Author Archives: Angel Park

Fun at the 7th Annual Harvest Festival

Incessant rain and gloomy weather threatened to put a damper on the New Entry Harvest Festival last Sunday. Despite the less than optimal weather, people showed up prepared in raincoats and galoshes with smiling faces and arms full of food. Over 70 people from the community attended including New Entry farmers and their families, CSA members, and Tufts affiliates. We all had an excellent time.


The Festival featured a silent auction, food demo, games for the kiddies, farm tour, farmer’s market, hay ride and most importantly, food. The food! First, we had a great food demonstration by Steve Brogan, where he made a fantastic hot&sour soup made with World PEAS produce. Local restaurants donated food and farmers brought dishes to share, and the tables overflowed with the bounty. We had food from all over the world–stuffed cabbage, vegetarian lasagna, rice porridge, nom chok, eggrolls, bitter melon salad, heirloom tomato salad, chicken salad, cold squash soup, pasta, artisan bread and more. Don’t even get me started on the desserts!

The center of the festival featured a beautiful farmstand setup of World PEAS produce, displaying wonderful end-of-summer/fall goodies such as zucchini, eggplant, peppers, heirloom potatoes, winter squash, tomatoes, beautiful savoy cabbage, chard, and Mamadou’s handmade sourdoughs.

Next to the farmstand, a silent auction featured items such as dinner at Rialto, 5 yoga classes at O2 Yoga, gift certificate to Dave’s Fresh Pasta, Summer Shack, Etsogo, and Brew’d Awakening, Life Alive Urban Oasis, and the Richardson’s, as well as handmade soaps, and homemade salsas.

McKenzie, the Technical Assistance Coordinator led us on an informative, albeit mosquito-ridden tour of Richardsons. Do you know the difference between a hoop house and a greenhouse? A greenhouse circulates air, while a hoop house does not. She shared with us the New Entry farmers’ passion for growing using organic practices and the different innovative methods they were experimenting with. She loved how the farmers were not afraid to take risks, such as attempting to grow sugarcane (not successful) and maize (very successful).

I was very happy to see people sharing ideas, learning from each other, smiling, laughing, playing, eating, and making new friends. The New Entry harvest festival was a success and only so because of all the people who came together to make this happen.
A big, big THANK YOU to our donors:
Steve Brogan, Personal chef/caterer
Caroline Zuk, Saja Farm, Dracut
Tricia Schwartz, CSA Member
Mamadou Artisan Bakery, Winchester
Mariposa Bakery, Cambridge
Prose Restaurant, Arlington
UTEC, Lowell
Whole Foods, Fresh Pond
Silent Auction Donors:
Brew’d Awakening
City Feed and Supply
Dave’s Pasta
ETSOGO Restaurant
Life Alive Urban Oasis
O2 Yoga
Rialto
Summer Shack
Thank you Richardsons Dairy for providing the space for the event!

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Meet Marek, a New Entry farmer

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of doing a short interview with Marek at the Lowell Farmer’s Market. A 2008 New Entry Program graduate, Marek has a small production on a quarter acre of land, fondly known as Cornflower Farm and dreams of doing much, much more.

Marek came here from Poland in 1987 from the “Spawning Place,” also known as Torlow. Growing up on a farm, he had fond memories of having horses, cows, chickens and geese, all in his backyard. His family predominantly grew grains such as wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, along with other vegetables. The story is familiar–Marek left the farm as a young man and went to school to become a seaman. He worked as a skipper for five years in the Baltic Sea, and traveled around the world during his service in the Polish Army. He never stopped thinking about his farm days.
Flash forward almost 20 years. While a market manager at the Maynard Farmer’s Market, Marek met Jennifer Hashley and learned about the New Entry Sustainable Farming Program. Marek had been growing vegetables from a small piece of land borrowed from a friend, but he had visions of doing more. After graduating the program in early 2008, he is now working on the initial 1/4 acre that all graduates start off with. He currently grows blueberries, tomatoes, sunflowers, and hopes to include duck eggs into the mix. With the half acre he’ll get to use in the second year, he wants to expand production to include winter rye, herbs, and Asian vegetables.

His understanding that growing and raising food relies on a mini ecosystem fuels his desire to create one of his own that he can share with others in the community. Like many of us involved with New Entry, he wants to connect people with their food and with nature. His kids, Patrick, Nicky, and Rachel will come with him to the market occasionally and help set up, sell, and interact with customers. One of his plans includes growing to harvest seeds to donate to farmers with limited means. Marek is always thinking ahead, dreaming, and using his creativity to build beautiful displays and reach out to the people around him.

