Excerpted from a speech given by Matt Celona, Crops Manager at Drumlin Farm, during Moon Over Drumlin, an annual fundraiser held in Lincoln.
It feels good to be amongst people who care that it’s pumpkin season, amongst people who love nature and farming, and the future of both. We all love freshly harvested, sustainably-raised food, and we understand that the quality of our crops and livestock depends on the health of the ecosystems that nourish them and nourish us all. You can feel confident that at Drumlin Farm, your farmers are conscientiously stewarding the soil, water, and landscape that in turn feed the plants and animals—domesticated and wild—that make their homes here.
By donating to Drumlin Farm, you are helping to support our Crops Apprenticeship Program, a program that is synonymous with the future of farming. That may sound grandiose, but these words from farmer and activist Wendell Berry ring true: “The first thing farmers as conservationists must try to conserve is their love of farming and their love of independence. Of course they can conserve these things only by handing them down, by passing them on to their children, or to somebody’s children. Perhaps the most urgent task for all of us who want to eat well and to keep eating is to encourage farm-raised children to take up farming.”
I don’t have children of my own, and farm-raised children are few and far between in metropolitan areas. But there are many people out there—I myself was one of them several years ago—with a passion for the environment, a deep curiosity about food production, a desire to work on a farm, and yet no farming experience. This is where Louise Hatheway’s vision and your generosity come together: thanks to her—Drumlin’s original benefactress—and you, our farm thrives here in Lincoln a mere half hour from Boston and the thousands of people yearning to learn more about sustainable food production.
During my 10 years at Drumlin Farm, I have trained close to 50 of these committed and hard-working people. Dozens have been recent college graduates, some never saw the need to go to college, some have been career-changers, but only one grew up on a farm, and that was in Mexico. You can see how drastically culture and agriculture have diverged in America.
And yet, each season apprentices arrive here in April or early May and are soon seeding, transplanting, weeding, trellising, harvesting, running our stand at farmers’ markets, coordinating our summer and winter CSA programs, talking to chefs, delivering produce to restaurants, and leading groups of summer campers and volunteers in field work.
They learn quickly and make the Crops Operation hum. Some leave in October after one season with us. Some return for up to three seasons before moving on to farm management positions elsewhere. Our alumni include:
- Teacher at UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
- Assistant farm manager at Allandale Farm in Brookline
- Manager of Gibbet Hill Farm in Groton
- Manager of Common Ground Farm in New York
- Founder of Butterbee Flower Farm outside of Baltimore
- Founder of a vegetable farm in Maine
- Manager of an urban garden at a youth center in Washington D.C.
These graduates of the Drumlin Crops apprenticeship program are indeed the future of farming. Please give generously in support of their education and their good work here. The future of farming and our good eating depend on it. Thank you.