Editor’s note: This is an edited version of an item that appeared in the most recent Codman Community Farms member newsletter.
The new year brings new faces and changes to Codman Community Farms (CCF) with the arrival of Peter Lowy and Jennifer Hashley as the farm management team at Codman.
For the past decade, Pete and Jen have operated Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds in Concord and Sudbury, growing vegetables and raising pasture-based livestock. They’ve moved their mini-store to CCF, so visitors will notice a new look at the Codman Farm Store, including a selection of Backyard Birds products alongside Codman’s. Pete and Jen are committed to growing high-quality, tasty food for Lincoln and surrounding communities, so they’ll be expanding production, revamping the Farm Store, and supplying area restaurants and farm stands.
As full-time assistant farm manager at Verrill Farm in Concord for the past 12 years, Pete was responsible for managing seasonal greenhouse and farm staff, and the production of all minor vegetable crops from greenhouse to harvest. During his time there, Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds began as a small hobby farm. Over the years, Pete and Jen scaled up their livestock production and created a successful business.
Pete and Jen are also coming full circle in joining CCF. In 2003, Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds got its start with a flock of laying hens with a few pullets (almost ready-to-lay layers) purchased from Farmer Ray at CCF. They were hooked on chickens, and within a couple of years they began exploring other livestock enterprises. They expanded into meat chickens, then pigs, rabbits, a few sheep and goats, and turkeys.
Backyard Birds’ current enterprises include organic, pasture-raised laying hens for eggs; organic meat chickens; heritage-breed pork; meat rabbits; turkeys; and produce including specialty vegetable crops, herbs, flowers, and fruits. Pete and Jen researched and invested in systems-oriented, holistic farm management approaches to steward soil health and land resources through a strong foundation of attention to animal welfare and good husbandry practices.
Before joining the world of sustainable agriculture, Pete was a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia, an international development specialist with the American Red Cross, and operations manager for a private health care company. Jen, who was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras and a staff biologist at an environmental consulting firm, is director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a beginning farmer training program at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Jen was instrumental in developing the first licensed Massachusetts mobile poultry processing unit (MPPU) and raised funds to build a state-of-the-art enclosed MPPU for eastern Massachusetts. She is also an agricultural business instructor for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and is a frequent public speaker. She serves on the boards and steering committees of multiple agricultural organizations.
CCF is excited to gain the benefit of Pete and Jen’s agricultural expertise to help achieve its goals: operating an economically sustainable working farm in the heart of Lincoln, engaging the community by providing farm learning opportunities, caring for the animals and the land, and operating a well-managed, vibrant gathering space.