This may come as a surprise, but when Willie Crosby was in high school, he had a pretty clear idea that he wanted to work as a greenskeeper at a golf course. Growing up in Boxborough, Massachusetts, he played golf with his family, and worked mowing lawns every summer. The neat lines and fresh smell of a just-mowed lawn were really pleasing to him. So, it actually was no surprise that he enrolled at University of Massachusetts as a Turfgrass major and spent two summers tending the turf at a golf course.
However, as he continued his studies and work, he became less sure about his path. Keeping up turf takes a huge effort and heavy inputs, and Willie wanted to put that effort into work that he felt had a deeper value. At the same time, he began to keep a small garden, and became friends with some of the Sustainable Food and Farming students studying in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture Program. Growing food pulled him in. Soon he was involved in the UMass Student Farm, a two-acre student-run farm that offers a fall CSA. He also spent some time volunteering at Simple Gifts Farm, and joined the crew as an apprentice this season.
Willie loves digging in the soil and appreciating the amazing food that comes from the good earth. Eating the produce is his very favorite part of working at the farm – especially all the melons right now. He also likes working with the animals. In fact, he and a friend started their own small flock of laying hens and ducks, and he has enjoyed raising them up from little chicks. Although some farm tasks are difficult – moving wet Remay (floating row cover fabric that protects crops from frost and insects) comes to mind – he mindfully takes the challenges in stride.
In any spare time, you can often find Willie outdoors. Swimming is a favorite way to relax and burn off any extra energy, and he also likes experimenting with growing culinary mushrooms and gathering herbs. When I asked Willie if he still had secret plans for a manicured lawn in his future, he exclaimed, “No way!” – he envisions an overgrown meadow, forests and gardens. Growing and sharing food will definitely be part of his future, although not necessarily his profession. He plans to study to become a yoga teacher next year at Karuna Yoga in Northampton. We’re glad he’ll still be in the neighborhood, and greatly appreciate his calm, positive presence on the crew.
Reprinted from the Simple Gifts Farm Newsletter – August 7, 2012