Category Archives: Media

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 www.newharmonyfarm.com.

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Farmland matching in the Boston Globe

Boston Globe image

Boston Globe image

A Boston Globe article this week focuses on New Entry’s farmland matching program, including the story of New Entry farmer Seona. Congratulations to Becca Weaver, our Farmland Matching Coordinator, for the well-deserved credit!

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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!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdC6rcd9uHM&feature=youtu.be

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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Meet Our CSA Coordinator

Matthew Himmel

Matthew Himmel – standing, as usual, in a sea of CSA boxes.

Our Marketing Manager, Matthew Himmel, has had more to do with the phenomenal growth of New Entry’s World PEAS CSA than anyone. He’ll be leaving the project this year (for business school!), and New Entry is looking for someone to fill his very big shoes. For those who might not realize just what a big deal World PEAS has become, check out Adrien Bisson’s recent interview with Matthew.

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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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I Heard It On the Radio

Here’s a story of sustainable food right in your backyard, along with a radio program about organic food.
We here at New Entry know Mrs. Caroline Zuk as the landlord to three of our Cambodian farmers at Saja Farm. Today I had the opportunity to talk to her briefly about the history of the farm and her passion and enthusiasm for sustainable agriculture. While Saja is a third generation farm, it is in its first year of production for the public. They grow their own produce (more traditional American crops) and buy Asian varieties wholesale from Mr. Sorn, Mr. Nil, and Mr. Emchak (graduates of the New Entry program).
Saja began as a dairy farm in 1915, with vegetables grown solely to supplement the family and not for profit. Back then everybody in the community had a source for their produce since most had their own vegetable gardens, so giving away your summer squash or tomatoes was very hard to do. Thus, it never occurred to them to turn their vegetable gardens into a business operation until recently. Whenever they kept trying to share their summer bounty with friends, they were told they should sell their sustainably-raised vegetables to the public. After much prodding, they decided to make the leap. They’ve had a remarkable response, and now they are trying as hard as they can to keep up with the demand-selling at two farmers’ markets, wholesale, and to restaurants. They are thrilled that their produce is going straight into the hands and mouths of the consumer.
Mrs. Zuk learned from a young age the importance of sustainable agriculture, and keeping the soil as healthy as possible. She recalls her grandmother always having a broom nearby to chase away those who attempted to get them to try some new quick fix for the soil. Even her aunt maintained the integrity of organic farming before it was trendy to do so. Mrs. Zuk emphasizes the importance of sustainablity in their family and their understanding that everything comes full cycle. Three generations of organic farming has maintained a rich and healthy soil, and the family is proud to offer produce that is good for the earth and the people.
If you have questions about organic farming, or love to talk and hear about it, Mrs. Zuk started a 13 week radio program on the local station (WCAP 980). It is on each Monday from 4:30 to 5:00 pm and you can listen live on the WCAP website. Last Monday, she talked all about tomatoes, how to handle them at home and recipe ideas. Next week, she plans to talk about Farmers’ Market etiquette–for the farmer and for the consumer. She will share what goes on behind the scenes before the market and the preparation involved. In the future, she hopes to be able to take questions on air.
If you have more questions, she is more than happy to answer them or talk to you more about organic farming. Beware, her energy and passion is contagious!
For more information:
www.sajafarm.com
978-454-SAJA
403 Parker Rd (Farmstand)
Dracut, MA 01826

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