by Shirley Murtha
It was masked and socially distant, but the annual meeting of the Friends of Holcomb Farm was held on August 16 in a spot with a beautiful view on the Tree Trail across the road from the main campus of the farm. After a brief walk lead by Eric Lukingbeal, Friends president Bob Bystrowski opened the meeting with an overview of the 2019 year. Progress was made on all fronts: farming, land stewardship, membership and fund-raising. As it has been in all of Farmer Joe O’Grady’s years, the farm had profitable summer share and winter share seasons, and a well-attended Harvest Dinner and silent auction, which raised significant funding for the farm’s Fresh Access program. O’Grady was praised as not only an exceptional farmer, but also an astute business person.
Following the overview, finance, program and committee reports were given. Treasurer Rocky Piccirillo reported on finances, summing up that “everything was fine” last year, although grants are down in this year of Covid. Brittany Gauthier, reporting for farmer O’Grady, spoke about the success of the farm store, the farm workers and the addition of chickens, their fertilizer and fresh eggs to the operation. Reporting for Fresh Access chair Mark Fiorentino, Bystrowski noted that the program provided 8 tons of food to thousands of recipients in 2019. Todd Bear Crevier, who delivers some of this produce to the Wheeler clinics in Hartford, Bristol, Waterbury and New Britain, spoke of how appreciated it is, with clients lined up awaiting his arrival. Eric Lukingbeal described the process of obtaining and planting the trees on the Tree Trail and praised the volunteers who maintain the trails all over the farm. Without this maintenance, there would be far fewer visitors hiking, photographing and painting the scenic views and then possibly checking out the farm store. Susan Canavan reported on the annual appeal and the board’s decision to, starting with the 2020 winter CSA, consider the shareholders as members of the Friends of Holcomb Farm, as they are investing in not just good food, but also the infrastructure of the farm. Donna Snyder reported on her work in the process of applying for and obtaining grants, which is considerably challenging in this pandemic.
Over and over during this meeting, it was made clear that the Farm is thriving in part due to the actions of so many devoted volunteers. It is humming with activity on all fronts. If you have never walked the trails or visited the Farm Store, it would be worth your while to do so – find out why so many are willing to spend their time helping to keep the place in good shape. Perhaps you would be able to make a donation, small or large, to make sure that Laura and Tudor Holcomb’s gift to the town continues to be successful. It would certainly be appreciated.