Author: Marissa Mastors

Training Future Food Systems Leaders in 2021
As the growing season winds down at Wolfe's Neck Center, we asked the apprentices in our Fruit and Vegetable Production Farmer Training Program to reflect on their experiences here. This six month, on-farm training program covers all aspects of organic fruit and vegetable crop production with a focus on regenerative agriculture techniques and includes classroom time and site visits to other farms. Educating and inspiring the next generation of leaders to shape our local and global food system is at the heart of our mission, and this year's crew is leaving here with renewed commitment, hands on experience and a passion for agriculture.
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Thanksgiving
The staff at Wolfe’s Neck Center share a profound and meaningful commitment to our work, each other, and our community. On this day of Thanksgiving, we wanted to share with you our gratitude for being a part of this amazing place; looking at what brought us here and why being a member of the team is important to us.  
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OpenTEAM Secretariat Meets at Wolfe’s Neck Center
Over these past two weeks, COP26, or the Conference of the Parties, held its 26th annual meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. Also known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26 is where nations, indigenous peoples, organizations, and individuals meet to negotiate and discuss how to best mitigate climate change. Conversations such as these are critical to mitigating the ongoing climate crisis. As world leaders prepared to meet in Glasgow, the OpenTEAM Secretariat convened at Wolfe’s Neck Center to reflect on current collaborative approaches, discuss potential opportunities for increased training and certification in soil health tools, and begin to develop a strategy for scaling.
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What Does Seaweed and Cows have in common?
Earlier this year, our cows here at Wolfe’s Neck Center were part of a research initiative to fight climate change. Half of our milking herd were given a local seaweed variety in their diet to measure the impacts of that local seaweed on the amount of methane the cow produces. WNC and project partners will be continuing this work over the next 5 years!
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FitBits for Cows: Our New SenseHub Dairy Activity Monitors
Our cows got some new bling! The SenseHub Dairy activity monitors give our dairy team real-time updates and measurements, helping them to track both cow and herd health as closely as possible. The dairy team uses the monitors to record the herd’s daily movements across Wolfe’s Neck’s pastures, track their dairy production, notify best breeding time for each cow, monitor their digestion, and observe overall health measurements like respiration. 
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How We Feed Our Cows Over Winter
As we all enjoyed the warmer weather back in May, our Dairy team was already looking towards the winter months as they prepared bales of hay that would feed our cows. As the weather gets colder, we move our cows into the dairy barn to keep them warm and cozy. But, with less ample opportunities to graze, we feed our herd with the hay we bale throughout the winter season.
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The Night Tree
December brings one of our favorite traditions – the Night Tree event. We gather to read Eve Bunting’s book, make creations for the forest animals, and walk out to a bonfire to hang them on trees. Even though we can’t come together this year, we understand this is a special event that families look forward to all year long. As with most things in 2020, the Night Tree event has gone virtual!
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A Harvest for Hunger
Wolfe's Neck Center is a long time partner in FCS's food pantry program, donating fresh produce from our fields each year. When the pandemic arrived, FCS quickly adapted and shifted its operations outside with clients receiving pre-packed bags of food. Through the partnership with Wolfe’s Neck Center, local families were still able to ‘shop’ for farm fresh produce.  We checked in with Christine Lyons, Events and Communications Director, to learn more about what this challenging season has been like for FCS
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Education of the past: The history of the Wolfe Neck Club
As Wolfe’s Neck Center provides learning experiences for local children with creative new approaches this fall, a little white building surrounded by our farm fields stands to remind us of a very different kind of education in the past.
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Farm Experiences Up for Bid
Join us for our first-ever online art auction to support Wolfe’s Neck Center. Browse the dynamic array of works created by over 40 talented local artists. In addition to artwork, bid on a range of farm experiences, dinners, studio tours, workshops and more! Some auction items are for exclusive farm experiences not available to the public. Read on to see what you could bid on while supporting Wolfe's Neck Center.
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As the growing season came to an end at Wolfe’s Neck Center, we asked the apprentices in our Fruit and Vegetable Production Farmer Training Program to reflect on their experiences here. This six month, on-farm training program covers all aspects of organic fruit and vegetable crop production with a focus on regenerative agriculture techniques and includes classroom time and site visits to other farms.

Educating and inspiring the next generation of leaders to shape our local and global food system is at the heart of our mission, and this year’s crew has left with renewed commitment, hands on experience and a passion for agriculture. Take a look at what they shared:

Aditi, Colby College student and Fruit and Vegetable Production Intern

What path brought you to WNC?

I was a junior in college and looking to gain more experience and learn about the environment outside of the classroom. After learning about Wolfe’s neck and their efforts toward regenerative agriculture and organic produce, I applied for the opportunity!

What was the most important thing you learned here?

I learned about the amount of effort that goes into producing a single crop and the importance of a strong team. Farming is challenging and plans change by the minute because of weather, pests, and other things. But, when we work together, we overcome those challenges and hold each other up.

