Animals on the Move

The chicken truck! All the way up from PA, and getting ready to head home.

The chicken truck! All the way up from PA, and getting ready to head home.

Part of springtime is that our animals head out to the 130-odd acres of pasture that we farm around Lincoln. We had an exciting and busy week last week with animal arrivals to the farm and other animal departures from their winter homes! On Monday, we received over 1,000 new laying hens. These birds arrived about four or five-months old, basically fully grown and about to start laying. Our breeder in Pennsylvania set out before daybreak with a truck loaded full of hens, and drove for six hours to get them to the farm. It’s no small matter moving birds! Some other smaller farms coordinate with us to place their own orders for birds, and so they joined us to pick them up at the farm.

Happy chickens and a happy, watchful guardian dog!

Happy chickens and a happy, watchful guardian dog!

There was a festive atmosphere in the air as pick-up trucks, vans and animal trailers pulled into the Codman parking lot. Some came from as close as the Wright-Locke farm in Winchester, and some came all the way down from New Hampshire. When the delivery truck arrived, a small crew of Codman volunteers and staff, and folks from four or five other farms hopped to work unloading yellow crates full of birds, and freeing them into their mobile coops. Pete then hitched the coops to the tractor and towed them down to Codman South Field. The birds have been out in the lush grass for a week now, and if you’ve driven down Codman road you’ve probably seen them on top of the hill. Toby is out guarding them, and happy to be back on the grass as well.

Our cows headed out to pasture as well last week. If you were near the depot on Thursday or Friday, you might have seen Pete and Jared driving them to Farm Meadow, pulling the big silver animal trailer behind their tractors. Most of our herd is there, with a small second herd of younger cattle still on the farm waiting to move to another field. While the farm feels a little quieter with less cows, there is plenty going on.

All this is made possible by some of the efficient systems Pete and Jared have designed to make sure that we can keep our animals watered and fed while spread out on so many different pieces of land - something that is crucial to build healthy soil, rather than overgrazing and degrading it. Just seeing the lush grass along the Codman road makes me smile, knowing that our animals are foraging on the best food, and cycling fertility back to the soil, building up the resilience of the ecosystem.

Education continues on the farm. We had Farmer’s Helper again on Wednesday, and the kids learned how to spread cardboard and bark mulch to suppress weeds around the fruit bushes in the orchard. Our Waldorf High School class cozied up in the greenhouse during the rain on Friday, and learned about soils and seed starting. They discussed plans for their herbal tea garden, before planting out trays of seeds for their garden plot.

The weather is warming and the rain seems to be subsiding, so we’re looking forward to planting winter squash and other veggies, lambs arriving on the farm, our first chicken harvest in just over a week, pigs arriving and moving out into the fields, and whatever else arises with the flow of the season. Before we know it, we’ll be into the summer, and settling into the routine of chores as all the animals settle into their homes and the days grow longer and longer. If you’re interested in helping out at the farm, you can join us for our 2nd Volunteer Chicken Catching next Wednesday, May 29th, at 8pm! Old pro or never touched a chicken except on the dinner plate, your help is welcome, and we’d love to see you here.

Until next time,

Jon

The Farm News - May 11th, 2019

After all that rain, we were glad to see the sun poke out at the farm this week! Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on at Codman since last week:

More Veggies and Potatoes

We used the couple of sunny days this week to plant more veggies, including Napa cabbage, broccoli, and kohlrabi. Pete, Brian, Kari and I enjoyed soaking up the sun and vitamin D as Pete prepped the beds and we planted them out. On Wednesday, we worked on planting potatoes with the Farmer’s Helper class. They learned about how potatoes grow, what a potatoes “eyes” are, how to improvise a measuring stick with their bodies, and how to use a hoe to cover their potato beds!

Laying Hen Delivery

Our new flock of laying hens is arriving on Monday! Over 1000 birds will be arriving to the farm, replenishing our egg production as our current flock ages. These ladies will be 4 to 5 months old, and are called pullets, which are young female chickens who are just starting to produce eggs. We’ll need a few extra hands to help unload them from their truck and get them to their new home on Codman South, so if you want to join in, sign up here. We’ll meet at 4:30 p.m.. Wear clothes that can get dirty, and bring gloves if you have them! Since the weather is looking a bit raw and rainy, we’ll warm up afterwards with some hot cocoa in the farm office.

