Category Archives: Local food

This Thursday: Our Annual Open Farms Tour

resized-bisson2Join New Entry this Thursday for our 6th Annual Open Farms Tour!

Date: Thursday, August 1st (Rain or Shine!)
Time: 4:45 – 7:45 pm
Location: starting at Ogonowski Memorial Fields, 126 Jones Ave., Dracut, MA; and visit to a 2nd incubator training farm in Dracut
Cost: Free (donations welcome!) – but please register online

You are invited to join New Entry for an insider’s tour of our beginning farmer incubator training sites. Join New Entry farmers and staff for an informative and fun-filled 6th Annual Open Farms Tour on Thursday, August 1st, beginning at 4:45 PM, at the Ogonowski Memorial Fields, located at 126 Jones Avenue, Dracut, MA.

Speak with project farmers and staff to learn about our beginning farmer training programs, our farmland preservation efforts, and farm employment resources. Discover what motivates New Entry farmers and learn steps that New Entry farmers take to mitigate risks on their farms. Explore where your food comes from! Meet and network with other project supporters who believe in New Entry’s mission. Taste delicious appetizers made with locally-grown produce from the farms.

This event is free and open to all New Entry friends and supporters, and registration is required. Donations are always welcome to support and expand our work. Click on the link below for registration and directions. See you at the farm!

Register Now!


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Farmer Profile: Erin Stack

 Erin StackBy Trevor Cullen, UMass Lowell Writing Student 

Buying a farm with two months of vague farming experience is not the traditional way to pursue a career in agriculture. Neither is making the transition from art professor to farmer, but Erin Stack has managed to successfully transform a plot of earth into New Harmony Farm, which will enter its second full growing season this spring.

“I’ve always been an artist and a lover of science,” Erin says, and her experiences in creating and developing her farm, while untraditional, are a testament to the pursuit of a lifelong passion. Erin runs New Harmony Farm in Essex County, a 4,500 square foot plot of land that she originally bought with two months of prior farming practice. She knew she had jumped in well past her comfort zone, but was eager to get her project off the ground.

Erin heard about New Entry through a couple of her friends who were farming mentors and enrolled in the Farm Business Planning Course. She says one of the most valuable things she learned from her collaboration with New Entry was how to use spreadsheets to effectively plan out the growing season, saving her a great deal of time and effort. She also says the program helped her learn how to be more organized when it came to running her farm and helped her to confidently use farming equipment like tractors, something she had never operated before or even thought of in the context of farming.

These days, Erin has chickens and bees to go along with her vegetables, and is very excited about having a couple sets of hands besides her own to help her. Erin has also become much more involved in the practice of biological and ecological farming, paying special attention to the soil in which her plants grow.

New Harmony Farm“As an environmental activist, I am very interested in science,” she says. “Agriculture has done a lot of damage to the environment.”

Erin is doing her part to help aid in this problem, going a step further than organic farming by growing nutrient dense vegetables. These veggies contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals thanks to improved soil chemistry. Erin has also been attending the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s soil and nutrition conferences.

As for the progress and future of her farm, Erin says she has been humbled and enlightened by the farming process. Coming from an academic background, she says that the biggest initial shock to her was the difference between theory and practice, something that farming really helped to put into perspective. She still maintains her artistic streak though, saying that farming is just a new art form to her, and Erin’s efforts and participation in bringing “articulture” to New Harmony Farm is evidence of this. A future idea for “articulture” she has had is to paint a tree with some form of bacteria like a yogurt, and to watch as the bacteria changes colors and evolves.

With her farm becoming more stable each year, Erin says that she hopes to make people more conscious of the food they eat and how farming can be improved.

“Our stomachs are a great place to start,” she says.

Learn more about Erin’s farm at

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Event Journal: Farm to School Workshop

Written by Trevor Cullen, a student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Last month, I attended the Farm-to-School workshop hosted by New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and led by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. As someone completely new to the organizations, I came with an open mind and many questions. Who would be attending this workshop? What exactly would the purpose of the meeting be? Was I going to be surrounded by old men in overalls, chewing on stalks of straw?

As it turned out, the workshop consisted of a diverse crowd of both farmers and people who were not yet farming, but interested in the process of supplying food to schools. The two women running the workshop were well organized and prepared to answer any questions. The book provided by them for the workshops attendees proved to be a great tool for following along during the meeting, and a source to use afterwards.

I found that although I came to the workshop with no strong sentiments of what to expect, I learned a great deal. Being a college student, the idea of small, local farms supplying fruits and vegetables to a school was pertinent to me. There were a couple of facts that struck me as particularly fascinating. First, I was happy to learn that recently there has been a massive overhaul in the federally run school lunch program; in order to get government support, a school lunch program has to meet certain guidelines, containing a certain percentage of veggies according to their different colors. Another topic addressed that caught my attention was that multi-national corporations like Aramark can only buy produce from farmers that are GAP certified and have at least five million dollars’ worth of liability insurance. So while I want nothing more than for the farmers’ stands in Dracut or Tyngsboro to be able to sell their apples or pears to UMass Lowell, unfortunately it’s not that easy.

