or recognizing a great harvest and hanging out with the farmers. And most likely wood-fired pizza will be available. With such a diversity of food and community offerings Freedom Food Farm has become an integral part of the neighborhood.
The farm store is open year round at 471 Leonard St., Raynham, MA on Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (7:00 on Wednesdays). More information can be found on the website: www.freedomfoodfarm.com, by phone 978-884-7102, or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.