by Katherine Rossmoore
The newly acquired Round the Bend Farm in South Dartmouth, MA, the latest project of the innovative Marion Institute, is not only a working farm, a learning incubator, and a communal living space: it is a proverbial test kitchen for sustainable living and ideas, for farmers and entrepreneurial social activists. The breathtaking location of the farm fully embodies the experience of being grounded to the earth for those of us lucky enough to live on the edges of our continent in coastal communities.
The Program Director, Liz Wiley, has an eclectic and accomplished background in sustainable living, biology with an environmentalist edge, and leadership education, along with advocacy. Her plan is to expand Round the Bend Farm’s programs, sharing resources with and promoting other farms and farmers in this region, providing housing to farmers, and creating school group tours and other educational opportunities. Geoff Kinder (who has a long affiliation with Marion Institute) has been the lead farmer for five years at this location and runs the meat CSA at Round the Bend; the program was so successful in the first year that they are increasing the number of shares for next season. According to Kinder, the Marion Institute is both the beneficiary of and the provider for “first-line social entrepreneurs,” farmers and forward-thinking environmental activists. Their newest head farmer, Ashley Brister, is planning to start a vegetable CSA this spring and also expand the production of organically-farmed vegetables.
On a bartering basis, Round the Bend provides housing and food in exchange for work to interns seeking to cultivate ideas and possibly products. On the day I visited, I met an intern, Laura, who was living in one of the zero-carbon-usage micro dwellings for a six-month stint practicing fermentation techniques with the vegetables grown on the farm. Inside the farmhouse itself, there is communal living complete with a resident “foodie,” Shaun, who cooks meals for the folks living and working there, five nights a week, using, of course, farm-based vegetables and meats. Future plans include a new building with a commercial kitchen and conference rooms for more incubation of ideas and food. As a housing cooperative, a breeding ground for ideas and small business people, and a team-builder, Round the Bend has great things in the works. It’s like a think tank for the sustainable and farming community. Look out for new ideas and exciting programs sprouting from this amazing space!
Round The Bend Farm
92A Allens Neck Road
Dartmouth, MA 02748
Katherine Rossmoore is a mother, integrative health coach, writer, former lawyer, and certified yoga teacher. She is using her love of clean food and cooking in her health coaching business, Better Living Through Local Foods.