By John Castelluccio
---- — PEABODY — Can you get much more local than next-door? Bill Clark of Clark Farm in Danvers will be providing a cornucopia of locally grown produce and goods for this year’s Community Supported Agriculture program at Peabody’s public libraries.
The Peabody Institute Library started the CSA last year with Silverbrook Farm out of Dartmouth, and it was a success, offering all sorts of fruits and vegetables to shareholders each week throughout the summer, said librarian Kelley Rae Unger. But, she said, the library hoped to get even more local with a North Shore farm.
The whole point of a CSA is to “support the farms in your own community,” she said.
Enter Bill Clark. Clark, who’s pushing 70, is a Danvers selectman and retired teacher who has worked on the farm his entire life and now runs it with his family. In fact, the Hobart/Clark family has operated the farm since 1728.
Clark regularly participates in farmers markets in Salem, Marblehead and Swampscott and said he also ran a small CSA program at the farm the past two years with seven or eight members. Now he’s looking at supplying enough produce and goods for 40 shares. In order to meet the demand, he’s growing more of everything and more varieties, he said.
Clark received a call from Unger asking if he was interested in the Peabody program and chose to do it instead of joining another farmers market this summer, although he is considering participating in a Danvers market if it comes together, he said.
“I’m geared up for it,” Clark said. In the greenhouse, he has five kinds of kale started — that’s been a popular item lately — eight kinds of peppers, eight kinds of lettuce, different varieties of tomatoes, collard greens, snap peas, kohlrabi, artichokes and a whole lot more. “We’ll have a little bit of everything.”
There will be some staples throughout the program, but many of the crops will be seasonal. Different varieties of squash, parsnips and turnips will be offered toward the end of the season, Clark said.
Shareholders will be able to get maple syrup and honey, which Clark gets from other local suppliers (the syrup is from New Hampshire), and he also supplements his own crops of blueberries, peaches and apples with supplies from other farms.
Clark is also getting into the egg business. “Eggs are something I really want to have,” he said.
He has about 50 laying hens that just hatched in early March. They’re free-range birds now and should be producing farm-fresh eggs for CSA shareholders by July. Clark said he hopes to offer at least a half-dozen eggs every other week to shareholders.
The CSA will run for 20 weeks, starting June 10, and will cost $300 for half-shares and $500 for full shares. The program is open to residents throughout the area. Pickup will be Tuesdays at the West Branch Library from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Main Branch.
Clark said he’ll accept registrations until he has 40 shares and expects to wrap up that process by the end of April.
To learn more about the program or to sign up, you can call Clark and/or attend an upcoming informational session at the Main Branch of the library on Monday, April 14, at 7 p.m. The library is at 82 Main St. in Peabody. You can reach Clark at either 978-790-3303 or email@example.com. You can find Clark Farm online at www.clarkfarmdanvers.com.
You can reach John Castelluccio at 978-338-2527, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @SNjcastelluccio.