Welcome Our New Main Growers

By Julie Pottier-Brown, FDC Manager

We would like to welcome our new main growers, Riverland Farm, a 25-acre certified organic vegetable operation on the banks of the Connecticut River in Sunderland, Mass. Over the many years of evolving from the Marblehead Eco-Farm CSA to the Farm Direct Coop, we have had several “main” growers. Originally a Coop of six families who found a backyard grower in West Newbury, the Marblehead Eco-Farm membership eventually grew and found Dick Rosenburg of Middle Earth Farm in Amesbury (He still farms organically and can be found at the Marblehead farmer’s market in the summer). When Dick could no longer keep up with the demand, the co-founders posted a note at the NOFA-MA winter conference looking for a new farmer for their growing CSA. DeWitt Thompson answered the call. He farmed in western Mass., and was willing to deliver halfway. Jen Mix ran the Coop back then, and she drove the truck out to Littleton to meet Dewitt, and transfer the veggies.

A few years later, when I had taken over, Dewitt agreed to deliver all the way to Marblehead. Our Coop was bigger, so the sales were larger, so it made sense. About five years ago, DeWitt and his partners in the Happy Valley Growers Cooperative decided to drop all their markets, and sell only to large operations. That sent us looking for another new main grower.

Dewitt had talked to Jenny and Bruce Wooster of Picadilly Farm briefly at the end of the fall season. We had a relationship with them already, as Jenny was the first grower who started the Appleton Farms CSA program in Ipswich. We knew each other and we started a new chapter. Now in their fifth year of growing in southeastern New Hampshire, the Woosters have decided to focus more on their own CSA, and our Tuesday/Thursday pick ups interfere with their need to harvest for their off-site CSA pick ups. So, we found ourselves in the position of needing someone to crop plan for us. Luckily, Jenny and Bruce talked to Robert Lynch of Riverland Farm in Sunderland on our behalf.

Says the Riverland web site: “We grow over 60 different vegetable crops and 140 different varieties. All the food we grow is purchased and consumed within 75 miles of the farm. We are passionate about growing affordable, high quality, chemical free produce for local communities.” In 2010, Rob supplied garlic and the first cantaloupes, in addition to Brussels sprouts for the past two years, and other varied crops. His quality and attention to detail is superb, his prices are fair, and he is as excited about working with us as we are about working with him.

Rob is planning on coming to the Annual Meeting later this month – please come with questions and good wishes for a successful 2011 season!