By Michael Coughlin Jr.
During the Harbor View Neighborhood Association’s (HVNA) meeting on Monday, Jan. 9, representatives of Eastie Farm presented learning opportunities, sales, programs, and more that residents can participate in.
One of Eastie Farm’s most prominent initiatives is its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. The CSA is essentially a farm share, where residents sign up and pay a rate for fresh produce from local farms.
“Every week during the growing season, you get seasonal, beautiful produce at a rate that would be half the cost if you bought it from anywhere else, and we buy our produce from other Massachusetts farmers who are local, who we know,” said Eastie Farm’s Heather O’Brien.
Another significant aspect of the CSA is that it is not budget-discriminatory in that residents all over East Boston can enjoy fresh produce weekly.
“People can pay for the CSA in whatever way suits their budget. The CSA is the same whether you pay us $1 million, you pay us $5 a month because that is all you can afford, you pay us with your SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) card,” said O’Brien.
In conjunction with SNAP, the state also offers the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). The program gives users money back on their SNAP card for buying produce from local HIP vendors, and Eastie Farm happens to be a vendor.
“So essentially, there are people – if you have a SNAP card – you can get that [local produce] for free,” said O’Brien.
The CSA is not the only way to get some fresh produce, as Eastie Farm also offers a free farmers market, where anyone can take home their choice of produce at no cost.
“Everybody is welcome at that. Nobody needs to show an ID; nobody needs to prove anything – you don’t even have to live in East Boston,” said O’Brien.
Along with the CSA and free farmers market, Eastie Farm also offers a seedling sale, in which they work with a sober house in Dorchester to bring in all sorts of seedlings not grown in the Eastie Farm greenhouse.
“The seedling sale is a great opportunity to order your plants from Eastie Farm … For the first week in May, we have like a pick-up for four days for people who have ordered their seedlings to come and get them … and then we have like a sale the weekend before Mother’s Day – people can come and buy whatever they want,” said O’Brien.
While Eastie Farm offers ample opportunities to secure local fruits and vegetables, the organization also has several experiential learning programs.
“By experiential learning, I mean that they’re not in the classroom – they’re out in the world – getting their hands dirty and learning about their environment as they experience it,” said Joel Seidner, Eastie Farm’s Climate Resilience Project Manager.
One of these learning opportunities is the Junior Farmers, a summer program where kids learn to take care of plants, cook with fresh produce and learn more about the environment. Climate NATURE is another program where Eastie Farm visits schools and supplements students’ education.
For older students in High School, Eastie Farm offers the Youth Climate Corps, a fellowship where students can get involved with their environment in several ways, such as tending to urban farms, teaching younger kids, and more.
Whether it is getting some fresh fruits and vegetables or learning, Eastie Farm has multiple avenues for residents to become more in tune with the environment.
“We have a lot of things for everybody, and people don’t have to sign up for the CSA forever; they don’t have to order a ton of seedlings … but we would love it if whatever you need as far as plants and growing you reached out to Eastie Farm,” said O’Brien.
“[We would love it] if you needed help or you wanted to volunteer; you think of us first because we are happy to answer any questions at any time.”
For more information on everything Eastie Farm has to offer, you can visit https://eastiefarm.com.