Colchester Neighborhood Farm, Plympton MA
By Tatum McIsaac
Call it cabin fever, or my gripe with Punxsutawney Phil, but after two big snow storms and too many days of school being cancelled, I am DONE with winter. So when I got a message from my CSA farm in Plympton, I was almost giddy with the anticipation of warmer weather in the, albeit distant, future. My coping strategy to get through yet another cold snap: talk about the Colchester Neighborhood Farm – home of MaryAnn the farmer, a very special staff and Dapple, everyone’s favorite donkey.
Last year was my first experience with crop sharing. I was eager to try it for years, but never could find a place that was convenient enough in location. After moving to Kingston, I was delighted to find that I had quite a few options to choose from. None, however, were as appealing to me as Colchester Farm.
Located at the corner of Rt. 80 and Brook Street just beyond the Kingston line, the farm is situated on an expansive 8-acre piece of property, complete with green houses and baby goats. The family-owned farm has actually been there since the late 1700s, and in 2004 was certified as organic by Baystate Organic Certifiers. Now under the management of New England Village, Inc. (NEV) , the farm – with the help of Farm Manager MaryAnn Martinez – provides meaningful employment for adults with intellectual and other developmental and sensory disabilities such as Autism and Down Syndrome.
Colchester provides a lot of options for those interested in a crop share. With two pick-up locations available (Plympton and Plymouth), the large share spans 20 weeks between June and October, and easily feeds 3-4 people ($650). A half share ($325), which my family of two adults and two young children did last summer, was more than enough for us and provided the same variety and frequency as the Large share. There is an egg share that, by the time we signed up for our half share of fruits and veggies, was no longer available because it’s such a popular offering. Additionally, an 8-week winter greens and roots share is offered in November and December.
New this year, the farm is also offering flower shares ($75 for six weeks) and a Free Choice CSA, where for a minimum of $325 (then $100 increments), participants get a preloaded debit card that can be used throughout the season towards the purchase of any produce at the onsite farm stand. This might be the perfect solution for me. Last summer I found myself having to compost some of the produce that I couldn’t use quickly enough, or certain veggies that my kids decided they’d had enough of by their third portion of the week!
The farm is very family-friendly. One of my favorite things to do each week during the summer was to take at least one of the kids with me to pick up our veggies. They were in charge of loading up our bags and then grabbing on of the “extra” cucumbers or melons left by the farm stand door to feed Dapple, the farm’s friendly donkey. Another perk: MaryAnn and her crew always have great recipes to share and suggestions for using some of the less common veggies that make up a weekly share. Check out her blog for some samples of the various tips and ideas of how to use the farm, fresh certified organic vegetables and herbs. I know I learned a lot last summer and got my kids to try vegetables they may have not been exposed to otherwise.
Whether you’re new to CSAs or an old pro, Colchester Farm is worth checking out, and this Saturday, February 7th the farm is hosting an Open House from 10am -2pm. Join MaryAnn and her team in the new greenhouse for refreshments and learn about crop shares, volunteer opportunities or how to take part in a Working Membership. You can also sign up for you share for the summer… makes the arrival of warm weather feel just a little bit closer.
Photos all courtesy of ColchesterNeighborhoodFarm.com
Tatum McIsaac is a south shore resident, self-proclaimed foodie, and mom to two kids who actually like vegetables! She works full time in corporate communications, but loves spending her free time perusing farmers’ markets, scoping out local eateries with her husband, and cooking for her family. In addition to her posts on the eSS&SC blog, you can read her New England restaurant reviews at Good Taste by Tatum.