Allandale Farm is Boston’s “Green Acres”

Those of us within a certain age bracket will remember Green Acres, the TV sitcom wherein Lisa (Eva Gabor), a glamorous Hungarian socialite, unwillingly relocates from the NY society she loves to a run-down old farm in the country.  Her husband Oliver (Eddie Albert), a successful lawyer, has idealistic dreams of farm life.  Comedy ensues over the attempts of the two to fit into their new surroundings.

I know how Eddie feels.  Sometimes I long for the idyll I am certain exists on the farm.  When I — a life-long city girl — start dreaming out loud about moving to Maine and raising goats, my husband smirks and hums the lyrics to “Green Acres,” insinuating that I am more Eva than Eddie.  “Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue!”  IMG_5436

Hmmph.  I do go once a week to pick up my CSA (community supported agriculture) and egg shares at Allandale Farm.  I wander for a while among the brightly-colored potted flowers and breathe in the dusty, earthy vegetables in the farm stand.IMG_5441  I imagine myself pottering about the farm:  digging up loamy carrots with their full green heads, arranging orange and red cut zinnias in an old glass spaghetti jar, filling CSA boxes with enticing/alarming (what to do with all that bokchoy!) vegetables.  The pond out back gives voice to throaty bullfrogs;  giant dragonflies skim and buzz across the surface of the water.  It’s usually hot, but I don’t mind the warmth and closeness of the old farm stand.  At least for a little while….

IMG_5445Allandale Farm, the last working farm in Boston, consists of 130 acres of land on the border of Boston and Brookline, and is the last working farm in Boston.  It has been managed by the Weld family (ancestors of Massachusetts’ former governor, William Weld) for about 200 years. I’m thankful for their careful stewardship of this precious land.   Some of the acreage is leased to the Boston Police Department’s K-9 unit, and the rest is managed by Allandale Farm.

Quick facts:

-IMG_5433 There are two ADA parking spaces and the stand is wheelchair-accessible, although the path into the stand is gravel and stone (and therefore bumpy and potentially muddy).  The farm stand itself has a level entrance and wide doors for entrance and egress, but the aisles are too narrow to allow a wheelchair-user to pass someone or even to turn around without knocking something off a shelf.

IMG_5449The farm uses organic and sustainable farming methods, and the CSA, egg and flower shares can be signed up for on-line (although 2014 CSA shares are now closed).  Prices for 20-week shares in 2014 are:  full share at $670; half share at $390; egg share at $120 and cut flower share at $110.  It’d be hard to get the shares from the garage out back to your ADA-parking space, but I bet they’d make it work if you told them your challenges.

- Allandale’s farmstand sells its own produce as well as other locally-produced goods (Salty Oats cookies; Humble Pie; Clear Flour Bakery breads and fresh Valicenti Organico pasta are some of my favorites).  You get a discount on items purchased in the store on the day you go to pick up your CSA shares.IMG_5451

– The stand is open from the end of March through Christmas Eve (think last-minute Christmas tree purchase).

– Weekdays hours are 9am – 6:30pm and weekends, 8am-6pm.

– The farm manages a blog with some pretty good recipes.  I also like the recipes on the website for 101 Cookbooks.

–  Allandale Farm runs a fantastic outdoor camp in the summer for kids aged 4-12.  Two of my kids were campers there for years.  I could never imagine my daughter Marianne navigating the camp with her wheelchair, but I think they’d willing work to make the camp manageable for kids with other developmental disabilities.

IMG_5453It’s easy to romanticize farm life.  Allandale Farm makes it easy to support a great community farm…and in the meantime, you get some of that farm fresh air and “land spreadin’ out so far and wide”  (Green Acre lyrics) — without leaving your city behind.  It’s not often you can have your cake and eat it too.




