2014 marked the very first season that Wolfe’s Neck Farm supported the revolutionary Vegetable CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program business model. Together we provided 16 shareholders/families with fresh, organically grown produce every week for 16 weeks.
We also donated over 3,000 lbs of produce to three different local hunger relief organizations.
In addition to these accomplishments, we visited and offered our efforts of support at 7 different off-site educational visits this summer:
Tender Soles Farm, Dresden
Here we learned about tacking up a work horse and the ins and outs of implementing animal power on a small scale vegetable operation. We also had a farm tour and learned about different methods of intensive soil management through soil testing, cover cropping and adding different amendments. We got to see some neat antique horse-drawn farming implements and learned about haying with animal power, then we helped stack up loose hay in the loft. We helped plant winter squash and learned a bit about fish emulsion and using clay for insect protection.
Whatley Farm, Topsham
On a hot day in July, we slathered on the sunscreen and met up with Ben Whatley to first tour the family farm’s vibrant greenhouse, then take in some breathtaking views of their vegetable fields which were down the back farm road by the ducks and chicken tractors, and hidden just beyond the cool and shady wooded spot that was home to the family’s shitake mushroom patch. We learned about different CSA program models, some permaculture gardening techniques (including “living walkways” of clover and grasses which prevent soil erosion). We were offered a delicious meal made especially for us and enjoyed some yummy farm greens. After lunch we drove to one of their satellite fields and helped plant hundreds of lettuce plants before the oncoming rain storm.
Peter Richardson, President of Cumberland County Bee Keepers Association, Freeport
Peter put together a wonderful presentation for us at his hive site. We learned so much about bees! We even got to suit up and get real intimate with a few of his 8 different hives. An incredible presentation and a very informative visit, topped off by devouring more or less an entire jar of honey on saltine crackers before we headed out!
Little Ridge Farm, Lisbon Falls
Keena welcomed us on to her veritably weed free, 5 acre, one-woman-show vegetable operation on a rainy day in August. This very impressive and well organized operation was a sight to behold. We enjoyed a farm tour and learned about organic strawberry production, managing vegetable fields with the rotation of animals and what her methods were for maintaining such a large area almost single-handedly. We helped do some seeding in her greenhouse, deploy a new shade cloth over the greenhouse, and then we trooped out to weed some asparagus in the rain.
Crystal Springs CSA, Brunswick
Another bright, hot day! Seth Kroeck put us to work- no bones about it. We learned about the history and conservation of the land, we got a brief and information-packed tour of the farm and heard about their educational programming. Then we headed out to one of their vegetable fields and helped the large field crew hand-weed thousands of row-feet of carrots and enjoyed mixing and mingling with other young people involved with farming. After the expeditious weeding endeavor we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the shade and had great food related conversation!
Winter Hill Farm, Freeport
After being greeted by Jasper the friendly farm dog, we went on a tour of this very diversified, small, organic, family operation. We saw the vegetable gardens and heard about Sarah’s intuitive field management, saw the cheese making facilities, visited with the cows and chickens out in the pastures and heard about Steve’s intensive and inventive pasture management techniques. We worked with two of the farm interns out in the woods clearing brush to make a wooded pasture for the pigs. Then after lunch we helped hoist the garlic harvest up into the barn loft and hang it to cure. We were sent home with onions and many thanks.
The first event of its kind to take place in the state of Maine, we came together on this calm August day with four other youth groups at Chewonki. Among us were: Cultivating Community of Portland, Teen Ag Crew of Rockport, Medomack Valley High School Heirloom Seed Project of Waldoboro, and the farming interns of Chewonki. After opening circle, we broke up into different groups to combine with folks from other programs. We had a tour of the farm at Chewonki, and then we enjoyed a yummy potluck lunch, to which we contributed a delicious fresh salsa made from veggies we grew in our garden. We shared stories with each other at lunch about our individual programs, what we’ve learned and our favorite parts as well as what we found most challenging. After lunch we split into groups. Our crew all gravitated toward Sal, Chewonki’s 18 year old work horse. We each had the opportunity to take the reins and drive ol’ Sal with the support and instruction of the farm manager Megan. At closing circle we all reflected on the day and more or less agreed that it was quite magical! For these five groups to come together, all working at the intersection of youth, food, and community, served as a clear mark in my mind as the beginning of something great in the state of Maine.
Mid-Coast Maine Hunger Prevention Program, Brunswick
This trip out to MCHPP seemed to be a favorite amongst us! It was a very fun and validating way to end the season, after having cultivated and donated so much produce to the organization’s food pantry. We received a tour of the hunger relief facilities including the storage warehouse, food pantry and soup kitchen, then were put to work by Gwen (the new volunteer head chef) who expertly assigned us and a number of other volunteers to food prep tasks. In the end, we had a meal for 100+ hungry guests prepared in short order. We then took part in serving lunch and all that it entailed and did some work back in the warehouse with Doreen, the Food Bank Coordinator. Laurel, the volunteer coordinator, thanked us and invited us back, as a group or individually, whenever we wanted (Keep that in mind!).
One question we tried to be sure to ask at every different location we visited was – “Why do you do this work?” At many of the farms we visited, most of the owner/operators and workers told us they had never been to school for farming, nor had they set out in their lives as young adults to do farm work. The same was true for some of the service workers we chatted with. They all came from such varied backgrounds and sets of goals and interests, yet they seemed to all find common ground growing food, or helping to supply food for themselves and their communities, all for similar reasons.
We had many different volunteer groups visit us this season, including Youth Building Alternatives from Learning Works in Portland, who came out weekly throughout the season. These gatherings served as an opportunity for you to represent your work here, and take on a leadership role, weather it was on a weeding or harvesting project, or if it was leading ice-breaker games with the whole group.
Our Teen Ag Crew members made an impact on many lives this year, in many different ways, even when the task seemed as mundane and endless as weeding the broccoli or parsnips, or harvesting Hillary’s 300 ft. row of green beans! We hope you reflect on your time here at Wolfe’s Neck as a time of growth, and can draw on the knowledge and experiences you had as your life unfolds. Thank you for growing with us!