In September, Natick Community Organic Farm (NCOF) welcomed three new TerraCorps members to the farm team! The TerraCorps program places AmeriCorps members at community nonprofits which have a focus on protecting land, while supporting public health and environmental sustainability. Each serving 11-month terms, Anne Flaherty, Brooke Lummis, and Zoe Chambliss will work on service projects for the farm.
Last year was NCOF’s first year being a part of the TerraCorps program. Casey Townsend, Executive Director of NCOF, explains, “We partnered with TerraCorps due to the nature of our ‘teaching’ organization and our ability to help young people experience different aspects of farming in a very controlled and safe environment.”
While NCOF is a working farm, what’s less known is that it is also a designated conservation area by the town of Natick. The free, open space which the farm provides brings people from all over the community. Families can explore the trail in the woods and visit the farm animals at no cost. This unique quality of NCOF brings together the local community while promoting environmental sustainability, which makes the farm a perfect fit for a TerraCorps site.
One of last year’s TerraCorps members, Zach Melisi, knows this community-centered approach first hand. He had worked on the farm as a child, and when he discovered that NCOF was participating in TerraCorps, he saw the opportunity to continue serving at a place he loved. Melisi says, “I gained a lot of confidence in my judgement and skill set at NCOF. I was given control over my projects, training, and schedule that I had never experienced in other work positions, which let me really test what I was capable of and how best to get things done.”
Katrina Goldowsky-Dill, who was also a TerraCorps member at NCOF last year, teamed up with Melisi to rework NCOF’s Summer Programs curriculum, and the resources they compiled remain available for the farm’s future use. When a wrench was thrown in their service year due to COVID, they got creative. Zach read farm-themed children’s books live on Facebook from different places on the farm, bringing joy to families who were stuck at home. Katrina set up an online store, which was a first for the farm.
Trish Welsey Umbrell, Assistant Director of Internal Operations, explains “Zach and Katrina helped us in many many ways large and small. They brought energy, knowledge, and valuable fresh perspectives to our organization… They also both stepped up beautifully during COVID in ways that I thought were exceptional…”
The farm has now entered its second year of TerraCorps, and this time with three members! Several exciting projects are already underway, including a self-guided audio-tour of the farm and a new and improved Gnomes garden. Stay tuned…!