Friday, December 12, 2014

Marini Farm Hosts Tree Jubilee Benefit For Ipswich Humane Group

The farm is filled with community spirit and joy this Christmas season as the Tree Jubilee lights up the greenhouse. More than 60 businesses and families gather to donate and decorate trees and wreaths for the benefit of the Ipswich Humane Society’s annual fundraiser. Floor to ceiling creativity brings the excitement of the holiday season alive. All the trees were judged on many categories and the public will gather on December 5, 6, 12 and 13th to view the beautiful display and purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win their favorite tree or wreath. It’s a fun free event for the whole family and 100% of the donations go to the Ipswich Humane Group.

Ipswich Humane Group is a non-profit group that assists Ipswich Animal Control to enable a no-kill animal shelter for the Town of Ipswich.  The group is 100% donation funded and 100% unpaid volunteer run.

For 32 years, the organization has been providing veterinary care, housing in their animal shelter, and has operated a successful adoption program which has placed over 1800 dogs and cats in homes throughout the north shore community. 

2014 Tree Jubilee Top Honors! 


Best of Show Tree:
WEEBLOS - Ipswich Cub Scouts Pack 109

Most Creative/Unique Tree:
Gold: Windhill Realty
"There's No Place Like Home"  
Silver: Traveis Eye Care "Frozen"
Bronze: Ipswich Bear Den Pack 109

Honorable Mention:
Mrs. Clasby's 3rd Grade Class
"What the Holidays Mean to Me" 


Best of Show Wreath:
Institution for Savings

Most Creative/Unique Wreath:
Gold: Ipswich Bottle Shop
Silver: Bear's Family
Bronze: Gordon Florist & Greenhouses

“Seeing the Marini Farm greenhouse illuminated with community love and support truly makes this season special for us,” said Mike Marini. "Contributing to community has always been part of our mission as third-generation farmers.  Let’s get the crowds gathered over the weekend to support our local furry friends!”

Written by Lightning Consulting

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The ABCs of Christmas Tree Shopping

Some people rush to get their Christmas tree the day they come off the trucks, while others see no urgency and wait until days before Christmas in hopes the perfect tree is still waiting for them. Getting a group/family consensus is what makes the experience the most fun. “How about this one?” are words you hear down the pathways of trees. Sometimes people circle back to the first tree they saw, while other times it takes dozens of inspections as people stand the trees up and shake them to see how heavy and full they are. The worst is when someone grabs a tree that was on your top contender list, and places a “sold” sign on it. The good news is that there is always another tree, so the quest to find the perfect Christmas tree just continues.

Some helpful hints in buying the perfect Christmas tree…size, fragrance, freshness and symmetry all matter.

