Winthrop and her husband Fred, former Trustees executive director, were neighbors and family friends of Joan Appleton, who donated the 1,000-acre farm to the organization in 1998 and lived there until her death in 2006.
Winthrop, a farmer herself, says sustainability is really an old idea that’s come back around. It often “involves going back in time ... using wood biomass for heat, raising grass-fed beef by moving cows from one pasture to the next – these are old-fashioned ways of doing things.” After nearly 375 years as a working farm, she says, Appleton Farms comes by its climate-fighting role naturally. Small-scale farming, done thoughtfully, “is what sustains us as human beings, and it also sustains the land.”
Being a role model is not new for Appleton. In 2002, The Trustees launched a 100-share CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program there, which has grown to become the second largest in New England with more than 800 families. Thousands of kids and adults participate in on-the-farm programs and special events. Volunteers like Winthrop are critical to it all, helping with programs, in the fields, with regular farm maintenance, and of course, supporting the vision of the carbon-neutral farm.
“The number of people having learning experiences on the farm is very exciting,” says Winthrop, who adds that the farm is also great for walking, biking, and riding horses. “There’s just so much going on.”
It was exactly this sort of escape that Joan Appleton hoped people would find at the farm. Upon donating the property, she told the Boston Globe, “There’s a terrible need to preserve open land. It’s wonderfully healing for people. So often when people get here they take a big breath. We need to do that – get away from that blasted traffic.”
These days, we know “that blasted traffic” is doing more than cluttering our daily lives; it’s contributing potentially atmosphere-altering emissions. To help counter that, The Trustees are working to reduce their impacts and inspire others to live more sustainably. And Appleton Farms is leading the way, proving that anything is possible if you put your mind to it – and stick to your diet.