Thanks to Douglas Access Cable for making this video of farmer Nick explaining how mushrooms are grown at the Douglas senior center. Lots of interesting information here. Enjoy!
Douglas Orchard & Farm plants cherry tree to replace the dying cherry tree that was planted in memory of two Douglas High school students that died in 1963. In the fall, Farmer Nick will graft branches from the old tree to this new tree to keep the memory alive of the boys who passed too earlyO
Nick Socrat’s love of farming took root at a summer camp on an organic farm in Natick. At first, Mr. Socrat attended the camp reluctantly, but he left with a new-found interest in farming.
The 27-year-old farmer and co-founder of Douglas Orchard & Farm on Locust Street in Douglas brought that passion with him when he enrolled at UMass Amherst’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Before he even finished his last exam, his family had purchased 18 acres to start their own farm and orchard.
“I didn’t come from a farming family,” Mr. Socrat said, “but now I’m farming with my family.”
Now three years old, Douglas Orchard & Farm is growing a panoply of fruits and vegetables, from blueberries to shitake mushrooms, and raising chickens and pigs. Mr. Socrat is also practicing a sustainable, natural brand of farming, with hand dug gardens and no weeding; he lets his animals roam free, helping him work the land.
Despite the hardships inherent in a farmer’s life, the simple joys of planting, raising livestock, and working the land largely keep young farmers from questioning the career they chose. You’ll find no better example of this exuberance than in Mr. Socrat, who sees the farm not so much as a means of income, but as an outlet to teach people about where the food comes from and inspire them to plant their own gardens.
He wants the farm to be an experience, rather than just a place to shop. During the summer, the farm hosts the town’s farmers market, as well as nightly concerts. “We’re here to teach, we’re here to feed, and we’re here to entertain,” he said.
Mr. Socrat does not dwell much on the financial health of the farm, though he has been worrying a bit recently about all the kale he still needs to sell. Business will pick up this summer, he said, when blueberry picking starts.
And as far as his hope for the farm’s future, Mr. Socrat has just one overarching goal.
“I want to end up living peacefully without a ton of stress on this property until I die,” he said. “I’m not looking to become rich: I just want to maintain and live a happy life, and watch all of these plants thrive and get old.”