Big Train Farm is now on Instagram!

We’ve had the #bigtrainfarm hashtag going since 2012, but as the number of workers, members, and pictures have grown, it has become clear we need to step it up!  (For the Luddites among us, don’t worry, we’re not planning a Facebook page anytime soon!)

We’re actually really excited.

Big Train Farm is a really special, beautiful place for our members and workers alike and we hope we can come together here.

From our workers of all stripes, we’re excited to post about our days so you can see behind the curtain of your produce, honey, eggs, and more.  As a business with big dreams and goals, we’re looking forward to posting updates on the CSA, events, classes, actions, and more.  As growers of your food, we look forward to reposting your delicious meals and veggie hauls.

So without further ado…

Check us out on Instagram @bigtrainfarm !

Enjoy the snow tomorrow! (Finally! Snow!)

Love, the BTF crew



Now accepting SNAP/EBT benefits for CSA payment!

What an exciting update.

You, our lovely shareholders and friends, undoubtedly joined our CSA for a variety of reasons: maybe you love to cook and want the freshest, tastiest, locally grown food; maybe you are conscientious of your health and want to simply eat more veggies; maybe you’re even mindful of our shared ecosystem and want to invest in a food system that does not rely on egregious pesticides, herbicides, mono cropping, and general bad agricultural practice. However, we also know from talking with many of you over the years, that you are genuinely interested in or actively working toward a more just world. Many of you, like us, want things to be a little easier and better for all, not for some.

We are thrilled to announce that beginning this CSA season, we will be accepting EBT/SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) as payment for CSA shares.


Two years ago I worked with Farm Fresh Rhode Island to create a resource for local farmers to use to become retailers who accept SNAP.  Still, however, there are not many farms that now accept SNAP.  Regardless, we are proud to add our name to this small list.

When thinking about food accessibility, this could barely be a smaller step.

The truth is that as a small, independently owned farm business, we rely solely on your financial support. Existing in a food paradigm outside of subsidies means that CSA shares are typically more costly (that is, more true to cost) than most vegetables you can buy in supermarkets.  This is of course only when looking at the financial value of a local CSA and does not include the returns members get each year.  Still, this has long been a real criticism and barrier for many when lesser economic resources.  Even those with SNAP benefits often do not have enough monthly benefits to feed their families and despite this very successful anti-poverty program, many families still live in poverty and many children go to bed hungry.

We have big plans for the future of Big Train Farm: how can we diversify our CSA membership as well as our crops to appeal to a wider community of eaters? What do we envision our CSA looking like in five years?  How can we share our cooking and food preparation knowledge with each other?  How can we further incorporate values of social and environmental justice into a sustainable small business model?

  • If you have SNAP benefits, we have edited our website sign-up so you can select that as a method of payment.
  • If you know of someone who has SNAP benefits who might be interested in joining our CSA, let them know we’re accepting CSA members.
  • If you know of a local community organization (e.g., church, health center, school, community organization) that might have access to folks with SNAP benefits, please spread the word to them!

I will be working for the next month or so in the community doing outreach, so if you know of an organization or group that you would recommend I do outreach with, let me know!

We are more than happy to discuss any questions folks might have about what a CSA is, what kinds of food we offer, and even direct to local organizations who offer courses on how to prepare vegetables.

Payment with SNAP is a bit different.  While our members have historically always paid with checks which we rely on to finance the start of our growing season, the USDA requires members paying with SNAP to make payments every 14 days during the CSA season (June – November).  There is no advance payment.

We will be creating a flyer in the coming days to share in the community and we’ll be posting it here so keep a look out!



Update on our honeybees!

honey jars march 2015


We hope our winter CSA members enjoyed their 4oz honey jars!  The hive that it was harvested from has been active for five years.  That’s a lot of continuous pollination that allows for our crops to exist at all.   That said, most unfortunately all three of the hives we have had at Big Train Farm died this winter. They died from a combination of lax care but also this incredibly difficult winter that killed off a surprising number of hives of even the veteran beekeepers in the area.  Bees have many challenges, as you may have heard, including the always-present varroa mite,  the ever-elusive Colony Collapse Disorder, starvation and various other illnesses so getting bees through a winter such as we’ve had really is quite the challenge. The loss of hives over the winter is not unusual, sadly.  Beekeeping is tough these days!

With that in mind, we are happy to announce that this year Mindy will be taking the helm of all of the beekeeping at Big Train Farm – in addition to finishing her last summer at graduate school!  She has been very excited about this decision and has been deep in preparation for the past couple of months reading every text she can find, completing a series of courses through the R.I. Beekeepers Association and acquiring new equipment.  She’ll be painting the new hive boxes in the next couple weeks and by this time next month Big Train Farm will be home to 6 pounds of Italian honeybees that will live in two separate hives!  Our goal in keeping with good stewardship of the land we share is to prioritize the health of our bees, so harvesting honey will come later – if it happens to be a great year for the bees, we may get some honey.  We’ll see!

So we’ll hopefully have more pictures to come over the season and definitely reach out to Mindy if you have questions or to chat about bees!


honey jar march 2015


I am assessing the benefits of farm work for individuals with a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

My survey is online, anonymous, and should not take longer than 10 minutes to complete.

I am looking for individuals who have worked on a farm for at least one growing season (6 months) within the past 2 years, have a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that preceded the farm experience, are at least 18 years old, and can read and write in English (simply to be able to complete the survey).

Individuals could range from occasional volunteers, paid workers, interns, workshares (who work in exchange for a share of product) and is meant to allow for a range of working experiences.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions at MWalls at Smith dot edu.  This research project is for the completion of my MSW degree from Smith College School for Social Work.
If you choose to email me, be aware that your responses will still be anonymous, though I will be aware that you have viewed the study and are interested in participating.