  • Size it right: Measure the room and entry ways in your home before you bring a tree home. A good rule of thumb is one foot below the ceiling height. You should also measure the opening in the tree stand you plan to use to make sure the trunk of your chosen tree will fit.
  • Healthy tree all the way to Christmas: “It’s bad weather out, so let’s get the tree next weekend instead.” A week delay may leave you with fewer options and fewer trees that meet your criteria. Early buyers have a better chance of finding the perfect tree, and have more choices. Always make sure to have a clean cut done as it will last longer in your home and can better absorb water. December 8/9 is a recommended time to purchase your tree and December 15/16 is a good time to bring it inside to decorate.
  • Weight is good and tree branch spacing tight: This means the tree is healthy and full of water, and will drop fewer needles.
  • Fresh Cut: Find out when the trees were cut. The closer to Christmas the better, but some tree sale spots cut their trees as early as October so by December needles are all piling up.
  • Tree branch strength is solid: Nobody wants a droopy tree and one that loses ornaments because the branches can’t hold the weight of your ornaments. If you have heavy ornaments and ones you want securely hanging from the tree, make sure the tree branches are thick and strong.
  • Pet unfriendly: To discourage your pet from using your Christmas tree as a bathroom stop, select a tree with sharp needles. If they get too close and get pricked, they won’t want to do it again.
  • Full of water: Bend the needles and see how fresh they are.You need to make sure you routinely check the stand and keep the tree hydrated, and never let the water go below the bottom of the trunk.  Another trick is to spray the branches with water so give it more moisture. Some trees require several quarts of water each day, so make sure you check the water level every three hours.
  • Evergreen scent: Trees which sweat expel the strongest scents, so if you are looking to fill your home with that great Christmas tree aroma, select the trees which naturally have the best scent. As an example, the Balsam fir tree exists in a cold climate which makes it sweat more and deliver a great scent.
  • Straight and in balance: If the tree has a crooked trunk it will be tougher to get it securely positioned in a stand. Hold the tree up and examine it from the trunk to the top so see if it is well aligned. Nobody wants a tree that topples over when you are not home. If you have to tie it down, once it is in the house for fear it will topple, you have definitely bought a crooked nightmare of a tree. Also, make sure the tree trunk is at least six inches long so it fits securely in the stand.
  • Tree type: Balsam and Fraser trees are the most popular based on overall quality and shape, with Balsam known for their fragrance and Fraser known for their strong branches and minimal needle drop.
Marini Farms has a solution to simplifying the tree set up process. The Stand Strait Christmas Tree Stand--also known as The Marriage Saver--is available for sale with free tree drilling for owners of the stand. Considered the best Christmas tree stand available, it enables your tree to stand tall, straight and stable to prevent it from toppling over, and requires only one drill hole in the base of your tree. All you need to do is line up the drilled hole on the stand pin and it is as stable as a rock. See Mike’s demonstration video on how easy the Stand Strait System is.

As Marini states, “Our hands-on selection process is the reason the quality of our trees is second to none, and we want our customers to feel like they have found that special perfect tree.” 

From all of us at Marini Farm, we wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and hope you find the perfect tree.

Written by Lightning Consulting

Friday, October 24, 2014

Trick Or Treat Hayrides With Frozen Friends

Marini Farm’s most popular hayride adventure is the special character journey which on October 25, 2014 will feature the characters in the Frozen movie. This classic fall activity will take you on a tractor-drawn hayride along the farm’s scenic 200+ acres through the corn fields, pumpkin patches and animal park area. Experience a lazy roll through the rural landscape with the vibrant beauty of the leaves changing and the crisp fall air. Trick or Treaters will have the opportunity to take a scenic hayride around the farm while stopping along the way to pick up and receive treats from a few of their favorite storybook friends, including Elsa.The rides are running from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and tickets can be purchased online ahead of time.

Hayride tickets

Hayrides are popular for obvious reasons…
  • You can enjoy a great bonding experience with family and friends
  • You get to explore the farm up close and personal
  • You get to learn the about the history of the farm
  • You can enjoy the spirit of fall and Halloween
  • You can embrace nature and the beauty of family farming
  • You can relax and breath in the fresh farm air
  • You can capture some great memories!
Dress up and come to the farm for some trick or treating fun and surprises.

Written by Lightning Consulting

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marini Farm's Corn Maze Is All About Raising Bullying Awareness

 “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”-Judy Garland

Spookley, the square pumpkin, is bigger than life and is at the center of the 2014 Marini Farm Corn Maze. Marini Farm is focused on anti-bullying awareness and this year’s maze will publicize the importance of taking the right steps forward in stopping bullying.

The book The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, by Joe Troiano, is the story about a very special unusually shaped pumpkin who teaches children that you can't judge a book, or a pumpkin, by its cover, and how being different or square is okay.  Spookley invites you to “Dare to Be Square” and embrace the beauty of being different! The book shows how sometimes it is better to be square. Spookley saved the day and all the other pumpkins from tumbling into the river during a mighty storm by wedging between the hole in the fence and stopping all the pumpkins from tumbling into the fast moving river.

School bullying statistics in the United States show that about one in four kids in the U.S. are bullied on a regular basis. Between cyberbullying and bullying at school, the school bullying statistics illustrate a huge problem with bullying and the American school system. About 80 percent of all high school students have encountered being bullied in some fashion online, and this has attributed to a rise in youth violence and suicides. Last month a 14-year-old teen from Florida took his own life to escape the pain from bullying. "Shaq was emotionally and physically abused while at school," Lamar's mother said. "They pushed him down stairs, knocked him out of his chair in the cafeteria … repeatedly attacked him with an intent to emotionally harm. Despite constant attacks, he never let the bullies see him sweat," Lamar's mother said. "We now know that he was unable to continue his fight against the bullies. They won, because he took his life as a result." When you google teen and children suicides believed to be caused by bullying, it is difficult to read the stories. These are beautiful innocent children who feel there is no way of escaping the horror of bullying.