Haunted Boston Tour: Completely Accessible and Mostly Good

IMG_5428Everything about the Haunted Boston tour last night was accessible.  Jeff, our guide, was thoughtful, informative, engaging and entertaining.  He made a point of previewing with us how Marianne could position herself to best hear at each spooky spot on the tour.  After showing ghostly photos to the group, he made sure to show them to Marianne too.  The streets were all accessible and well lit, and every street crossing had ramps and pedestrian lights.  At about 90 minutes and one mile, the tour was just the right length.  There is nearby garage parking with ADA spots, or you can take the T to the group meeting spot at the Park Street Station.

The only fly in the ointment was that Marianne spent the last 20 minutes of the tour looking at a sea of tourists’ backs.  We were the last to pull up, and no one stepped aside so Marianne could get close enough to the front of the crowd to hear.  We assume the story of the Omni Parker House hotel haunting was good and scary, because people were listening intently.


Some people are short because they’re little kids;  others because they’re sitting in a wheelchair.   If short people are in the back of a crowd, they have pretty much no chance of hearing what is going on at the front.

I offer two completely different vignettes for consideration. The other day my sister-in-law posted on FB that now that she is visibly pregnant, other T riders routinely offer her their seat.  I love that!

I also recently offered my T seat someone in need:  a boozy, teetering Red Sox fan who clearly wasn’t going to be able to stand much longer.   My motivation was a rather self-centered one, as I was mostly concerned that the guy was going to fall on me.   But I got a slurry “Hey, Lady, that’s so niiiiiice,” and you know what? It really made me kind of like him, in all of his beer-y wonder, and I smiled.

Yes, Marianne and I could have asked people last night to step aside and make room at the end of the tour.   We chose to stay in the back.  But it would have been really, really nice for us if someone had noticed on their own accord, smiled, stepped aside, and made room at the front.


Slide, Switch, Pull: Lessons from a Saori Weaver

IMG_4212Our SAORI teacher sounds a lot like Marianne’s yoga guru (Diane of  Yoga teaches the power of repetition to center a busy mind: Sa, Ta, Na, Ma. Mihoko introduces us to the SAORI mantra: slide, switch, pull.  There is something undeniably meditative about this contemporary, Zen-based, art form from Japan.  SAORI weaving is a truly accessible art. IMG_4240Slide, switch, pull, we murmur to ourselves, as we thread our soft and silky, sometimes scratchy, yarns on the loom.  Spools of varying hues and textures surround us on bookshelves and in baskets.  We sit immersed at our shuttles, while the bobbin gently thrums and thwaps, and the wooden frame clicks.   Silenced for two hours, we are wrapped in our cocoons of texture, sound and color.  Sometimes, a happy choice must be made;  we rise to choose from the shelves or pick from the basket at our side.  Shiny red cotton, a bumpy nub of mossy-green wool, or a surprise texture like the twig we found on the pathway or the discarded bit of orange twine?  Back to work…..and to create. IMG_4262Marianne, her friend and I spent a companionably quiet morning in this still workshop in Worcester, learning to weave,  following our own artistic imperative, being at peace.  SAORI looms are adapted to make it possible for people with physical disabilities to weave, and there is something so centering about this experience that I imagine it would benefit those of us with ADHD or sensory integration challenges too.  . “A mistake is a happy accident” says Mihoko, and in fact, practitioners of SAORI weaving welcome the unexpected.  Which many of us who live with different abilities can tell you is a good thing:  things don’t always turn out the way one expects if your hands aren’t following your brain’s orders, or you’re doing a two-handed skill with one hand, or you were too distracted to listen to more than one or two steps of the directions. IMG_4239Saori Worcester is a wheelchair-accessible venue.  Mihoko teaches trial classes or you can sign up for a basic course (6 weeks) or advanced (12 weeks). Class times vary.  Pre-registration is required.   Whether you’re product-oriented (think clothes, bags, toys, cushions) or about the flow, it’s worth a try.  And a shout-out to Janelle and Sato, who told us about it in the first place!IMG_4267