Philosophy of Farming at Moose Hill Community Farm
There are many reasons why any person might decide to be a farmer, but why would an organization choose to farm? These are some of Moose Hill’s guiding principles that help to motivate us as we grow a variety of healthy, organic produce for our Community Supported Agriculture program and the many shareholders who support us and the work that we do.
Stewardship of the land
We know that farm land and open space provides to the overall well being of a community. Not only are the fields beautiful as the crops emerge, grow, and ripen, but the open space also supports a variety of wildlife.
Most notably, nesting in the spring and active during the summer, watch killdeer, eastern bluebirds, house wrens, tree swallows, and song sparrows. The summer and fall are dotted with various butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies. The weedy and open spaces provide habitat for migrating sparrows and Canada geese in the fall and grassland birds in the winter, such as snow buntings and horned larks.
Moose Hill Community Farm is a partnership between Ward’s Berry Farm and Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. We work together to plan each year. The Ward brothers are responsible for cultivation of the fields, ordering the seeds and plants, and planting all of the crops. Moose Hill harvests the crops, manages the CSA, and employs future farmers to oversee distribution and volunteers in the fields.
Moose Hill Community Farm also partners with other local farms to offer shareholders non-certified eggs from free-running chickens, provided by Chip-in Farm in Bedford, or fresh fish from Cape Ann fresh Catch out of Gloucester. Each year we look at other potential partnerships that we can offer to our shareholders.
Organic Growing Practices
We practice Certified Organic Farming and are certified through Baystate Organic Certifiers, an accredited certifier of the USDA Organic Certification program.
Why organic? We know that this helps assure that we make good decisions about our farming practices. We never use chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides, or genetically modified plants; we only use organic applications. We employ the use of compost, crop rotation, fallow fields, and cover crops to build soil health.
Building a Community
From the beginning, we have relied on our shareholders to be a part of our farming community by investing time into helping us in the fields. These work hours help us to keep our costs lower and, we believe, each work hours option provides a connection to the food harvested from the fields and to other shareholders and workers, building a like-minded community. Shareholders can choose to help harvest the crops; to weed the fields allowing our crops to grow stronger; or to help with distribution, sharing insight on storing and preparing the harvest.
We also plan for and are committed to making part of our harvest available to local food pantries, thus giving back our bounty to the communities in which we live. When a crop is ready to be harvested, we pick for our shareholders and we pick up to three additional shares for local food pantries. Several of our shareholders help us in delivering this harvest to those pantries.
Doing our part for the Environment
Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary strives to be (pun intended) as green as possible. You may notice the solar array on our barn. The CSA Barn array, along with the arrays on our Visitor Center and on our Carriage House, produces enough energy to offset all of our overall electrical consumption.