"I see a carrot!" shouted Daniel, 4, as he harvested his first carrot at Waltham Fields Community Farm one recent day at summer’s end. Daniel and his brother Henry, 7, come to the farm every week to volunteer with their family.
They’ve gotten some real dirt under their fingernails and in their sneakers this summer, planting, weeding and harvesting vegetables and flowers at the farm. They’ve learned first-hand how things grow, where much of their food comes from, and how much they can do to help others.
There’s something truly magical about pulling on a bunch of lacy leaves and a moment later finding yourself holding a big orange carrot! And a carrot from Waltham Fields Community Farm will, in all likelihood, end up on a plate somewhere very nearby: at the home of one of our nearly 200 shareholder families or feeding many more folks through programs such as the Waltham Salvation Army’s food pantry and soup kitchen.
At this year’s annual Waltham Day, many folks stopped by our booth to find out about the farm and what’s been happening since the August "Farm’s future up for grabs" article in the News Tribune.
One gentleman recounted in clear detail how he found out, first-hand, about where potatoes come from in the same way as David and Henry learned about carrots. Thankfully, for Daniel and Henry and all of our sakes the farm will be around another year for certain…beyond that is yet unknown, but we know that this crew hopes that the only thing up for grabs in future years will be more carrots.
At Community Farms Outreach, the non-profit organization that runs the Waltham Fields Community Farm, we fuel our programs on people power—the dedicated work of hundreds of volunteers from many walks of life. However, keeping the field open to all is sometimes a difficult task when you are a non-profit, as financing is an ongoing challenge.
Our annual appeal is just getting underway. We need to raise money this year to build a "hoophouse," a tubular plastic greenhouse, because UMass is closing the existing greenhouses due to the exorbitant cost of keeping them heated and in repair. The hoophouse, if need be, can be taken down and moved to another site in the future. But we like it in Waltham, and based on the response we had from people like Daniel and Henry, and the many folks milling about the Annual Waltham Day, we know our community likes it, too.
( Martha Creedon is Waltham resident and a Community Farms Outreach board director. For more information about Community Farms Outreach go to http://www.communityfarms.org )