Some people switch careers with the changing of the wind. Not Jim Buckle. He’s a farmer for life.
“It’s a good, clean way to make a living,” said Buckle. “I love growing food. I’m never going to give this up. I’ll go broke before I do.”
Buckle, who lives in Jamaica Plain, owns and operates a farm in Dighton. The farm produces a variety of crops, including zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and beets. It also has about 50 egg-producing chickens. Buck said if the finances allow, there are plans to expand to poultry and pork next year.
So where does all this food go? Some of the food finds its way into three restaurants: JP’s Ten Tables and VeeVee and the South End’s Gallows. Buckle said those three establishments are the farm’s best wholesale customers.
About half of the food goes to the 90 members of the farm’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, according to Buckle. CSA members pay into the program in January or February, and then receive a box of food every week once the crops come to life.
The farm also sells food at the farmer’s market at the Loring-Greenough House in Monument Square and donates food to the food rescue organization Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
Buckle began farming in 1995 when he went to work at an organic farm while attending Unity College in Unity, Maine. He then owned a farm in Maine in 2001 before moving to JP four years later. It was at that time he became manager of Allandale Farm, a JP farm that has been in operation for 250 years on Allandale Road near the JP/Brookline border.
“It was great,” Buckle said about his time at Allandale. “We took the place from a handful of crops to a great variety. We grew a vegetable empire.”
While at Allandale, Buckle met a farmer from Dighton who sold geraniums. After the farmer ended up getting sick and dying, his wife wanted Buckle to buy the farm. They eventually worked out an “offer I couldn’t pass up” last fall, said Buckle. He owns the farm with his girlfriend Wendy Mainardi, who is also a JP resident.
The Dighton property is 15 acres, 6 acres of which Buckle is farming. Dighton is located in the southeastern part of the state near the Rhode Island border. Buckle said he can farm up to 9 acres, but beyond that is swampy woodlands.
Buckle said the property is a beautiful piece of land that came with a barn, greenhouses and some equipment. But the farm had not been used in four years when Buckle purchased it, so there was significant work to be done, including pulling out a “ridiculous amount of weeds” and fixing up some of the equipment, he said.
Buckle said the first year has been a “wild ride,” which became even more interesting last month when a thunderstorm with hail hit and “did a number on our crops.” He said the farm has since rebounded from that loss.
“It’s challenging, but it’s been a success,” said Buckle. “I’m happy.”