Waltham Fields Community Farm promotes local agriculture and food access through our farming operations and educational programs, using practices that are socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable. We encourage healthy relationships between people, their food supply, and the land from which it grows. Check out our website for more information.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Notes from the Field: Our 2011 Assistant Growers

I... am... not... going... to... talk... about... the... weather. OK, yes I am, a little. We did need the rain. I admit it, I did say that. And when the forecast called for a quarter to a half an inch, I thought that would be pretty good. But we got almost 2 inches last Wednesday, then another inch and a quarter over the next three days. Well, you know that -- you were there. But really, it was a lot of water. So much water, combined with those cool temperatures, puts us uncomfortably in mind of 2009, when a wet, cool early summer led to some devastating disease pressure later in the season. We're hoping that history will not repeat itself so soon, and that this water and cool temperatures will only lead to slightly delayed squash and cucumbers and beautiful greens for another week.

But enough about that -- more about our farm crew.

Larisa and Lauren

Each year, we are fortunate to work with a few people who are passionate about becoming farmers and are at a point in their careers where our operation can be useful to them. Our assistant growers, who work the entire growing season with Waltham Fields, are a critical part of our farm team. They drive tractors, pound stakes, pull weeds, transplant and seed crops, harvest and harvest and harvest, and manage CSA distributions. Many of our past assistant growers are now farmers in their own right (check out our "where are they now?" page for some stories). This year's AGs, Lauren Weinberg and Larisa Jacobson, are as fine a pair as we have had on our farm.

Lauren comes to us from her recent work at Adamah, a farm and fellowship program at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center in Connecticut. She had many roles at Adamah, including the Sap Queen, Pickle Apprentice, and Field Apprentice, all of which have contributed to her wide knowledge about food production and preservation. While she had never driven a manual transmission vehicle, let alone a tractor, before she came to WFCF, she had made more kim chee and sauerkraut than many of us have ever seen -- in a kosher kitchen where goat yogurt and chevre shared space (but never utensils) with 50 gallon barrels of pickling crops. We appreciate Lauren's thoughtfulness and thoroughness on the farm, along with her appreciation of the beauty and the spiritual side of the work that we do.

Larisa was most recently at UC Davis, where she completed a master's degree in International Agricultural Development and spent time working on biodigester projects in Guatemala, along with teaching and working on the student farm at Davis. She has tons of "secret" skills and knowledge, including welding, fiddle playing, assembling cultivators from miscellaneous parts, and community organizing, among others. She won us over in her application with her vivid description of hitting an irrigation upright with the loader bucket of her tractor -- and fixing it, possibly the only time when a farm equipment accident has led directly to someone getting an interview on our farm. Despite this story, Larisa is a skilled equipment operator who is getting the hang of all the big and little pieces that help our farm go. Her sense of humor and intense work ethic also come in handy.

In addition to our assistant growers, our farm team is rounded out by our field crew, who start next week (more about them later) and a group of work sharers who staff our CSA pickups, make sure our CSA newsletter is legible and functional, take care of our perennial herb and flower garden, and help us in the fields. They each have fascinating stories as well, and histories with the farm -- some long, some short, but all wonderful. We could not do this without them.


-- Amanda, for Andy, Erinn, Dan, Larisa and Lauren

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