When the Athens Community Farm held its first meeting last February, we had only a rough project plan and no land, funding, supplies or ideas of what to grow. Within a few months the farm secured a home at 39 Third Street, support of the Village Board and Dept. of Public Works, beds, soil, plants, a whole crew of amazing and dedicated volunteer farmers and community partners, along with a pretty clear mission: provide locally and sustainably grown produce to the Athens community at no cost or obligation.
Before we get too caught up in planning for next season, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what got done this past year:
- Built a farm in one month! Over four Saturdays we built 15 raised beds, surrounded them with a secure and (so far) deer-proof fence, topped them up with soil and filled them full of plants. And it’s all still standing today 😉
- Opened for 24/7 u-pick May-November. We grew 45+ varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruit throughout the season with no gaps in production! During this time anyone from the community could come harvest whatever they needed. We learned a lot about what people want, don’t want and what grows well in the new farm space.
- Held two community distributions every week – During the season, volunteers harvested twice a week for Rivertown Senior Housing and our community table at the D.R. Evarts Library, donating over 650 servings of produce through these outlets + multiple seedling giveaways before the season started!
- Supplied local pantries with produce for 30 full weeks, over 1500 items. Supplementing the produce grown on the farm, we were able to bring in boxes of organic vegetables from other local growers and distribute them to Athens senior housing, the Athens and High Hill food pantries and Hands and Hearts Mission weekly free dinners.
- Raised over $17k for the farm and community share programs. Fundraising is a constant necessity to keep the farm free of cost or obligation. Through a combination of crowd sourcing and grants we raised enough funds to build the farm, run our distribution programs and expand in our second season. More to come on how these funds will be utilized in 2022!
There are so many other moments on the farm this year that can’t be captured in a data point – Ramona the Goat keeping spirits up as we built beds and hauled soil, Maribeth’s snacks, finding the safest ways to work together during a pandemic, Fred’s amazing melon hammocks, Peg’s beautiful flower bouquets at the library table on Saturdays, Leslie and the class from Coxsackie-Athens Elementary that came to plant a bed full of garlic we’ll harvest next summer, all. the. pest. damage. (yeah, not all great moments), blocking traffic at the Rip Van Winkle bridge while collecting veggie boxes from Long Table Harvest, celebrating the end of the season with outdoor music, baked goods and screen printing, guests telling jokes and singing while receiving deliveries at the food pantry, Steve, Emma, Mary, Fred, and Catie topping off all the beds with compost in the freezing, pouring rain, everyone that showed up every week to pick veggies, water, weed, paint signs, and make sure the plants were happy.
We grew, we grew, and we grew some more. Thank you for a great first year!
3 thoughts on “Looking Back: 2021 at the Community Farm”
You did an amazing job, Sarah, leading a phenomenally successful project! So very impressive! – Kathy
What ended up being the most popular veggies?
It’s a tough call! I’d say all the lettuces, cucumbers and tomatoes (especially those sungolds) we’re a hit, along with our butternut squash later in the season. Can’t wait to grow more varieties of all these, along with some of the lesser known, but equally tasty, veggies and herbs this season.