Annual Members Meeting

On Thursday night, we hosted our Annual Members Meeting to discuss the state of the farm and to vote on new members and officers for the Board of Directors. The Codman Board, Staff, and a group of our members gathered in the barn to share in food cooked by the board (shout out to Lis Herbert’s homemade white pizza featuring Codman Sausage!). After eating and catching up, we settled in to business. 2018 was a resoundingly successful year for Codman, and appreciations were shared for the hard work of our hundreds of volunteers, for the dedication and vision of our Board, and for the energy and creativity of our staff, as well as the massive financial support we have received from the community.

Among the info shared at the meeting, we discussed how in 2018, we generated close to $600,000 in revenue from farm products, and in the seven months since our Vision 2020 campaign, we have almost reached our goal of $350,000 for capital purchases and investments. There is clear demand for our local and humanely raised products, as well as support for our mission, and that’s reflected by the fact the farm is in a stronger fiscal position then it has ever been. That is a clear product of the energy and passion of our staff and community, and we are looking forward to continuing that trend into 2019.

Another notable piece of the meeting was that David Alperovitz came to the end of his tenure as President of the Codman Board of Directors. His leadership was celebrated, with Vice President Nancy Fleming highlighting his vision and accomplishments while serving as President. Among many achievements, David personally tackled two of our government grants which brought in $50,000 to fund the farm’s solar project, wading through literally hundreds of pages to apply and secure funding from the USDA and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. Luckily for us, he will still be on the Board for another year, and will lend his voice, as well as his top notch maple sugaring skills.

The board elections went smoothly, electing four new members to the Codman Board! We welcome Jon Ferris, Sherry Haydock, Dr. Stephen Hoenig, and Bryce Wells to the Board, and are looking forward to sharing in their leadership and knowledge. We also elected as our officers: Nancy Fleming as President, Ginger Reiner as Treasurer, and Fan Watkinson as Clerk. Their dedication to Codman is impressive - Nancy played a crucial role in driving the Capital Campaign, as you may know - and we are looking forward to their leadership over the next couple of years.

Grazing in 2018: Chickens, in mobile coops on the left, follow behind cows, who are grazing the longer grass in the wagon-wheel spokes on the right. When the cows have grazed the grass down, they’re moved to a fresh section, and the chickens move in behind them.

Pete presented a remarkable state of the farm at the meeting. He continues to improve the farm through his knowledge and creativity, along with his Assistant Farm Manager, Jared Martin. In 2018, they innovated through experimenting with new rotational grazing practices, building new, specialized equipment, and conducting grant-funded research. One small example is the way they paired meat chickens and cows together to graze a field - the cows would graze the grass that was too long for the chickens, and then the chickens would follow behind the cows grazing over the shorter grass. Then, the grass would regrow as the animals were moved to new areas of pasture, rejuvenated by the nutrients from the manure of both species. Jared and Pete continue to work this year on the best ways to utilize the land, equipment, and personnel that we have at Codman, and to provide a source of local, humane proteins and other goods to Lincoln and the surrounding communities.

Next week, look forward to more updates and pictures of the new laying flock, info about our first meat chicken harvest (May 30th), and more. In the meantime, we have more rain ahead, but don’t let that stop you from coming out to visit the farm!

Until Next Time,

Jon

Spring Rains

Jared catching chickens last Spring

Jared catching chickens last Spring

The spring rains continue to fall as we head into May. The grass is loving the moisture, and the rich green of the fields along Codman road paints a vivid contrast against the gray skies we’ve been having. While the weather is suited to curling up inside with a mug of something hot, things have been humming along at the farm. Our first flock of meat chickens moved out to the fields at Mt. Misery this past week, and they are thrilled to be out on fresh grass! We’re moving them every day in their mobile chicken coops to spread fertility evenly across the field, and give them fresh tasty grass to eat. Adding their nitrogen-rich manure to these pastures regenerates the fertility of land that has been farmed by European descendents for over 300 years in some cases, often without proper care taken to restore vital nutrients to the soil. The brooder-barn is bursting with younger chicks who are growing rapidly, and will soon be joining their older compatriots out on the pasture.

