Chestnut Hill Farm launching CSA in June (and farm stand this summer!)

by beth on May 21, 2015

Post image for Chestnut Hill Farm launching CSA in June (and farm stand this summer!)

Above: A farm in town will soon begin selling produce on site.  (Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

I’m excited to share that starting this summer, you’ll be able to buy hometown grown fresh produce in town. (Finally or again, depending on how long you’ve lived here!) 

Chestnut Hill Farm is now selling shares of their new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program to launch in June. And later this summer, the farm will open its own farm stand. (Stay tuned for those details.)

Produce will be almost organic:

We are not certified organic but we do follow organic practices, are Non-GMO and strive to buy as much of our seed sourced organically.

For those of you unfamiliar with CSAs, members buy a “share” of the program. They are then entitled to a share of the bounty on a weekly basis.

The Chestnut Hill program will cost $650 per share for the approx. 20 week growing season beginning mid-June. The fee on top of required membership to the Trustees of Reservations. (Their dues start at $37 per year.)

In exchange, members will get access to pick up their pre-washed produce during an allotted time. (Either Tuesdays or Fridays from 3:30 – 6:30 pm.) 

With only one share size available this first year, it’s a veggie lover’s delight:

The regular share is designed to meet the veggie needs of a family of four (or two vegetarians who like to juice!).

We grow about 40-50 different vegetables, so our shares will include plenty of your favorite staples like greens, carrots and tomatoes, but may also take you into culinary adventure with some lesser known like kohlrabi and celeriac. Don’t worry- we will have plenty of recipes and ideas for how to use anything you aren’t sure about.

Shares tend to start out lighter in weight in the beginning of summer with greens and salad roots but then become heavier as the season moves into fruits such as squashes and tomatoes and then even more so as the winter squashes come in at the end of the season.

A typical mid-season share bag might contain: 1 lb of carrots, 1 bunch of kale, 1 bunch of Swiss chard, 2 heads of lettuce, 1 bunch of beets, 2 lbs of summer squash/zucchini, 2 lb of cucumbers, 2 lb of tomatoes and 3lbs of new potatoes and a head of Napa cabbage and a melon. Then we add in the Pick-Your-Own. . .

These gardens are filled with delicious vegetables, herbs and flowers that we know our customers love to get into the field and pick for themselves.  Sugar, snow and shell peas, cherry tomatoes, herbs such as parsley and sweet basil, edamame soybeans, tomatillos, hot peppers, gorgeous cut flowers and more.

For more details on produce and members’ shares, click here. For more information on the CSA or to buy a share, click here.

As part of the program’s promotion, the farm will also hold Meet the Farmer events the first Saturday of each month. Hours will be from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. The first will be held June 6th.

Farm manager Desiree Robinson-DuBois doesn’t have all the details ironed out yet. But she expects activities to vary. For the first event will probably just be a meet and greet with her and the farm’s goats.

If you have a green thumb, and prefer growing your own, don’t forget the town also offers plots in a community garden.

1 Richard May 21, 2015 at 9:24 PM

Sounds like a wonderful idea. Alas, I live alone and wouldn’t consumer $650 in veggies in a year. Maybe two. Hope everyone else enjoys it.

2 beth May 22, 2015 at 8:07 AM

That’s why it’s great news that they are also opening a farm stand. Hopefully, that will open in July. The farm manager has promised to alert me when that happens. And I will definitely be alerting readers.

3 Richard May 25, 2015 at 9:14 AM

Thank you, Beth. You do a great job.

4 Djd66 May 21, 2015 at 11:44 PM

So we the tax payers paid to preserve this land from development and now we need to join the TTR just to buy food from the farm? Sorry, but TTR should not be forcing people to become members so they can join the CSA.

5 Farmer Matt May 22, 2015 at 8:27 AM

What is TTR?

6 beth May 22, 2015 at 10:07 AM

The Trustees of Reservations

7 Mark Ford May 22, 2015 at 9:21 AM

Djd66 raises an interesting point, and I’ve forgotten how the property wound up with The Trustees of Reservations in the first place. Didn’t the town work with The Sudbury Valley Trustees on this project?

8 Mike Fuce May 22, 2015 at 9:33 AM

I agree with Djd66, in addition, the $650 is not affordable again for the lower income people in the area (fully 65%). It is really only the affluent that will be able to afford it, and they have plenty of land and gardeners and landscapers to pay to do the gardening for them on their own land. I am not bashing them or myself becasue I have a nice garden, but I am more concerned for folks who do not have the money who would wish to take part. And please dont give me the old tired byline, “there are scholarships available”, people around these parts are proud and for the most part dont want liberal or quasi government hand outs and it is embarrassing for them. This goes along with the shrinking supply of young athletes (and it is not because there is a decrease in children). Many young children who would like to play sports in town can not becasue there parents cant afford it. Just look at the parking lots at Finn, for the most part all BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and just a few fords and Chevy’s. How about this liberal leaning democrats in town, a flat $10 fee for all town sports, if the parents want more, have there children pay big fees for their precious travel teams and club teams. I think that is a meaningful cause dont you? And $10 for a plot of land so less affluent can have the precious liberal mantra “access” to good fruits and vegetables. Come on all you libbies, step up and get on board and make it a cause.

9 Keith May 22, 2015 at 6:53 PM

In the Southborough Community Garden, 10 x 10 plots are $15 and 10 x 20 are $25.

10 CSA Experience May 24, 2015 at 5:24 AM

I have belonged to three different CSA’s over the years and all have had similar pricing to our new Chestnut Hill Farm’s CSA. In addition, I had to travel a greater distance, expending much more time and gasoline for the same benefit, which is one of the reasons I gave each of them up eventually.

