First Root Farm
First Root is a little vegetable farm with a big heart. We are young farmers who grow food with love. We love to eat, we love to cook, and we love working outside.
We farm on 4.5 acres of historic farmland in Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, MA. Since 2009, we have been providing sustainably-grown vegetables and flowers to our community in eastern Massachusetts. Our vegetables are available in the summer, fall, and winter through our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We also sell to several local restaurants and operate a mini-farmstand.
We use organic and sustainable growing practices because we want this land to be fertile and healthy for generations to come. We host monthly community work days and farm potlucks because we believe connecting folks to each other and the land and the food we all eat is both satisfying and important.
As a successful start-up farm, we hope to inspire other farmers (young and old) to take the plunge and make their own farm dreams come true.
Posted by Laura :: Saturday, August 1 :: 8:00am
Posted by Laura :: Friday, April 17 :: 7:26am
This spring has been a long time coming. But this week: the sunshine! The peepers! The bright blue skies and the snowless fields! This week has been miraculous.
It’s not that we haven’t been busy for the past two weeks. In fact, our days have been full of important and useful projects. Some years, while we’re waiting for the fields to dry out, it feels like we have nothing to do. We wander around the barn painting new signs and end up going home early. Not this year.
We kicked off the season with construction April. We built six new hardening off tables, with PVC hoops and greenhouse plastic attached, so that we can move plants out of the greenhouse earlier without worrying about them getting too cold. The tables have been perfect--effective and easy to use. We’ve affectionately renamed them “the wagons”, because it looks like we could load them up with salt pork and wool blankets and head across the wilderness to Oregon.
We also built two new pepper-ripening cages. We use these to ripen sweet peppers that we harvest when they’re just blushing. Last year we ran out of space in our one cages very quickly; now we have three times the capacity.
To round out construction April, we built two new tables for the wash station, a table for packing restaurant orders and arranging flowers, and a new workbench for the barn. Cheryl and Jeffrey came up with an ingenious design for small boxes to house the energizers, batteries, and solar panels for our new electric fencing. The pre-built housing units from the fencing company cost $40 each. We built four using a $30 piece of plywood and scrap wood!
Cheryl and Jeffrey loading up the truck fleet with lumber.
There are plenty of small, less glamorous projects that are vital to the smooth running of the farm. We scrubbed, sprayed out, and organized all of the harvest bins.
We made a brand-new organizational wall in the barn. We’ll have more employees than ever this season, and that means having clear systems in place for everything from cooking lunch to packing wholesale orders and doing deliveries.
And even though spring has been slow to come to the fields, the greenhouse is bursting with life. Already the transplants on the new wagons outside are itching to get into the ground.
In other exciting news, we hung Vegetable Celebrities: A Celebration of First Root Farm at Reasons To Be Cheerful last week. It’s a fun, whimsical and beautiful show that combines Farmer Cheryl’s amazing veggie celebrity drawings with photos of the corresponding vegetables taken by my brother, Tim Sackton. We hope you’ll join us for the show’s opening on April 25th. Read all the event details here, and check out this great article from this week's Concord Journal.
But that was all last week. This week, the sun came out. Days and days of sunshine all in a row, beautiful, clear, warm t-shirt weather. Everything on the farm is green and growing, from the seedlings in the greenhouse to the arugula and pea shoots in the hoophouse to the garlic sprouting in the field. This week, spring has truly arrived. It finally feels possible to believe that summer will come.
The hoophouse is bursting with life.
We harvested our first pea shoots and arugula for 80 Thoreau today. Mizuna, baby kale, and the next round of pea shoots will be ready next week. It feels so good to be harvesting greens again!
We also dug up a special spring treat this week: spring-dug parsnips. These were something of an experiment--they were just too weedy to harvest last fall. They overwintered beautifully, and though there aren’t that many, we’ll be able to sell these special sweet parsnips to restaurants next week. We’re planning on overwintering lots more next year.
But the most exciting of the week’s activities was getting the tractor up and running and disking the first of our six fields. We’ll disk again early next week, make beds, and then plant 1600’ feet of onions.
Yesterday afternoon I took a walk up to the back field where we planted our garlic last year, on one of the coldest, dreariest October days I can remember. It’s not cold and dreary now. The sunlight was glinting on the bright green garlic shoots, rows and rows of them stretching away toward the treeline. The farm is snow-free and full of blue sky. Everything is coming back to life.
Looking at that beautiful garlic, spreading compost onto the beds where we’ll plant peas, the sun on my face, the sky at my back, I remember how much I love this.
All that work we did last week was important. Cleaning and organizing the barn, building new tables, setting up the farmstand for CSA pickups--I get so much satisfaction from all of those projects. All of it is vital to smooth management of the farm. So is the fact that I’m here writing this on a Friday morning--our new Friday morning office policy means Cheryl or I take the morning to do office work. I’ve been wrangling the budget, doing the books, and catching up on last minute orders.
But nothing compares to being in the field. Nothing is as good as having dirt on my hands. Nothing is as deeply satisfying. Nothing brings me as much joy as using my muscles to grow food, out in the world, under the sky and sun and wind.
Tomorrow is the first community day of the season. We’ll be laying burlap between the pea beds, setting up deer fencing, and putting up pea trellis. Come celebrate with us! It’s spring, and everything is growing, and this farmer is one happy lady.