With the flock flourishing, our first fresh chicken of the season will be available at the farm store from the evening of Friday 5/31 to the evening of Monday 6/2, so stop in and pick some up! Our first flock are Freedom Rangers, a French breed with a lovely robust chicken taste. We’ll be catching the birds that Wednesday, May 29th before bringing them to slaughter, and we could use your help! If you’re interested in being part of our volunteer chicken catching crew, email Jon (me) at jon@codmanfarm.org.

We’ll be catching chickens throughout the summer, and we depend on your help each time to bring in the flock, so come once or come every time! I personally believe that there’s nothing like the joy of shared work (other than perhaps the joy of shared music or food), and that working out in the fields together, as the sun sets and the twilight fades, is a deep and meaningful way to spend an evening. For more info about this event, email me at the address above, or visit the events page here.

Planting continues on the farm, despite the wet weather. The rain isn’t ideal for working in the soil, as it can compact the earth, depriving roots and soil microbes of necessary oxygen. However, with the help of the Massachusetts Bay Waldorf High School class that’s been joining us on Fridays, we managed to plant out a few rows of spinach before the rain set in on Friday.

Soon to follow are broccoli starts and scallions, as well as tomatoes for the greenhouse. Speaking of which, Kari’s been working away in the greenhouse, sowing pumpkins and winter squash starts, Zinnia’s for the PYO garden, and more. And in the orchard, it’s been a joy to watch the perennials come to life, from the rhubarb which is bursting up with huge leaves, to the hops Pete and Jen rescued, which have just emerged.

Finally, I want to thank all of the hard-working volunteers who came out for our Spring Cleanup! Thanks to your help, we weeded a significant chunk of the orchard, prepped a garden bed by the barn, cleared out the leaves by the stone wall along Codman road, continued work on the new PYO garden, stripped a fence for painting, and completed several other significant projects. We are a community organization, and are made up of the people who interact with and care for this place, whether by shopping in our store or spending a day working on the farm. We are lucky to have such a supportive community. And of course, thanks to our Farmer’s Helper class - these energetic kids learned how to prime a fence on Wednesday, and I’ve got to say it’s looking pretty spiffy!

Until next time,

Jon

News from the Farm

Spring blossoms on the farm (credit: Heidi Stowell-Nichols)

Spring blossoms on the farm (credit: Heidi Stowell-Nichols)

The past week has been a blur here at Codman! After a long winter, projects, plants and animals are springing up left and right as the season gets into swing. Here are a few updates about what’s going on, and what you can expect to see the next time you stop by:

Our first chicken-catching crew of 2019

Our first chicken-catching crew of 2019

Volunteers Catch and Move Hens to Codman North Field

Last Wednesday night, an all-star crew of volunteer chicken catchers assembled to wrangle all of our laying hens into mobile coops and animal trailers, Under the light of the near-full moon, bolstered by the chilly and fresh spring air, our team scrambled, dove and laughed as we caught hens left and right. Pete then drove the birds down to the Codman North field, at the end of Codman Road, where they are now enjoying roaming on the fresh grass (under Andy’s watchful eye of course). We are grateful to everyone who came out and lent a hand and a sense of humor, and created such a warm, supportive group. The night captured the magic of shared work (and celebratory hot chocolate), and community spirit. Check out the hens on their new digs as you drive or walk by, and sign up for our mailing list or contact us if you’re interested in helping out with future chicken catching days!

Some of last year’s volunteers

Some of last year’s volunteers

Codman Spring Cleanup Volunteer Day - 4/28

There is still some cleanup left to do after the winter, and we’ll be having our volunteer Spring Cleanup day next Sunday, 4/28 from 1pm-5pm. We’ll be taking care of all manner of projects, like cleaning up the flower beds, scraping and repainting fences, and weeding around the farm. We’d love for you to join us - bring your work gloves and your sense of fun, and we’ll bring the snacks! Find more info at the link above, and RSVP here.

