News and blog
By: Jeff Vendetti (Marketing Summer Intern)
Medway Community Farm, much like a community, relies on the help of others. Marcia Coakley and Deby Carlson very recently took the time to make incredible donations that will help MCF now and in the future. Marcia Coakley donated a stepping stone for the farm stand, and Deby Carlson donated reusable bags that have the Medway Community Farm logo and name on them. Deby and Marcia were willing to do an interview with me to talk about their donations and their MCF experiences.
Jeff: What does “community” mean to you?
Marcia: I’ve been interested in and working with communities for over 40 years, in food coop settings and cooperative farming communities (help your neighbor with gardening, haying, animal husbandry, butchering, barn raising, house building, and more). At various stages, community has also meant artist cooperatives, dance and music cooperatives, and generally any gathering of folks working for a common mission for a better environment and creative endeavors for each, and for all.
Deby: I would say community means everyone working together for the greater good.
Jeff: What got you involved in working with the farm?
Marcia: We had been CSA members of other area farms in nearby towns and were especially pleased with the town’s moving forward with the creation of and vision for the MCF, right here in Medway. My husband, Dennis, is from Medway, and he came to open his chiropractic practice here in the 1983. We have watched each local farm close and land turn into neighbohoods. The face of Medway has changed…so it’s really important and delightful to see the growth and success coming of efforts to establish this new model for local produce with what has become enthusiastic community support and encouragement.
Deby: I started bringing my children to Shady Oaks Farm 25+ years ago to see the cows in the field across the street and in the barn. And then buy chocolate milk. I also would bring buckets in the trunk of my car so I could pick up the fresh manure too. I was so pleased when the town of Medway decided to keep the land for farming instead of allowing it to be sold for building homes. My friends Carol and Randy Collord are very involved with the farm and I wanted to help in some way.
Jeff: What is your favorite part of the farm?
Marcia: Not sure what you’re imagining as the parts (actual physical section, or function, or aspect of outcome of MCF’s vision for education and outreach…etc.?) I am particularly interested in expanding folks’ understanding and appreciation of better health and happy experiences from eating the nutritious and varied fruits and vegetables from the farm. I love sharing delicious and creative cooking and eating inspiration that helps to develop that appreciation.
Deby: The land is being used the way it is supposed to be used.
Jeff: What is your favorite MCF memory?
Marcia: Not any one answer…so many great moments and experiences. ????? - Volunteering, solo at the farm, on beautiful early spring mornings, venting the greenhouses, and tending the animals, hanging with the goats/giving them fresh hay treats. - Farm to Fork dinner - Getting the farmstand stone step set…so CSA pickups and stand sales are more accessible
Jeff: What is your favorite vegetable the farm grows? Why?
Marcia: I love everything…except cilantro (I’m one of those folks who is genetically predisposed to find it distasteful, sad to say). I love kohlrabi, red peppers, and spinach…and am extra thrilled with things I don’t usually grow (much) in our home garden.
Jeff: What motivated you to make some form of donation to MCF?
Marcia: It’s a way of life…looking out for ways we can contribute and make things better, and help move extra things along that others can make great use of.
Deby: I heard they were looking into options for the shopping bags. Like Brittany, I loved the idea of reusable bags. And I love the idea of people seeing the bags and then going to the farm to see what is happening there. )
Jeff: Why did you choose to contribute the way you did to MCF?
Marcia: See above. Because I work in the farmstand for CSA pickups and stand sales (and seedlings sales in Spring) every week, I was very conscious and concerned about the need for a better step to help folks. I mentioned it to my husband and he suggested that we had an extra stone that would be perfect for the setting. We are not always able to contribute monetary gifts as much as we might like, but helping the farm function better and have the equipment and support the farmer’s have identified specifically feels wonderful.
Jeff: What advice would you give someone who wants to contribute something to the farm, but may not know how to/ or what to contribute?
Marcia: Stay informed by reading the newsletters, the farm reports, and attending regular events to see and hear about the status of various projects and needs the farm has at any given time. Brittany regularly indicates many ways things can be helped, and specific/urgent support the community can provide.
Deby: Just ask. I’m sure there are many items on the MCF wish list.
Jeff: Where do you see MCF in 5 years? In 50?
