PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #2 from Long Lane Farm

Each year, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards $5,000 seed grants to fund the launch or early-stage growth of a project, program, or venture

Since its founding in 2003, Long Lane Farm has worked towards a model of food sovereignty, in which all people not only have access to affordable, healthy meals, but also have a say in how their food is produced. Following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic to both the Farm and our communities, the LLF team will look ahead, strengthen and expand the farm’s role in the community, and shore up our strategies for the future. The Patricelli Center Seed Grant will help make this growth possible.

This is the second of three reports from the Long Lane Farm team. It was submitted by Elam Grekin ’22.

The growing season is coming to a close on Long Lane and as we shift into preparing the farm for the winter and sowing seeds in our hot houses the last of the harvest offers us a moment to reflect on the past year.

The summer kicked into full swing with a flurry of planting as the first harvests began to come in and we returned to the Middletown Farmers Market for the first time in two years. As the heat began to set in and the month of June barreled down upon us we got into the routine of weeding, watering, and harvesting, punctuated by weekly farm stands, trips to the market, and dropping off produce at St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen and the community fridge.

July brought exciting opportunities as a new crop of farmers arrived and we partnered with the Russell Library to host an educational event for local kids on the farm. With the easing of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID pandemic we were able to welcome visitors back to the farm for the first time in over a year and hosted a number of community work days throughout the summer. These work days brought together Middletown residents, students on campus, and our summer farming crew to enjoy a Saturday morning working in the dirt. We were also able to open the farm to a few Wesleyan graduates to use as a space to host a birthday party and DJ event as well as hosting near weekly events on the farm for summer farmers and some Wesleyan students.

The completion of our cob pizza oven offered us a great opportunity to share the produce from the farm as it went directly onto a homemade sourdough pizza crust and right into the oven. These pizza nights were a great opportunity for us to connect with other Wesleyan students on campus for the summer and especially to work with WildWes, the campus permaculture group. The start of the school year brought an influx of farmers new and old back to Long Lane. Seeing the farm full of people again was a joyous site and this year brought the most interest in working on Long Lane we have ever seen!

Looking forward to the fall we are working hard to put the farm to bed for the winter and prep the few winter crops. We are very excited by the return of Pumpkin Fest which will be held October 16th! Though the season for outside events is rapidly coming to a close we are looking forward to spring and years beyond as we are working on a plan to redo a large portion of our permaculture area in hopes that it will provide more food and more space to spend time together in. As we begin to adjust to the new normal that is our world we are hopeful that we will have many more chances to share the space and spirit of Long Lane with Wesleyan students and the entire Middletown community!