<< Back to main

End of an Era at Town Farm

Posted 11/9/2014 3:36pm by OONA COY & BEN JAMES.

Hello Friends –

Seems like every year about this time we send an email telling about changes we’ll be making at the farm for the following year. How the farm is expanding or shrinking or reorganizing or whatever. Well, this season is no exception. In fact, I’m writing to tell you about some of our biggest transitions yet. After seven years of growing good food for all of you good people, we’ve decided that it’s time to take a year off from producing vegetables. To explain with any accuracy how we arrived at this decision would require several diagrams, maybe a couple flowcharts, some bar graphs with vertices representing soil fertility, burnout levels, the sweetness of our carrots, the spaz-level of our children, and the number of half-read books in our household. But to spare you the pain of deciphering such graphs, I’ll say this:

We are so proud of everything we’ve accomplished on the farm over these last years (plus, of course, starting Tuesday Market, which we’ll be happily continuing to run). There is not much that can compare with the satisfaction of pulling forty different delicious crops out of the ground, making them into a beautiful display, and then selling them to the individuals, the families, the weirdos who value the food as much as we do. That’s the first thing. The second is that – in the midst of the utter mania of running a thriving vegetable operation – Oona and I have learned that neither of us are single-minded enough (not even double- or triple-minded enough) to shepherd a bustling farm through year after year of steady, uninterrupted-yet-constantly-improving production. The same curiosity and insatiability and impatience that led us to start the operation in the first place, and to try again and again to get it right, now leads us in new directions.

As for those directions, here’s the briefest of summaries: I am now devoting the majority of my (admittedly limited) attention to homeschooling Silas. Something that needs to be done. And Oona has decided to take a number of months to study and investigate and ask a lot of questions, in order to make the farm into something that can sustain itself (and our family) for the long haul. She’s researching seed production, she’s learning about alternative economic models of food production, she’s processing herbs, she's visiting the farms of friends. She'll be organizing a seed-swap this winter, so let her know if you're interested in being part of that. And wish her luck as she puts her mind and heart into re-envisioning the best ways to grow crops on these several marginal, overworked, for-decades-misused-but-still-magnificent acres of Northampton farmland.

So that’s the story. It’s the end of an era here at Town Farm. Our last market of the season is this Tuesday. Come say hello and goodbye. Get some of those sweet, sweet carrots (order a $25lb bag if you like). We sure hope to see you there, but – if we don’t – we’ll look forward to seeing you around town. Have a great fall!


Here are a few favorite pictures from the last bunch of years –

Goat labor
Ben delivering a goat kid

bikes to market
Taking vegetables to market
green zebra
Green Zebra
Wiley at edge of field
Wiley waiting while we plant onions
 CSA shed
Oona and school group
Oona with a school group
after Hurricane Irene
Ellie canoeing across a flooded field after Hurricane Irene
picking melons
"Poppa, I am done picking cantaloupes in the tall grass with the bugs"
 Some beets
at market
At market
Hana & Andrew
Hana and Andrew




Some FAQs for the farmers:

  1. But who is going to make and sell shaved ice?  Well, Ben will, of course. Maybe. Probably. If he’s that crazy.

  1. Who is going to pick all those raspberries and strawberries you have planted? Ben, too. Maybe. Probably. If he’s that crazy.

  1. Is Tuesday Market going to still be the awesome place to get food and see friends and feel excellent and impassioned about the world? Yes. Definitely. It’ll be even better.

  1. Is there anyone else you want to thank? Why yes, actually. Without Hana and Andrew (and all the crew-members who preceded them) this farm would be an unruly tangle of weeds, all of our tools would be lost, and there would be no food. None. And without Kaity our boys would by now have mounted several successful coups of our household, if not the area at large.