Please join us in raising bullying awareness, and come to the farm matching Spookley and dress in orange in recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month. Special prizes will be awarded to the brightest orange maze visitors. We will be providing a donation to Stomp Out Bullying and welcome your contributions. Please leave your donation (cash and checks accepted) in an envelope marked “Stomp Out Bullying” at the maze hut.

The statistics continue to climb and the most alarming one is that 77 percent of students have experienced bullying at some point in their lives.

Bullying statistics:

  • About 42 percent of kids have been bullied while online with one in four being verbally attacked more than once.
  • About 35 percent of kids have been threatened online.
  • About 58 percent of kids and teens have reported that something mean has been said about them or to them online.
  • Other bullying statistics show that about 77 percent of students have admitted to being the victim of one type of bullying or another.
We encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness of the serious impact bullying has on innocent children of all ages. Our maze is a bully free zone!

Written by Lightning Consulting

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kernels of Support

“We stand behind everything we sell and do. However, without a name I cannot help. We grow 120 acres of corn and work very hard to pick fresh seven days a week. We have done this for 50 years and this has not changed.”—Mike Marini

This post was in response to an unsigned comment left at the corn bin early in the season.  Mike’s response above was posted on Facebook along with the photo of the comment, and it received 7,664 views, 91 likes and 145 comments moments after the posting of the photo.

Corn is Marini Farm’s top selling crop for both retail and wholesale sales, so the farm is committed to providing the best and sweetest corn available in the region. Their 200 acres of corn provide over 10 tons of corn and over ten different varieties, including the two newest varieties; Marai and Allure. Marai corn is a new hybrid breed of corn known for its intense sweetness, tender kernels and superb eating quality. Marini incorporates special techniques by growing 20 acres under plastic to make sure they are can offer the first local corn in eastern MA.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture report, there will be an abundance of corn this fall as the nation’s farmers are expected to harvest a record 14.03 billion bushels of corn this year.

Below are some of the special comments posted on our Facebook page in response to the customer comment.

“My family started doing business with the Marini family close to 50 years ago. I consider Mario like a second father. When my father passed away my first summer running our farm, Mario was there to take me under his wing and help me anyway he could. When Michael took over running the farmstand he took an already well-established business and made it into one of the best in the state. They are one of the most hardworking, honest, caring and giving families you'll find in Essex County. I am proud and honored to be in business with them and look forward to another 50 years”. — Robert Marshall

“My family had a farm stand as well. I drive out of my way to get Marini produce. Superior to every other place I have shopped”.—Matt Desmond

“I have been buying produce both wholesale and retail from the Marini’s for thirty years....never once had an issue....this family business is operated with the highest level of integrity possible. If Michael says it's fresh, it is! If this person had a problem then have some courage and go make your complaint face-to- face!”—Marilyn Donati

“Bought your corn yesterday and brought it to a house party. The biggest hit ever! People are crazy”.—Kim Folan

Marini’s is top of the line. This family has given so much to our community. The person who left this message doesn't have the guts to sign their name. Therefore, the message is meaningless. I'm sure the corn looked perfect when they purchased it. Wonder how long it was left in their hot trunk?”—Cheryl Becker

“I just want to add my two cents to this awful note left for Mike. My husband goes to Marini Farm every day for fresh produce to supply our farmstand. He is there when the trucks come in from the fields every morning. We have NEVER had anything but the freshest produce. His corn is by far the best around and picked fresh every day. The Marini Family are the hardest working people and the nicest around.They go above and beyond. Wherever this corn came from, it was not Marini Farm unless they kept it there for a week or more. Thank you Mike Marini and Mario for all that you do.”—Marilyn Sweet, LattofFarm, Rockport

