This time of year, the Newton Community Farm usually would be bustling with visitors, volunteers, and students. Local students would be visiting on days they got out of school early, and farmers would be guiding the next generation in the basics of planting and nurturing crops.
But this spring, the farm is much quieter. Farm Manager Greg Maslowe said he has had to turn away community members who want to enjoy the land due to the pandemic, and farm workers are taking on more work than usual without help from volunteers. Even so, the staff is finding ways to encourage local interest in the farm’s work and at-home gardening.
Newton Community Farm recently conducted its annual seedling sale, and Maslowe said the number sold this year was “unbelievable” compared to other years. The sale was meant to run from April 27 to May 13, but farm staff sold out of all seedlings within a week of launch. In all, they sold over 20,000 seedlings as well as soil and T-shirts.
Maslow said he thinks this reflects a growing passion for gardening in the community.
“I’m hopeful that people are discovering new things that are meaningful in their lives,” Maslowe said. “And I’m hoping that as things return to some semblance of normal, they remember that.”
In addition, the farm’s five workers are trying to bring education to their community members’ homes. All in-person, educational programming was suspended March 13, according to executive director Susan Bottino. As a substitute, on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons at 1 p.m., the farm goes live on its YouTube channel with classes about healthy cooking and gardening as well as storytimes all hosted by farm workers.
The farm also shares videos from community members on its website and asks for submissions of recipes, home garden tours, and general interests.
“The community page has been a great way to reach out,” Bottino said.
The Newton Community Farm Facebook page offers the community a look at growth of crops on the farm. Bottino said they plan to harvest in late May or early June.
Looking forward, Bottino said, the farm is hoping to expand its community outreach. It is hoping to bring its live YouTube shows to Newton Community Television.
Kaelyn Tindall can be reached at email@example.com.