Farm Transitions: A Note from Susan
To the Common Ground Farm community,
Winter is a time for reflection and renewal on the farm. As temperatures drop, the farm is tucked in under a blanket of snow and there is suddenly time to reviewing, repairing, and setting new goals for the coming year – for the farm, as well as the farmer. This winter has been no exception. After much consideration, I have made the bittersweet decision to leave my position as farm manager of Common Ground Farm for a new opportunity.
I am deeply grateful for the Common Ground community’s support over the last two years. 2016 was a banner year. We brought in our largest harvest ever, donating more than 50% of our produce directly to local food pantries and soup kitchens, totaling more than 9,000 lbs of fresh vegetables accessible to those in need. The remaining half of our harvest was sold & distributed between our U-Pick CSA members, loyal Beacon Farmers Market customers, and the local businesses, restaurants and chefs who highlight CGF on their menus. We ran successful education programs for children on the farm and in schools, built a brand new high tunnel, skinned a greenhouse, got a new (old) tractor running, ate many melons & ears of corn in the field, and worked with a fabulous crew of farmers. On a personal level, I was thrilled that my 2015 season farm apprentices returned for a second year and thrived in new positions with additional leadership responsibilities.
In truth, there are too many accomplishments from the last year (let alone the two years that I’ve been with Common Ground) to list here. I am very proud to have worked with such caring and intelligent colleagues. I am particularly grateful to my fellow farmers - Erika Brenner, the brilliant social justice warrior & U-Pick queen; Sarah Simon, the cool & collected veggie ninja; Jessica Shay, the fast-learning mama-farmer of my dreams; and to Matt Dami, the woke-est, hardest working (and only) dude on the farm. Thank you to Sember Weinman, CGF’s education director, for your time, patience, and creativity in bringing children onto the farm and getting them to love broccoli raab! Thank you to the CGF Board of Directors who volunteer their time and efforts to help ensure this organization thrives. Thank you to Helanna Bratman, Sam Brittain, and the 50+ Green Teens I’ve worked with in the field and at our market stands. Thank you to the many volunteers (Zoe! Helen! Dalton! Mark! & more) who have poured your sweat into the farm, gotten your hands dirty alongside me, shared your stories and inspired me to keep fighting the good food fight. Last, but not in the slightest least, I humbly offer thanks to the land – the soil, the bacteria, the microbes, trees, pollinators, even the pesky groundhogs and weeds, for allowing me to serve as your steward.
I leave Common Ground knowing that the farm will continue to thrive in good hands. Sarah Simon has worked with me for the past two years on the farm crew, as well as last year as the Farmers Market Manager. I am confident in her abilities to lead the farm through yet another successful season growing high-quality, organic food that is accessible to everyone, regardless of income, in our community. I’ll continue working with Common Ground through mid-February in order to transition my position’s responsibilities to Sarah and ensure a smooth changeover.
Next up, I’ll be joining the team at the Bija School as their Community Outreach and Farm Director, developing urban farms at schools in Newburgh & Brooklyn and running their non-profit & social justice programs. I’ll continue to be based in Beacon and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, Common Ground community – I have loved being your farmer and look forward to sharing a meal with you soon!
With love and gratitude,