“I live two streets away from another local farm, and I still drive 25 minutes just to get Marini Farm produce because it is THAT fresh and delicious! That one customer may have a gripe but customers like myself who don't even live in Ipswich and everyone else who have posted supportive comments on here love your farm and the awesome selection!” —Melissa Newbury

“I eat Marini's corn just about every night of the week all summer long, and the corn is delicious. I just had my corn tonight, the third night in a row from corn I got on Saturday, and it is still yummy! Marini's has perfected the art of growing corn for the whole entire growing season. They are the only place I get my corn, and I look forward to it every year. It wouldn't be summer without Marini's corn and vegetables.”—Michele Huot Elliot

“We will make it a priority to respond to all comments, questions and posts we receive, as it is your feedback that matters the most.Thank you all for your overwhelming and kind comments on our Facebook page, and your commitment and loyalty to our farm.”—Mike Marini

Prepared by Lightning Consulting

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Marini Is A Party Farm!

Marini Farm offers parties that focus on farm exploration, seasonal activities, and fun farm attractions. The farm is busy in season with school tours, family events, church groups, company outings, scout outings and children’s celebrations. Our children’s parties are packed with interactive programs for experiencing agricultural fun. All parties include a farm tour, animal visits, and special farm explorations. If you want to have a special theme party, you can work those details out with our party professional. Summer parties include hayride, bouncing pillow, jump slide, play structures and visit at the animal park.

Party details follow:
  •  Two hours long (includes one hour in the party room)
  •  A party professional for full duration of party (setup and cleanup included)
  •  Guest minimum is 10
  •  Birthday child receives free admission
  •  Adult chaperones must be present
  •  7 days in advance booking requirement
  •  $50 non-refundable deposit
Some of the special seasonal parties include:
  •  Strawberry parties
  •  Corn maze parties
  •  Animal friends parties
  •  Farm education/”Be a farmer” party
  •  Hayride parties
  •  Pumpkin carving parties
  •  Pumpkin painting parties
  •  Customized theme parties (customer organizes the theme planning)
At the “Be a Farmer” parties the children will follow a typical day on the farm and will experience what is involved in growing, picking and maintaining the crops.

Pricing (birthday child is free):

Corn Maze party: $200 for up to ten children
Mini Maze Party: $200 for up to ten children
Pumpkin Carving Party: $100 for up to ten children
Hayride Party: $100 for up to ten children
Animal friends: $100 for up to ten children
Pumpkin Painting Party: $100 for up to ten children
Be a Farmer Party/Show & Tell: $100 for up to ten children

The farm has many fun recreational activities available and in the fall the corn maze park (duck races, rope maze, giant jumping pillow, corn house, mini maze, farm animal pen, and more) is available for party use.

At the “Animal Friends Party” the children get to learn about the farm animals, and then are provided an opportunity to pet and feed the animals.

You also may create your own special theme party. Last year the farm was a chosen spot for a marriage proposal and family engagement celebration. “I would spend time all my time educating the public about the importance of the family farm, if time allowed”, states Mike Marini.

It is a simple process to book your party on the registration form on our website. Remember parties are not just for kids!

Prepared by Lightning Consulting

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's Refreshing at Marini Farm

For over 75 years the Marini family has been focused on providing quality freshness and nutrition to our customers. Picked fresh 7 days a week, our variety of produce has expanded to over 25 fruits and vegetables. As Mike Marini is proud to state, “We stand behind everything we sell and do, and this has been our focus since the farm started in 1928. We want everyone to have a refreshing experience at Marini Farm, and think of us as your backyard farmer.” Mike wants the fresh country life to be available to everyone and wants them to experience fresh produce spread across their tables each and every day.

Our new “Fresh” campaign will focus on expanding our exposure to our neighboring towns. Postcards will be mailed out to residences in Topsfield and Boxford and other surrounding towns, introducing them to our “Fresh” campaign and commitment to provide top quality fresh produce.

