New Entry is excited to introduce our new Technical Assistance and Incubator Farm Site Coordinator, Eero Ruuttila. Eero (pronounced “arrow”) comes to New Entry from Siena Farms in Sudbury, Mass., but he is best known in these parts for his 21 years managing Nesenkeag Farm in Lichfield, New Hampshire. At Nesenkeag, Eero worked with a staff made up mostly of Cambodian immigrants and refugees to keep the 65-acre nonprofit farm self-sustaining through vegetable sales. Eero’s innovations – especially his cover cropping strategies – drew visits from farmers and extension agents around the country.
Eero was also involved in New Entry’s early years as a farmer training project. He was one of New Entry’s first mentor farmers, and helped to teach some of the farmer trainings. In 2003, he worked with two of New Entry’s first farmers, Mr. Kim and Mr. Nil, on a pea tendril project hosted at Nesenkeag. We even discovered that he was the one who put in the order for New Entry’s three walk-behind tractors – the same ones with which our incubator site farmers are, to this day, intimately familiar.
In his return to New Entry, Eero will teach our Farm Business Planning Course and hands-on field trainings, provide technical assistance to New Entry farmers, and manage our incubator training farms. We are all looking forward to working with and learning from Eero – and our new class of Farm Business Planning students should be, too!
Dr. Temple Grandin explains how to get cattle into a handling chute.
On August 30, New Entry had the privilege of co-coordinating a Cattle Behavior and Handling Workshop with the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, featuring guest speaker Dr. Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin is nationally renowned for her work on understanding animal behavior and on developing livestock handling facilities based on the perspective of the animal. She eagerly answered questions and related her insights about cattle behavior. When you have trouble getting cows to move into a pen or a handling chute, she explained, they may be anxious about something that wouldn’t seem important to a human, like a dangling rope, a person standing in the wrong place, or a change in floor surfaces. Dr. Grandin also stressed the importance of learned responses; for example, if an animal’s first experience the handling chute is a bad one, good luck getting it into the chute next time!
Dr. Grandin also gave a public lecture the evening of the 29th, and participants in the Cattle Behavior and Handling Workshop were invited to another lecture that evening. For more about Temple Grandin, including a wealth of advice about livestock behavior and handling, visit her website. You can also sign up for our livestock updates or find more resources posted regularly on our livestock Twitter account. More pictures of the workshop below:
Photos by Adrien Bisson
On Wednesday, Farmland Coordinator Becca Weaver left the office to venture out to New Lands Farm, run by Lutheran Social Services (LSS), to teach their program participants about pest management. The workshop participants were refugees and two translators were present to interpret the lesson into Nepalese and Swahili. The program at New Lands Farm has expanded in recent years and on Wednesday there were over 30 participants who came to learn to identify common New England vegetable pests and about the best control methods to protect their delicious vegetables. These talented growers, now armed with row cover and Surround, are more prepared for the challenges of agriculture in Massachusetts.
(See more pictures on our Facebook page)
New Entry’s staff often say that we all wear more than one hat. When we had a greenhouse propagation field training – our first field training of the year – scheduled to happen when there would be no Technical Assistance Coordinator around to run it, Becca Weaver stepped up, although it fell well outside of the job description for a Farmland Matching Coordinator. With a little bit of coaching from outgoing TA Coordinator Ethan Grundberg (now farm manager at Allandale Farm), as expected, she nailed it.
Now that our new TA Coordinator, Matt Kochka, has started, he’ll be running the rest of the season’s field trainings. Matt comes to us from Farm Aid, and before that, ReVision Urban Farm in Boston, where he was the farm manager. He knows his stuff.
The next field training is Irrigation and Water, on May 3, 5-7pm – as always, in Dracut, Mass. For more information, contact Matt at 978-654-6745 or MKochka@comteam.org.
Here are a few more pictures of the greenhouse workshop. (The discerning eye will notice our new soil blocker in action!)