Food Preservation, Family Traditions, and Delicious Pie

Written by Eliza Whitfield

Pies are a type of food preservation that my family has utilized for years. Pasty has been a much-loved meat-based pie that originated in Cornwall, England. Pasty is an affordable, long-lasting meal that was originally used by miners and their families. In the past, pasties were served in the shape of a semi-circle for the convenience of a handheld meal that could be easily taken into the mines. Pasty usually consists of a small portion of meat or beans and a variety of vegetable choices that can easily be grown in a home garden: potatoes, carrots, onions, turnips, parsnips, etc. 

My family has passed a pasty recipe down for more than five generations. We make the pasty in a pie tin as opposed to a traditional semi-circle. I cannot count the number of times I made pasty with my grandma and my mom. We would spend all day making dough and slicing vegetables, then sit around the table to share the delicious meal. On occasion, we would drive to my uncle’s house and deliver him a pie or two for his family. It is a tradition that brings my family together and provides happy memories that we all cherish.  

My family’s recipe: 

  • ½ lbs meat — usually beef
  • 5-6 potatoes — cut into thin slices
  • 2-3 carrots — shredded
  • 1 onion — diced, then mixed with the meat
  • Pie crust:
    • 2 cups flour
    • ½ cup shortening or butter
    • Pinch of salt
    • Enough water to make paste

To make the pie crust, combine the ingredients in a bowl, using the water to make the dry ingredients stick together. Once the ingredients are mixed, place the dough in the refrigerator to rest while slicing the vegetables and browning the meat. The meat should be cooked, before being placed into the pie to ensure the pie will not contain raw meat, as well as a way to drain excess grease. 

Once all the ingredients are ready, separate the dough in half. Roll both halves of the dough into a circle and place one half in a nine-inch pie tin. Then layer the vegetables and meat repeatedly until the pie is rounded at the top (potatoes, carrots, meat, potatoes, carrots, meat). Finally, place the remaining dough on top of the pie, crimp the edges, and slice 2-3 air holes atop the pie. 

Cook the pie at 350* for roughly 45 minutes.

This pie, if sliced moderately, can provide multiple meals a day for 2-3 days. Pasty tastes delicious when it is eaten both hot and cold. 

Pasty Collage

A Fresh Start

Written By Drew MacInnis

This summer I was lucky enough to meet a coworker named Layne with an incredible little farm at his home. Layne and his family had moved to New Hampshire a few years ago all the way from Oklahoma. Living in a more rural area of New Hampshire with an abundance of land they realized the wonderful opportunity they had to start raising animals. There was already a barn on their new property and with a preexisting love for horses and horseback riding, horses had to be the first animals in their new chapter. Instead of going out and purchasing young foals they decided to go and rescue two adult horses to give them a fresh start at life. 

Tesla (left) and Champ (right) eating some hay.

Horses if you didn’t already know eat a lot. Whether it be vegetables or loads and loads of hay they eat, and this is where Layne steps in. He is the oldest of all his siblings and takes on a lot of responsibility when it comes to caring for the horses. He is often the one making trips to go pick of hay bales and other resources for them.

Boaz (black and white) and Xerxes (brown) enjoying a pumpkin treat.

After having the horses for a while an opportunity presented itself for the family to also rescue two ponies, one of which lost an eye. After seeing the beautiful ponies, they knew they had to have them. In order to do so they had to build a separate enclosure for them as they couldn’t be housed with the horses, which Layne had a big part in building. Once this was finished they added the two ponies to their family.

Rebah in the chicken coop.

It doesn’t stop there though, as there was another addition to their growing animal family. A little farm surely wouldn’t be complete without some chickens. This too required some more building for Layne as a chicken coop needed to be made. Once this was completed it was time to add some more rescued animals into the picture. At the current moment they have 17 chickens in which they harvest the eggs from. They do not harvest the chickens for meat, as they truly love animals and just want to give them a happy life for however long they have left. It is great to see the difference Layne and his family have made in the lives of animals who at one time had no hope and no sense of belonging.

Beautiful Blooms

Written by Hannah Gibbs

When I was younger, my favorite sign of spring was when the crocus flowers would start to sprout in my parents garden. This is when my love for flowers began. It brought me so much excitement to know the spring and summer months were upon us. It also meant the peonies and lilacs would start to bloom and eventually our hydrangea bushes, which were all right in my backyard. 

Around three years ago, I got the opportunity to work for a local, established flower shop in Andover, MA that also specializes in indoor and outdoor plants. My knowledge of flowers, herbs, house plants, and more has greatly increased over the past few years. From the numerous flowers we use in our arrangements, to the multiple varieties of each flower and their flowering season, I’ve been able to learn so much. Through this job, the meaning of flowers has changed for me. I have been able to appreciate that floral design is a form of art and a creative outlet for the designers that can portray a strong message to others. Flowers can be used for many occasions: weddings, baby showers, funerals, birthdays, as well as just to make someone’s day a little bit brighter. I am always on the lookout for flowers blooming around me, and I love to share tips and tricks on how to care for them with others. 

