For the past four years, nonprofit group Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) has hosted a performance event called Field Notes. In Field Notes, storytelling meets agriculture as local farmers share their personal stories and experiences on a stage in front of a live audience.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, this year’s event was pre-recorded, with plans to share it with the public on June 22nd at the Northfield Drive-In.
Producer Dave Fraser profiles two of this year’s storytellers: Jake Krain from Red Gate Farm and Meryl LaTonica from Just Roots. Their stories offer a glimpse into the lives of some of the people in our region who grow and prepare our food every day.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: For the past four years, the nonprofit group Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, otherwise known as CISA, has been hosting a performance event called Field Notes. In it, storytelling meets agriculture as local farmers share their personal stories and experiences on a stage in front of a live audience.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, this year’s event was prerecorded, with plans to share it with the public on June 22nd at the Northfield Drive-In.
Producer Dave Fraser profiles two of this year’s storytellers and offers a glimpse into the lives of some of the people in our region who grow and prepare our food every day.
Jake Krain, Red Gate Farm: Come on.
Jake Krain: I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, so farming was very foreign. And I just fell in love with it.
Meryl LaTronica, Just Roots: Farming is just a tool to do really like the work that I love, which is connecting people.
Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: Two farmers, each with different backgrounds, each with a story to share.
Meryl LaTronica: “Everybody ready?” I say, from the top of my perch.
Jake Krain: Yah, yah, yah. Can you do that?
Dave Fraser: Jake Krain and Meryl LaTronica are farmers. One works in Ashfield —
Jake Krain: Nice. That’s perfect.
Dave Fraser: — helping to connect children to farming, while the other is in Greenfield, working to increase access to healthy, local food by connecting people, land, resources, and know-how.
But on this day, both are storytellers, participating in Field Notes, an afternoon of storytelling sponsored by CISA, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture.
Meryl LaTronica: Honestly, I’ve always wanted to tell a story up on a stage. And this was such a cool opportunity to mix, like storytelling with like, this very real, lived experience of farming.
Dave Fraser: LaTronica has been farming for over 15 years, getting her start in the eastern part of the state. This is the beginning of her fifth year as Farm Manager at Just Roots, a nonprofit community organization and non-certified organic farm in Greenfield.
Monte Belmonte, Field Notes Host: Meryl Latronica.
Meryl LaTronica: When, you know, it was my turn to go up and wait in the wings, the stage director brought me out and I definitely had that same nervy like, “oh, I’m about to talk in front of people” thing that I always get.
I think the mix of like, I’ve been here before, I know how to talk in front of people, but this is a vulnerable story about me, and I think there’s always a little bit of risk in putting yourself out there.
Meryl LaTronica: Flapping, flapping, flapping. The sound of the plastic and the lumber and the nuts and bolts slamming on the metal structure, which was once so pristine.
I stand there, and I know there’s nothing I can do.
Meryl LaTronica: I think I just wanted to tell that story kind of one last time and then sort of let it go and move on and find the next new story.
Jake Krain: Hi, mammas
Dave Fraser: In the summer, going into his sophomore year of college, Jake Krain interned at Redgate Farm in Ashfield. Coming from an upper-middle class family, working on a farm was very much uncharted territory, he says.
But that college experience of living on the farm was so rewarding that he knew that working with food is what he wanted to do.
Jake Krain: When kids come here to work with us, they truly get that mix of taking care of animals, working in our vegetable gardens, but also working in our forest and helping to maintain trails. We do maple sugaring, as well.
Dave Fraser: Krain’s story for Field Notes centered on the two things he works with the most on the farm: kids and sheep.
Jake Krain: And I’m shaking my grain and I’m running by these kids. I’m like an Olympic runner, holding my torch. And I make it all the way to the pasture.
And I turn around, and it is chaos. Instead of crossing the road, the sheep have escaped and they’ve gone up the road towards our neighbor’s orchard.
Jake Krain: decided that that was going to be my story because there was some humor involved in it. And when you’re farming and with kids, all sorts of things can happen.
Jake Krain: The educator in me was really satisfied, because those kids had a very memorable experience and they did learn something.
And when they go home, and they find themselves in a situation that changes on them all of a sudden, they’re gonna to be OK. And they’re gonna to think to themselves, “I got this. It’s just like herding sheep.”