What’s happening at Lachat Town Farm in Weston

Ellen McCormick, the chairman of the Lachat Town Farm Commission, is excited about recent additions to the farm. — Gregory Menti photo

Ellen McCormick, the chairman of the Lachat Town Farm Commission, is excited about recent additions to the farm. — Gregory Menti photo

Ellen McCormick and a group of volunteers have worked tirelessly to bring in a variety of new activities and amenities to the Lachat Town Farm for the 2017 season.

Recently, one of those newly built amenities was almost destroyed in one fell swoop.

“We have two hives for honeybees now but we also had our first bear intrusion,” said McCormick, chairman of the Lachat Town Farm Commission. “The bear didn’t break the beehives, but he did scatter them a bit.”

The queen bee, which McCormick thought was gone for good, was found, so the hives can thrive again. The farm has since installed a solar-powered electric fence around the hives to protect them.

“We know the fence is working because there was a bent pole a few days later,” she said. “Clearly something tried to get in but was warded off.”

Despite bordering the Devil’s Den nature preserve, the 42-acre town farm hasn’t had many bears sightings in the past. What it does have is a dedicated group of Weston-based volunteers looking to expand the experiences that town residents can have on the property.

“Weston doesn’t have many assets when it comes to social experiences in town,” said McCormick. “It’s clear that Lachat has become an asset and a place for residents to gather.”

Lachat’s most popular feature is a community garden where Westonites can rent a bed to grow their own vegetables. There have been four plots added in 2017, for a total of 50.

“The community garden is special because it allows people to develop relationships with one another that they would not have made otherwise,” said McCormick. “I know I have met new friends from working in it.”

Currently, every plot in the garden is filled, but McCormick said the waiting list is short and people on it tend to get placed relatively quickly.

Features

Last fall, Lachat added a greenhouse for community garden members to start their seedlings for their plots.

The greenhouse was funded by a grant from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture Viability. McCormick said that while it hasn’t been utilized “a ton” yet, recently installed electricity will open it to more opportunities.

In the future, year-round gardening will be possible because of the greenhouse. The farm also hopes to see more children’s programs in the greenhouse year-round.

Lachat has added compost bins outside the greenhouse and the community garden so gardeners can cultivate excess organic matter for future use.

The children’s garden, which is located next to the greenhouse, will be under construction throughout this year, but a temporary, smaller garden will be used for children’s programs.

McCormick said maintaining a successful children’s garden and children’s programs are among the primary goals of Lachat.

“We already have great children’s and toddler programs, and we want to see those continue to grow,” she said. “Education is really why we do what we do. It’s important for kids to learn about good food and healthy living.”

The farmhouse on the property is nearing completion, and McCormick hopes it will be open for tours at the grand opening event, on Saturday, June 10.  

Additionally, Lachat has a group of interns, five from Weston High School and three from Staples High School, who are helping with a variety of tasks for five hours a day, every weekday for the next month.

The interns will be helping with weeding, planting, clearing invasive species, painting, maintenance, and other general tasks throughout the day.

Further in the future, McCormick hopes Lachat will have a larger scale production garden. The production garden would be run by a farm manager who would live in the farmhouse on the property.

“A production garden would be a great educational tool,” said McCormick. “We’d have the capacity to teach classes on how to have a garden.”

McCormick said a production garden is “at least two years away,” but she is already considering how the food produced from it could be used.

“I think we’d be able to donate a lot of the produce to Weston Social Services to help families in need,” she said.

Events

Lachat will have a farmers’ market series on the last Friday of each month beginning in June that will run until October.

“Vendors will have educational components,” said McCormick. “There will be crafts for children, local food trucks, live music, and local produce from farmers in the area.

McCormick said the markets will likely run from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m., and she hopes to help promote a healthy lifestyle through them.

“We aren’t competing with local farms at all,” she said. “We want to promote local farms that we support, we hope they’ll be willing to join us at the farmers’ markets.”

In addition, Lachat is bringing back its Music in the Meadow series. The first event is June 24 with Jim Beard and Jon Herington, two touring members of Steely Dan.

McCormick said the live music series is one of her favorite parts of the farm season every year.

“We often have residents bring acoustic guitars and jam in front of the bonfire after the show is over,” she said. “As much as I like the official performances, those jams are just as interesting.”

Ultimately, McCormick said, things at the farm are “nonstop.” She is working with volunteers to make sure everything done at Lachat ensures the maintenance of the “beautiful character” of the farm.

“I want to see it as a place where everything is up and running like we planned before I eventually hand off the reins to someone else,” said McCormick. “They say, ‘If you build it they will come.’ Well, we’re making sure we’re building it exactly right.”

More information on events at Lachat, including children’s programs, is available at lachattownfarm.org.

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