The first kale of the season goes into the ground!

The first kale of the season goes into the ground!

Market Garden Fields Tilled, PYO Flowers Moved

With the ground thawed and ready for planting, we’ve tilled up the vegetable fields, and planted out the first kale starts of the season! We’re getting ready to plant our seed potatoes, which were prepared by students from the Waldorf School of Massachusetts Bay. They’ve been coming out to the farm for the past few weeks as a part of their farming elective class, so thanks to them for their help! This week, we’ll be cleaning out the greenhouse where the chickens lived over the winter, and begin using it for vegetable starts and transplanting tomatoes.

Additionally, the PYO Flower Garden has moved from the corner of Codman Road, by the Community Gardens, to its new home by our vegetable gardens and orchard on the far side of the greenhouse. We will still have fresh annual and perennial flowers available on a PYO basis, and the beds feel more at home nestled in the heart of our farm - just a short stroll from the CCF parking lot past our pastures and barns. New signs should be coming shortly.

Chicks and Geese (but no Ducks) Better Scurry

A new batch of chicks, as well as a few baby goslings arrived this week! We’ve never raised geese before, so we’re excited to give it a try. We’re looking forward to another 400 chicks showing up this week, so the brooder will be chock full with peeping fluff-balls. Our first round of chicks are almost ready to head out to pasture, and will probably move to the Mt. Misery field sometime this week. Come visit us and check them out! And if you want to know when we’ll have fresh chicken available on the farm, sign up for our mailing list or keep an eye on this blog.

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Roofing Begins for Solar Project

The roofers arrived last Thursday and began re-shingling our main barn, getting it ready for the solar panels which will follow. There’s plenty more to be done, as we will eventually have solar panels on three faces of three of our barns. We are so excited to start running on clean, freely available sunlight and go net-zero starting sometime in June. Find more info about the solar project here, and watch the progress unfold over the next couple of months as you come by the farm and store.

Our Events page has info about upcoming events where you can connect with the farm, and we hope to add more for the summer - if you have any ideas or are interested in helping run an event or workshop, let us know. Things are just getting busier and busier as the season continues, so keep checking back for more updates, and stop by the farm to have a look around and see what’s going on!

Until Next Time,

~Jon


Running on Sun

Soon the sun will be running our buildings, as well as growing our pastures. (photo credit: Eli Newell)

Soon the sun will be running our buildings, as well as growing our pastures. (photo credit: Eli Newell)

I am thrilled to say that we will soon gather all of Codman’s power from the sun! Work will begin shortly to install solar panels on the roofs of three of our barns, generating all of our electricity needs by this summer. This is a key piece of our vision for the development of Codman, as outlined in our Vision 2020 Capital Campaign, - enhancing sustainability by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and our carbon emissions. Our buildings will become effectively net-zero, as we convert to high-efficiency electric heat pumps, replacing our inefficient and costly propane heating systems.

Because of our nature as a non-profit operating on town-owned property, this was a joint project, made possible by cooperation between and contributions from both us and the Town of Lincoln, and we are proud to be the first town-owned facility to go solar. We are funding the solar panels and installation, and the town is covering the re-shingling of the roof, which is only possible thanks to the people of Lincoln, who voted to approve the re-shingling project at town meeting. We are so grateful to the people and organizations that came together to make this happen, through time, effort, or financial support. These partnerships range from individuals throughout Lincoln, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We are lucky to be supported by such a wonderful community, and I am personally amazed to see the coming together of will, knowledge and ability to make this happen.

Read more about the project details and the many partners who worked with us in the Lincoln Squirrel, and look out for signs of construction starting up on the farm soon! If you have questions about our move towards being net-zero, stop by and ask, or send us a note.

See you around!

~ Jon

Hello from Jon Mayer, Education and Outreach Coordinator

A new Jon, an old sign

A new Jon, an old sign

Hello Codman friends, family, members, volunteers, and new faces,

My name is Jon Mayer, and I am the new Education, Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator here at Codman Community Farms! I’ve been warmly welcomed in my first week here, and I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to the community as a whole.

