Jonathan Gorham Sustainability Fund
Est. 2020 for the benefit of Massaro Community Farm
Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, co-founders and co-directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, established the Jonathan Gorham Sustainability Fund in recognition of Gorham’s more than 45-year effort to bring renewable energy and eco-friendly land use practices to fruition in the region. The designated fund will support Massaro Community Farm (MCF) and the initiatives in the community that MCF has undertaken. The Fund’s purpose is to increase the awareness and promotion of the use of renewable energy technologies, sustainable agricultural practices, local food production, sustainable living practices and the educational programs that explain their benefit. The fund will also support the restoration of abandoned farms in the region. The above photo is the restored Massaro barn with its solar PV array.
About Massaro Community Farm:
Since its founding in 2008, Massaro Community Farm (MCF) has undergone a remarkable transformation. Back then, the prospects for resurrecting this abandoned farm were bleak; the fields were overgrown, the barn and hen house were collapsing and the farm house was in total disrepair. In spite of these challenges, a group of ardent conservationists came together to establish MCF, the non-profit undertaking this ambitious project.
“At the outset, many people put in countless hours determined to turn this derelict, historic family farm into something that is now a big resource for the town and for the whole region,” says Jonathan Gorham, one of the Co-Founders and President of the MCF Board of Directors.
Back in 2010 the farm staff harvested about two dozen initial crops in depleted soils on only 4 acres of land. In 2020 the farm produced over 50 different certified organic vegetables on almost 12 acres. The farm has become a model of regenerative agricultural practices and clean energy deployment, including solar PV collectors, water savings drip irrigation, worm composting and even a sustainable parking area. Resident farmer Steve Munno has secured organic certification for the farm’s produce and has been honored for his commitment to restoring and improving the local ecosystem. This includes the planting of pollinator habitats, no-till farming and soil enhancing cover cropping.
Historically, MCF has donated at least 10% of its harvest to the Connecticut Food Bank and other organizations supporting the food insecure. In 2020 MCF donated over 8,500 pounds of fresh produce, well beyond that benchmark. When the pandemic first struck in March 2020 the MCF team pivoted from its normal planting preparation. Instead, it set up a COVID-safe, production routine and curb-side pickup system. MCF also established an on-line store which provided a way for regional small farmers to sell their eggs, dairy and other goods. MCF kept the locally produced food flowing to our region. Because of these positive results, the number of Massaro CSA subscribers increased by over 33%.
About the Jonathan Gorham Sustainability Fund:
In recognition of Gorham’s more than 45-year effort to bring renewable energy and eco-friendly land use practices to fruition in the region, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, co-founders and co-directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, established this Fund. In general, this designated fund will support the farm and the initiatives in the community that MCF actively supports.
Specifically, the Fund’s purpose is to increase the awareness and promote of the use of renewable energy technologies, restoration of abandoned farms in the region, sustainable agricultural practices, local food production, sustainable living practices and the educational programs that explain their benefit.
As its first development director and longest serving board officer, Gorham understood that the farm faced a big challenge: nobody knew of its existence since it was located in a faraway corner of the town. Over his dozen years of involvement, Gorham has amassed a number of local supporters.
“We are pleased to honor the remarkable work that Jon Gorham has done to found and grow Massaro Farm,” says Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim. “Jon’s leadership is extraordinary - - combining intellectual, organizational and people skills. He has helped to create both a farm and a community that is a beacon of hope.”
About Jonathan Gorham:
In 1977 Gorham started his first community garden in Falmouth, Maine while working at the Maine Audubon Society. That environmental organization had constructed the first commercial solar building in Maine. During the mid 1970s, Gorham served as the Director of Maine Audubon’s Environmental Energy Education Project. The community garden he started is still in use in 2021.
“I've been very interested in food and community gardens for a long, long time. When I became a dad my interest increased because I selfishly wanted our kids to have fresh organic food,” Gorham says. “Teaching youngsters where their food comes from is a critically important task. When kids and their parents see where and how their food is grown, there’s a ‘Gee Wow’ reaction. And who doesn’t like fresh produce, strawberries and local honey from your own bees?”
Over the years, as Gorham’s interests grew, he started a handful of for-profit renewable energy businesses commercializing such technologies as: residential energy audits, passive solar homes, movable window energy products and land restoring, microbial soil enhancements. He also co-founded a half a dozen not-for-profits in the economic development and environmental arenas. In 2011 Gorham received the CT Governor’s Climate Leadership award.
“Success is all about getting a team together, creating synergies and providing a space for people to live out their passions. Because the team at MCF is so strong, Massaro has the potential to become a model for regenerative agriculture and renewable energy demonstration way beyond our region. This is exciting, and it has been an honor and privilege to be a part of this extraordinary effort,” Gorham says.
Please support this fund. Your contribution will help MCF continue to fulfill its mission: Keep Farming. Feed People. Build Community.
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