It was cold. Very cold. Bitterly cold. Arctic-vortex cold, but we were excited. We always get a little giddy when we get the chance to visit a new farm, to pick through the stones while imagining what hides under their course, hard exterior, and even more to meet the farmers and to experience their land and lives, even if only for a couple hours.
As excited as we were to get to pick through Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm, Charlie and Laura Tangerini seemed to be even more excited to have us there. We’d met them at the New Hampshire Fruit and Vegetable Conference, where they picked up a few of our Food Slabs as gifts for friends and family and decided that they wanted to see what secrets their fieldstones hid.
By the time we rolled into the farm (Massachusetts rush hour in a full-size pickup with a trailer is never fun) Charlie was already out in his John Deere with its rock bucket attachment poking and prodding the clearance cairns, loosening the earth’s cold grasp. The low the night before was 12 degrees Fahrenheit with the whipping wind making it feel closer to -5, which made picking even the smallest stones quite a challenge as they were frozen to the surface. Thankfully Charlie was there and more than willing to help out. We picked and tossed, picked and tossed while Charlie loosened stones and ran back and forth to the trailer to deposit our haul.
Even though it was a cold day, picking stones is hot work and we were quickly warmed by the exertion. We gathered most of our stones that day from two of their main clearance cairns, a few stones here and there from the freshest stones on the walls which framed their fields, and more than a few from the fields themselves where they were just sitting, waiting to be plucked.
After the work was done, Charlie and Laura invited us in to warm ourselves in the comfort of their wonderfully refinished farm-house while we chatted about the area, their farm, and even a little history and philosophy here and there. This is truly one of our favorite parts of any farm visit as the passion of the farmers is readily apparent. The Tangerini’s talked about how they got started in farming, how and why they moved to Millis, and even how they view their farm as more than an economic venture. Though any business is obviously constrained by the bottom line to some degree, The Tangerini’s main focus is on producing the best quality produce they can, providing a wonderful gathering place for the surrounding communities, and taking care of their hired help. After all that, and only after all that, do they concern themselves with what most of the rest of world deigns to be of utmost importance.
Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm has a wonderful website that we hope you visit. Make sure to read the “About us” section as it gives a great history of Charlie and Laura’s history as farmers and talks about the how and the why of their farming techniques. And if you are in the area anytime During Spring, Summer, or Fall you should definitely stop by and check it out, even if you just want to walk on the trails and appreciate the beauty of their land and some authentic New England hospitality.
139 Spring Street
Millis, MA 02054