Marcia: I trust that to the vision and mission statement of MCF and the board taking action, making children, young adults, and families familiar with where their food comes from, and interested in taking more responsibility for sourcing and supporting healthy and sustainable solutions. I do believe that the best future for healthy food in this country depends on both local farms and community involvement, as well as regional and national efforts to expand environmentally gentle and effective energy resources and safe/sustainable food production practices. Getting into the dirt is healthy in so many ways.
By: Jeff Vendetti (Summer Marketing Intern)
The summer is a very busy time on the farm with all the harvesting, summer programs, markets, and events. The Medway Community Farm staff works tirelessly to make sure all of these activities are met with the importance they all need and deserve.
Kevin Overshiner is one of these staff members that plays an important role in the effort to make sure Medway Community delivers a great product. Kevin was willing to spend time this week to share his thoughts in an interview on his role this summer and the direction of Medway Community Farm.
Jeff (Interviewer): What is your job title?
Kevin: Field Manager
Jeff: What does “community” mean to you?
Kevin: I think community is a collection of relationships that revolve around the farm. I sometimes do not know who I will be working with next, or what our goal will be, but it will probably have something to do with the farm. When we are long gone some other series of people will keep the wheels moving.
Jeff: What got you involved in working with the farm?
Kevin: I met Brittany at the Wake Up the Earth Festival in Jamaica Plain, she was working full time farming, coming to Medway after work to tend a 1/4 acre garden. She was very busy. To spend time with her I helped her in the garden. One thing led to another, and we moved my mother's camper onto the property. I haven't left, though the camper has.
Jeff: What is your background?
Kevin: I have zero background in farming. That being said, I've learned the difference between cabbage and lettuce since working here.
Jeff: What is your favorite vegetable the farm grows? Why?
Kevin: Yes. Because it is delicious. But for serious? I love growing potatoes, I use the cultivating tractor to hill up soil around the plants so that the taters will grow comfortably, and digging them is fun when the soil isn't too rocky.
Jeff: Can you describe your responsibilities at MCF?
Kevin: Depending on where I am needed, I help run harvests, irrigate, cultivate, or use our tractors to do field work. There are many tasks we will never finish on the farm, we do our best to knock as many of them off the list as we can.
Jeff: How do you like working with Volunteers?
Kevin: My favorite volunteers are the people who understand that genuine volunteerism is a practice of hard work, flexibility and patience. If you come to the farm with a preconceived notion of what you'll be doing that day, you might be up for a surprise, tasks change on a daily basis. I am grateful to the many volunteers that have spent time helping this organization. Kathy and Nancy come to mind, we've had them do some pretty filthy, repetitive, mindless jobs and they always did it with gusto because they knew it was important.
what's in the share?
Well, we made it through the first week of Summer!
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Seedling Sale this weekend! We sold a record number of seedlings and still have more! If you're looking for plants this week/weekend, these are good times to stop by the farm to pick up our plants:
Thanks for your support! Follow this link to read our newsletter, which has some tips on how to have a successful garden!
What we still have:
Green Zebra, Moskovitch, Red Pear Piriform, Japanese Black Trifele, Pruden's Purple, Great White, Striped German, Cherokee Purple, Mt. Merit, Defiant, Taxi, Orange Blossom, Amish Paste, Plum Regal, Big Beef, Polbig, Valley Girl, New Girl
Zucchini/Squash (limited supply)
Dunja, Safari, Slic Pic, Zephyr, Alexandria
Cucumber (limited supply)
Marketmore, Salt and Pepper
Nadia, Galine, Rosa Bianca, Beatrice, Applegreen
Red Ace, Flavorburst, Red Knight, Carmen
Basil, Mix basil (thai, cinnamon, red, lemon, lime), Lettuce, Kale, Chard, Scallions, Tomatillos, Hot Peppers (jalapeno, habanero, cayenne)
It's finally happening, it's been a long wait this year, but the warmer days, the warmer nights and some heavy rain have put nature in motion. Grass is growing, fruit trees are blossoming and in the farm fields, our first seeded and transplanted crops, which hunkered down for the month of April are growing like they are in a race.
So are the weeds. And thus begins the annual battle of organic weed control. We've gotten pretty good at it over the years, we know the timing we need to kill weeds with a hoe when they have just germinated, we know how densely to plant our crops so once grown they can shade out weeds. There is always room for improvement, but it feels more like routine than an uphill battle.
