Coonamessett Farm

February 12
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Hi Everyone,

This is just a quick note to address a few questions that have arisen from the recent email and mailing and to inform you of a great talk next Sunday.

First, I consider grandchildren household members. This determination is based on personal experience. If you join the Farm at $40 you can have three others on your annual membership pass; at $75 you can have up to 7 others on your annual membership pass. That should cover all your grandchildren for the whole year; in most cases. Compare that price to taking them to the movies just once. Any child not covered by the pass but accompanying you would be $5 ($3 off for guests accompanied by a member).

There is a reason we are tightening the farm entry. We did a survey last summer on several occasions and found that more than half the people on the farm had not paid. We also get groups of visitors (many times six or more) that pay the $20 membership fee for the group. I think it is better to try to get every visitor to pay their fair share.

As I mentioned previously, we have about a $70k operating deficit; about half is capital improvements which ultimately benefits our membership. A substantial payment is made each year for hiring gigolos for our female alpacas, donkeys, and sheep. Roxanna calls it breeding fees but I still don’t know why the cash doesn’t flow the other way. Ultimately, with all these girls we have to pay for the weddings. Unless we sell themmmm…… Anyway, with 2000 households as members that means the farm is subsidizing each membership to the tune of $35. Unlike David Rockefeller’s farm that I mentioned in the previous newsletter, we don’t have deep enough pockets to continue at this rate. Actually I have holes in my pockets so depth is irrelevant.

Another issue is why I was all doom and gloom a month ago, but in the recent email and cover letter silent on the issues confronting the farm. Basically, the issues are still there but Roxanna and I have decided to move ahead this year and watch what happens. We are hopeful that the town authorities will wise-up and proactively support farming before it is too late.

Talking about the importance of local agriculture…….

The Friends of Falmouth Farms (FFF) have scheduled their first speaker, Ali Berlow of Martha's Vineyard for next Sunday, Feb. 18, at 2:00 pm at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds on Route 151. The speaker helped to form the Island Grown Initiative on Martha’s Vineyard, a similar group to the FFF, in 2005. There is an interesting article on Ali and the group's activities at this address: http://www.vineyardstyle.com/article_pages/summer_06/island_grown.html

Their focus is on "slow food" instead of "fast food" and on "local food" instead of imported food. Ali Berlow, maybe best known to off-Islanders as the voice behind NPR’s "The Cook’s Notebook," is committed to raising awareness about the food that we feed to our families. This commitment and concern for local farms led her to help found the Island Grown Initiative. She will speak from her perspective as a mother and lover of good food about her experiences with local food and local farms on Martha’s Vineyard.

The Island Grown Initiative is a buy local/eat seasonally campaign on Martha’s Vineyard devoted to educating Islanders about local foods available and the benefits, both nutritional and economic. They are currently working on a slaughterhouse for the island.

Friends of Falmouth Farms is a group of local citizens concerned about the continuing loss of farmland in Falmouth. Since this is the FFF’s first speaker, they need to have a crowd to encourage them to keep up the good fight. I am hoping everyone can attend.