Monday, July 27, 2009

Montview Neighborhood Farm

Welcome to Montview Neighborhood Farm in Northampton, Massachusetts. This 3-acre hand cultivated organic farm is located on city conservation land which is about a 5 minute walk from downtown and is situated within city limits hilariously next to a flood dike. Northampton is notorious for being a friendly place for lesbians and queers of all kinds so it wasn't a huge surprise to find a farm run by queers here. The farm is run by Lisa, Molly, and Paige. 
  This is Paige, one of the farmers. She showed me around and gave an excellent scything demonstration.
This is Lisa D., another Montview farmer taking care of chickens. 
The farm has been around for 4 years and produces a diverse array of veggies which they sell through their sliding scale CSA program. They have CSA pickups at their farm stand twice a week, as you can see here. This farm is an outstanding model of a truly local food system- most of their CSA members live in the surrounding neighborhood and literally walk to the farm to pick up their shares. I was at the farm stand interviewing Lisa, one of the farmers, and was delighted to see that as folks came by to get their veggies they had real conversations about the food and other things. It's clear that the Montview CSA members know their farmers.  One of the members was using Montview produce for baby food and had used it as dog food in the past too!

Montview looking good. 

Here is a shot of some of their perennial beds. While they focus on 
growing vegetables and herbs for their CSA, they have a spectacular 
array of perennials planted on their land. They use
permaculture, or the practice of designing agricultural systems to 
mimic relationships found in nature. Or, as Paige quoted Bill Mollison
one of Permaculture's founders, "It's a rational mans
approach to not shitting in his bed." Well said, Bill. Dave Jacke, who 
wrote the book Edible Forest Gardens (a permaculture bible to some)
also manages a few of the perennial beds at Montview.

A lovely asian pear tree that will be incorporated into the CSA.

The farmers and I talked about how the farm reflected the queerness of the people who were creating the space-many of the beds are not perfectly shaped nor in straight lines, they work collectively and at a pace that feels human to them, they aren't out on the farm every day. In short, they don't represent what one might think of as a typical farm or what farming has meant historically. Montview is also located on land contiguous with another small organic farm that from my bird's eye view appeared physically very traditional. It was an interesting juxtaposition to see the two farms next to each other.

                           Kale with Boc Choi understory. 

        Chickens in the old strawberry patch, offering fertilization. 
                         Onions ready to pop. 

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