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Dear gardeners and farmers, chefs and eaters, kids and parents, sustainability enthusiasts, dreamers, doers and Heifer supporters:

What’s growing on?

Strawberries grown at Heifer Farm.
Strawberries grown at Heifer Farm.

The sun is setting here in Rutland, Mass., and I’m relieved to kick off my muddy work boots. The day is over, and it was a good one! More than 15 varieties of tomatoes were trellised, 35 pounds of strawberries harvested, a second seeding of carrots, beets and herbs planted and a youth group from Connecticut helped weed and water our 1-acre field at Heifer Farm.

Heifer Farm is a Learning Center in central Massachusetts that hosts schools, faith communities, families and other groups to experience farm life while learning about issues of hunger in the world and how they can get involved to make a difference. There are two other Learning Centers as well—Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark., and Heifer Village in Little Rock, Ark. 

“What’s Growing On” is a new series and will follow the garden season at Heifer Farm as it unfolds; complete with tips for the home gardener and highlights of innovative sustainable agriculture practices.

My hope is to empower you to get growing so you can learn new skills, get healthier, and strengthen the local food system

The garden at Heifer Farm
The garden at Heifer Farm.

where you live. In effect, we will be contributing to Heifer’s mission of caring for the Earth and ending hunger starting right in our own backyards. And if you can’t grow something yourself, you can help these ideas germinate by sharing them with friends. Green thumb or not, you can do it!

Trust me, if I can do it, you can! I grew up outside the city of Providence, R.I., with no exposure to agriculture. My first foray came when my brother and I rode our bikes down to my college’s student-run organic garden one fall afternoon. The garden club was planting garlic that day, and I kid you not, I did not even know what garlic was, let alone how to plant it.

Though, as many have found out before me, there’s just something about being outside and getting your hands dirty. As we planted hundreds of garlic cloves, a seed was planted in me as well. And here I am seven growing seasons later—managing organic gardens, beekeeping and maple sugaring with Heifer International.

So let’s grow together. Send me your gardening questions and ideas for future posts and tips for other gardeners. Also, stay tuned to hear about upcoming events at the Learning Centers like the Global Harvest Festival at Heifer Farm on October 4 and 5, and the Beyond Hunger Event at Heifer Ranch on October 4.

Peas out for now,
Liz Jo 


Liz Joseph

Liz Joseph works at Heifer Farm in Rutland, Mass., managing the organic gardens, beekeeping and maple sugaring. Known as Liz Jo around the farmyard, she enjoys all things farming as well as learning new skills, cooking (and eating!), writing and laughing.