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Seeking Volunteers for Fall Harvest Festival Prep

I’m forwarding a message I received regarding the Harvest Festival:
“We are currently looking for volunteers to help with:
• fall clean up at training farms throughout September (Fridays only)
• the 7th Annual Fall Harvest Festival, to be held on Sunday September 28th (see attached flyer). We are ramping up the event this year with live music from Eric Royer’s One Man Band, hayrides, pumpkin picking, games, and lots of delicious food!
Much of the activity will take place in Dracut, MA – see below for the types of tasks we could use assistance with. Please email Katie.Cerretani@tufts.edu if you’re interested.
_________________________
Fall Clean Up
If you need a break from the city life then come spend a day with the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project at our training farm sites in Dracut, MA. Volunteer activities include:

  1. Locating and reclaiming historic rock walls. The farm fields of New England are surrounded by rock walls that were built at the turn of the century. Due to years of neglect the walls are now covered in brush, fallen over, over grown, or hidden from view. We will rebuild the walls by restacking the stones that have fallen down.
  2. Clearing brush along the edge of the farm fields in order to expand the fields. Over the past few years brambles and sumac bushes have popped up along the edge of the fields. There is room for the NESFP to expand production if we reclaim this valuable space at the edge of our fields. We will cut down the brush to enable farmers to be able to till the ground and plant seeds for crop production or grass strips for harvest lanes. We have several BCS push tractors with rotary mowers, sickle bar mowers, and rototillers that we will use to expand the fields. Bring your loppers, saws, or pruning shears!
  3. Gathering and disposing of trash that has collected on the farm. If you think your basement collects junk, then wait until you see what happens at a commercial farm site! Although we try to keep the farm clean year round there is always one more bag of trash to be picked up. Help us pick up all the trash before planting season commences.

Volunteers needed:
Project Leaders and Energetic Volunteers to assist with the activities listed above.
Drinks and light snacks will be provided. Please bring plenty of water and packed lunch.
Note: Due to the nature of the work volunteers should wear long pants and work boots or sneakers. Everyone should dress for the weather (sun block, hat, rain gear, warm clothes) and should bring a pair of work gloves. There is poison ivy at the farm site – if you are allergic, please dress appropriately or use proper precautions (Ivy Block, long pants / sleeves, gloves, use Technu after exposure, etc.).
___________________
Fall Harvest Festival
Sunday, September 28, 2008 1 – 4 pm
Pre-Event Needs – Donations Needed & General Promotion
We would appreciate the help of a few willing individuals who could help us solicit donations for several components of the event:
  1. Food: we want to feature local area restaurants who would be willing to donate a dish or two for the event as part of our “food tasting.” It could be appetizers, a main dish, dessert, etc. and we would be happy to showcase and promote their business as a “local hero” who believes in supporting local agriculture. A great advertising opportunity for local restaurants. We are also trying to secure a chef for a cooking demonstration. Any leads and making the contacts and connections for us are helpful.
  2. Teacup Raffle: we would like to have a variety of items to be donated toward our teacup raffle. A teacup raffle is a series of items that are displayed on a table with small paper bags in front of the item. We’ll be selling raffle tickets throughout the event and folks drop their ticket in the bag of the item they’d like to win. We will select the “winners” at 3pm. We’d love to have a nice diversity of items available on the table. In the past we’ve had things like bottles of local wine, homemade canned goods, cookbooks (Asparagus to Zucchini), jars of honey, etc. So, any and all items local businesses could donate are welcome – large or small.
  3. General Donations or Sponsorships – if anyone is interested in underwriting or helping to sponsor the event, we’d also be happy to advertise their support on a large display board at the entrance and during announcements at the event.
  4. Promotion – posting flyers in your favorite locations where potential attendees would see it: libraries, coffee shops, bookstores, etc. (see attached flyer – let us know if you need color copies to post).

We will also be looking for volunteers to assist us with:
• collecting food and teacup raffle donations for delivery to site day of event; then organizing food and raffle tables – noting sponsors and donors
• putting together sponsorship and donor recognition materials
• parking day of event
• set up and tear down / clean up (day of event)
• sales of raffle tickets (day of event)
• face painting for kids (someone with some artistic talent)
• assistance with pumpkin painting (someone to organize kids so they don’t use up/spill all paint!)
• help with Farmers’ Market on site (we’ll be selling produce from various farmers)
• organize games (ring/duck toss, bobbing for apples, sack race, bean toss, rope pull, egg toss, etc.)

