New farmer Deena Sao

Deena Sao is a student of nursing and education, a Born-Again Christian, and a homeschooler of her four kids. And now, she’s a farmer with the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. She discovered the NESFP through a simple internet search and “realized how lucky [she] was” when she discovered that the NESFP office was mere blocks from her Lowell home.
Deena enrolled in and completed the Farm Business Course last fall (“a great experience”) due to “several pieces of the puzzle…all coming together.” Because she is passionate about public health and the health and education of her kids, but was also feeling the financial squeeze, she decided to give farming a try.
She considers it a good way to provide for her family in a number of ways. “I fantasize about being wealthy someday” she says, and not having to go out to the farm “even when I’m feeling under the weather.” But still, she is confident that “it will always be part of my life as a passion and as a skill I can pass on to my kids”.
In addition to all the rest of Deena’s busy life, she has managed to post regularly on her blog ( since 2005. Recently, it has become her “farm journal”, which documents the peace and the mayhem of her new farming life. She discusses the joy of getting her kids outside with their hands in the dirt, the trials and errors of weeding beets and growing tomatoes from seed, and the recent turkey invasion at Smith Farm, which her quarter-acre has so far managed to escape aside from a few nibbles. The blog is entertaining and honest, and also a clear window into the life of one of our newest New Entry farmers. Check it out when you get a chance, and look forward to Deena’s hard-won produce in your upcoming CSA shares!
-Jeff Hake

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Local food phenoms

The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project occupies a unique niche in the swelling local food movement. Beyond simply advocating for buying close to home, the NESFP fosters sustainability in the local food economy by disseminating agricultural knowledge and helping the next generation of American farmers help themselves. Through its cooperative CSA, farmer incubator programs, mobile poultry processing unit, and other cutting-edge endeavors, the NESFP is quietly shaping attitudes and economies around the future of agriculture.
But the NESFP is not alone on the forefront of the local food movement. Below are three brief profiles of groups and individuals in the area who are doing their own part to know their food and know, (or be!), their farmer:
The Urban Homesteader’s League: This Cambridge-based non-profit is “committed to re-imagining the good life as one that is meaningful, pleasurable, environmentally sustainable, and socially just. [They] place the home at the center of that pursuit and see it as a site for personal and societal transformation.” Founded just last summer by Lisa Gross, an artist and graduate student living in Inman Square, the UHL has quickly blossomed into a source of inspiration for over 800 urban homesteaders of all stripes. Urban farmers and gardeners, makers of cheese, soap and yogurt, home composters, knitters and carpenters all have a place under the wide umbrella of UHL’s skill-sharing. The UHL’s most recent project is its Market Stand at the Union Square Farmers’ Market in Somerville, where Lisa and many others teach mini-workshops on a variety of homesteading skills. For more information on the UHL, visit their website at or find them on Facebook and Meetup.
Top Sprouts: Top Sprouts is a for-profit venture that is working to create “edible campuses” and local food production through rooftop farming and gardening. Alice Leung and Akshay Kolte founded the company in 2008 in Boston and are currently developing a pilot project with Bunker Hill Community College. The project would entail the construction of greenhouses on the flat roofs of the school that will grow vegetables “for year round food production and yield a healthy return on investment”. The company hopes that the pilot project will serve as a model for rooftop growing in other parts of the city, and Alice and Akshay have been collaborating with students and the city of Boston to expand the scope of their work. To learn more about Top Sprouts, check out their website at
Julia Davis and Andy McLeod: A lot of catering companies have noticed a dramatic upswing in the number of engaged couples wishing to have their wedding reception dinners stocked completely with local foods. But Julia Davis and Andy McLeod of Washington, Maine are going one giant step further: they are growing essentially all of it themselves. From greens to squash to chickens, this ambitious couple are planning to have the harvest of their 7,500 square foot backyard garden completed by September 24th, when they will enlist family and friends in the preparation of a complete menu of homegrown delights for about 100 guests. To follow the progress of this labor of love, check out their blog at
-Jeff Hake

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Out standing in our fields

Last week we held our second livestock field school of the season, the Forage and Grazing Field School, at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. After classroom presentations by Barbara Miller (NRCS) and Stephen Herbert (UMass), the vet school guys – Jim Phillips, Scott Brundage, and George Saperstein – led the group out into the pastures.

As we walked the fields at the vet school, Jim explained the pasture mixes and management practices used, Scott talked about species-specific considerations, and Dr. Saperstein gave a crash course in weed identification.

Finally, Dr. Herbert talked about hay quality and we looked at the equipment used to manage and harvest forage at the vet school. And most importantly, the weather was perfect!

To sign up for future livestock schools, click here.

