Making a Difference Through Farming
For many families across the Commonwealth, a fresh, nutritious meal isn’t always a given. According to a study published by the Greater Boston Food Bank, about 32 percent of adults, or 1.8 million, experienced food insecurity in Massachusetts during 2021, with the highest rates seen for Latinx and Black adults, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and adults with children. To help alleviate food insecurity across the state, two Mass Audubon farms donate thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to food pantries and organizations each year.
We commonly hear from our community partners at food pantries and local hunger relief organizations that fresh produce is one of, if not the most, commonly requested items from their clients. We now know that both numerically and anecdotally, the need for fresh produce is higher now than ever and we are eager to help fill the gap.
About Our Farms
Mass Audubon has two working, educational farms— one at Moose Hill in Sharon and the other at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. The Farm at Moose Hill started as a small community-based farm in 2005, and 18 years later, has grown into a flourishing organic farm. Similarly, Drumlin Farm has relied on a community-based farming approach since its inception and has developed a robust volunteer program in addition to a diverse mix of outlets including farmer’s markets and wholesale. Both sanctuaries continue to offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, where people sign up for weekly shares of freshly harvested vegetables and pick-your-own opportunities.
In addition to using sustainable farming methods to grow over 60 types of vegetables and fruit, Drumlin Farm staff also raise livestock and poultry, collect eggs, and produce hay for their animals—all within a 206-acre wildlife sanctuary.
Growing a Food Donation Program
Beyond selling produce at its Farm Stand, at farmers’ markets, and through CSAs, Drumlin Farm has supplied its fresh-grown goods to a number of restaurants. But when the pandemic temporarily closed these restaurants in early 2020, there was a surplus of crops and decreased demand. The Farm sprang into action and shifted to a formal donation program, tracking every pound of donated food. Last year, Drumlin donated over 29,000 pounds of fresh produce to five organizations, including the Lincoln Food Pantry, Food for Free, and the Somerville Community Pantry.
Moose Hill donated to six local organizations this past year; Sharon Food Pantry, Lovin' Spoonfuls, Hixson Farm Road Affordable Housing, and others received 13,628 pounds of farm-fresh food in 2022.
On top of this amazing donation program, The Farm at Moose Hill also partnered with the Boston Nature Center to get our food to farmer’s markets in areas of Boston with the highest rates of food insecurity and the least access to fresh, organic produce. Going into the 2023 season, the farm has a CVS Grant to help support this very important work and they are hoping to grow a more diverse selection of produce for the 2023 markets.
Volunteer at the Farm
Drumlin Farm offers volunteers the opportunity to work at the farm. From spring to fall, you can help staff with classic field chores including transplanting, weeding, thinning, and harvesting. Moose Hill offers a similar volunteer experience! Information can be found by emailing [email protected]. Learn more by visiting massaudubon.org/volunteer.