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Lonely farmer works to feed many- Bustling volunteer presence absent at urban garden this spring

by Terry Date, Eagle Tribune

In Costello Park, the lonely farmer works his fields under the sun.

Thomas Paulsen, of Andover, holds the rototiller's wide handlebars and plows the dark earth at the urban farm, the largest in a network of community gardens operated by Groundwork Lawrence.

Paulsen then rakes the beds, mounding rows for vegetable seedlings that will become food for Lawrence soup kitchens, pantries and farmers markets.

Ambulance and police sirens wail and cars rumble past, but the farmer hardly hears them. His attention is on readying fields.

In a typical year, schools, children and adults on professional service days would already have volunteered hundreds of hours readying this garden for the growing season.

But in the year of the coronavirus and social distancing, Paulsen works mostly alone. His fiance, Jenn Mosher, lends a hand when she can.

On this Tuesday she is weeding.

Nearby, baseball immortal Roberto Clemente, painted blue on a park mural, gazes patiently, a bat resting on his shoulder.

The urban farm is an educational facility that teaches Green Team members – young adults from Lawrence who work there part time – where food comes from, how to raise it and work on a team.

It doesn't look like the Green Team or volunteers will labor at the site's half-acre of gardens this year.

But Groundwork Executive Director Heather McMann says the organization is determined to produce a bountiful harvest, a vital source of fresh produce for the hungry at a time when food insecurity is high.


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