Dear CSA members,
Thank you so much for being part of our farm this year. What a great year it is – the field crops are growing well after a cold spring, and we’re enjoying an incredible strawberry crop. Depending on which field you pick from, the strawberries you pile into your quart containers were planted by either last year’s apprentices (Ana, Chris, Avril, Zan, Emily and Matt) or the year before (Willie, Mike, Emily, Matt, and me). The farm’s apprenticeship crew (this year, Hilary, Sam, Jerahmy, Sue and myself) is a critical part of this community farm, and a significant part of what the North Amherst Community Farm’s (NACF) capital campaign aims to sustain. The campaign, now entering its final stages, is to raise the funds needed to retire NACF’s mortgage loan and complete the purchase of the farm. This mortgage is secured by the critical 2-acre farmstead area, which includes the farmhouse, some barns, and the community interface with North Pleasant Street.
This campaign is especially meaningful to me as an apprentice, since the future of the farm house hinges on the campaign’s success. The house (located next to the entrance of the farm) has been occupied by the farm’s apprentice crew for almost 10 years. I livedhere when I first started farming. After a season at another farm I’m back, living with a whole new crew. I love this house. We eat lunch here together every day, and stumble out to work together each morning at 6am. Living here is an integral part of the learning experience; from my kitchen I can see our herbs and early flowers. From my bedroom window I can see the fence charger that keeps our livestock safe. If a cow gets out after hours and the farmers need help, we put our boots back on and go out into the night to help. Early in the morning (before first light in the spring and fall) we walk out to meet Dave and Jeremy with our hot coffee or tea still in hand, and finish our cups as we discuss the day ahead. After hot summer Fridays in the field we collapse on the couch on our porch behind our trellised hops vines, and someone brings out the cold beers.
We work six days a week in the main season. The days are long and someone is always on chores, going out onto the farm several times a day—every day—to take care of the greenhouses and animals, keeping an eye on things. We notice things, because we’re right here. If we had to commute to the farm, we could not engage as deeply with the land and its complex working as we do now. Without being able to offer us housing, Dave and Jeremy could not afford to take on beginning farmers who want to learn from them. Instead, they would have to hire fewer, more experienced crew and pay them by the hour. Living here makes the apprentice program possible.
This is critical to the future of the farm – now, and even more so to the next generation of farmers who will someday work this land. Perhaps they will have learned their craft from a farm apprenticeship. The farm land itself is permanently preserved. It is my hope that the farm house and apprenticeship program will be permanent too.
You can help us. Find out more at nacfonline.org, or ask any of us . Any contribution you can make toward this fund will ensure that others will be able to come after me and learn and live and grow here.
-Caro (Second-Year Apprentice)