A.V. Rose Farms helps communities with fresh produce program

Aug 24, 2020

ROCHESTER — A.V. Rose Farms on Walnut Plain Road delivers community supported agriculture produce boxes as far as Boston. But the program is just the tip of the iceberg of how they are helping others in the area.

From starting classes to teach residents how to farm, to making plans to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes, the 5th-generation Black-owned farm looks to create a movement that will impact the Tri-Town and beyond.

“We are about community,” said Ominique Garner.

With her mother, who goes by Goldie Piff, she takes care of the fields on the farm that yields over 80 types of produce in the crop fields and throughout the wild flowers and forest on the property. The two use polyculture farming (growing more than one type of crop in a field) and regenerative farming, which helps the land and soil stay healthy.

From stalks of corn, to herbs and weeds that can be used for oils and teas, Garner stressed that there is so much more use to the land than just vegetables.

For the boxes, customers can purchase pesticide and herbicide-free vegetables, herbs and flowers for either $25 or $40, depending on how much produce they want. They can also buy a box and donate it to those in areas that don’t have access to fresh produce.

This holistic mentality is the guiding principle for how they cultivate the land and help others in the community. 

Garner learned this approach when she directed a research project with Boston College that studied the systematic barriers that homeless people face. 

In the process, she learned that people need a good meal and need to be cared for, no matter the circumstance.

Garner and Piff live in the inner city area of New Bedford and see firsthand the poor quality of produce and the lack of accessibility to healthy food choices that Black and Brown folks deal with.

“This has to be a lifestyle,” Garner said.

Because of this, A.V. Rose Farms is looking to start a community education program to teach people how to farm.

“The more involved people are, the better choices you make,” Piff said.

This means growing without the use of products like Roundup and other herbicides. 

It’s what Garner’s great-grandfather, Bernardino Varela, did when he came from Cape Verde and started farming in 1912. And it’s what Garner and Piff have done since they started growing on the land since 2015.

In the future, A.V. Rose Farms is looking to grow cannabis on its land. Garner and Piff also view cannabis as a holistic crop.

“Cannabis is always medical,” Piff said. She knows the medicinal properties of the products because Garner uses them to treat medical issues she has dealt with growing up. 

Hemp, a different type of cannabis that is less potent than its counterpart, replenishes the earth when it is grown, and animals are fed the crop too, Garner said.

In the future, they hope to teach classes about cannabis and hemp on top of their produce-farming classes, to show their benefits.

“If you’re hungry, and you want to learn, we want you to have an opportunity,” Piff said.

The A.V. Rose Farmstand is located at the corner of Walnut Plain Road and High Street in Rochester opens at 2 p.m. from Monday through Wednesday. 

To place an order for a CSA produce box, message A.V. Rose Farms on Facebook at facebook.com/AV-Rose-Farms-105998400805031/.