Also, as a professional gardener, I can tell you that it would cost MUCH more than $650 to raise this amount and diversity of produce over the course of a June-to-October growing season on your own property.

Maybe this is not affordable as a one-time charge for some of our residents, but there are other options such as a payment plan, sharing a share and the farm stand. Another thing to consider is that, as more of those with greater financial means choose to invest in this type of service, costs reduce over time and the service becomes accessible to a greater diversity of people.

As an agricultural professional, I can tell you that there are other benefits as well. Preserving Open Land is just one step in creating a livable, sustainable community (what our preservation restriction buys us). Keeping part of that land positively cultivated and free of invasive plants is another way of improving our community. Putting our purchasing dollars back into our own tax base (i.e. buying our produce from a Southborough business instead of a grocery store chain or an out-of-town CSA) is yet another. Lastly, all of the above = positive property values, which benefit all of us regardless of our economic status,

Needless to say, we signed up as soon as I heard this wonderful news. As far as I am concerned, this is one of the best things to happen to Southborough since we moved here 15 years ago.

11 Tim Martel May 26, 2015 at 9:50 AM

“Many young children who would like to play sports in town can not becasue there parents cant afford it.”

Please give me more information on this. You can email me directly at tmartel72@hotmail.com

12 PML May 22, 2015 at 11:50 AM

I also thought the price was expensive when I first saw it. However, the link provides more information, explaining that it covers you for 20 weeks! From mid-June to October. So, if you divide the cost up over 20 weeks it is 32.50 a week. That is a great price for very fresh produce grown right here! It is obviously difficult for people to come up with the full price up front but if you click on the second link provided by Beth and then click to sign-up for a share, there is an option of contacting someone for other payment options.

Personally I think this is well thought-out and a great opportunity for fresh veggies and herbs.

13 Jamie Hellen May 22, 2015 at 12:18 PM

This is great news!

Seeing as its across the street from the Burnett House, maybe one of the options for restoration and a revenue stream to the old house is an entity coming up with a “Farm to Table” restaurant concept, which is an increasing phenomenon in New England. Fresh produce are the ingredients for a cozy, upscale restaurant with complimentary local craft beer, local produced wines, limited spirits. See J’s in Bolton or Gibbett Hill Farm in Groton. The latter is much larger as they raise the cattle as well for the meat. But this could be the start of a partnership with the Trustees of Reservations?

The Town desperately needs a restaurant and cozy place for dining. The Town is also desperate for the local veggies, which we now have, and who now need new customers. Any any renovation at the Burnett house requires new revenue streams to help pay off the enormous pay tag or purchase and/or renovation.

Add in a few Bed and Breakfast style rooms and a snazzy local based restaurant and small bar and maybe there is enough long-term benefit to help offset the hefty price tag of purchase and renovation?

I know its a stretch, and I am not suggesting this is the only way to preserve the Burnett House or what is going to pay the high investment renovation cost. But I think there would be a market for this concept.

14 Kate May 22, 2015 at 2:13 PM

I belong to a CSA in Westborough along with another Southborough friend, and we share the share (as it were), so we split the cost and alternate weeks picking up. I’d imagine this would be an option in this case.

I have no issue with the cost whatsoever. The produce is fresh -you pick some items yourself-, organic, and locally grown. And you get a lot!

15 Jonas May 23, 2015 at 8:17 AM

In 2006 the town overwhelmingly approved a measure to secure aerial rights (and higher property taxes) to preserve this parcel, in tact. Is that parcel, which the tax payers voted to preserve, part of this newly developed area? If I wanted to open up a drag racing track on part of it could I do that as well?

16 Desiree Aselbekian May 23, 2015 at 2:59 PM

Hi Jonas,

In 2006 Town Meeting overwhelmingly purchased (with way more than the 2/3 required vote) a conservation restriction/easement on part of the Beals land, aka Chestnut Hill Farm. In fact, every year there is a warrant article at Town Meeting for a couple hundred thousand dollars in payback on the bound. There was never a debt exclusion vote at the ballot for this purchase.

It is my understanding the only thing a conservation restriction/easement ensures is no building/development of the land. It does not prevent the private owner and/or trustee managers from enterprise. Please refer to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue explanation of a conservation restriction/easement: “A conservation easement limits future development by transferring some rights in property, such as the right to construct new buildings, from the landowner to a nonprofit organization or a governmental entity for conservation purposes. Conservation easements are enormously popular because they are the only means of permanently restricting development while allowing property to remain in private ownership [either a single owner or trustee].” http://www.mass.gov/dor/local-officials/dls-newsroom/ct/conservation-restrictions-and-real-property.html

If I’m incorrect about the Town Meeting procedure and what the Town actually “purchased”, please feel free to offer a correction.

Kindly,
Desiree Aselbekian

17 Al Hamilton May 26, 2015 at 12:13 PM

Desiree

I believe you are correct. We purchased a conservation restriction. The owner of the land retained all other rights including the right to sell. We have access to the land only by their grace.

It is, however, a misconception to believe that the land can never be developed. There are a number of scenarios that would permit development. For example, if the Federal Government wanted to build a highway or supermax prison they could. I believe that a pipeline company or railroad could cross the land. The State could take it for a new UMass facility. I also believe that the Town of Southborough could in a pinch take the land and develop it although it would not be easy.

None of these things are likely but our conservation rights are not unlimited.

18 CSA Experience May 27, 2015 at 4:16 AM

I think it is also important to note that the owner does have restrictions on how they can use the property now that they have sold us the CR. See page 5 of the MA Conservation Restriction Handbook at:

http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/MAconsrestrict08.pdf

For example, a drag racing track would not be permitted.

19 Holly May 23, 2015 at 1:15 PM

At this price perhaps a share could be donated to our local food pantry or if you don’t want your share for a particular week could it be donated

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