Recent customer posts on our Facebook page:

“I live two streets away from another local farm and I still drive 25 minutes just to get Marini Farm produce because it is that fresh and delicious!”-Melissa Newbury

“I have been buying produce both wholesale and retail from the Marini’s for thirty years and never once had an issue. This family business is operated with the highest level of integrity possible. If Michael says it's fresh, it is!”-Marilyn Donati

“Just finished our first corn of the season. It was delicious.We have never gotten anything but the best from Marinis since we moved here eight years ago.”-Earl Parker

There’s several months of fresh produce coming your way so we look forward to seeing you this summer and fall.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Marini Farm Produce Availability Calendar

Marini Farm grows over 200 acres of fruits and vegetables which are available from May through October. To help you in planning your produce shopping visits to the farm, we have created a seasonal produce calendar. Please be aware that the calendar may vary slightly as growing dates may vary each season depending on the impact of Mother Nature. This season, as an example, our strawberry picking calendar was moved further into June based on the cold spring we experienced. To ensure that the produce you want will be available, don’t hesitate to call ahead to confirm availability. The vegetables are picked daily in the early morning to ensure quality and freshness. 

Marini is always prepared for dramatic changes in weather and incorporates special techniques and utilizes protective coverings to protect the crops from harsh conditions.

“I always need to be ready with a backup plan and can’t fight Mother Nature. It is these challenges that make farming so exciting as no two days and no two circumstances are ever the same”, claims Mike Marini. 

We are picking nine vegetables in June and 22 in July, so please keep our produce calendar nearby so you don’t miss out on your favorite vegetables.

Prepared by Lightning Consulting

Monday, June 9, 2014

Spookley Will Bring A World Of Smiles To The Marini Farm Corn Maze

The 2014 Marini Farm Corn Maze plans are in place and there is a lot of positive energy around this year’s theme. Spookley the Square Pumpkin has had a presence at the corn maze in the last few years. A large inflatable Spookley has greeted maze visitors as they entered the maze park, and this year Spookley will have the largest presence and will get the most attention ever as the 8 acre corn maze design. In 2013, Marini organized an anti-bullying concert event to focus attention on bullying prevention and awareness, and this focus will continue in 2014 with the daily awareness and reinforcement on the importance of accepting everyone, whether they are square or round.

The book The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, by Joe Troiano, is the story about a very special little pumpkin who teaches children that you can't judge a book, or a pumpkin, by its cover, and how being different is okay and how we shouldn’t tease others. Spookley invites you to “Dare to Be Square” and embrace the beauty of being different! The book shows how sometimes it is better to be square. Spookley saved the day and all the other pumpkins from tumbling into the river during a mighty storm by wedging between the hole in the fence and stopping all the pumpkins from the scary fast moving river.

Marini wants everyone who visits the maze to feel Spookley’s presence and join in and smile along with him as people help each other navigate through the maze and participate in all the activities at the maze park. At the end of the book, it shows the farmer carrying Spookley to his house and placing Spookley on the porch, lit up with a candle for all to see. Spookley went from the bullied victim to the hero in a matter of seconds, and he never hesitated to come to the rescue and save all those who tormented him because he was square. Being different can make a difference and save lives!

The key messages the book presents are:

• Being different is OK

• How differences can become strengths when you least expect it

• How if everyone helps each other, lives can be saved and things will be better

• You can’t judge a book by its cover

• Treating others unfairly can hurt you in the end

• Not everyone is perfect, and not all pumpkins are round

• Friends can help you when you need them most

• It’s not right to hurt others feelings

• There are friends out there for everyone

• If you make others sad, you will experience many sad days yourself

• It is not acceptable to exclude people from the group

• Everyone is special regardless of how they look

• We can all unite against bullying and help one another when it matters most

• Being a bully is not OK!

The book is available on DVD, paperback and as an app for the iPad/iPhone, Android, and Nook platforms.

For several years Spookley has been the official spokes-pumpkin for National Bullying Prevention Month, sponsored by the Minneapolis-based family support organization PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Education (ED), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) partnered with bullying experts to develop a uniform definition of bullying for research and surveillance.

In January 2014, CDC and ED released the definition listed below:

Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.

The statistics as stated on continue to rise and present alarming data.