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Fall is arriving!

Rachel Baras wanted to share another blog post before returning to school to begin her senior year at Brookline High School:
Although Thanksgiving is still a while away, many of us here in Massachusetts are eagerly anticipating the New England autumn season. With the bounty of seasonal apples, pumpkins, and squashes, fall is surely a favorite time of year for our food-orientated minds. And even though we still have months until Turkey Day, many are already looking forward to turkey feasts.
As you all plan your Thanksgiving meals, give consideration to getting a locally-raised bird. In addition to the benefits of buying local food in general, locally-raised turkeys tend to have better flavor. Growing environments are more natural and humane, and breeding values quality over quantity of meat.
Admittedly, locally-grown turkeys are more expensive to buy. As many of you know, though, the price of local food is most often worth the extra expense; food is fresher and your money directly supports your local economy.
So for this upcoming Thanksgiving, consider buying a locally-raised turkey. Your stomach (and local community) will thank you!
For information on where to reserve a locally-raised bird, visit: http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/turkey.htm
Note: Because of their high-quality value, these birds sell out quickly! Make sure to reserve your bird well in advance of Thanksgiving.

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The Mighty Eggplant

I love how the same food cooked in different ways can transport us to different parts around the world. The simple, beautiful eggplant can be featured in Italian caponata, French ratatouille, Mediterranean baba ganoush, or in this Indian dish I want to share with you.
My friend, Chika, gave me this recipe. Her mother is the master of cooking foods full of flavor, and producing them fast. Her mother laughed when we asked for measurements, so these are approximations based on our trials.
1 large eggplant, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
Garnish:
Yogurt
Fresh, chopped cilantro
Peel the eggplant and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Then smash (or blend in a blender/food processor) and set aside. In a warm pan, add oil, cumin (lots), finely minced or grated onion, garlic, green chilies, ginger, salt, and pepper. On low-med heat, once this mixture turns pink, add the eggplant. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until all the flavors seem to be well incorporated. Taste and season accordingly. Turn off the fire, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of yogurt and finely chopped cilantro. More Cilantro and olive oil on top for garnish if you wish.

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Can Sustainable Farming Provide Sustainable Incomes?

New Entry Intern, Rachel Baras has contributed another item for discussion as she wonders what it would take for the small farmer to become economically sustainable:
Most of us reading this blog would have to agree that small-scale farmers deserve sufficient incomes to allow for comfortable livelihoods. The farmers in the New Entry program are among the hardest working people around, producing quality products for their customers. As part of the greater local farm movement, these farmers represent the American dream more than many native-born citizens – a dream of hard work and thoughtful living to benefit our neighbors.
And yet, although local farming has so many positives, the industry often does not garner sufficient incomes for its farmers. Few New Entry farmers have been able to farm as their sole source of income. And this situation is not isolated; earlier in the month, the New York Times published an article profiling farmers who have the dedication and desire to devote all their time to farming, but have trouble doing so without supplementary sources of income.
Like the farmers of the article, many New Entry farmers are participating in niche farming. Some cater to the large Asian population in the area by growing such crops as water spinach, Asian cucumber, and bitter melon. Others focus toward African populations, cultivating African maize and sweet potato greens. Still, as the article notes, niche farming most often does not provide a solution to the insufficient income issue.
So, we’re left with a question: at what point would small farming as a sole source of income be a viable option for the greater farming community?

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Try This Refreshing Summer Vegetable

If you didn’t already know, the Lowell Farmer’s Market features four New Entry Farmers. I like to hang out and learn about the different ethnic produce grown, harvested, and sold by them. Not only do they get customers who are looking specifically for these ethnic crops, but also others who are not afraid to approach them and ask what a particular vegetable is and how it might be used. In exchange, the farmers have always been so patient to share that information with them.
Last Friday, while poking around, I noticed Mr. Kim selling a lot of these “Asian Cucumbers.” He has me pick it up and smell it to show me what a good one would feel like. As with most desirable fruits and vegetables, it’s heavy for its size and firm to the touch. It’s mild, sweet scent reminds me of the Korean summer melons I grew up enjoying with my family. Before I can say anything about the melon scent, he immediately adds, “It’s not sweet. It’s more like a cucumber. It’s best as a smoothie.” “As a smoothie?” I’m obviously confused. “Yeah, just chop it up, blend it with some sugar and milk. Or slice it and put some sugar on top.” So next time you see this sweet smelling cucumber, give it a try. Maybe it’ll become a new taste of summer.

