On 2.5 acres of land within the Eleanor F. & Edward W. Barlow Nature Preserve lives Frontier Farm, amongst the native flora and fauna that grow wild in the vast Westerly parcel of forests and wetlands. Using and maintaining only the land needed for growing, owner Cassidy Whipple collaborates with the Westerly Land Trust in their mission to protect the preserve while upholding sustainable farming practices. “Our vegetables and herbs are grown without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers,” explains Whipple. “We utilize no-till methods whenever possible and focus on soil health as the foundation for plant health.”
The health of the community and food accessibility is part of that mission, too. Spring sees leafy greens hitting the farm stand: spicy salad mix, spinach, baby arugula, scallions, and pea shoots mark the beginning of the season at Frontier Farm. Later, swiss chard, beets, onions, greenhouse tomatoes, and other staple goods will be ready for harvest, but there are plenty of ways to reap the harvests of May.
“I like to keep it simple and let the veggies speak for themselves,” says Whipple. “You can’t go wrong with a fresh spring salad! Take our spicy salad mix and add some storage vegetables like shaved carrots and watermelon radish, top with scallions and your favorite vinaigrette. It’s super simple, but rejuvenating after a long winter.” Another of her personal favorites is sneaking pea shoots into your basic grilled cheese sandwich, assembled with sharp cheddar and grainy mustard. “It’s not gourmet, but it is delicious!”
Though a small farm, Whipple has big plans for Frontier, hoping to establish a portion of the land devoted solely to producing vegetables for mutual aid and food pantries. “In the future, we hope Frontier Farm will eventually become a hub for education and community involvement in food policy, social justice, and politics, as well as practical workshops related to farming, gardening, and conservation.” In the meantime, you can visit the farm stand Fridays starting June for produce and to see the operation, or find their harvests at The Westerly Pawcatuck Farmers Market on Thursdays, The Charlestown Land Trust Farmers Market on Fridays, and William Wright and Co. in Watch Hill.