Farewell to the Farmers

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Farewell to the Farmers

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By Charlie Colasurdo ’18

For the past seven years, Wakeman Town Farm has been my second home. Since its inception, the town farm was viewed as an innovative way to turn a century-old property into an educational hub. At the very forefront of this were Mike and Carrie Aitkenhead, the farm’s young stewards. The dynamic duo, a young couple with an infant son and a daughter on the way, were tasked with a daunting challenge: live on and maintain a 2.5-acre farm, while simultaneously working as teachers and raising a family. To this end, they planted the seeds for what has become not just a flourishing educational farm and sustainability center, but a community gathering spot for people of all ages.

Wakeman Town Farm is now a thriving community organization. It plays host to innumerable programs, classes and events throughout the year. Spring marks the joyous season of baby goats and ducklings, summer camps and organic vegetable gardens which will lead into fall’s annual “Harvest Fest” fundraiser, where farm-to-table chefs and town residents come together for a fabulous meal under the stars, all served by community leaders and teen volunteers. This town-run entity has grown to the point where the main farmhouse was bursting at the seams. To this end, the grassroots farm committee worked hard to raise funds towards doing a dramatic renovation to the aging farmhouse, which will allow the farm to offer a fun roster of year-round programs, install a commercial kitchen for seed-to-plate cooking classes and offer the space up for rentals of all kinds. None of this could have occurred without the Aitkenhead’s constant guidance, support and hard work.

For an 11-year-old with a passion for farming, I was elated to hear of WTF’s opening, and was invited to cut the inaugural “vine.” Since that time, I have been able to participate in everything from chicken-keeping workshops to farm cleanups, to serving as a Farm Ambassador, introducing visiting students on tours to the wonders of our very own town farm. Every Thursday in middle school, I would ride the city bus to Bedford and walk past the fields to WTF to work as a “junior apprentice.” It’s at Wakeman where I’ve made lifelong friends with fellow volunteers, helped run events and summer programs, and even given tours to visiting members of the United Nations on jUNe Day each year.

As I reflect upon my time at the farm, there have been many changes, and yet a constant presence was the Aitkenhead family. Mike, known affectionately by others as “Mr. A,” a talented Staples teacher with a vivid passion for environmental science, led workshops and programs that inspired us all to care a little bit more about the planet. Carrie’s warm heart and expertise with animals allowed for a then-middle schooler such as myself to work closely with a menagerie of chickens, goats, alpacas and more. Their children Ethan and Cora brought an irreplaceable liveliness to everyday life on the Farm, as they grew up alongside the crops and animals.

And now, a month from the announcement of their departure from the farm, it’s finally happening. The boxes are packed, moving vans ready. As the Aitkenhead’s move on to spend more time together as a family, their mark on both the Farm and the community will not fade. In their footsteps, they will be leaving WTF in prime shape, ready to be sown with the seeds of the future. I’m forever grateful for their bountiful generosity, timeless lessons and ongoing support. I wish them the best in their new endeavors, and know that they will be leaving behind an incredible asset that they deserve their due credit in creating.

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