Some of the tricks we use could make home gardening a lot more pleasant and successful. The first, most important rule of cultivation is to get weeds when they are very tiny. Don't wait until you can pull them by hand or you'll be on your hands and knees, straining your back. Use a hoe and gently disturb the soil 1" down as soon as you see the first tiny weed leaves pop to the surface. This will kill the weeds when they are in a weekend stage of growth and haven't had the change to photosynthesize or develop much of a root structure.
Cultivation is fun. It's meditative for us farmers, kind of like a Zen garden that we've mapped out with vegetables. Mixing a little bit of oxygen into your soil is also like fanning a fire, but the fire is nutrients for your plants. Oxygen causes reactions in soil that make nutrients like Nitrogen more available to plants and organisms.
If you want to spend a little extra, mulch is an even better solution for weed suppression in the garden. Mulch keeps weeds for growing, covers the soil to prevent erosion and helps retain water. Good mulch materials include straw and leaves, but others have had success with wood chips, cardboard, finished compost and fabric mulch. Be careful you don't use hay or compost that has viable seeds in it, or you might end up with a bigger weed problem in the future.
It might feel too soon to think about weeding. Most of us won't plant our gardens for a few weeks (Like after the MCF Seedling Sale on May 17th from 10am-4pm @ the farm) because we are waiting for the summer delights of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and cucumber. But for those interested in some of the spring joys the New England garden can deliver, now is the time to plant kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, peas, carrots, radish, sweet turnip, dill, cilantro and salad mixes. So get ready to cultivate them early and you'll have happy plants with healthy soil.
If you are looking for spring seedlings, come visit us at the Medway Library on May 10th, from 10am to 2pm. We'll have lots of spring favorites along with basil, zinnias, marigolds, other flowers and some early tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and zucchinis for those of you who just can't wait!!
MCF is a non-profit farm that empowers our community to grow, buy, and value local, sustainable food while promoting conservation, healthy lifestyle choices and farm-based education.
We will use this grant to:
*Build raised beds to enhance and expand our Community Garden Plots and educational garden
*Add ADA accessible raised beds
*Create a self-guided educational on-farm sign tour, making education free and accessible, encouraging the enjoyment of open space
*Expand our School to Farm Program and include additional school districts
*Continue to improve upon and create quality programming
*Purchase tools and supplies to make our animal, garden and compost areas more accessible for children's programming
*Develop programming that is inclusive of people with special needs
*Implement our Strategic Marketing Plan designed by Georgetown Masters Student
*Grow our major events to include more education opportunities and increase attendance*Use expanded education garden to donate more food
We are all important in some way, even if we sometimes tell ourselves we just hold everyone else back.
It sounds a little grandiose, but I just now realized a sliver of my own importance as a cog in the big machine by recently sustaining a debilitating hip injury that has kept me off my feet almost completely. At the risk of sounding smug and self-celebrating I can see I may actually be important here on the farm. Brittany is realizing, in a very specific way, everything I do on a day to day basis. In the time it takes me to desperately hobble up the stairs, a mission I reserve for a special occasion, Brittany has passed through the house 3 times, and accomplished a dozen chores, but in picking up my slack she is rendered unable to perform a multitude of tasks that she could be doing otherwise. I’ve been doing my best to help out, taking care of some computer related tasks, etc. but I’ve been informed I’m a little gruff on the social relations side, so the sooner I get to shoveling chicken manure the better.
All I’m saying is that a simple thing like hindering my mobility has thrown a wrench in the daily MCF system (a term I understand better after having done even basic engine work - don’t leave your tools in there!). As I am held hostage in my own apartment I can’t help but compare my relationship to MCF with the MCF’s relationship to the food revolution; Farmer is to Farm as Farm is to Food Revolution. I have occasionally thought to myself, “if this farm goes under, it won’t make a difference in the long run, and it won’t affect the failure or success of the farming community as a whole.” I could be wrong. In truth, I think that MCF is a vital and important contributor to the farming world, especially here in Eastern Massachusetts, and we can hope that any hiccups we have are short lived and repairable.
I am grateful for two things, that my hip is not broken (thank you x-ray for unveiling the mystery) and that I have Brittany to help me through it so that I might be made useful again. I hope that if the farm nearly breaks it’s hypothetical hip we can all pull together as a community to help it pull through, so that it can continue to contribute to the greater good on more even footing, even if it means we, like Brittany, have to work more hours and put up with a little more abuse in the process.