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

Volunteer Appreciation Brunch

Volunteers enjoying brunch and conversation, featuring all things Codman.

Volunteers enjoying brunch and conversation, featuring all things Codman.

Each year, at the end of the farming season, the Board of Directors hosts a Volunteer Appreciation Brunch to celebrate the growing number of much appreciated volunteers who support our small, two-to-three-person staff.

Over one hundred individual volunteers help by collecting and washing eggs, catching chickens ready for harvest, tending the Pick-Your-Own flower garden and restocking the Farm Store. Other activities include collecting maple sap, clearing rock walls, mowing and cutting firewood. Volunteers also support our community education programs and events including the Farmer’s Helper classes, school visits and volunteering, Codman Camp Out, Club Codman, Harvest Feast and Fair and our Fourth of July float (best in show this year!)

During the brunch, farm manager Pete Lowy spoke, “We know that so many people’s lives are busy and filled with family, work, school and other community activities. We always appreciate the time folks spend on the farm helping out, whether it’s just an hour or two a week or full days. I am personally grateful because 1) I love seeing friendly faces around the farm and 2) your contributions really are valued as we have so much to do and our small staff cannot possible keep the farm going. Thanks for coming, contributing, working so hard and for being such good friends of the farm.” Pete then highlighted the individual contributions of so many caring, hard working volunteers.

If you are interested in getting involved, fill out our volunteer form on this website. We would love to see you around the farm.

Three cheers for the volunteer organizers for the volunteer brunch!

Three cheers for the volunteer organizers for the volunteer brunch!

Vision 2020 Capital Campaign

A drawing of the Codman barns and courtyard as envisioned by the Capital Campaign.

A drawing of the Codman barns and courtyard as envisioned by the Capital Campaign.

The Board of Directors has launched a new Capital Campaign called “Vision 2020: Preserving our Past While Planning for our Future”. While Farm Manager, Pete Lowy, has done a miraculous job of stabilizing and growing our farming operations since his arrival in 2016, we now look to revitalize our aging infrastructure, and address safety, efficiency and green energy interests. We aim to build our community and educational programs as we create a thoughtful, conservation landscape for all to enjoy.

Our Campaign goal is $350,000, and we are well on our way with over $185,000 already committed! As part of this commitment, two lucky couples were the winners of our Bruce Springsteen ticket auction that raised over $11,000 for our Capital Campaign. Thanks to a generous donor that arranged for the premier seats and to Chris & Pat Burns and Bruce & Debbie Strock for bidding on the once-in-a-lifetime tickets.

In the Field

Andy Stevenson and Bob Robichaud tag teamed to get the hay cut and baled on a hot summer day.

Andy Stevenson and Bob Robichaud tag teamed to get the hay cut and baled on a hot summer day.

Haying Crew

This year, our merry band of haying volunteers cut and wrapped over 200 round bales of hay from the many fields around town that we maintain. The round bales of hay weigh over 500 pounds apiece, and will sustain our cattle through the winter. Check out the mound of “marshmallows” between the pigs in the front pasture and the main barn. You can’t miss them!

Chicken and Cows on Mt. Misery Field and more

If you happened to walk over to Mt. Misery fields this season, you may have seen an unfamiliar sight – our Red Devon cattle munching on lush pasture! Thanks to three years of our meat chickens fertilizing the fields, we now have more grass than we know what to do with! So, for the first time in recent memory, we moved some of our cattle to this lush field where the cows had unlimited fresh pasture and lots of visitors. It was a win-win-win with fresh grass for grazing, added manure for field fertility and pastoral scenery for neighbors and visitors.

Cattle also grazed in fields on Page Road and near Donelan’s by the train tracks while pigs foraged on pasture on Old Sudbury Road, Silver Hill Road and Codman Road. Laying hens and turkeys grazed the fields on both sides of Codman Road.

During winter, cattle, laying hens and piglets are back in the barn yard area.

Aerial view of meat birds marching across Mt. Misery in 12 shelters (with grass already growing again in the upper left area) while Devon cattle graze in the near bye pie shaped parcels, piece by piece with shade always available in the island woodland at the center bottom..

Aerial view of meat birds marching across Mt. Misery in 12 shelters (with grass already growing again in the upper left area) while Devon cattle graze in the near bye pie shaped parcels, piece by piece with shade always available in the island woodland at the center bottom..

Meet Mustache

Mustache was fortunate to have DJ Mitchell coordinate bottle feedings twice a day for four months. It takes time to be a mama cow!

Mustache was fortunate to have DJ Mitchell coordinate bottle feedings twice a day for four months. It takes time to be a mama cow!

This spring and early summer, Codman Farm was fortunate to have eight new baby calves born on the farm. One of these births was a set of twins, which is a very unusual event as less than half of one percent of births result in twins. As is often the case with twin births, the mother cow rejected one of the calves and would not allow him to nurse. The calf quickly became weak and the farm staff realized the calf would need to be bottle fed in order to survive. Board member, DJ Mitchell and her two daughters took the reigns of the situation and recruited many friends throughout town to help bottle feed the new born calf, soon to be named, Mustache.

From July – October, volunteers arrived in the morning, and again in the evening to bottle-feed this growing, healthy calf. When school started in September, the call went out for more volunteers – thus, bringing in more passionate caregivers. All in all, about 20 people helped to sustain a young orphan calf. It was a remarkable summer for everyone involved, and a vivid reminder of how much Codman Farm really is a community farm!

Summer is here..and the critters are grazing!

Main fields at the home farm

Main fields at the home farm

Time is flying and summer is officially here with the 4th of July weekend just around the corner. Things are in full swing at the farm with critters in many fields around town, several chicken harvests under our belts, fresh eggs everywhere, and even a few fresh greens in the farm store.

We continue to have many projects lined up to further improve the farm and continue to make Codman a beautiful and productive farm for folks to visit and enjoy.

In the coming weeks we will be profiling a different topic...this week...COWS!  Read on!

Cows at Farm Meadow

farmmeadow

Did you know that Codman Farm manages a twenty acre field just over the railroad tracks from Codman Estate?  We do!  For many years the farm has used this field for hay but in 2017 we worked with the town Conservation Department and local bird advocates to transition the use of this field from hay to grazing.  We set up almost twenty thousand linear feet of electric fencing and transformed the field into a oblong donut of separate paddocks sorrounding a large 5.5 acre protected area for grassland birds to safely nest. 

Map of paddocks for rotational grazing

Map of paddocks for rotational grazing

The concept, which is now working beautifully, was to respect the habitat needed for the migrating birds but to also allow the farm to have more land to graze our cattle on.  Keep in mind there is no power or water in this field so we had to create systems to manage the cattle in this remote field and then maintain these systems to ensure the plan would work...and it is!  

Red Devon beef cattle grazing in Farm Meadow field, Lincoln, MA

Red Devon beef cattle grazing in Farm Meadow field, Lincoln, MA