Bullying statistics:

• About 42 percent of kids have been bullied online

• About 35 percent of kids have been threatened online

• About 58 percent of kids and teens have reported that something mean has been said about them or to them online

• Other bullying statistics show that about 77 percent of students have admitted to being the victim of one type of bullying or another

• The American Justice Department bullying statistics show that one out of every 4 kids will be bullied sometime throughout their adolescence

• Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs

The title of the 2014 corn maze is “Spookley brings a world of smiles.” “We expect Spookley to be a hit at Marini Farm and loved by all”, says Mike Marini. We want maze visitors to leave with smiles on their faces and remember one strong message, “It’s hip to be square.”  

Prepared by Lightning Consulting

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Fascination with Strawberries

Strawberries are unlike other fruits and are the “jewel” crop at Marini Farm.  Learn some interesting facts about the popular fruit that is the highlight of many festivals across the country in early summer, and is a household favorite due to its luscious sweetness and health benefits.

• California supplies 80% of America’s strawberries and has over 25,000 acres of strawberry fields

• There are over 600 varieties of strawberries grown in the U.S.

• The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s

• The world grows more than 2.5 million metric tons of supermarket strawberries every year

• Strawberries are known as the “inside-out” fruit because the seeds are on the outside

• Strawberries have up to 200 seeds

• Strawberries are a member of the rose family

• Once the strawberries are picked, they do not continue to ripen

• Eight strawberries will provide 140% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C for kids

• Strawberries have the highest antioxidant values, which can help prevent cataracts and eye degeneration

• Ninety-four percent of United States households consume strawberries

• It is a widely held view that the name “strawberry” was derived from 'the berries that are "strewn" about on the plants', and the name "strewn berry" eventually morphed into "Strawberry".

• Strawberries are hand-picked as they are fragile and bruise easily

• Strawberry shortcake is one of the most common strawberry desserts in America and dates back to the American Indians

• Chocolate covered strawberries have become one of the nation’s most popular desserts

• Strawberries are full of a special substance called ellagic acid, which can help fight cancer

• Nutritional experts refer to strawberries as a nutritional “superfood,” as a result of them being excellent sources of antioxidants, Vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber

• The ellagic acid and flavonoids in strawberries distribute an antioxidant effect that benefits heart health

• Strawberries come in at number 27 among the top 50 general foods containing antioxidants, and they rank fourth among fruits containing antioxidants

Marini's plants seven varieties of strawberries in an area of 10 acres, with Jewel as the favorite variety. Known for having their first native berries on the North Shore, they make sure they start planting early and cover part of the fields with a double row cover known as white clothers. The early harvest starts early June and ends around July 4th, but can vary depending on the weather. Marini's has had a robust harvest from their strawberry fields for about three years, so they've added new fields each year to keep their supply plentiful. There are also day-neutral strawberries, which are planted in the spring and harvested in late August until frost. The day-neutral berries are a great summer berry, but tend to be tougher and less sweet than the early season berries. Weather has a dramatic impact on the flavor of strawberries as the sun is vital in bringing out the full sugars, and on sunny days they can be “as sweet as candy”, explains Mike Marini. They remove the flowers on the day-neutral berries which brings the energy back into the plant, creating bigger and better strawberries later. The berries are very perishable, so they are picked by hand seven days a week. They can be refrigerated to help them last longer, but that will have an effect on their flavor and on their “native berry shine”.

Get ready to start picking! Marini celebrates the strawberry season with their annual Strawberry Festival, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, that takes place on June 21, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Enjoy a full day of family fun and memories! There are activities all day long; hayrides, bounce houses, jumping pillow, duck races, farm animals, corn cannons, face painting, antique tractors, play area with tractor, spider, castle, picnic area, food and refreshments. The star of the springtime will soon be ready for your picking pleasure, so plan for making your special seasonal desserts, and stop by and pick-your-own berries. These sweet shiny jewels will make your day complete.

Written by Lightning Consulting

Friday, April 25, 2014

Social Media and Farming Go Hand in Hand at Marini Farm

Mike Marini is rarely seen without his tablet or cell phone during the workday, as he is always ready to be in position to capture the next photo to share what is growing at the farm. He enjoys using social media to tell the farm’s story; give updates during the harvest season; promote the CSA; provide calendar updates on farm family events; answer consumer inquiries and more. It is a powerful tool in Mike’s tool box, as the farm’s 6,539 Facebook followers are actively following every planting and harvesting motion. Weekly engagement for this week was 13,869 which indicates that people want to know what the farm is up to.

