News - See our current newsletters for recent farm updates, recipes and photos.
Farmer Mimi Volunteers with Farmers in the Dominican Republic and Haiti
Since the farming season has come to an end, I have time to look towards fields afar. For the past few years I have been pursuing opportunities to share expertise with farmers in other countries. Last year I attended an agroecology conference in Cuba with farmers from all over the world and I felt a deep inspiration to continue this exchange in the spirit of "Think Global, Act Local".
This October I spent two weeks working with rural farmers in the mountains of the Dominican Republic teaching about soil science, compost, pest and disease managment and sharing ideas about local sustainability. I marvel at these farmers' ability to practice a truly low-input agriculture. They can't simply run out to the store to buy a needed spray or plastic widget as I can. They have left me inspired and now ready to begin my next international volunteer trip to Haiti later this year.
I am also working with NOFA-VT to develop more international opportunities for small groups of Vermont's experienced growers to share what we've learned and exchange information. For 2013 I am working with various partners to develop trips to Cuba and El Salvador. I am excited to create more connections and to participate in a global movement to support sustainable, locally-based agriculture. To learn more about these outreach programs visit the NOFA website.
One of our members was recently inspired to write a poem about coming to Wellspring Farm and has generously shared it with us.
Picking Up Our Shares
The CSA vegetables are delicious and beautiful,
and every week we members take home
heavy bagfuls: corn, sweet and creamy, tomatoes
full almost to bursting, cucumbers, lettuce,
beets, and beans. We would think this is enough,
but after the vegetables are weighed and packed up,
we can pick our own bouquets. On the first
pick-up day I could cut just four stems; today,
high summer, for my share, I can choose fifteen.
I love this, I tell Mimi, the boss of the farm.
Yes, she says, the vegetables are great,
but the picking and the flowers are what
everyone comes for. I join the flower pickers.
Composing our bouquets, we slow down
almost into a trance and meditate on the colors:
reds, tempting as watermelon flesh,
the delicious profusion of pinks,
and yellows and oranges, summertime’s suns.
We are thrilled by the action –
stamens leaping, buds climbing tall stalks,
curvaceous pistils, each one staying
a perfect balance, and slender petals of daisies
and sunflowers dancing their crazy rounds –
the gymnastics of it all. Sprays, clusters, petals,
blooms! Ordered rows of happy disarray.
I watch a woman: serious, considering –
keeping for these moments the world at bay –
and also a man. The stems he’s cut are short,
and so far he has only four. He clutches them
like a kid, holds them up to get a feel
for what should come next. Finished,
he’ll bring the vegetables home to his family,
and together they will eat fine summer suppers,
the table lit grandly by his bouquet, what
he made of time in the garden, his own light.
Wellspring Farm and Mimi in the news in 2012
May 7, 2012 - An extra special thank you to our volunteer onion-planting brigade! On Sunday, May 6, we planted about 10,000 onion seedlings, followed by delicious pizzas made by New England Culinary Institute students in our outdoor wood-fired clay oven. Those hardy little seedlings survived a frost Sunday night, and now are getting a perfect gentle, soaking rain. Only 4 months til harvest!
Our media hound Mimi in a Heritage Radio interview that can be found here. A link to the Heritage Radio page is here.
Wellspring Farm CSA photo featured in The Bridge, a Montpelier paper:
Wellspring Farm in the News 2011
Photo courtesy of the front page of the Time-Argus
- Farmer Mimi Arnstein makes Vermont Public Radio news here.
- An interview with Mimi about attending the Third International Agroecology Conference in Cuba appeared in Montpelierís Bridge December 2011.
- You might ask yourself "How does she do it? How does Mimi make the front page news every week?" Even her webmaster wonders. But here she is, in Seven Days.
- Wellspring Farm featured in Nathan Winter's blog "Cooking up a Story"
Nathan Winters rode a bicycle across America to discover first-hand why our food system had grown to be unsustainable, and to find alternative solutions. He traveled into the homes and communities of organic, conventional, urban and Amish farmers and community organizers. Read his article on Wellspring Farm here and see a video interview with Mimi here.
