by Laura Rodley
Nigerian Dwarf goats frolic and school children get a chance to gather eggs, plants seeds, put up fencing, and drive Joe the Milking Shorthorn ox at Red Gate Farm in Ashfield, MA. Like many other farms that diversify, the farm also hosts wedding receptions in its three story circa 1870 barn. Recently, owner and Farm Director Ben Murray went over his things to do list to be ready for hosting the reception of his neighbor, Naomi Clark, who was married two days to Craig Richter.
“We’re honored she would choose us,” said Murray.
As Red Gate Farm is committed to connecting the upcoming generations to agriculture, the farm welcomes school groups to give their students a chance to engage in working with animals, and feel the success of a task well done, whether it be grooming an animal, collecting a dozen eggs, hammering a nail, or driving Joe the ox.
The farm program is a local employer as they hire counselors over the summer to help lead the three one weeklong camp sessions over the summer, and work with the farm animals. The counselors receive room and board and a salary. They have a dozen canvas covered wooden cabin tents for not-so-rough overnight camping arranged in a circle on the grounds.
They also hire Farmer Educators, who assist with farm management and work closely with the children. In addition, they hire interns who help out in the garden and all aspects of the farm.
Sept. 12 will be the 60-acre farm’s 15th anniversary and with the keystone of ‘a learning experience by doing’, they will surely be celebrating more years.