I don’t know what I expected when I visited Blue Heron Organic Farm, but it wasn’t Ellery Kimball. The enthusiastic 35-year-old is a new breed of farmer. Her seven-acre farm is situated on conservation land in Lincoln, so organic is a must, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s the only way that makes sense to me,” she says.
Surrounded by farms with CSAs, Ellery is following a different business model. About half of her produce is sold to 12 restaurants in the Boston area, among them Rialto and Hamersley’s. A quarter is sold through farmers’ markets and another quarter through her farm stand.
“I just like the idea of a farm stand, because people can come in and shop, no matter who they are or what their economic background is,” Ellery says.
The Lincoln native began interning at Blue Heron (then called Down to Earth Organic Farm) when she was just 17, with no previous experience in farming. She went on to earn a B.A. in sustainable agriculture and returned to take over the plot after graduation.
“I think it’s a very meaningful job, because you’re nourishing people, and it’s physical, so it’s very satisfying work,” she says.
Seven acres is small for a farm, and because of the restrictions on conservation land, expansion is not an option. In fact, any major change she makes to it, like planting 14 apple trees this year, has to be preceded by a proposal to the Conservation Commission. No permanent buildings are allowed on the land, so her farm stand, two greenhouses, and chicken coop have to be on wheels. Therefore Ellery’s focus is on efficiency, to good effect. The tiny farm grows almost any vegetable imaginable, as well as a flower maze.
Ellery does this all with just three employees in the summer months, with the help of occasional volunteers. (If you’d like to help out, just drop by the farm anytime Tuesday through Sunday, 7:00 to 5:00). School groups even come out on Fridays to learn about farming. “I wish I had farming mentors when I was 8 years old,” Ellery says. “I was 17 when I really learned what a pea and a bean looked like growing, so I think it’s great to share with little people the importance of knowing where their food comes from and what it takes to get a salad onto your plate.”
You can buy Blue Heron produce for yourself at the farm stand, the Lexington and Davis Square farmers markets, City Feed in Jamaica Plain, and Concord Provisions in Concord—and, of course, at the Boston Local Food Festival October 1.
Visit Boston Local Food for more information!