Buying local sounds great, but regularly doing it can sometimes be difficult. However, a local farm is making it easier to support the local economy and enjoy fresh produce.
Now in its fourth season, First Light Farm in Hamilton is a roughly seven-acre community-sponsored agriculture farm. People in the community and surrounding towns can purchase shares in the farm, entitling them to fresh, seasonal vegetables each week.
The People Behind It
Owner Mike Raymond runs the farm and has one other full time farmer on staff. Other people help out part time. Raymond hopes to bring on another worker full time and a few more part-time employees. He also takes on volunteers occasionally in exchange for vegetables.
“It keeps everything moving,” Raymond said.
Raymond also keeps a blog on First Light Farm’s website, letting people know when the farm has days that people can come out and plant or pick vegetables.
Keeping with the idea of staying local, Raymond and his fellow workers grow their fruits and vegetables with compost, which comes from . Brick Ends Farm is located next to First Light Farm and collects compost from local areas and breaks it down for food soil.
In addition to providing fresh vegetables to those that purchase shares, First Light Farm also sells vegetables to some local restaurants and participates in a few farmers markets. Throughout the winter, the farm continues to grow vegetables in a greenhouse.
When an individual or family purchases a share, they can expect to receive in-season vegetables from mid June to about Halloween. These vegetables are brought to local drop off centers where people can come pick them up.
A Commitment to People
The reason for running a Community Sponsored Agriculture Farm is “definitely philosophical,” said Raymond, “We are growing for real people, and if we do well they will come back. It’s way more personal.”
By pre-selling shares, the farm is able collect money when they do most of their purchasing, such as purchasing seeds.
Since its beginning, First Light Farm has welcomed more members each year. This year they hope to accept 200 members.
When purchasing a share, a $100 deposit is required to hold a spot and the payment deadline is June 1. “About three scheduled times a year people can come pick their own vegetables,” Raymond said, “We also do a harvest, for example if we need to get all the potatoes before they freeze.”
In addition to vegetables, First Light Farm offers a fruit share option and on some days will sell other goods at the pickup site, per request. For example, sometimes they will bring in goat cheese from Topsfield.
Ways to Help
First Light Farm is always looking for people willing to serve as a drop off or pick up site. “It’s great when a workplace can be a pick up site,” Raymond said, “so if a lot of people at one company have shares, they can get their vegetables right at work.” In exchange for use of the space, First Light Farm can offer vegetables.