Farming is a visual industry, so Mike enjoys having the community follow his workday and see in real-time what is happening at the farm. A recent post showing the first 20 acres of corn planted, was followed the next day by a photo of snow-covered acres. This type of post allows consumers to follow the challenges faced in everyday farming, so people feel as if they have a direct connection to the farm. Social media posts also allow Marini to show its commitment to producing the best quality crops possible.

The farm has been in the Marini family for four generations, so family is at the core of everything they do. Therefore, their social media presence reflects their real-life values - gratitude, family, good food and quality of life. The recent Facebook post, “Took a break from farming for another family wedding; the Marini’s dance like nobody's watching,” showed the Marini children dressed in matching colorful floral wedding attire dancing and having fun. The post received 12,028 views and 528 likes, making it the highest engaged photo of the year thus far.

Farmers now have their own term for a selfie on the farm and are posting their ‘felfies’ next to their favorite sheep, crops and tractors. During harvest, Farmers Weekly gets thousands of pictures via Twitter and Facebook and some farmers have become top social media celebrities on Instagram and YouTube. There is even a blog - Farming Selfie - set up by a UK farmer @willwilson100 that shows all the latest felfies from around the world. According to the book Future of Farming, 76 percent of farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 use social media to share knowledge, connect with consumers, and promote their business. Social media offers farmers a unique way to educate the general public about what they do, the practices they use, and the challenges they face. During harvest season, Farmers Weekly gets thousands of pictures via Twitter and Facebook.

Just like with new farming techniques, Mike is always learning about, and incorporating new social media tools. He saves everything to EverNote, a management platform app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use and lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders and save important documents. Mike reports that EverNote captures his every move, and is an app he simply can’t live without.

In 2013 Marini developed a new app for their customers to get updates on all the events and activities at the farm. They're free, and keep you up-to-date on the happenings at Marini's farm throughout the season and they are available for both Apple and Android devices. You'll know when the delicious Marini strawberries are ready to be picked, and when the corn is in, without having to go to the website. The Marini app also provides lists of events; CSA info; nutritional info; loyalty coupons; a way to share photos with the farm; access to Marini's Facebook page; a gallery of pictures of happenings at the farm; the history of Marini Farm; a fun "Fruit Salad" game to play, and more.

“Social media is a visual playground showing our love for farming and commitment to provide customers with the best quality produce possible,” states Mike Marini. Some of Marini’s favorite Facebook posts thus far in 2014 were:

Prepared by Lightning Consulting

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mario Marini Loves Every Minute Of Every Day On The Farm

“I love what I do”, was the most common response during our inspiring interview with Mario Marini. You just want to learn more and more about his love for life, family and farming. There was never a time when Mario Marini thought about changing his career path. From his childhood years growing up on the farm, to his 78th year living on the farm, Mario has loved every minute of farming the 200 acres at Marini Farm. According to Mario, there is always something to do, new challenges to resolve, and new developments in agriculture to learn about.
Mario Marini checking on his corn burning stove in his home

Mario rises each day excited to get on his tractor and see the progress being made in the crop fields. It is clear when you have a deep rooted passion for farming as Mario does, the term “hard work” never gets mentioned. He feels good about what he does and loves that the customers have trust in him. “A farm is always changing. There is no such thing as finished. Work comes in a stream and has no end”, says Mario.

It all started in 1928 when two brothers and two cousins emigrated from Italy to the United States. They first settled in Ipswich, but in 1938 two split to start a farm in Wenham. Marini Farm started as a chicken wholesaler until 1972 when Gina Marini set up a roadside stand to sell strawberries.

How did you first get introduced to farming?

I was born and brought up in a farming life and have worked ever since I was a kid at the age of ten. Farming will “make a man out of you”, my dad would always say. My dad died when I was 18 years old, so I transitioned into the management role very quickly.

Was there ever a time you thought of pursuing another career?

