Riverland Farm Meet Your Farmer: The Lynch Family

riverlandRob Lynch: I grew up in Scituate, MA, eating Twinkies and hot dogs when my mom wasn’t looking, but it the back of my young mind I knew that people including myself need a stronger connection to where their food comes from. When I was in third grade, my parents brought me to Sturbridge Village (maybe you’ve been there – it’s one of those places that people are living the way rural New Englanders did in the early 1800’s). I met a woman who was tending her garden and I was hooked. When we got home, I made my mom bring me to the hardware store and we got some carrot seed. It was probably September but I planted them anyway…what did I know? I was in third grade. So I experienced my first crop failure at the ripe young age of 8. I didn’t let it get me down. Throughout high school, I was always into growing things so much so that I ended up majoring in Plant and Soil Science at UMass Amherst, never really thinking that I would become a farmer. Before I graduated, I started working at the Food Bank Farm in Hadley, where I met Michael Docter, Meghan, and a slew of other soon to be very important and influential people in my life. The farm became my inspiration and education. I learned volumes about growing vegetables, operating and fixing tractors, and what it meant to eat good food. I worked there for 3 years with a one year hiatus as a grower/instructor at Maggie’s Farm (The Farm School) in Athol, MA. After The Food Bank I worked for a friend and former Food Banker, Ben Perrault, in the inaugural year of Mountain View Farm in Easthampton/Hadley, MA, before starting at Riverland in 2007.

Meghan Arquin: My interest in farming began after taking a class at UMass called Nutritional Anthropology. We were given a project that led me to volunteering at The Food Bank Farm in Hadley, MA. My first task was to pull massive fall storage beets out of the ground. I fell in love with the sights, sounds and smells of farming almost instantly. I met an amazing community of people working there. The following season, I became an apprentice at The Food Bank Farm and began to condition my body and mind to a life of farming. I learned so much in that first season about plant identification: the ones you pull out of the ground as weeds; and the others that you let stay and to grow and harvest from. I witnessed the cycle of a season where the soil comes to life, flourishes, and then goes dormant for the winter. Since I was sure that farming was the life I wanted to pursue, after that first season, I decided that I should get a little wanderlust out of my system before I put my own roots down. I saved some money and bought a ticket to Italy for 8 months. I found a few farms to work on through a program called WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). This is a great way to travel and see the food culture anywhere. I fell in love with the landscape, the people, the language, and of course the food. Upon my return to the U.S. I found myself back at the Food Bank Farm for another season. This is where I met Rob. We worked together up at the Farm School in Athol the following season, and I stayed for another season after that. In 2006 I came to work with Scott and Ferdene at Riverland, where I met the community that supports the farm, and our neighbors.

Rob and Meghan live right on the farm and were married in the farm fields in 2009. They welcomed their first son Cayden into the world in the summer of 2011, and then their second son Charlie in the fall of 2013. Cayden and Charlie help remind them even on the hardest days, and there are some really hard days, why they do the work they do is important.

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