Category Archives: New Entry news

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 www.newharmonyfarm.com.

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In Memory: Mr. Kim

By Matthew Himmel, former New Entry and World PEAS Marketing Manager

If you have ever bought amaranth greens, water spinach, Asian cucumbers or bitter melon at the Lowell Farmers Market or received them in your World PEAS CSA share, most likely it was grown by Visoth Kim (“Mr. Kim” to all of us at New Entry) and his family. Intensively managing a small farm in Dracut, Massachusetts, Mr. Kim was the principle supplier of most Southeast Asian crops at the Lowell and Lawrence Farmers’ Markets as well as one of the most prolific growers for the World PEAS cooperative-and one of the first farmers New Entry ever worked with. Mr. Kim passed away late last year after a long illness.

Mr. Kim emigrated from Cambodia, where he was a teacher and a farmer. After arriving in the U.S., Mr. Kim worked in electronics manufacturing, but continued to grow vegetables in his backyard, selling any surplus in his community. After joining New Entry’s first Farm Business Planning Course in 2003, Mr. Kim met John Ogonowski, who provided Mr. Kim and several other early New Entry farmers with a plot on his family’s land in Dracut. During periodic trips back to Cambodia, Mr. Kim continued to teach, this time showing farmers the novel farming practices, such as drip irrigation, which he had come to use on his Massachusetts farm.

The community of New Entry staff and farmers have benefited greatly from Mr. Kim’s contribution to the organization. Organized, thoughtful and hard-working, Mr. Kim has provided a role model to farmers of efficient, intensive production. Personable and savvy, he demonstrated successful marketing, selling through a variety of retail and wholesale channels. Sincere, gregarious and undeniably photogenic, Mr. Kim also became one of New Entry’s best ambassadors.

I recall a World PEAS shareholder meeting in Andover that Mr. Kim attended. After discussing the mechanics of the CSA, shareholders had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Kim. He described his passion for growing high quality produce and a desire to keep his customers healthy. His testimony demonstrated the value of supply chains that are short enough that farmers and customers can know one another. His warm smile remains prominently featured in most of New Entry’s literature and on the large mural, hand-painted on the cooler for World PEAS farmers.

His wife and sons plan to continue farming on the same plot, and selling the same crops to the World PEAS Cooperative. Mr. Kim will be dearly missed by all of us who knew him as our farmer and friend.

Posted in New Entry news, On the Farm, Small farmer | Comments Off

Becca Weaver: Farmland Advisor

Becca at greenhouse workshopNew Entry’s own Becca Weaver has been selected to participate in Farmland Advisors, a new training program on farm transfer and farmland access options designed for professionals working with farmers and landowners.

With nearly 25 percent of the farmland in New York and New England owned by farmers aged 65 and older, transferring land to the next generation of farmers poses a significant challenge. The Farmland Advisors program was launched to strengthen the network of professionals capable of working with farmers and landowners on transferring farm businesses and farmland and aiding new farmers in securing land.

The two-year training program will be led by American Farmland Trust, a nationwide farmland conservation organization, and Land For Good, an organization that helps provide farmland access, farm transfer planning, land planning, and farm use agreements. Funding is provided by a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Grant.

Becca, who coordinates New Entry’s Farmland Matching services and the Beginning Farmer Network of Massachusetts, was one of 80 participants from the Northeast selected to participate in the Farmland Advisors program. Participants include Cooperative Extension educators, land trust staff, agricultural service providers and other professionals working with farmers and farmland owners. Farmland Advisors addresses this challenge of facilitating farm transfer by educating participants through a series of progressive learning and networking opportunities, including webinars, a regional conference, and peer-to-peer exchanges about farmland and farm transfer issues.

For more information about Farmland Advisors, contact Diane Held at (716) 471-7134 or dheld@farmland.org

Posted in Farmland, New Entry news | Comments Off

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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New Entry’s Newest Addition: Eero Ruuttila

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!

Posted in Field trainings, New Entry news, On the Farm | Comments Off

Workshop Highlights: Temple Grandin

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

Posted in Field trainings, Livestock, New Entry news | Comments Off

New Entry’s 5th Annual Farm Tour: They Came, They Saw, They Stayed for Some Appetizers

Rechhat, one of New Entry's earliest farmer-trainees (left), shows off his plot at Whitegate Farm.

New Entry opened its training farms to the public during their 5th Annual Open Farms Tour August 2nd.  Guests visited with four New Entry graduates at four farms in Dracut, to learn about what motives New Entry farmers, discuss soil conditions, market outlets, pests, irrigation and everything else that affects the day-to-day life of our farmers.  Visitors included CSA members, future potential farmers, neighbors and other supporters of New Entry farmers.

Visitors began the tour with a trip to White Gate farm, to visit Rechhat Proum (2004 graduate, originally from Cambodia).  Rechhat has farmed at Whitegate since 1999.  As Richhat proudly displayed his harvest-ready bitter melon, garlic chive, and Asian cucumber, guests inquired as to how much time he spends in the fields.  His response?  “Oh, I cannot start to count the hours!  Farming is a lot of hard work.”  In addition to selling produce into the World PEAS CSA, Rechhat and his wife sell their produce to local Asian grocery stores, and to local farmers markets.

Next, guests visited farmer DC Denison (2011 graduate) at the Smith Farm site (about 1 mile from Whitegate Farm). In addition to their farm work, DC and his wife Gretchen open their Cambridge home each Wednesday to host a World PEAS CSA distribution.  Also, as World PEAS shareholders, they receive a weekly box of World PEAS fruits and vegetables.  DC reflected on what it means to be involved with New Entry at so many different levels – “We spend many hours in the field carefully cultivating our kale crop. We harvest it and deliver it to the CSA packing and distribution site in downtown Lowell. The next day, the World PEAS delivery truck stops at our house to drop off the CSA boxes for distribution to shareholders in our community.  Our friends and neighbors arrive to pick up their shares. As shareholders, we get to enjoy a share as well.  Gretchen and I open the box… and there is our kale! “

Tim Carroll talks about his experiences as a first-year farmer at Smith Farm, one of our incubator farm sites.

Next, visitors got a first-hand glimpse into the life of Tim Carroll (2012 graduate), who farms with his family at a nearby site, also at Smith Farm.  First, Tim greeted visitors at the Smith Farm wash station, to walk visitors through his meticulous post-harvest handling process.  According to Tim “nobody likes to see grass in their baby salad greens.  Everything gets washed twice, then spun, then bagged.  Thank goodness I have kids to help out!”  Guests then followed Tim to his field where he emphasized the need for weed control.  “As you can see, my weed control systems are not ideal.   Even though several hours per week are committed to weed extraction, we still have trouble keeping up with it. Some areas have more weed that crop… but the ongoing battle continues!”

Guests finished the tour with a visit to Ogonowski Fields, to meet with Joann Robichad (2011 graduate), and her partner Kamal.  Guests viewed Joann’s crops of Swiss chard, arugula, basil, tomatoes, and baby salad greens.  In addition to selling her crops into the World PEAS CSA, Joann operates her own CSA, in which she delivers shares to her customers.

Before leaving the farm for the evening, guests were treated to delicious appetizers made by the teens from United Teen Equality Center, using produce grown by New Entry farmers.

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Pest management workshop for refugees at Lutheran Social Services

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)

Posted in Ethnic crop, Field trainings, New Entry news, underserved | Comments Off

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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