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Massaro Community Farm – A Year in Review

Massaro Community Farm – A Year in Review

What follows is an excerpt from the 2022 Annual Report, now available on the farm’s website. The full report also includes many photos and testimonials of those who visited the farm over the past 12 months. Programming will return in January 2023. In the meantime, consider securing your subscription in the 2023 vegetable program (CSA) or make your gift to support

  • the continued cultivation of 10+ acres of organic produce resulting in thousands of pounds of donated food annually
  • the enrichment of students of all ages who participate in the many educational programs, and
  • the priceless connections made by those who attend Celebrate Spring, Dinner on the Farm, free movie nights and other community events.

Farming

Over 13 years of farming we’ve experienced extremes of all kinds. We know that significant weather events can occur in every month of the year. In 2021 we had massive rainfall in each month of summer, from June to September. This summer, hardly a drop. 2022 was among the hottest and driest we’ve experienced, with most of the state the same. We build flexibility into our planning to adapt throughout the season as needed. While this year’s conditions presented a significant challenge, we were prepared, and delivered bountiful harvests of high-quality produce to our nearly 300 summer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscribers.

We offered sliding scale CSA pricing for the first time in 2022, allowing people to choose the pricing tier that fits best for them, ensuring nobody is turned away for lack of funds. Sliding  scale pricing engages the community in Community Supported Agriculture, helping to make our produce accessible to more people while covering costs of operation. We also began accepting EBT cards as payment for our products, and we’re working on making it possible to use EBT cards for online payment in 2023.

The flock of laying hens we introduced last year continued to scratch and forage in our pasture, living in an integrated solar-powered system. To support the chickens over winter, we improved their acreage, leveraging National Resources Conservation Service and CT Department of Agriculture grant funds to install a bioswale, electricity and a frost-free hydrant. And we owe a big “thank you” to the Haynes Group, who was a key partner in completing this work.

Farm Education

Since farm-based education launched in 2012, we have sought ways to provide opportunities for individuals and families to stay engaged with the farm from youth through adulthood. In 2022, the 28 distinct youth and adult programs offered everything from beekeeping to bird watching, from maple tapping to field sketching. Summer camp returned for six weeks and hosted 225 campers. If the last two years have taught us anything it’s how nurturing our connection to the land and each other can be. This was evident from the 25 home-schooled students who returned for weekly programs and 80 students who attended after-school programming. We experienced a resurgent interest in field trips and hosted 10 groups over eight weeks this fall.

We also saw an expansion of Massaro’s farm-to-school connection thanks to the recently enacted CT Farm to CT Schools legislation. Branford School District purchased marinara sauce for its cafeteria made solely with heirloom farm tomatoes. We also developed a close relationship with West Haven Child Development Center, which received 90 seedlings for their school garden, two garden instruction classes, two CSA shares, five online cooking classes and farm field trips for 85 preschoolers. We expect this partnership to continue in 2023.

Community Engagement

Massaro continued its food security efforts to support local families. Food donations included just over of 5,000 pounds of produce and ~200 dozen eggs. The farm continued to support twelve community gardens across Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, Seymour and Oxford. Two gardens in Ansonia and one in Seymour are planning to expand in 2023.

The farm is grateful to partner with students of Emmett O’Brien Technical School in the construction of a 24’ x 32’ post-and-beam pavilion. The pavilion will provide much needed weather protection for farm staff and serve as a gathering space for educational programs. Additionally, these students are gaining valuable experience for their future in the workplace.

Led by experienced farmers MC Whelan and Cass Darrow, 10 youth (from Ansonia, Orange, Seymour, and Woodbridge) took part in the farm’s summer youth employment program this year. During their 10 weeks with us, this team was largely responsible for the several tons of summer squash and cucumbers harvested on the farm. Highlights for the students – Alexandra, Aliah, Bella, Bobby, Faith, Halvor, Maddie, Morrigan, Steven and Zeke – included each of them facilitating a staff workshops on a topic of their choosing, consisting of the right to healthy food, the enrichment of animals on a farm, and mental health for farmers.

Massaro Community Farm is a non-profit, certified organic community farm on 57 acres of land whose mission is to keep farming, feed people, and build community. In addition to growing vegetables for seasonal subscribers, the farm donates thousands of pounds each year to hunger relief.  The farm serves as a hub of education for all ages and shares its space with the community. The farm’s nature trail is open to the public 365 days a year. For more information visit our website at www.MassaroFarm.org  or contact Executive Director Caty Poole at 203-736-8618 or at caty@massarofarm.org.

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