No, farming is a good life and all I know how to do.I worked hard and got the education needed to run the farm and incorporate the best techniques for crop management and sustainability. I graduated from the The Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts, and took over the farm at age 21.

What wisdom did you learn from your father? 

How to grow crops and get out and do what was needed to be done. I love what I do! Ever since I was ten years old I was learning about planting and spraying and everything else. It was long hours from sunrise to 11:00 PM most days of the week.

What was your biggest challenge?

Surviving financially. We worked long hours for a little bit of money. I enjoy everything about farming and don’t view anything as a challenge, but instead an opportunity to improve. I love what I do and handle the challenges the best that I can.

What was your biggest accomplishment?

Building a roadside stand. That was when things changed financially.It was in the front yard and mom ran the stand selling fruits and vegetables. We stuck to it and it got better and better and bigger and bigger.

What advice do you have for farmers today?

I was fortunate and owe a lot to my family for continuing to farm and not sell our property. Today it is harder to buy land and start a farm, so I am blessed my family stayed committed to farming. I owe a lot to my parents.

What is the best thing about farming life?

 It is a good healthy life. You can push hard in the summer and relax in the winter. You start with a seed and if you take care of it well you eventually have a good crop. Different crops require different care, so I love the diversity of the farming process.

If you had a crystal ball twenty years from now, how do you think farming would look?

They would be more advanced in improving the quality of crops. Corn is different today than it was 20 years ago. There is a big difference in flavor and taste. You’ve “got to get the water boiling before you pick the corn”, was the way it used to be.  Corn would lose its flavor during the cooking process, but today it stays sweet and maintains its flavor.

What do you enjoy doing the most?

I like all that I do! I like the challenges of farming and enjoy studying and getting into it all. I like to figure out why something is not growing well and determine what to do to make it better. I go to agriculture conferences and am continuously learning about agriculture and techniques for improving the quality of our crops.

You must be considered a local role model for regional farmers. How does that make you feel?

Yes, a lot of people call me for advice. I utilize the best resources which help make Marini farm look good. I love to help people and know we can all learn from each other.

What sustainable techniques do you use? 

We have five greenhouses heated with corn burning stoves. The cost of oil affects us financially, so we are doing all we can to manage those costs. I am heating the original farmhouse with a corn burning stove, and have cut my heating costs by one-third. 

What is your favorite part of farming?

Being on my tractor! I just love tractor work, especially the new modern tractors. Life doesn’t get much better than plowing, harrowing, seeding, cultivating and irrigating the fields. If you want to stay with it, you have to change with the times!I also love contributing daily to the welfare of society.

What age are you planning to retire?

NEVER! I love being committed to my profession and doing the best job I can. Sitting around at coffee shops or diners simply doesn’t excite me. I like to keep moving!

What is your favorite crop?

Corn. It has changed so much over the years. Also, I love my strawberries and having the first crop of the season. It’s always great to outdo our fellow regional farmers.

What else excites you about farming?

I love seeing how the irrigation can quickly change the fields to be more alive, and I can watch crops literally come back to life in front of my eyes.

What’s the coolest thing you have done?

I grew a half acre of corn on Hog Island for the movie “The Crucible”, staring Danielle Day Lewis. It was a challenge giving the island weather, irrigation challenges and transportation issues. It was pretty exciting that they approached me directly to grow the corn.

Mario spoke throughout the interview about how blessed he is with his beautiful family. He has been married for 52 years, has four children and eight grandchildren. “The good lord gave me Michael to take on the farm, and keep the momentum going", states Mario. He feels lucky to have the life he has and owes a lot to his parents for staying committed to the farm.

“There is no better feeling than taking on a challenge and doing it better than the next guy”, says Mario. He loved referencing the farm’s victory in the World Championship Punkin Chunkin contest, and how their pumpkin went the furthest at 4,693 feet.

His eyes light up when he speaks about the customers and how he welcomes their waves of appreciation. He feels responsible for making a better life for everyone. He is a steward of creation and sees farming as ever changing the quality of the world we live in.

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrect or, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, and death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
- Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Written by Lightning Consulting/Blogger Pros