Hart Farm in Conway gears up to deliver something new with local box share

The Recorder, May 7, 2018, by Richie Davis

Anna Meyer leans over a row of the year’s first radishes in one of two hoop houses off South Shirkshire Road, a stone’s throw from where she was raised, with a broad smile.

“It’s been interesting to return,” says Meyer, who grew up on an adjoining piece of land on Hart Road — her father wrote for this newspaper and sometimes flew the plane that took Recorder photographer Paul Franz in the sky to shoot aerial photos. For the past four seasons, she’s been farming about 2 acres here, on Hart Farm, and delivering fruits and vegetables to New York City, where she went to college for the only time she’s lived anywhere else.

“I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life, in a place I know so well,” the 30-year-old farm owner says. “I like connecting with people I’ve known forever, who were friends with my family, talking as an adult and a business owner, making different kind of connections and helping each other out. It feels like I’m expanding in the community again, which is cool.”

This year, Meyer, who mostly grows vegetables and fruits with her husband, Seth Capista, is gearing up to sell and deliver “local box shares” for the first time, just as they’ve done for 15 to 20 families in New York.

“We’ve come a long way,” says Meyer, who has two farm helpers along with her husband, growing baby kale, arugala, micro-greens and carrots, as well as the radishes and turnips. They also grow currants, blackberries and raspberries and have 200 laying hens for eggs.

At two farmstands — one on the farm, the other on Hart Road at Shelburne Falls — they sell their farm products, including flowers and some of the maple syrup from their 120 taps.

The farm also sells its products at the Greenfield and Tuesday Northampton farmers markets, and wholesales to Green Fields Market, McCusker’s Market and to The Gypsy Apple, The Blue Rock, and Hardy Eats in Shelburne Falls.

With the local box share — available in three sizes, which can also include meats, cheeses, mushrooms, jams, relish, flowers and Hungry Ghost bread — Meyer says the farm will make deliveries during a 10-week season on alternate Fridays from June through October. It also will offer a more flexible season for customers who go away for part of the summer.

Meyer, who got turned on by farming while a student in Northfield Mount Hermon School’s farm program and then diverted at the New School, where she majored in comparative religions, says she named her farm after Hart Crest Farm, the former name of the Guilford Farm next door to the Hart Road home where she grew up. And her neighbor at the time, Phyllis Hart Guilford, had family who lived in the house where she now lives, across the road from the farm.

“It feels really good to have this extension into the community,” she said. “The idea is we’ll be bringing food to people who might not normally go to the farmers market or people who are homebound or don’t have transportation. We’ll try to make it as convenient and flexible as possible for them, and financially accessible as well.”

Hart Farm, which will also accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Healthy Incentives Program cards, will deliver to West County towns as well as Deerfield, Greenfield, Goshen and Plainfield.

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