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Agency - FRIENDS OF SHOLAN FARMS Family Friendly Internship Service Learning Group opportunity Volunteer Network Group


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FRIENDS OF SHOLAN FARMS
Last updated on April 15, 2014

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Our mission is to be a family oriented, recreational, and educational farm making full use of natural resources with an integrated ecosystem that is practical and environment friendly. Our goal is constant improvement while striving to preserve and protect this diverse property. We desire to be beneficial to the community by bringing people, education, business, and culture to the City of Leominster and surrounding communities in Central Massachusetts.

Description:
The Friends of Sholan Farms Inc. (FOSF) was formed in 2001 to preserve and restore property and buildings which were purchased by the City of Leominster. The FOSF is a non-profit, 501 (C) 3 corporation comprised of dedicated citizens who promote the importance of local agriculture and the stewardship of our natural resources. Since forming, the friends have been successful in reclaiming 60 acres of farmland and have raised over $500,000 from crop production, retail sales, and through fundraising efforts. We expect our current revenues of $90,000 to grow by 20%, to more than $100,000. Our revenues have grown from $3,000 to $90,000 from 2001 to 2004.

The dynamic Board of Directors oversees planning, implementation, and maintenance of the farm. Paid personnel are hired to prune, and to harvest the apple crop. During harvest season the farm manager is responsible for training volunteers in various capacities: apple picking, orchard maintenance, cash register, tour guides, and greeters.

Aside from the sentimental value of the last commercial orchard in the hometown of John Chapman, alias “Johnny Appleseed”, there are numerous other reasons to support this grass roots organization. We have expansion plans that include building several structures which will make the property a twelve-month operation and will offer cultural and recreational opportunities to groups and individuals. Listed below are strategic visions.

  1. Provide a family-oriented, recreational, and educational farm that makes full use of natural resources with an integrated ecosystem that is practical and environmentally friendly.
  2. Develop and implement a capital investment plan to build several structures which will attract new business to Sholan Farms. This prime location is ideal for many cultural and civic venues which have already expressed interest in partnering for the following structures: barn, pavilion, amphitheatre, equipment barn, museum, and Apple Processing Center.
  3. Expand the Community Supported Agriculture concept for the growth and distribution of locally produced food in a way that is just and sustainable.
  4. Expand operations and develop an effective leadership structure based on strong ethics and integrity and one which promotes confidence of its operations for the City and the community.
  5. Develop an effective volunteer program and establish partnerships with other community organizations to support the farm’s activities and to integrate the use of the buildings and land for the benefit of the FOSF and the City of Leominster.
  6. Farm, maintain, and protect the 60 acres of agricultural land in a professional manner, in compliance with the Agricultural Preservation Restriction and in a manner that promotes diversity of crop production.

As a result of these improvements, the FOSF believe that we have a unique opportunity to provide exceptional educational, recreational, and cultural experiences that will benefit the community in many ways.

We will achieve our business expansion by continuing to do what we have excelled in over the past 4 years: grow the very best apples in the region. We have also applied for and been awarded two significant grants that will enable us to improve the farming operations by adding irrigation, and building a pesticide mixing station. An additional grant is pending which will help us to reclaim 50 acres of abandoned farmland. This grant will enable us to provide valuable habitat to many endangered species along with the resident American Woodcock and Bluebird species.

As we grow we expect our volunteers and employees will too. We plan to invest in our people as well because they are the most important asset that we have.

In the area of Marketing, we have been diligent to reach out to industry experts to bolster our image. This effort includes advertising through various media outlets local, regional, and statewide. We are on the State of Massachusetts Department of Agriculture – Mass Grown Website and on State recreational Maps. We attend fairs and festivals throughout the State to bring awareness to this property. We are also working on name brand recognition by using the standardized Sholan logos.

History:
The Friends of Sholan Farms was formed in 2001 to manage the farm for the City of Leominster. In December 2001, the FOSF received a non-profit tax-exempt status classification from the Federal Government as a 509(a)(1) publicly supported organization. The FOSF Federal ID number is 04-3584313. The FOSF is operating under this status in the advanced ruling period (from December 19, 2001 through December 31, 2005). The foundation’s accounting period is on a calendar year basis. All funds raised are in turn used to preserve, restore, and maintain the property and buildings located at Sholan Farms. Having the status of a non-profit 501(c)3 has enabled us to gain access to grant monies and financial assistance which would not be available to a for-profit business. We strive to utilize these financial advantages to build our educational programs and to encourage cultural and community sponsorship.
From 1998 through 2001, the apple orchard remained untreated. The City of Leominster was allowed to reclaim the orchard in April 2001, prior to the actual purchase date. The City awarded a bid for pruning and pesticide spraying to another local orchard. In September 2001, the Friends of Sholan Farms accepted responsibility for managing the orchard and established a U-Pick operation that fall.

The current property consists of approximately 60 acres of agricultural land approximately 54 acres of natural forest, 53 acres of abandoned apple orchard and overgrown meadows. Also located on the property are: a mobile residential trailer (“grandfathered” at its current location and use), a historic water tower, a water tank which is used for mixing agricultural spray products, several wells, and a septic system.

Upon purchase, there were 60 acres of agricultural land being farmed entirely as an apple orchard. It was apparent that the size of the apple orchard operation was well in excess of the capability or intent of the Friends’ apple production, maintenance, and sales capability. Consequently, through the recommendation of the Orchard Manager, the FOSF voted to adopt a plan to maintain an apple orchard operation consisting of 20 acres. The remaining 40 acres are being re-harvested to a new variety of crops as defined in this Business Plan.

The FOSF have been successful in improving apple production and in adding numerous revenue generating crops. The estimated actual apple production yield is 4,000 bushels of apples from a total of 2,402 maintained apple trees. Average production statistics are: $8.95 cost per bushel of apples produced, $15.91 per tree per year for production.

We have added 500 new apple trees, 200 raspberry plants, and 1100 blueberry bushes. In addition we plant annual crops of pumpkins, squash, and gourds. In 2005 we hosted community gardens which were managed by a student from UMASS.

Contact people:

 JOANNE DINARDO, President, (phone), (email)
STEVE SMITH, Vice President, (phone), (email)
ANDY MERCIK, Treasurer, (phone), (email)


Office fax number: (978) 534-0363

Address:

 1125 Pleasant Street
Leominster, MA 01453
(See a map)

Web Site: http://WWW.SHOLANFARMS.COM

Directions:

 From Four Points Hotel, take a left onto N Main St. and continue onto Pleasant St. Turn right to turn on Pleasant St. Stay on this street for about two miles and Friends Of Sholan Farms will be on your right. 3 Miles from the Center of Leominster
  Nearest Bus Stop: Downtown Leominster, 45 minute walk

North Central Ma Network of Nonprofit Organizational Profile


Organization Type:
Grassroots
Last updated on April 15, 2014

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