Leaving the Farm-to-School workshop, I was impressed with how well the workshop had been run, and how easy it was for me to jump right in and quickly get a grasp on what was going on. From federal guidelines to commonsense advice like labeling all your produce in order to gain some name recognition, I enjoyed learning about how small time farmers could begin to make a difference, and profit while doing it.

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It’s a SNAP: Expanding Food Access in Lowell

World PEAS, and the larger New Entry Sustainable Food Project, are committed to serving under-resourced individuals in the greater Boston and Lowell areas in both the supply and demand side of commercial agriculture.  We support the farmers who grow food for our programs, while also working to expand access to these foods in communities in Lowell and East Boston.  This presents a common paradox in the world of sustainable agriculture- how do you support agricultural livelihoods, by providing the best price to our farmers for their crops, while also making these foods to be accessible for low-income populations?

This is a challenge that staff at New Entry and our fiscal sponsors, Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI) and Tufts University, have been working to address with various programming models.  This season, after intensive planning and collaboration, World PEAS and CTI developed a pilot project- the SNAP CSA.  This program, which allows individuals receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, often referred to as food stamps, to purchase a small CSA share at half price.  The remaining half of the cost of the CSA share is subsidized by the support of generous donations by our shareholders and the Farmer’s Market Promotion Program.  The SNAP CSA initiative operated every Friday this season at the Lowell Farmers Market, where individuals registered for the program were able to pick up their shares and enjoy lettuce, greens, raspberries and more.

Participants were recruited for the program through various service agencies and through a wide range of multilingual promotional materials.  The CSA share the members receive is identical to the share offered to our general World PEAS customers, but SNAP CSA participants have the option to pay weekly for their subsidized shares, rather than needing to make an upfront investment for the entire season, which would be a sizeable financial barrier for participation.  While we hope to register more participants in the SNAP CSA program, the current program does serve to address New Entry’s mission to enhance community food security by expanding access to fresh, local food to all populations.  We believe that our CSA is particularly appropriate for SNAP recipients given the fact that we include many unique ethnic vegetables in our shares- providing culturally appropriate foods is a key tenant of community food security.

We are excited to develop our SNAP CSA program to reach even more individuals in the Lowell area and to hopefully expand further in coming years.  By helping under-resourced individuals develop commercial agricultural businesses that can in turn feed low-income populations in Lowell, we are hoping to develop networks of self-sufficiency and community development.

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A new video about New Entry, and Adisson and Seona driving a tractor

Have a look at this this excellent video Molly Bedell made about New Entry!

As he talks about planning for the growing season, New Entry farmer Adisson Toussaint has a line in this video that pretty much sums up why we have a Farm Business Planning Class:

“It’s easy to think about what you’re going to do, but it’s sometimes difficult to put on paper.”

Adisson has moved onto his own land, and is at the point of mulling tractor options. He and another movin’-on-up New Entry farmer, Seona Ban Ngufer, recently got some tractor operation lessons from Tim Laird at The Food Project. There’s nothing like seeing our farmers take their business to the next level. This is why we do what we do!

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Local Food Movement, Articles from Coast to Coast

This Washington Post article features 3 women who ride their bicycles from Washington, D.C. to Montreal to document thriving small farms, community gardens, and the growth of urban agriculture.
In Washington state, people struggle to find a way to bring self-sufficiency to low income populations.
We love local food for its taste, for supporting the local economy, and for its benefits to the environment. How about how great it is for our health? I hate to get wrapped up in all the little details of nutrition, but it is definitely a perk to eating a variety of fresh produce. I came across this article from the American Institute of Cancer Research, and thought it might be useful in getting ideas on incorporating more unprocessed foods in our diet.

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A Visit from Chef Jody Adams of Rialto Restaurant

Chef Jody Adams, of Rialto Restaurant in Cambridge, MA, will be making a visit to Whitegate farm to meet with our farmers and do a Guerrilla Grilling piece next Monday, July 28. Supporter of local foods and cooking, Chef Jody has been visiting farms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to meet with small farmers and show how food, right in our backyards, can be so deliciously prepared and enjoyed. This visit will focus on Asian produce and will feature two of our Cambodian farmers, Mr. Kim and Rechhat. We’re looking forward to the visit and will update with pictures from the event!

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Lowell Farmer’s Market

Hello there!
Last Friday was the opening day of the Lowell Farmer’s Market in JFK Square, right across from City Hall. The market opened at 3pm, with 7 vendors selling vegetables, herbs, berries and baked goods (which quickly sold out!). Mayor Bud Caulfield welcomed the market and did a cooking demonstration with Tom Shanahan of the Owl Diner.
The market will continue to expand and will feature locally produced items such as eggs, meats, dairy products, handmade jewelry, and potted herbs and plants. Support your community and stop by this Friday from 3-7pm for some live music and good times!

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