Dear Holmes Farm Members, Customers and SUpporters,
This is probably one of the hardest letters I have ever had to write.
I am writing to you to let you know that the license to operate our farm and farmstand at Holmes Farm has been terminated as of Dec 27, 2017- four years early from our contracted date in 2021. At this point, the historic Holmes Farm we recreated will no longer exist. It is my understanding that Manomet, Inc, the land owners, are planning to turn the farm from productive food growing back to "conservation land". We are working on reorganizing and are actively seeking out new opportunities for food growing. I will still be running the Deep Winter CSA program with delivery and I am still selling 2018 CSA shares. I am determined to have a venue by Spring to serve this community. I am putting together a plan for getting you the high quality, locally grown food you have been so supportive of. It may be a mobile farm stand, but that plan is just budding and I will reach out as my plans become more solidified.
You are shocked, I am sure. I was too. I have written to the trustees of the organization but have received no response. How does an organization that has sustainable food and sustainable economies as two of their four missions find that closing a farm that provides for hundreds of people would be a move in a positive direction? I do not know if there is anything that can change this decision but I think it only right to let you know now in case you want to have your voice heard.
Here's some history. Five years ago I was teaching at an agricultural high school and part time farming in NH. My sister Jen had started on an awesome farming venture at what is known as Holmes Farm on land that is owned by the organization now known as Manomet, Inc. Jen had been approached by the President of the organization, who asked her to start a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and renovate the bogs on what was the historical Holmes property.
By year two the community had responded so well to the food that Jen was producing and selling in her little side of the road tent set-up that the pick up location had to be moved to a safer spot. Jen invested in the purchase and painting of what many of you remember as the farm stand trailer. In year three I started helping out on weekends, as the vegetable sales were getting increasingly busier and Jen had an infant at home. I absolutely fell in love with Holmes Farm, the projects Jen was working on, the vision for the farm, and you, the community of Plymouth and Manomet. I spent every Sunday during the Spring and Fall and many more days during the Summer talking with our customers about growing, sustainability, recipe ideas, planting, the raising of food and community happenings.
The following Summer I came to Holmes Farm full-time and began working at the farm stand and helping with planting and harvesting, while raising pigs and chickens on another leased location in Plymouth. In 2017 I took over management of the farm stand and the fields at Holmes Farm. Jen has continued to farm at the other location, growing food for the stand, while consulting on the fields at Holmes farm.
To date we have accomplished so much. In year one Jen had about 10 CSA members and was hand watering her crops from buckets pulled from Skokes Pond. This year we produced hundreds of pounds of summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, flowers, herbs, celery, beans and more. With the help of Jim Lifton and Maple Meadow Apiary we expanded to 5 more beehives and were planning many more in the next year, so we could have real Manomet honey. We fed over 500 families and had over 7000 transactions, and 75 full members. I developed a website this year, we have grown to over 1500 followers on FB, and 500 families receive my newsletter. We were on the front page of The Old Colony Memorial in Sept. and are scheduled to be in the Spring edition of South Shore Living.
This past winter I signed up our farm to be a part of the Healthy Incentives Program, a grant funded program through the state that provides dollars for SNAP (food stamp) recipients to spend with MA farmers on fresh fruits and vegetables. Already, we have been able to provide $4000.00 worth of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables to these customers since July. The bogs have been fully renovated, and although we faced challenges with our newly planted vines and fighting rampant weed pressure organically, this fall we secured support from a well established local cranberry grower to help with this project. Some of you saw the solar sunflower this fall on the property, which was just the beginning of an anticipated project with a local solar company to make the farm stand an off-grid solar powered sustainable operation this year. Barn Show was the baby of Hayley Sabella (who worked on the farm for many years) and Jen after it was obvious that the community of Manomet wanted more family friendly community events. It was a success from the first show. The copious pictures of children playing while bands performed and community members laughed and enjoyed themselves will be images that make our hearts feel full forever.
With every year there were new ideas, a better understanding of the land we were farming, a better sense of the business that had been started, and how to best serve the needs of the community that we are a part of.
There were also, without doubt, challenges and obstacles, projects we thought would be accomplished but just weren’t, things we probably should have done but only realized their importance in hindsight, decisions that could have been made with more clarity and more focus. We made many mistakes; as any new business, new farming venture, new members to a community, new partners in a relationship will do. Over the last 6+ years as the farmers who brought Holmes Farm back to life we have been determined to make the land and the farm stand a success and something Manometians hold dear.
As we move forward we hope that you will continue to seek out sustainable, local, fresh foods to fill your fridge, your freezer, your canning shelves and your tables. Keep in touch, feel free to reach out to us or, if so moved, to Manomet, Inc to guide them in utilizing the land of Holmes Farm as a positive, forward-thinking, community-enhancing space.
Again, a huge thank you from the depths of my heart in making all the challenges of the last four years well worth it with your presence and your unending show of support and love for the work we have done.
With gratitude and a breaking heart,
Amy, Jen and the Holmes Farm Crew