Local floral gardens are places I enjoy visiting and supporting. One in particular, Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, MA, has the most beautiful dahlias in the late summer and early fall months. The Steven Coolidge Estate in North Andover, MA has gorgeous floral cutting gardens where my mom and I enjoy picking our own bouquets of flowers. 

Flowers are very universal and everyone can find joy in them. When I really think about it, it amazes me how the earth grows and provides us with such beautiful blooms to appreciate. Flowers are nature’s artwork. I am very grateful for my experience of getting to work with flowers, and I hope others can see how special they truly are.

Dahlia from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, MA.
Flower Garden at the Steven Coolidge Estate in North Andover, MA.
Peony off the coast of Maine.

Nessralla’s Farm of Marshfield Massachusetts

Nessralla’s Farm 1979

Nessralla’s Farm of Marshfield Massachusetts has been a family owned and operated business since 1979. The farm was originally owned and operated by Nacklie Nessralla with the help of his son Paul, until Nacklie’s death in July of 2016. The farm is now run entirely by Paul Nessralla. Opened all year round the farm and garden center specializes in a variety of different plants, vegetables, shrubs, christmas trees, firewood, seasonal items, and so much more. The farm and garden center is known along the south shore for its vibrant and eye catching annuals and perennials. Although there is definitely a booming business all year round, the busiest time of the year for Nessralla’s Farm starts Easter weekend and lasts until Memorial Day weekend. The farm accumulates on average about 40-50 percent of their annual profits during this time period. Another huge part of their profits come from selling USDA certified kiln dried firewood due to their location on the south shore. This location has allowed for a booming firewood industry all year long because of the cold New England winter months, and because of the many beaches that allow for summer fire pits when it’s warm.

Cady and Nacklie Nessralla are pictured sorting the fruits and vegetables.

I personally have been around Nessralla’s Farm for almost 10 years now. Growing up I was and still am very close to the Nessralla family. Working around an environment like this has taught me a lot about gardening and how to run a business in an atmosphere such as this one, and I am very grateful for that. Cady Nessralla, the daughter of Paul, has been a sister to me. In talking to her about her experience at the farm and growing up around gardening, she decided to share her favorite memory; “My favorite memory of the farm was when I was a little kid. I have been going to the farm ever since I was born. My mom would bring me down when I was only a few months old, because all of the regular customers were so excited to meet me, because I was the first grandchild, and daughter within this family run business. When I started to become a little older (probably around 6) I would go to the farm with my dad and grandfather during my February break. I always loved going, because I was a daddy’s girl and anything my dad did was something I wanted to do. I got to spend all day planting flowers and vegetables, and I would listen to stories from when they were my age, and how they were doing the exact same thing. I loved going to the farm all year round but I especially enjoyed it during planting season. I used to love planting seeds and watching them grow over the next few months because as a little kid it would always be so cool to come back and see how much your hard work had paid off. I continued to do this over the course of the next 12 years until I left for college. Now that I am at college full time in Florida,  my favorite time of year at the farm is Christmas season. It gives me the chance to help out my dad during one of the busiest times of the year. And although my grandfather passed away a few years ago I know his presence is always with us when we are at the farm whether it is during planting season, Chrisrmas time, or all the days in between.”

If you would like to visit Nessralla’s Farm of Marshfield they are located at 1200 Ocean Street, Marshfield MA and are open Monday through Sunday 9 AM – 6 PM.

Written By: Jillian Dunn

The Benefits of Urban Farming

A gardening topic that I find very interesting and want to learn more about is the benefits of farming in the city. I find this topic really interesting because farming in the city is very different from farming in the country, and I feel as though it isn’t talked about enough. Farming in the city has another term which it is best known as: urban farming. One benefit of urban farming is the proximity. Since cities are more populated, the local crops that are grown are easily accessed by more people. Also, urban farmers don’t have to worry about paying to transfer their goods because it is all sold to the people who live around them. Another benefit of urban farming is it is accessible to anyone. This means that people of low income have the opportunity to have access to nutritious food that is also at a low price. One of my favorite advantages of urban farming is its ability to build a sense of community. It does this by offering an experience for people to gather together and it benefits all. Urban farming is also very adaptable, meaning that the setting can vary. For instance, one can set up an urban farm in a backyard, on a porch, on a rooftop, etc. It also can vary on the number of people it needs to run an urban farm. An urban farm can be run by a whole group of urban farmers or even just one person. Urban farming also tends to be low risk because urban farmers can just cultivate a garden in their own space instead of having the financial burden of buying new land. Also, there is a huge demand for locally grown food. Many people prefer locally grown food and local urban farmers know the wants and needs of their community that they live in. Overall, urban farming has many benefits that make the city a more healthy and happier place. 

