We thought we would take this time to reflect on our achievements from our first year of farming …
– We are officially a working farm.
A 1½ acre section of the parcel was tilled, planted and managed by the Board of Directors, with a portion managed by an “incubator farmer.” The incubator farmer grew 27 varieties of vegetables for use by his extended family and friends network. Over 1,500 pounds of produce were harvested. “Experimental” crops including amaranth and chia seeds were grown and further production is being considered for next year. The Board also established and managed an herb growing area which was then harvested and sold to the public. Significant improvements to the site were made including raised beds, vegetable support structures and weed/varmint management techniques. This establishes our model for sustainable organic gardening with composting, water conservation systems, minimal tilling techniques and organic pest and weed control. A three-bin system of composting is being constructed.
– We have a participating members garden.
We constructed 24 raised growing beds of 4’x12’ and leased them to area families for growing produce for home consumption. Four classes in organic gardening by an experienced instructor were presented to the gardeners and the public. We held work parties and pot luck dinners with the community gardeners, establishing a strong group camaraderie and sense of community. Our Board prepared and served a harvest dinner for our community gardeners celebrating our first season. Six community gardeners re-planted their gardens with fall crops, three community gardeners have become Board Members and virtually all have requested to be allowed to lease their growing bed next year. Two beds each were used by a local girl scout troupe and a local church for food bank crops. Over 400 pounds of fresh vegetables were donated locally.
– We have farming, environmental & healthy choices educational programming.
Due to our focus on our first growing season, we were only able to hold one public forum and four organic gardening classes. We had an author of an organic cookbook, with national distribution, speak in a public forum in May. Our planning for the upcoming year includes having had initial conversations with the principal of our middle school regarding coordinating programs using their new greenhouse, and with the Career/Tech Department at Glastonbury High School. (See Exhibit B for proposed collaborative programs.) We have also established a relationship with the local Whole Foods Store and are planning to offer in-store cooking programs next Spring. Whole Foods has chosen our Farm as the charitable recipient of their “5% of Net Profit Day”program for February 8th, 2012. They allowed us to sell our first crop of herbs outside of their store this past September.
– We’ve achieved organizational development
Our Board of Directors met on a bi-weekly basis through the growing season and added three new members. Every member of the Board made significant personal contributions of labor including the general preparation of the area for planting, the construction of the garden beds, the construction of a landscaped, communal gathering area, planting and managing the herb-growingarea. Our Board members have toured local community farms and community gardens, including the Community Farm of Simsbury, Holcomb Farm, Massaro Farm, Boulder Knoll Community Farm and the Manchester Community College Community Garden. The Board of Directors managed 4 beds for flowers, specialty crops and food bank donations. Our 501(c)(3) Applicationto the Internal Revenue Service is currently pending with the IRS.
See our Media page for copies of local newspaper coverage of our first growing season.