Xochiquetzal Salazar here, first-year transfer student and Junior in the Sustainable Food and Farming program, reporting to you on our awesome Fall 2014 semester in the UMass Permaculture gardens. With winter approaching and the garden prepared for a chilly slumber, I cannot think of a better time to reflect on all the fun, engaging, and eye-opening experiences we shared among the Garden Crew and with all the incredible volunteers we had the pleasure of working with.
As a transfer student in my first semester, I applied to be a part of the UMass Permaculture Garden Crew in hopes of establishing a community of like-minded individuals in this enormous campus that was so new to me, and community was what I got. As the garden grew, we grew, and the Monday/Friday crew of five students from varying majors and grade levels became a small family; our own niche so to speak, one that really enjoyed each other’s company and a good potluck here and there.
That first day of class on a sunny September morning had me, admittedly, shaking in my Berkies. Sure I had gardened all my life, but it was in that moment that I realized I didn’t actually know that much about permaculture. These suspicions were confirmed when we took a humbling permaculture self-assessment, the same evaluation hat was administered at the end of the semester. Although I still have so much to learn, from being immersed in this environment for only a few months, my enlightenment was astounding, in regards to both my own world views and my understanding of permaculture.
From zone walks, to discussions on wild edibles, to seed saving, and so much more, every lesson our Garden Manager Lilly Israel implemented was captivating and empowering, providing us with not only a well-rounded permaculture education, but also valuable skills that promote sustainability in everyday life. In addition to these lessons, we were given the opportunity to participate in a number of events related to permaculture throughout the semester, from a Massachusetts Dinner with government representation to a Montessori School scavenger hunt with kindergarteners. The culmination of these made being a part of Garden Crew a truly worthwhile commitment.
Beyond this structured learning, the crew also did a lot of down-and-dirty hard work: harvesting, weeding, planting, potting, preparing for the Fall Student Farmer’s Market – you name it! It was during these times that stories were recanted, laughs were shared, and hearts sang out. I can say with confidence that these are memories to last a lifetime, and that this whole experience was the highlight of my first semester at UMass. The garden may be in hibernation now, but it better watch out, because we’ll be coming back for it in Spring 2015!
This week, we are featuring a farm that you might have heard of before. You can find Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs in grocery stores all across New England.
That fact might make you pause; aren’t we supposed to be supporting small, family farms instead of commercial, large-scale growers?
Actually, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Pete and Gerry’s is a collection of over thirty small farms that all utilize sustainable, humane practices. Working together, they are able to amass enough eggs to sell across New England.
Speaking of humane practices, Pete and Gerry’s was the first egg producer in the United States to be Certified Humane by a nonprofit organization called Humane Farm Animal Care in 2003. You can be assured that the eggs you eat come from hens that are raised with compassion.
Besides the Certified Humane label, Pete and Gerry’s is also certified organic which means that their hens are never treated with antibiotics and their feed doesn’t contain any chemical pesticides or GMOs.
Despite being a collection of many small family farms, the owning family started their own small farm in Monroe, New Hampshire in the late 1800s. They are currently in their fourth generation of ownership with Jesse (pictured on the far right in the photo above). Someday, his children Piper and Brock could be the fifth generation!
UMass Dining purchases all of its eggs from Pete and Gerry’s. In case you needed more motivation to get an omelet in one of the dining halls, keep in mind that the eggs come from a great source!
Read more about their family business at peteandgerrys.com.
Entries are submitted by project staff and UMass students.