Written by Hannah Brennan

Another urban farm adds so much color to city!
Urban farm community!
Urban farming adding color to the gloomy city!

Exploring Merrimack College

By: Gordon Pham

These are some pictures I taken when I was at Merrimack College and in my home town. The first picture shows that there is still snow on campus and that the pond is still frozen. What I would like to know about the pond is if any fish or other species are swimming in the frozen pond?

The second picture is show a tree with green fungus growing on the side of a large tree. I researched that the green algae growing on the tree is not dangerous or harmful to the tree. Algae and moss can be a food source and provides energy for the fungus during photosynthesis. During one of my ecology labs, the lab groups wanted to take a nature walk near the woods. This was interesting to me because I thought it was dangerous to touch.

The last picture is a memory last spring when the weather was still warm and I grew small pepper plants in my garage. I had a memory when I would leave the pepper plants out in the sun and adding fertilizer to add nutrients to the plants. Every few hours I would go outside and add water to the pots. I knew that they were ready to eat after the peppers would grow a little bigger and the colors were a dark orange or red color. These are Asian peppers that are very spicy. These peppers are usually used to make Korean Kimchi and they go best with almost any meal.

Merrimack College
Ecology Nature Walk
Growing Pepper Trees

An Ancient New Way of Life

When I was 16 years old and a junior in high school I went on an elk hunting trip to Noxon, Montana. I was anticipating a week of being in the great outdoors, sharing stories with the other hunters, and spending quality time with my father. Little did I know that my eyes would be opened to a way of living that I didn’t think existed anymore in modern America, subsistence hunting. Many hunters may hunt for sport or trophy, while others just enjoy the outdoors so much they crave feeling connected to it. But subsistence hunters hunt strictly to provide food for themselves and their families. Simply put, it’s hunting for survival. This makes me think of our ancestors as hunters and gatherers and the high stake life that they lived, never sure of their next meal. The people who introduced me to this way of hunting, and for them way of life, were at the time the 20-23 year old hunting guides at the lodge. For them hunting wasn’t a pastime or favorite hobby, it was how they supported their families and put food on the table. Look at it this way. A mature bull (male) elk weighs about 700lbs. Such an animal will yield roughly 200lbs of lean meat. This is enough to last a family of four an entire calendar year. All at the cost of one well placed rifle round or arrow. For reference a 1 pound filet from your local  supermarket costs around $14.

The world we live in today is riddled with environmental problems. From threatening biodiversity loss, to irregular weather patterns, and all the other degradations that come with climate change. It is obvious that people want to help and make a difference, but so often it feels like hunting is overlooked as a legitimate option. I do acknowledge that hunting is not for everyone, and not everyone can hunt. But for those who truly love the outdoors, want to do their part, and are looking to feel a little more wild then the next step is to apply for a hunting license.  

I take a lot of inspiration from the guides I met on that  trip. But being a college student in eastern Massachusetts makes it a little difficult to follow this archetype of subsistence hunting. I hope to one day be able to call myself a subsistence hunter and truly live to hunt and hunt to live.     

Me (left) with my hunting guide Nate (right)
Sunrise over the mountains in Noxon, MT

Written by: Jack Gotta

Grandma’s Farm

Growing up in my hometown in Connecticut the farming lifestyle was very foreign to many. It is rare to see sights of rural lifestyle such as stretched out acres of land or animals roaming. Yet somehow when we traveled just 30 minutes away from us to Grandma’s house it was like we entered a different world. Pulling into her driveway never ceased to amaze me as a kid. Peacocks, showcasing their beautiful vibrant feathers would walk right up to us, welcoming us as we got out of the car. As I entered the house the view took my breathe away every time. Through every angle of the house, the windows that spanned the entire rear, gave a glimpse of the backyard: a small piece of farming paradise. The hundreds of acres of land were home to horses, cows, ponys, chickens, goats, rabbits, you name it, my grandparents had it all.

