April Newsletter
Early Spring Farm Manager's Update
Although it may feel like the world is slowing down for many people, the farm is as busy as ever. In addition to all the typical early spring farm tasks, we also are adapting educational programming for distance learning and updating and expanding our farm and food safety plans in response to COVID-19. ( See related article below .)

This week we made great progress on our new high tunnel, which will be ready for planting tomatoes within a couple of weeks! We repaired many raised beds to prepare for planting and held our first "virtual" gardening classes. Also, we got our first transplants in the ground: kale and onions! Listen to our weekly video update here

Many people ask how we decide what to grow. I create our crop plan for the season based first on what we can grow in this climate, then on what people like to eat! We grow most of the vegetables that you can find in a supermarket, but choose carefully. We don’t grow plants that take up a lot of space and/or nutrients or plants that don't produce a lot of food (I'm looking at you corn). Other vegetables such as bok choy are quite popular with our community members who visit the food pantry and our mobile market, so we grow lots of them. And sometimes, things are just fun to grow so we try them out and hope people like them (Tropea onions! Celeriac!). 

With many more people deciding to try gardening this Spring, I always start by recommending growing radishes and lettuce, two of the easiest and quickest plants to cultivate. But grow what sounds fun to you! Just do a small amount of research to make sure that the seeds or plants you are putting in the ground will actually give you the vegetables you are looking for. Happy growing!
Farm and Food Safety for COVID-19 Risk Management
To mitigate the risk of coronavirus transmission between staff, volunteers, students and other
individuals on the farm we have instituted policies that have been developed in accordance with public health recommendations and in consultation with other community farms and food projects. You can read our Farm and Food Safety for COVID-19 Risk Management document here . You can also read our response to COVID-19 here .
Volunteer Opportunities Now Offsite, From Home

Due to the current social distancing practices, we have placed a temporary hold on all volunteer farm work. Once our circumstances change we will announce volunteer dates, times and opportunities. In the meantime, we have off-the-farm volunteer opportunities listed below. Click here to sign up for the following tasks:

Weekend laundry: Pick up a small load of laundry (gloves mostly) from the farm and wash over the weekend. Please return to the farm by Monday morning. Drop off and pickup at your house may be available depending on your location. Please sign up for the weekends you can commit to doing laundry.

Sign painting: We need new signs to number our raised beds. Pickup any number of blank wooden signs from the farm to paint, draw, and decorate at home. Signs will have the desired number traced onto them. Please make sure that it can be read when you are done with the sign. You will need to supply your own materials for decorating. Once finished, please return to the farm where we will waterproof and attach to a raised bed. Signs will be available for painting starting May 1st

Garden class transcription: To make our garden classes more accessible to students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, or do not have internet connectivity, please help us create a transcript of our video lessons. We will send you a link and you'll get a sneak peak at the class while you type up the class lesson. Lesson links can be sent to you on Thursdays.

Thank you for any volunteer work you can take on, we are grateful.
Welcome Back Liz Perkus!

We are delighted that Liz Perkus has come back this year, taking on the responsibilities of Assistant Farm Manager. And so far she has been busy! As a team Liz and Theresa have planted onions, kale, peas and lettuce, launched online classes using ZOOM, established a new food and farm safety plan, promoted and sold out both gardening classes and have almost finished building our high tunnel!

Here is Liz’s biography in her own words
I grew up in Wayland, MA and my parents always grew herbs and a few tomato, cucumber, and pepper plants that I "helped" with. In high school, I worked at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, and that is where my passion for farming really grew. I went on to study plant science in college and worked in an organic agriculture lab studying soil health and fertility. After graduating I worked in a pollination ecology group in California, and farmed organic vegetables in Minnesota. While in Minnesota, I earned a master’s degree in plant science, focusing again on organic agriculture and soil health and fertility. I stayed in Minnesota for a year working on farms, and then moved back to Massachusetts. I'm happy to be back home and learning about the farming world here! I love watching things grow and change on a farm through the seasons, and I especially love being able to eat my hard work. For me, weeding is therapeutic! I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you who are involved in the Needham Community Farm!
Ready Set Grow! Online Auction Postponed
We have postponed our annual Ready Set Grow online auction as most items were not in keeping with current social distancing guidelines, and many of our donating businesses are temporarily closed. This cancellation was a difficult decision for NCF, because we rely on this fundraiser for 10% of our annual income. If you are in a position to help us replace, or expand upon, this otherwise lost or deferred income stream, please make a donation today to support Needham Community Farm’s food donation program.
Thank You to our 2020 Food Donation Program Sponsors:

  • BID Hospital Needham
  • Dedham Savings
  • Direct Federal
  • Eastern Bank
  • Foundation for MetroWest
  • Needham Bank
  • Needham Women's Club
  • Village Bank
  • Whole Foods Market
Donations Needed
Please email our Farm Manager, Theresa Strachila @ FarmManager@needhamfarm.org if you have the following to donate:

  • Tarps
  • A sink (plastic or metal, not ceramic)
  • Plastic totes with lids
  • Bungee cords
  • Quart yogurt containers
  • Blackboards/whiteboards
  • Dixie cups (for dispensing seed to garden class participants)