SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 26, 2013

Get in shape and help Earth

Boot camp scheduled to take place tomorrow at organic farm in Hamilton

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — HAMILTON — Hauling soil and pushing wheelbarrows aren’t typically used for boot camp workouts. Such workouts call for running, pushups, situps and jumping lunges.

But tomorrow, a group of North Shore Boot Camp participants and others will take to the field to commemorate Earth Day. The Earth Day Team Challenge will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. at First Light Farm, an organic farm and community-supported agriculture program on Highland Street. The event is free and open to the public.

For those not looking for a full-body workout, there will be other events for both adults and children to learn more about farming and planting vegetables.

During the workout, different teams will compete in filling wheelbarrows full of loam, spreading it and taking an extra lap around the field. The first team to finish its share of the work will win the challenge.

Don Carter, program director for North Shore Boot Camp Co., said such a challenge will make for a good workout.

“You are using your entire body,” he said. “Even if you are using a shovel to load a wheelbarrow. You are using all your muscles, including your core.”

Not only will teams get their workouts, they will also help the farm with tasks that need to be done at this point in the growing season.

“We are helping him out, and at the same time, he is allowing us to use his land,” Carter said. “It shows the importance of good, healthy food and good, healthy exercise.”

Farm owner Mike Raymond said he’s never had a group of people use the farm purposely for exercise.

“It is a creative way to get a workout,” he said. “We do it every day, but we don’t see it as exercise.”

There will also be informal tours of the farms and sessions on how to plant vegetables, such as potatoes and onions.

Each year, First Light Farm hosts an Earth Day event to bring attention to community-supported agriculture, where local families and businesses receive a weekly “share” throughout the harvest season and volunteers are able to barter their time and skills for vegetables.

“It is a way for people to invest in the local economy and getting healthy food grown right here,” Raymond said. “It is certainly catching on.”

Raymond said the organic crops ensure the produce is not “chemically laden” and there is no cost for shipping. He called his farm a “6-acre buffet.”

“You don’t see this type of produce in your supermarket,” he said. “This is straight from the garden. It is fresh.”

This is the first year that the farm is teaming up with North Shore Boot Camp for the team challenge.

Boot camp is a total-body conditioning program designed to improve muscular strength, muscular power, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, agility, coordination, speed, flexibility and balance, as well as nutrition. The boot camps typically take place in Salem, Danvers, Beverly, Marblehead, Topsfield and Hamilton-Wenham.

Carter said Saturday’s event is all about having fun. “To show how much exercise can be fun and learn good food choices,” he said.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.