Alissa Martin’s Small Farm stand taking root in Deerfield

By Daily Hampshire Gazette
Created 07/24/2012 – 5:00am

DEERFIELD – On a half-acre plot at 477 Greenfield Road, Alissa Martin has opened her first farm stand, called, appropriately enough, The Small Farm. Yet despite its name and size, The Small Farm grows and sells over 80 varieties of vegetables.

The vegetable farm springs from unexpected roots.

Martin had studied documentary film production at Emerson College in Boston when she landed her dream job working for the public broadcasting station WGBH in Boston.

But as she began her new job, she found herself wishing she could work outside. In 2008, Martin volunteered at a friend’s farm in Dover in exchange for vegetables. She fell in love.

Finding her new calling in the farming industry, Martin enrolled in the University of Massachusetts Amherst to receive her second bachelor’s degree in sustainable food and farming.

After reading about maple sugaring, Martin visited the Williams Farm Sugarhouse on Routes 5 and 10, where she met her fiancé, Chip Williams.

Martin then began growing vegetables in preparation for their September wedding.

“I worked on farms for the past four summers,” Martin said. “I couldn’t bear the thought of buying vegetables when that’s what I love to do. I got carried away and Chip encouraged me to have this little stand.”

Martin set up her stand beside the former Old Deerfield Landscaping and Garden Center in what used to be a bird seed shed.

Wanting to reflect simplicity, she chose the name The Small Farm, and feels it fit perfectly.

“Things keep falling into place,” Martin said.

It has been one month since Martin began her farming venture, but the Small Farm is already attracting new and repeat customers.

“Each week it’s getting better and better. It’s amazing,” Martin said. “Being out here, people will come by and chat. I’ve met a ton of new people in Deerfield.”

Part of the appeal, Martin said, is she grows the produce right beside the farm stand. If a customer wants an herb, berry or flower not yet on the stand, Martin can walk over and pick it.

The Small Farm grows many different types of vegetables, including Walla Walla sweet onions, Derby Day cabbage, Bright Lights Swiss chard, Red Ace beets and Super Red 80 cabbage. The farm offers three varieties of onions, two of carrots, three types of kale, five of peppers, 18 kinds of heirloom tomatoes and much more.

Martin follows organic practices, but the farm is not certified organic. Whether she will apply for the certification in the future, she said, depends on how this season fares.

“I’ll see how this summer goes. I’m taking it day by day,” Martin said.

The Small Farm is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit [1].

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While at UMass, Alissa studied sustainable farming by taking the Student Farming Enterprise  class, which plans, plants, grows and sells organic vegetables.  Students can earn up to 10 college credit and gain summer employment in this innovative course.

See Sustainable Food and Farming for more information on the UMass major.