Our Farmer Goes to Washington
On April 5-6, 2011 I had the honor of joining other farmers from around the country in Washington, DC. We were invited by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to lobby our legislators to support conservation and programs serving small scale, sustainable farmers. We in Vermont are very lucky to have extremely dedicated representatives on Capitol Hill who are doing their best. While the forces at work felt overwhelming to me (Tea Party demonstrations, threats of government shutdown and the like), I left with a great sense of gratitude that I farm in a supportive, energized community right here in central Vermont.
Volunteering at Wellspring
(contributed by CSA members Dick and Adele Corbett)
Recently the newspaper had a story about "weed dating." This is a variant of speed dating and allows people to pay a small fee to meet people in the fields and get to know one another doing farm chores. At Wellspring, you can go weed and talk to people for free. All you have to do is alert Mimi ahead of time that you would like to come out and work for a couple of hours, and she will be plenty happy to organize your time.
We have been doing this occasionally over the past few years and can attest to the virtues of volunteering at Wellspring, which include sweating and getting dirty with a handful of delightfully entertaining and bright apprentices, volunteers, working members, and of course farmer; seeing firsthand how our CSA food is grown, harvested, and stored; learning about the myriad and constant threats to the plants' survival; and generally and specifically coming to appreciate even more the value of locally grown organic food -- especially the ones that you can snack on as you work.
All of us who show up have commented that we think and behave differently now. We now scan our neighbors' gardens for the dreaded galinsoga weed, even when we're only there on a social visit. We listen to people talk about their CSA experiences elsewhere and proudly proclaim "Well, Mimi does it this way!" (From pick-your-own to presentation, Wellspring is clearly tops.) We scrutinize the food we buy in other places and see in other houses and wonder if too long a stem was left on the pie pumpkin and too short a stem left on the garlic -- and whether the squash had been stored for a couple of weeks after harvesting and before being put out for consumption. But most of all we have become much more discerning about what goes in our mouths.
This growing season is winding down and the weeds no longer can threaten anything. And this is a little sad to us because it means we'll have to wait awhile before we can enjoy once again Mimi's tutelage and all the bounties of Wellspring -- one of which is definitely having the chance to volunteer there. Anyone would find it a treat to donate some time.....and remember, unlike weed dating, it's free.
Food Safety Practices At Wellspring Farm
Read about our food safety practices.
What Wellspring Farm Does:
- We are USDA certified organic.
- Employees are trained in and required to follow proper sanitation and good agricultural practices.
- The source of water used to clean produce is tested annually; only potable water is used.
- Manure used for soil fertility is fully composted and applied a minimum of 90 days prior to harvest.
- Organic pesticides, amendments, and other soil and crop
applications on the farm are documented and on file, including name of person applying materials, date, field/crop location and amount applied.
- Harvest containers, harvesting implements, washing and storage facilities are cleaned prior to use.
- Harvest containers are used solely for the carrying and storage of crops and non-produce items are not allowed in these containers.
What You Can Do:
- At home always keep vegetables separate from seafood and meat.
- Always wash your produce. We rinse off field soil and cool your produce, but it is important to thoroughly wash all produce at home.
- Store your produce under proper temperature conditions (potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, onions donít need refrigeration).
Earth Oven at Wellspring
With the support of a NOFA grant and farm volunteers, we built a clay oven next to the CSA pick-up shed for baking on the farm. Imagine the warm smells of wood-fired baked breads and pizzas with farm veggie toppings. Mmmmm. Eating the creations is just as fun as the building of the oven. It was a real hoot to take off our shoes and stomp around in clay, sand and sawdust straight off the farm. After a full week of construction, only a half bag of trash was created. The oven helps us to create more opportunities to connect folks with their food source. We are always looking for volunteers to fire up the oven, so please join in the baking!