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With a little help from our friends

Volunteers from Innovation Academy Charter School in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts spent a day helping New Entry get ready for CSA season, and help they did! Here are some snapshots of the troopers in action:

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Cultivating the Next Generation of Food Producers

Our own Jennifer Hashley on GoodEater:
“How many of us, when we were kids, maybe in the third grade, thought, when I grow up, I want to be a doctor? A lawyer? An astronaut? Perhaps. But how many of us ever thought about growing up to be a farmer? Come on, no one? Well, me either and it’s no wonder we are losing our collective food-producing knowledge in our culture, which in my opinion, is a very dangerous thing.”
Read the rest here:

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Not Your Father’s Petting Zoo

New Entry is kicking off our Livestock Field Schools this year with a free Livestock Farm Day at the Tufts vet school in North Grafton, Mass. on June 5. Workshops will be held throughout the day, where you can learn firsthand the basics of livestock production; vendors will be set up to field your questions about feed and equipment; and there’s a pig roast! (Note: lunch is $10 – the one thing that isn’t free – and please email if you plan to get a lunch, so we can make sure to have enough food!)
Everything else you need to know is here:
Download file
And here:

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We take our show on the road

You’ve seen and heard us in the media – now you can see and hear us in person! Here are the unofficial ‘speaking tour’ dates for various New Entry staff:
McKenzie and Jennifer – Friday, May 7th – Boston Area Returned Peace Corps Welcome Back, Send Off Event
Our own Peace Corps grads (McKenzie in Zambia, Jennifer in Honduras) talk about how their Peace Corps experiences tie into their work at New Entry.
Jennifer – Monday, May 10th – Tufts Food and Wine event
Jennifer joins local Chef Peter McCarthy and food writer Jacqueline Church on a panel focusing on bringing sustainable food to the table.
Sam – Wednesday, May 12th – Mobile poultry processing presentation at USDA / APHIS Conference – Sutton, Mass.
No link for this one, but if you’re interested in showing up alongside a host of state and federal regulators and veterinarians, I’ll be talking about our Mobile Poultry Processing Unit from 1-1:45 p.m. at the American Legion Post in Sutton, Mass.
Jennifer – Sunday, May 16th – TEDxCambridge
Jennifer probably wins for coolest event. This local installment of the famous TED talks is titled “How do you eat?”
The talks will stream online at:
Jennifer – May 20th and June 16th – CCAN Chicken Course
This two-part course will teach you how to raise your own backyard chickens and includes hands-on learning in the field – and participants will be able to pool together to buy chicks at the end of the class!

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New Entry invades every major form of media

Things have been busy around here, and we can prove it! Here are some links to our recent appearances in all sorts of media: video, radio, web, and newspaper. Annotated for your convenience.
Click above to watch our recently completed equipment training video, starring our own McKenzie Boekholder and produced by our video extraordinaire, John Dorman.
New Entry on the radio! To hear Jennifer and McKenzie on the national web radio show “What’s for Dinner,” click the link above, go to week 15, and start listening at 4 min. 30 seconds. It’s worth it.
Our farmers-in-training are being heard, too:
This blog will detail the experiences of Deena, a recent graduate of our Farm Business Planning course, as she gets her farm business started on one of our training plots. If you think writing about large-scale gardening sounds boring, this will prove you wrong.
This article in the Cape Cod Times features Drew, a new farmer who we have worked closely with to get him set up to rent the mobile poultry processing unit this year (the MPPU co-stars in the article). Another Cape newspaper featured Drew and the MPPU as well. Who doesn’t love to read about a chicken chop shop on wheels?

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Return of the Livestock Schools

Last year New Entry organized a series of Livestock Field Trainings in cooperation with the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. The workshop were such a hit, we had to bring them back – but this year there’s a bit more variety.
Last year the series was species-specific, with field trainings for poultry, sheep, beef cattle, and swine. This year we’re branching out with some multi-species workshops, including new resources for both beginning and more advanced livestock producers. Some details still need to be worked out, but here’s the schedule we have so far:
June 5 – Livestock Farm Day
9-3:30, in collaboration with the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary
Medicine, North Grafton MA
June 24 – Forage and Grazing Field Day
(Time TBA) in collaboration with the Tufts Cummings School of
Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton MA
July 10 – Pastured Poultry Field Day
(Time TBA) hosted by Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds, Concord MA
August 10 – Marketing Livestock Products
(Time and loc. TBA)
September 16 – Sheep Workshop
(Time TBA) in collaboration with the Tufts Cummings School of
Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton MA
October 23 – Livestock Field Training: Beef Workshop
(Time TBA) in collaboration with the Tufts Cummings School of
Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton MA
You can see the full calendar of events at
And if you’re into the whole Twitter thing, don’t forget to check out the New Entry livestock account:

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You Are What You Tweet

Okay, that’s not true (thank goodness). But here at New Entry, we’re trying to expand our horizons a bit. You may think Twitter and Facebook and YouTube are the domain of bored teenagers, not farmers, but the times they are a-changin’. New Entry has officially joined the agricultural invasion of social media. We have one Facebook page, two Twitter accounts, and three video channels, all containing very useful resources and updates. And we promise not to use the phrases ‘lol’ or ‘omg.’
So, if it doesn’t offend your earthy sensibilities, check us out at these trendy web locales:
Twitter (main)
Twitter (livestock)
DoGooder (video)
Vimeo (video)

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