Category Archives: On the Farm

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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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.

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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!

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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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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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Mark Your Calendars!

Save the date! Sunday, September 28th will be New Entry’s Annual Harvest Festival at Richardson’s Dairy Farm. We’ll have everything needed for fun–live music, good food, great company–Don’t miss out!

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Report from New Entry’s Annual Farm Tour

August 7, 2008, Richardson Farm – Dracut, MA. New Entry Sustainable Farming Project had their annual farm tour from 5-8pm yesterday evening. Despite the rain and dreary weather, about 45 people came decked out in rain gear to learn more about New Entry, our farmers, and their food.
This is the first year the farm tour was opened to the public, as it was mainly for CSA members in the past. Visitors from the University of Vermont, Boston University, Dracut Agricultural Commission, neighboring towns, prospective students for the farmer training course, as well as CSA members shared the damp evening with the New Entry staff and even got to taste some of the fresh produce.

McKenzie, the Technical Assistance Coordinator, started the tour. In the top right picture, she’s holding up sweet potato greens. Most were fascinated by the fact that the African farmers grow these for the greens specifically, and not at all for the tubers. Nikki, one of the farmers of New Entry, says that she completely sells out of her sweet potato greens even before she plants them!

McKenzie leads the group to Nikki’s plot. Here’s a sample of maize Nikki grows. It reaches height beyond 8 ft!

Guests walk through Noueth’s and Oen’s plots, learning about Cambodian crops and the water spinach that is such a staple to their diets.

UTEC (United Teen Equality Center) introduces themselves and gives an introduction to the food they made with the produce from some of our New Entry Farmers. The teens who work for this organization are usually at-risk youth, and can choose to get involved in different capacities. Here, they are involved in the culinary program for teens. Last night they featured gazpacho, tabbouli, long beans, and other apps.

Afterwards, the tour group hopped in a van to go to Smith Farm, two miles away where some more of our farmers have planted their crops:

Here is Addison. An immigrant from Haiti, Addison shares with the group his biggest challenge in farming, having the time to farm while working a full time job. Most days, he works sun-up to sun-down to keep up with the growing season. Fortunately, his two high school daughters love to help and get involved.

The evening was only supposed to last until 7pm, but ended after dark. What started out as a simple tour on locally-grown foods turned out to be a cultural-educational event right here in Dracut, MA. Guests walked through, sampled, and learned about African, Cambodian, and Puerto Rican crops–an enriching experience to say the least!
We had a wonderful time, hopefully you can join us next year!

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