How will you take what you have learned/experienced here forward in life?

Farming has been affected by climate change and its consequences like changing weather, more pests, heat waves, and more. Food is the basis of our livelihoods and it is under threat due to rising temperature. I want to take this on-the-field experience and work with environmental justice and advocacy to bring change to our policies to reduce the effects of climate change.

Luke, Fruit and Vegetable Production Apprentice

What path brought you to WNC?

I’ve always been passionate about the outdoors and the environment, and while I had a smattering of volunteer experiences and loved to get outside, I didn’t decide to make it part of my career path until later in life. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in English and working in digital marketing for a few years, I was yearning for a change. My desire to work with plants crystallized while I was on a vacation in Colombia, and when I got home I went down to part-time at my job and enrolled in an environmental science class at the University of Minnesota. Little did I know, a few volunteering opportunities later (including a summer and fall at Wolfe’s Neck) and I would be working with plants but as a farming apprentice. I didn’t expect that my urge to shift gears would lead me to agriculture, but I’ve loved every second of it and am fully sucked into the agriculture vortex. Whether it’s regenerative agriculture, low-till and no-till, chemical-free, organic, different CSA models, composting, intercropping — there are SO many fascinating challenges and solutions that agriculture is facing right now, and that “systems” aspect of farming really appealed to the problem-solving, detail-oriented side of my brain.

What was the most important thing you learned here?

I think two things stand out to me — I learned how to be a better team player, and I also gained an immense amount of respect for anyone who has committed themselves to a career as a farmer.

I’ve always thought of myself as being a good communicator, a collaborator, and someone who’s fun to work with. I still think all of those things, but a full season of farming really challenged me in a unique way. It’s face-paced, physical and mental work that really requires a team to have excellent communication, high spirits, a lack of ego, and a seemingly inextinguishable shared work ethic. There’s lots of different kinds of teamwork, but I think that farming is just an extremely demanding and rewarding type of teamwork that was a very unique and lovely (shout out Fruit and Veg squad!) experience.

As far as farming goes, it’s shocking how complex it is. It’s really a daunting task, something that I’d wager many people take for granted. Weeds are absolutely trying to take over the planet. Groundhogs are eating our peas. And insects are doing everything in their power to eat every single square foot of food that’s being grown. After a full season of farming, I’m impressed and amazed at our food system, while recognizing the ways in which it needs to change. I don’t mean to romanticize farming — it’s HARD. It’s also fun, with the right mindset, but I really admire all of the amazing diversified fruit and vegetable farms in Maine and the incredible work they do.

How will you take what you have learned/experienced here forward in your life?

I’m not quite sure what the future holds for me professionally, but I’m hopeful that it involves agriculture and the food system in some capacity. I’m interested in attending graduate school, but I’m not ready yet to commit to a program or location. For now, I’m going to cherish all of the memories, knowledge, and friendships that were formed in the fields this season, and I hope to bring everything I learned to another farm next growing season. Regardless, this season has only deepened my interest in food and agriculture and I’m sure that interest will last for the rest of my life.

Spencer, All Farm Apprentice

What path brought you to WNC?

I worked in the lobstering industry and developed some skills in the trades before I came here. I like working outside and I think we need a more resilient food system if we’re going to survive the 21st century. 

What was the most important thing you learned here?

I learned how you can strike a balance between what you need to get done, and what you can get done, and how to take time for yourself in the process. 

How will you take what you have learned/experienced here forward in your life?

I’ve taken a lot of leadership skills from this apprenticeship, and I’ve become more comfortable taking leaps of faith and trusting myself.

Tali, Fruit and Vegetable Production Apprentice

What path brought you to WNC?

I was tired of working in solar and missing working with my hands and with the earth. So I started looking at regenerative agriculture programs on the east coast and WNC popped up. I applied and the rest is history!

What was the most important thing you learned here?

That the most powerful thing is mother nature and that we are just here to learn from her. Every time we had a storm, a flood event in the greenhouses, wind gusts that blew down pepper plants, it was all just a reminder to adjust our strategy so that we can become more resilient as farmers and as global citizens.

How will you take what you have learned/experienced here forward in your life?

Moving forward I’m going to strive to continue working jobs that prioritize my well-being, work-life balance, and have values that align with mine as a land steward.

The success of this year’s season leads back to Eliza Baker-Wacks, our Fruit and Vegetable Production Manager.  This is her third season at WNC, where she started as an apprentice. She has been a rock star leader and educator, and not a day goes by where her staff is not enjoying themselves and smiling – Eliza makes the hard work of raising produce fun and meaningful,  and inspires others to care about the future of food and farming.  

Help shape the future of farming and food by joining the team at Wolfe’s Neck Center! We are hiring for multiple positions. Check them out below!

View Open Positions