Their operation includes two vegetable gardens, chickens, goats, a hayfield, a wild area for birds and bees, and an orchard. Last Saturday I was one of 25 people who toured the farm, including our Congressman, Jim McGovern, who wore a “Stop the Pipeline” shirt and a Red Sox cap.
Just outside their farmhouse, they’ve created a small garden for easy access to the kitchen. After serving as a staging area for the house renovations, this spot got 10 cubic yards of compost dumped on it, turning it into a very productive garden.
The main garden is a 90-by-90-foot space with tomatoes, peppers, celeriac, cabbage, carrots, corn, rhubarb and many others, supplying all the summer vegetable needs for nine people. Rebecca Reid, who was one of the main gardeners at Pioneer Valley Cohousing and is now one of the farm’s owners, watches over the vegetables. They put in a cover crop of buckwheat, which improved the soil but also brought a bumper crop of campion, a weed they spent a lot of effort getting rid of. They hand-pick Colorado potato beetles and tomato hornworms, and are planning to let ducks loose in the garden to control slugs.
Seth Seeger (in orange shirt in above photo) and Jason Rennie, two of the other owners, supervise the livestock. There are eight goats, whose milk provides cheese and yogurt for the farm. They have chickens that live in moveable coops built on trailers and provide meat and eggs. The manure from the goats and chickens, mixed with sawdust and kitchen and garden waste, provides excellent compost to bring nutrients back to the soil.
Bethany Seeger (in green shirt in above photo) supervises the orchard, which requires more patience than other operations on the farm. Not only do fruit trees take longer to grow and bear, they are growing in an old hayfield that is missing some nutrients. There are apple, pear, peach and nectarine trees as well as blueberries, walnuts, high-bush cranberries, Nanking cherries, currents, elderberries and hazelnuts.
Old Field Farm is very impressive, not only for its productivity but for the evident joy that these three couples feel while working cooperatively on a project that is consistent with their values.