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MRJ: Building on Boulder Knoll Farm

On April 3, 2009, in Uncategorized, by dgroberg
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This morning’s Record-Journal featured an article about the Friends and our work to get Boulder Knoll Community Farm ready for the upcoming season.

Building on Boulder Farm

By: Dave Moran , Record-Journal staff

Rob Beecher / Record-Journal

Local carpenter Ian Meakin builds a tool shed at Boulder Knoll Farm in Cheshire Saturday. He volunteered his time along with the Friends of Boulder Knoll.

CHESHIRE – Work on a farm never ends.

And that’s what Kim Stoner and the Friends of Boulder Knoll, a non-profit Cheshire-based organization with a stated mission to educate the community on the responsible uses of open space, spent the better part of their Saturday discovering.

Stoner, the president of the organization, and a group of 15 or so dedicated volunteers labored over about an acre of the town-owned open space 150-acre Boulder Knoll property, digging, weeding, pruning, clipping, hauling and hammering to get it ready for the growing season.

The cleared land will be used for a community-supported agriculture project, a farming cooperative where members of the community can buy a “share” of the produce grown on the land for $400 a year and at least 12 hours of labor on the project a month.

Stoner said the 35 initial shares were sold out. Shareholders will receive produce for 16 weeks, from late June through early October.

Brenda Caldwell, the project’s farmer, who was on the scene Saturday getting her hands dirty with the rest of the group, said since this is the first year the land is being used to grow produce, the group kept the yield on the light side.

“This land has never grown vegetables before, so we just don’t know how it’s going to be,” Caldwell said.

Come July, the initial harvest will be assessed, and the group may decide it has more shares to offer to the community at that point. There is already a waiting list for the potential second offering of shares, she said.

Caldwell said the land will grow “a wide variety of vegetables,” everything from potatoes to beans to peas. She praised the CSA model, which the group based on the Holcomb Farm in West Granby, because it not only teaches people how to plant, grow and care and cultivate farmland, but it makes them an active participant in the entire process at the same time.

“Community-supported agriculture is really gaining in popularity,” Caldwell said. “People want to know their farmer. They want to know where their food is grown.”

The town purchased the former Lassen dairy farm on Boulder Road in the 1990s, with the aid of a grant from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection that mandates the property can only be used as open space land and nonprofit farming, but it has been vacant since.

Friends of Boulder Knoll were formed in 2005, and the group signed a three-year rolling lease for $1 with the town in July 2008 for a two-acre plot for the CSA project.

Anne Giddings, a neighbor who stopped by Saturday to lend a hand with her husband’s tractor, said she was happy to finally see at least a small portion of the property being put to use.

“I’m glad the land’s being used. The town’s owned it for 10 years and done nothing with it,” Giddings said. “It’s so important to grow good foods locally without pesticides.”

More information about the organization or the CSA can be found at its Web site, www.friendsofboulderknoll.com.

 

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