I grew up just down the road from Codman in Carlisle, Massachusetts. When I was little, my mother used to meet my sibling and me at school, and walk home with us through the woods on conservation trails that run throughout the town, and I fell in love with the land at a young age. While in high school, an influential teacher of mine introduced me to Michael Pollan’s writing, and to thinking about industrial food systems and their alternatives. I left home to study at Boston University, and my interest in alternative food movements grew into a passion, tied closely to my awareness of climate change and environmental destruction. Not long after I graduated, I set out to do the work firsthand, working at the Clark Farm in Carlisle, and Hutchin’s Farm in Concord, then traveling and working on small farms with the WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program, which connects people with small organic farms around the world where they can volunteer in exchange for room and board. I returned to Massachusetts, and followed my interest in education to the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center, an Outward Bound base in the Boston Harbor. There, I taught primarily Boston Public Schools students through nature and challenge-based experiential education. When I heard that Codman was looking for help, I jumped at the chance to combine education and farming, and to nurture a sense of community - something I find to be so important in a world that can seem increasingly divided, individualistic, and often lonely.

From what I’ve seen and heard, Codman has a long legacy as a community hub in its 46 years. Within my first week, I’ve heard more stories than I can count of people’s relationship to this place just from talking to the folks who’ve stopped by to pick up some eggs, or to help split wood for an afternoon. I get the sense that Lincoln is a special town, and even though I grew up not far away, I am excited to get to know the unique character of the people and the land, and to develop Codman’s role as a place where, to quote a 1993 fundraising brochure I read the other day, “people can gather together in an atmosphere of friendship and community spirit, and share work, learning and fellowship”. Farms are places where we raise food, but they are also places where we can raise people. We can come together to share in the joy of bounty and the sorrow of loss, the cycles of birth and death, in family and friends, and in the simplicity of good food, fresh air, and laughter. I believe that by working together and supporting one another, we can water the good and the strengths within each individual, and that as they grow and flourish, we all grow and benefit as well.

The lessons to be learned on a farm are both simple and profound. It’s no accident that farming metaphors fill our literature and our spiritual traditions. Ultimately, there is a need for this place-based education, as it is through connecting deeply with a place that we learn to care about it, which prompts us to care for it, and for the people on it - something we need more than ever right now. I am excited to join the Codman team, and to play a role in this truly local movement; local in its production of food, and local in the ties between people that are woven along the way. I’m humbled and encouraged by the fact that while this is my job, I am stepping into a 40+ year process. There were people building community before I came here, and there will be after me as well. I am grateful to play a part in this story, and I feel supported knowing that I stand among many, some gone, some here, and some to come. You too, will be helping, by bringing your energy, voice, passion, kindness and spirit to the farm, through volunteering, attending one of our events, leading a workshop, or just spending a morning walking around, enjoying the sun and the fields, and taking the time to say hello to the people you meet. Community is by nature a shared process, and I look forward to joining you in it. Look out for news as we start to develop upcoming workshops, classes, potlucks, and other events, and if you have any ideas for the farm, or want to get involved, send us a note!

~ Jon Mayer

jon@codmanfarm.org


Letter from Farm Manager, Pete Lowy

Jen, Abe and Pete, all together for a brief moment before heading off to tackle various farm projects

Jen, Abe and Pete, all together for a brief moment before heading off to tackle various farm projects

Codman Farm was founded in 1973 by a dynamic group of residents who were passionate about preserving the property and maintaining its character as a genuine working farm. Jen, Abe, and I arrived at the farm in January 2016 and were greeted warmly by so many. Three years later we still remain grateful for this loving reception as we embark on our newest adventure, here, with you, on the farm in the Heart of Lincoln.

Jen and I brought with us a know-how of raising animals on pasture while farming in Concord/Sudbury for over twelve years. We invented innovative systems for managing livestock on pasture and developed a customer following who knew and trusted our ethics and passion for organically grown foods. It was a natural fit to shift this know-how to a supportive town such as Lincoln and expand these practices onto the many acres of beautiful pastures located throughout town.

