A new grant landed by the Farm Institute in Edgartown will make it possible for Island farmers to experiment with innovative crops. The Pilot Parcels Project will make five one-acre plots available to both beginning and experienced farmers this summer.
Farm Institute executive director Jon Previant said this week it doesn’t matter how much experience the farmer has — only that they have a good idea.
“This project is aimed at increasing the amount of knowledge of alternative methods and alternative crops on the Island,” he said.
The incubator farm program is made possible through a $14,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education sustainable community grants program. Each farmer chosen is eligible for a $500 stipend to help with costs, and each will have access to Farm Institute tools and supplies. The farm will offer a 10-month lease on the plots, soil testing, and rough discing for seed beds. The farm will host lectures and educational events specific to the crops in the plots.
Applications are due by March 21; participants will be chosen by March 28. Plot assignments will be given out March 30. Applications are available on the Farm Institute Web site at farminstitute.org. For information, call 508-627-7007.
In other Farm Institute news this week, the farm announced that Rebecca Sanders has been named garden manager. Ms. Sanders grew up on a small farm in rural New Hampshire, and worked at Hillside Farm and the Solviva organic greenhouse in West Tisbury in the early 1990s. In 1995 she moved to western Massachusetts, where she earned a degree in plant and soil science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Following that she spent seven years working as a science instructor at Hampshire Educational Collaborative in Northampton, where she shared a community garden plot with her students.
She also has been self-employed as a landscape gardener for many years and has worked as a volunteer with the Leverett Elementary School greenhouse program.