Diversity is important in ecosystems, stock portfolios and farm sustainability. The Tangerini family demonstrates success with diverse enterprises at their 67-acre farm in Millis, MA. Neighbors and visitors treasure the open space and support this diverse agricultural operation west of Boston. Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm is a model for open space preservation for landowners who want to see their land remain productive while sharing it with future generations.
Besides offering 120 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers via a 300-member CSA, Farm Stand and You-Pick, Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm offers value-added foods, ice cream and a garden center. The farm hosts educational programs around seasonal crops, summer camp, “Sprouts, Farm and Forest Kindergarten,” birthday parties with hayrides and farm tours. A walking trail, hay maze, giant sandbox and livestock area are open to the public daily, year-round from dawn to dusk.
CSA members are encouraged to bring the whole family for pick-ups. The Tangerini family invites CSA members and visitors to “bring a picnic and friends, and spend time relaxing at the farm.” For a positive visitor experience and safety, the farm’s website recommends customers “keep an extra set of old shoes in your car [for farm visits] or for u-pick.”
Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm’s Market Shares work like a prepaid debit card for fresh, locally-grown organic fruits and vegetables. Customers buy in $100 increments. The Market Share offers a 15 percent bonus for early purchase (Jan. 1 – March 31). Installment payment plans are available. Customers use their Market Share card for produce, fruit and plants as well as salads, sandwiches and soups. Cards are also valid for ice cream, baked goods and hayrides.
Prepaid CSA “shares” fund the seeds, fertilizer, labor, equipment and insurances to run the farm. The Main Season CSA Share cost $31.25/week in 2015. Many CSA members volunteer for hands-on farm experiences. Volunteer activities include seeding, planting garlic, weeding, harvesting, topping onions or sharing off-the-farm talents.
Garden Center staff help train new organic growers, suggest appropriate container plants and offer gardens design assistance. The 4,000 square foot greenhouse and outdoor garden center offers colorful plants, herbs and flowers as well as containers, garden statuary and inspiration. The same varieties of organic vegetables, herbs and flowers grown on the farm are available for sale each spring.
Of the 75 vegetable and small fruit crops found at the farm, all but apples and sweet corn are grown using organic methods. Sound growing principles maintain the health of the farm business and improve the soil health. Crop rotations minimize diseases and pests. Crop rotations include cover crops that build organic matter and soil fertility. Vegetables and fruits are fertilized using leaf compost, dehydrated poultry manure and other natural occurring substances like gypsum, rock phosphate, green sand, soybean and feather meal. Regular field scouting for insects and diseases minimized treatment needs or crop failures.
Farm staff are local high school and college students who plant, harvest, wash and weed. In spring and fall, adult staff seed, harvest, plant and package.
This land has been farmed since the early 1800’s. In 1982, Louis DeAngelis protected the farm through an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR), a legal document guaranteeing that the land would forever remain as active farmland. The Tangerini family purchased the farm in 1992. Charlie, Laura, Emilio and Charlie, Jr. established the Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm in 1995.
In late 1994, the Tangerini’s farming operation moved from southern Maine to Millis, MA. Over the years, the family transformed the land into a profitable, diverse and dynamic farm with the necessary infrastructure and visitor venues.