We also knew that Codman was blessed to have a wealth of infrastructure, including well-maintained historic barns and outbuildings and access to over 100 acres of fields. With this amazing foundation it was easy to imagine a future where animals were living a good life for three seasons on pasture, and only returned to the farm during winter. With this vision in mind, the tremendous potential for the farm could truly be realized, although this meant breaking with some norms and traditions at Codman Farm.

For many years prior, the farm had primarily been a retail hay producer with a small animal component - but this model was failing for many reasons. The production model needed to be flipped on its head and instead the farm would need to have a larger pasture-based animal component and produce only enough hay for our own animals to consume in winter. This critical switch meant the farm would be depositing more nutrients onto the fields (in the form of manure) and extracting less (in the form of hay). It was also especially important these first few years to work closely with the Lincoln Conservation Commission and other interested parties to ensure all were on board with this plan.

Within our first season we expanded from 100 laying hens to 1,000 and moved the hens to Codman South field. We then began growing meat chickens at Mt. Misery field, turkeys on Codman North field, and liberated the pigs from their pig pen to roam open pastures on Old Sudbury Road. What a joy to see the pigs run and root, the hens to peck and scratch the pastures, and turkeys to gobble at cars passing by on Codman Road! Our goal has always been to grow animals in the most humane way we know how...and to improve upon these efforts each season.

As we look ahead, we plan to generate all of our own energy and become the net-zero farm in the heart of Lincoln by summer of 2019. Additionally, we plan to dramatically improve the grounds with better signage and improved traffic flow, and add a host of new and fun educational opportunities including egg collection weekends, and open houses which will be focused on our innovative farming practices. So visit the farm, shop at the Farm Store, and say hello. We are all friends here, in the Heart of Lincoln, your community farm!

Letter from the President

President David Alperovitz sharing ideas with Farm Manager Pete Lowy and Board Member John Mendelson at the annual meeting last March. Through teamwork, many of those aspirations have happened!

President David Alperovitz sharing ideas with Farm Manager Pete Lowy and Board Member John Mendelson at the annual meeting last March. Through teamwork, many of those aspirations have happened!

When I reflect on my time at Codman Farm over the past year, it is with great pride and excitement. My family moved to Lincoln eight years ago, and Codman Farm quickly became a wonderful entrée to Lincoln, a place where we formed new friendships and new connections. Codman was, and continues to be, a “community” farm above everything else, and I feel so very grateful to be part of this community.

The Farm is a rich landscape of innovation, agriculture, and community. This past year we have seen new investment in equipment, a volunteer-driven haying crew, improved efficiency in all of our operations. We have many exciting projects in the works for 2019 from solar power, to improved infrastructure to more community and education focused events.

On a more personal note, the “greening” of Codman, has become of fervent interest to me -- specifically our move to harness the sun’s energy for use in our operations. This past year we purchased and installed 2 solar thermal arrays on the farm. With this project my enthusiasm now dovetails with pride in knowing that the roughly 300,000 eggs collected annually are now washed with water heated by the sun.

In 2019, we plan to bring solar photovoltaic to the farm to offset the increased electric use associated with our current expanded farm operations. My pride and excitement are reflected in the parallel missions of the farm and my own personal values of preserving the earth, and making the land accessible for the community in posterity.

Please come by the Farm, and please support our Annual Appeal as we continue to reinvigorate OUR Community Farm.

David Alperovitz, President

Farm Staff
Farm Manager Pete Lowy
Asst. Farm Manager Jared Martin
Bookkeeper Deb Rosson

Board of Directors
David Alperovitz, President
Nancy Fleming, Vice President
Ginger Reiner, Treasurer
Jeff Patterson, Clerk
George Travis, AgCom Co-Chair
Fan Watkinson, AgCom Co-Chair
Carol Card
Carol Carmody
Juliana Delahunty
Lis Herbert
John Mendelson
DJ Mitchell
Tina Murdough
Toni O’Connor
Drew Shilling