Who We Are
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, we love working outside, and we love sharing it all with so many wonderful folks.
Founded in 2009 by two enthusiastic, dedicated young farmers, First Root has grown into a thriving community farm. We grow vegetables and flowers on 4 acres of historic farmland in Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, MA. We run a 120 member summer CSA, a smaller winter CSA, attend local farmers markets, and sell to several neighboring restaurants.
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 what makes farming so much fun.
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.
The farmers, Nina & Laura, do American Gothic.
Posted by Benny Taylor :: Monday, July 21 :: 1:01pm
I come to First Root from a lot of years burrowing into the woods and mountains. As such, I have the soundtrack from Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim’s musical adaptation and amalgamation of fairy tales, pretty well burned into my brain.
While I am particularly fond of The Witch, it is The Wolf that has been haunting me on the farm. Don’t worry, girls in little red capes and everyone’s grandmothers are safe.
It’s the vegetables who should be worried.
In Sondheim’s musical, The Wolf comes upon Little Red (who is kind of a snotty brat) as she walks the narrow path to her granny’s cottage. The Wolf’s song—“Hello, Little Girl”—to Little Red is hypnotically seductive and chillingly sensual. (Thankfully, the effect is more Julia Child than Lolita.)
Simply, The Wolf is beside himself with mouth-watering desire for good food—“There’s no possible way/to describe what you feel/when you’re talking to your meal...”
I cannot look at the fields of beets and potatoes and peppers and tomatoes and squash without feeling something like that.
It feels like a hopeful contentment, like being at the top of the roller coaster, just before the big drops and the corkscrews. The best—the meals, presumably—may be yet to come, but the present moment is heavy with its own sweetness, aside from the so-close-you-can-taste-it anticipation. It is a half-step, a moment of patience to enjoy what is, rather than only focusing on what will be. What is, then, is several acres of commitment—the farmers to the work, the CSA to the gamble of the share system. All of our hard work and best intentions are rooted into the soil and spread out in the sun and rain, any bed of which is worth something beyond price or words, I think. That is what is almost impossible to describe. For all the promises of social media and GPS apps, for all the wandering and traveling I’ve done, nothing makes me feel interconnected with the wider world as this little farm has.
You see, to be perfectly honest, I am a terrible cook for one person. I cannot ever shake the feeling that food is meant to be shared—I enjoy every food I know how to make more if I can share the cooking and eating of it with people I care about. Eating farm food, though, I automatically feel less like I am alone in my cooking and eating. But, even better, one of the most exciting, enticing parts of looking at the fields of food is being unable to grasp how many meals will be made of this bed of carrots, that row of cabbage. When I get my wolfish shivers looking at the flourishing farm, part of my delight is in knowing how many other peoples’ meals I am working for, pulling up the weeds from, squeezing beetles off of, tying guiding stakes and strings to, tractoring between the rows of, and all the other various tasks it takes to get from seed to snack.
People thank us for the work we do. And that is never out of style, although it always seems strange to be thanked for doing something so honestly fun. What we should say, more often, is thank you for the pleasure of growing your food.
There is no complete way to describe what I feel when I’m laboring on what will become your meal. Thank you.
Posted by Laura :: Monday, June 9 :: 3:22pm
I’m never going to know the tractor like I know dirt. It’s just not how my mind works. I’m not wired to understand machinery intuitively—engines, as far as I’m concerned, are fairly mysterious, often magical, and sometimes frustrating. I’m not going to be able to fix everything that goes wrong with the tractor myself, and I probably won’t be able to diagnose it all, either. But there is something specifically satisfying about knowing a piece of machinery well. The tractor already feels like a well-worn part of the farm.
I knew having a tractor was going to increase our efficiency, allow us to farm a larger acreage, and help us take better care of our soil. But I was unsure, even after we’d bought it, how much I was going to love it.
I love it. Slowly, over the course of the past two months, Maxie and I have been getting to know each other. I know where her grease points are, and where the grease points on the disc are. I can take implements on and off by myself (although I’m still working on doing this quickly and smoothly!) I’m learning all the little tricks for using our various implements, for disking and making beds in our different fields with their vastly different soils. Getting on the tractor feels familiar now, like something I’ve always done. I love how seamlessly this new tool fits into the farm.
Nina, Cheryl and I keep talking about how fortunate it was that we got a tractor this spring, in particular. In the past, we’ve always relied on our neighbors to disk our fields in the spring, and they always have, generously, the first or second week in April. This spring was so wet and late that we didn’t get onto our wettest field until the end of May. We disked each field piecemeal, as soon as we could, as each one dried out in patches. Without a tractor, I don’t know what we would have done.
Then there’s the bedshaper, which is my favorite tool on the farm right now. Since our fields are so wet, we make raised beds to protect our crops from flooding. For our first three seasons we used rakes. Last year we used the BCS rotary plow, which is an amazing tool, but one that takes a lot of work and time. We still use it in some situations, but 4 acres is just more beds than we can effectively make with the BCS. So we bought a bedshaper. It took 3 of us an entire afternoon to put it together, and it certainly has its quirks—but it makes a beautiful raised bed in a matter of minutes. What this means, for the farm, is that we have time to weed. Bedmaking isn’t the all-encompassing job it used to be, and all our crops are healthier for it.
Planting peppers in our new, beautiful raised beds.
I love hopping on the tractor for an hour or two, driving down the road to one of our new fields to make a few beds or disc a section of cover crop. Sometimes it’s nice to be alone on the farm, just me and Maxie, churning up the dirt, preparing the fields for plants. It’s a different perspective, being up on the tractor, a different view of the farm, a nice break from being so close to the dirt.
But machinery is also loud, and the diesel fumes are smelly, and it gets hot, driving a tractor in the sun, working it hard, all that exhaust blowing around me. It’s always a relief to park it and turn if off and get back to hoeing, or handweeding, or putting transplants in the ground with my own two hands. An hour or two on the machine—a morning or an afternoon every now and again—that’s all I need. I love that most of what I do is still hands-in-the-dirt, feet-on-the-ground, moving down the rows with the crew, making jokes, talking shop. I’m as happy getting off the tractor as I am getting on it. It’s the perfect balance.