By SVT Office Manager Nancy Hallen
SVT has worked on many different types of land conservation projects
over its nearly 60-year history
. Land has been conserved for flood plain protection, habitat continuity, wildlife corridors, passive recreation, and the preservation of the farming tradition. I benefit from the many positive impacts that this provides me, my family and my community. But come summertime, I especially appreciate the preservation (or perhaps resurgence) of our local farmlands
. Many area farms have been looking at ways that land, often farmed for generations, can continue and prosper as land values soar. Many models of success exist; one of which is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
For those unfamiliar with the CSA principle, shareholders purchase into a CSA prior to a growing season, which allows the farm to cover many upfront costs. Additionally, shareholders are usually required to commit a required amount of time to working at the farm. In exchange, each participant is entitled to his/her share of the harvested crops.
One exemplary venture is SVT's Baiting Brook-Welch Reservation
, home to Stearns Farm CSA
and also leased to Hanson’s Farm
to supplement its growing capacity. The 80-acre Welch property was gifted to SVT in the 1970’s by Margaret Welch. Ten acres of this property are shared evenly between Stearns Farm CSA and Hanson’s Farm. Stearns, which has been farming organically since the 1950’s, has existed as a CSA since 1990. Hanson’s Farm has been a working farm for nearly 200 years, farmed by the Hanson family for over 100 of these years. It employs both organic farming and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and has offered CSA memberships for the last three years.
From time to time, SVT staff members get to visit Stearns Farm, enjoy its beauty, and share in its bounty; and, each visit certainly provides many joys. First and foremost, there are the wonderfully fresh fruits and vegetables, eaten in season, knowing from whence they came and how they were grown. Beyond this most obvious benefit, other less tangible ones abound as well: witnessing the creative and precise systems that can make five acres produce overflowing boxes for over 150 members; meeting the farmers whose obvious passion and dedication have made this land flourish; conversation with friendly like-minded gatherers met while picking berries, green beans, chard or all the other various crops that appear from week to week; watching young children as they register their glee for a fun outing and, to my surprise, their excitement over a raw vegetable; and the discovery of new food items of which I previously had no knowledge of either their existence or their best preparation, including wonders such as garlic scapes and tomatillos. But most rewarding is the simple hour taken from a hectic schedule, to appreciate a summer’s day, the rich earth, the fresh air, the expansive sky and the (moderately) physical exertion that result from each visit.
Thank you and congratulations to Stearns Farm for creating this special place that so many enjoy. And remember, if you don’t have the benefit of a CSA to visit weekly, please take a moment to visit one of the many other local farms that surround us.