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I Don’t Want Summer to End

My summer is over. Labor day is right around the corner, meaning that all across the country parents of school-aged children are stocking up on school supplies, college students are gearing up for the new academic year, and I have orientation next week. I realized on Tuesday that it would be my last day helping pack the shares and I wanted a way to remember that afternoon. I had forgotten my camera again, but the camera phone did a decent job as a substitute:

If you want to taste summer, try these recipes:
Çoban Salatası
(My friend, Memet, gave me this Turkish salad recipe and warns to make more than you think you can possibly eat.)
Chop:
Cubanelle peppers
Cucumbers
Tomatoes
Flat leaf parsley
Scallions (optional)
Add to taste:
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt
Toss together to combine. Eat! Of course, flavors will have a chance to meld if you wait a couple hours, but who can wait that long?
I’m a huge fan of one pot dishes, fresh vegetables, and whole grains. Here’s one to make when you’re starving and need something nourishing and very quick.
Quinoa Pilaf
In a medium-sized pot over medium heat,
Saute in olive oil:
1/2 small onion, small dice
After a couple minutes add:
1 cubanelle, small dice
1 small summer squash, small dice
1-2 small garlic cloves
3 scallions, chopped, white and green/white parts reserved for end
Season with salt, pepper, and herbs. I used a Mediterranean blend to supplement the fish I was going to have it with.
Toss in 1 cup rinsed quinoa, let it get toasty. Add about 1.5 cups water. Can even sub 1/4 cup of water for white wine. Bring to a boil, and then bring down to a simmer for 15 min. Let it rest for a few minutes. Fluff with fork. Top with quartered cherry tomatoes, the green part of the scallions, some slivered almonds.
The possibilities with this are endless. Use whatever is in your fridge. Here’s an idea, instead of sauteeing the vegetables in the beginning, grill them, then chop and add to already cooked quinoa. Serve with some fish, or top it with a fried egg.

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Article in the Boston Globe

Hello friends,
There was a great article in the Boston Globe yesterday discussing how immigrant farmers have been able to take their training from the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project to grow crops from their native countries and find a market niche:

Growing a new generation of farmers
Aug 21, 2008

“DRACUT – Sinikiwe “Nikki” Makarutsa worked on her parents’ small-scale farm in Zimbabwe, and prefers to feed her children food grown organically. She also prefers the food she grew up with, particularly favoring maize to American sweet corn.”

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Some thoughts on the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act

I’m pleased to share with you a guest post from another intern here at New Entry. A senior at Brookline High School, Rachel Baras heads the hunger committee for SAJE — Student Action for Justice and Education. And as an advocate for social justice, Rachel strongly encourages you to purchase fair trade chocolate when given a choice.
2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act
Some of you may be aware that this past year, our country’s Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 underwent adjustment to become the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Among other changes, the bill provides increased support for agricultural research, ethanol production, and food stamps. The bill also continues our government’s controversial subsidy system, as a result of which the small, local farmers continue to have to compete at an uneven playing field with the country’s major agricultural corporations. As you can see, there are benefits and drawbacks to the bill, and even these benefits and drawbacks are not clearly positive or negative. For instance, agricultural research may sound good (and often is good), yet sometimes the resulting innovations prove to be highly detrimental to our earth. The production of ethanol, which is hailed as the alternative fuel of the future, is yet another incentive for the continuation of soil-depleting monoculture.
One element of the 2008 Act that we here at New Entry are glad about is the increased support for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. One element of the 2002 Act, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, is gaining $78 in funding over the course of 4 years. An additional $5 million will be used from 2008 through 2012 to train beginning farmers in business, finance, land tenure options, and marketing, among other topics. Further, the New Farmer Individual Development Accounts Pilot Program allows the Farm Service Agency to coordinate with nonprofits in matching funds to beginning farmers’ savings accounts. Another major breakthrough is the $75 million (over the course of 4 years) that will be used to provide training, outreach, grants, and overall assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. They, in turn, can become owners and operators of farms and ranches.
These major amendments to the 2002 Act are further reminder that we’re on the right track. Sure, it seems like the large corporations are gaining more and more power, and it’s true that a lot of them really are. But there are always those (like you!) who push for more sustainable and equitable farming practices. It is so exciting to live at this time – great changes are occurring right before our eyes. What are your main hopes for the future of agriculture?

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