Grandma’s house served as a symbol of togetherness for my family. It was the place we usually all gathered as Grandpa never liked to leave the animals for long, and it was the place my cousins who live far away always stayed. However, even though we were together it was the animals that brought out some of our best memories as a family. As the animals were raised on the farm, so were we. Just as we had milestones in our everyday lives, we had milestones on the farm as well. When we reached a certain age, we could learn how to horseback ride. When we had something to celebrate, we got to release pigeons into the air. When the baby goats were born, we each got to claim one and had to learn how to take care of it. Through growing up in this environment, I was taught many lessons about all kinds of animals, what they eat, how they sleep, the different sounds they make, etc. But what I cherished more than the lessons were the bonds I created with my grandparents and the newfound appreciation for my food. Every time we had a sleepover at Grandma’s, I would wake up the earliest in the morning just so I could walk down to the chicken coop with Grandpa and collect the eggs for breakfast. It was sort of him and I’s special thing we got to do together. I remember thinking how cool it was that I could taste the food on my plate and just by looking out the window could see directly where it came from. Everything we ate at Grandma’s tasted better, fresher but most of all made you feel more connected to it as you knew the story of where it came from.

As we got older, so did the animals, and so did my grandparents. The animals slowly began to die off and it became harder and harder for my grandparents to take care of them with their age. The farm eventually declined until there was nothing left and my Grandparents sold their land and eventually their house on it as well. Even though the farm is gone, the memories from it never will be. We will continue to sit around the table every holiday and tell stories of the time I got bucked off the horse into the chicken coop, the way my little brother would cry every time a peacock approached him would cry “no peacock no peacock”, or how my sister fell so in love with one of the bunnies we brought it back into our own home. These are stories I know will live on in our family. We will always look back at the farm and cherish our experiences as well as appreciate the things we eat and the animals they came from.

Pictured : My siblings and I with some of the animals 🙂

The Next-Door Neighbors

Robert Cleary

I moved to Meeting House Road the summer before my first year of middle school. For the first few years, the old white colonial that my bedroom window faced always seemed lifeless. Rumors of the house being haunted even circled the naive brains of my fellow neighborhood friends and I. I’m not sure anyone occupied it for some period of time. Then, during my high school years, a family of four with two big dogs moved in. Little did we know what kind of transformation our backyard view would undergo. It all started with a few small white planters filled with assorted vegetables and herbs. The neighbors were beginning a multi-year project of building a backyard organic farm. About a year after the planters came a chicken coop. These feathered friends would roam their backyard and occasionally find their way into ours. I remember the sounds of waking up and hearing their clucks to start my day. Soon after came more and more planters, a white farm fence, and a fully operating local organic farm.

This farm does not fit the mold of what you may typically visualize. The farm is located in an everyday suburban neighborhood on a half acre piece of land. You may ask why they would choose to farm in such a small, populated area. We wondered that too, so my parents asked them. The answer they gave is very intriguing, being that they wanted their kids to live a “normal” suburban life while also sustaining their passion for organic farming. Seeing their once barren backyard turn into a thriving farm full of life was very rewarding and I am excited to see what they have in store for the future. As someone who hasn’t been exposed to that type of living before, it was very eye opening to watch them engage in such a lifestyle.
Planters similar to their yard
Chickens similar to what they kept
The house that they lived in

My First Mulching Experience

Last year in late July my parents decided that it would be a good time to redo all of the garden around our pool and in front of the house. They had asked the guy who usually does our landscaping, but he wouldn’t be able to do it for another couple weeks so my parents decided that we would do it ourselves to get it over with. By we I mean they planned to make me and my brother do most of the work. They had a massive pile of mulch dropped off and my mom went to the store and picked up a bunch of different flowers and plants. I was basically bribed to help them with the promise of money after the job was finished, but what I got out of this experience was worth so much more. 

On this particular day it was sunny and about 80 degrees out which isn’t exactly ideal weather for mulching. This project also happened to take us about four hours. My brother and I switched off between gathering the mulch in a wheelbarrow and dumping it out in the gardens and spreading the mulch throughout the gardens so everything was even. Those wheelbarrows get a lot heavier than you’d expect, especially when you’re making the trip over and over again around the house. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to mulch around the front of the house and the small garden further out front and then another 1 1/2 hours to mulch around three quarters of the pool inside the fenced area. The remaining hour was spent planting the different plants and flowers my mom had picked up at the store. 

When we had finished there was a very noticeable difference from before we started. What had previously just been some dirt and a few flowers was now some beautifully mulched gardens filled with blossoming flowers and healthy plants. Through all of the time, soreness, and sweat I had gotten so much out of this experience. It was so rewarding to walk outside each day and look around and know that I had done this. That all around my house looked so much better because of the work that I had put in. It really makes you appreciate it so much more. Sure we could’ve just waited the couple weeks until the landscaper could come, but I’m glad my parents made me and my brother do the work. Though it was somewhat hard work, I would gladly do it all again in another year or two for them.  

Though this was just a small scale project, it gave me a glimpse at how hard it must be for people to run and maintain a farm or larger garden. I gained a lot of new respect for people who do stuff like that on a daily basis.

Written by Ben Pulvino

Pile of mulch similar to the one dropped off in my yard.

Mulched pool area similar to what I did.

Similar flowers to the ones planted in my garden.