Crimson & Clover Farm is Grow Food Northampton’s “anchor” CSA farm since 2011, enjoying a 99-year lease on 40 acres of GFN’s land (and shorter-term leases on additional land) to produce sustainably-grown vegetables, fruits and livestock, and the right to pass on this farmland lease to their next of kin.
Each year, 350-400 shareholders support the farm, mostly local and some in Boston. A significant number are subsidized by Grow Food Northampton so that low-income residents can join the farm. In addition, Grow Food Northampton purchases produce for a variety of Food Access programs designed for low-income residents who are not able to come to the farm for a full share.
Co-owner Jen writes, “Every season our enthusiasm for and love of this work seems to build. No two seasons are the same: the weather is always different, we work with a bunch of new and awesome employees, and we get to experiment with growing new types and varieties of vegetables each season. Every season is fresh and unfolds with its own story, challenges and successes.”
If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience Crimson & Clover’s CSA this season, get on the waiting list for next year’s shares. All their vegetables and fruit are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers! Fresh, local, delicious!
The first three growing seasons at Crimson & Clover Farm
Expanding production from 8 acres in 2011 to 15 acres this past season, and offering more CSA shares to the local community (330 shares in 2013) Crimson & Clover also took on the management of Grow Food Northampton’s 50-acre Main Field. Part of this management involves collaboration with Slow Tractor Farm, which is grew barley, wheat, corn and oats on 18 acres of the Main Field. With the remaining acreage Crimson & Clover worked on building the soil this year with cover crops and put 10 acres into pasture.
Leasing the Main Field will allow Crimson & Clover to expand and diversify its production in the coming years. Eventually it hopes to offer a Winter CSA and raise more animals on the farm. With more land, our farmers will be able to meet their goals for growth while maintaining their commitment to sustainable agriculture, including critical field rest and crop rotation.
Crimson & Clover’s Story
In the fall of 2010, after a three-month application process, and with the assistance of an expert evaluation panel, Grow Food Northampton selected a western Massachusetts farming couple, Nate Frigard and Jen Smith, to be our anchor CSA farmers for the Northampton Community Farm.
Nate and Jen have a combined 20 years of farming experience, were trained at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California Santa Cruz, and have been growing, managing and teaching farming in Massachusetts including Waltham Fields Community Farm, Waltham, MA, and the Farm School in Orange, MA. In 2010, Nate managed the CSA operation at the Farm School while Jen worked as a Land Conservation Associate with Mt. Grace Land Conservation Trust.
In February 2011, after signing a 99-year lease with Grow Food Northampton to lease the 39-acre former “Bean Farm”, Jen and Nate launched Crimson & Clover Farm. In a few short months, they sold 200 shares and, in June 2011, began distributing their first shares to local households. In addition to vegetables, plans include growing flowers for customers and bees. Plants that attract native pollinators will gradually replace invasive species along the perimeter of the property. A couple of beehives are already on the farm but Jen has plans for many more.
“We daydream of summer farm camps and flocks of chickens, river ecology walks, gardening workshops, a shared community room with space for local artwork and CSA shares available and affordable for everyone in our community. It will happen, step by step, through our work and through the help of many others.”