Ally Scholtz ’16 was recently named one of the “Fab Five” young agricultural stars in Massachusetts.
Newburyport News talks to incoming WMS freshman and E.E. Ford Scholar Ally Scholtz, who was recently named one of Massachusetts’ “Fab Five” young agricultural stars, about her goal to become the owner and operator of a community-oriented farm. Way to go, Ally!
By Mac Cerullo, Newburyport News Staff Writer
See original article here
AMESBURY — Whether it’s planting crops, watering plants, weeding gardens or just working out in the fields, there’s nothing at Cider Hill Farm that Ally Scholtz isn’t willing to do.
Co-workers rave about Ally because of her work ethic and friendly demeanor. But the first thing most people notice when they first meet Ally is her age.
At just 14 years old, Ally is by far the youngest person working at Cider Hill Farm. She also is probably one of the youngest dedicated farmers in the state.
For that reason and more, the Salisbury resident has already begun turning heads in the agricultural community. She was recently identified by the state Department of Agricultural Resources as one of the “Fab Five” young farming stars in Massachusetts. The other four range in age from 17 to 31.
Ally originally started working at Cider Hill Farm as part of an internship she set up through the Inn Street Montessori School in Newburyport, which she attended until recently graduating from eighth grade.
Upon arriving at Cider Hill, she quickly immersed herself in the farm and became a regular at farmers markets across the region.
“My teachers let me get out of school early a couple of days a week so I could work here,” Ally said this week at the farm. “I didn’t really want to stop for the summer, so I kept working here four days a week.”
Ally is usually pretty easy to spot in the fields. Beyond the fact that most of her co-workers are foreign college students in their 20s, who are at Cider Hill on six-month college programs, Ally always sports a bandana in her hair. According to her mother, Kim Scholtz, her daughter has 1,001 uses for the bandana and hardly ever takes it off.
While most of the kids her age aren’t working at all, much less on a farm, Ally admits she’s always been a little different.
“I guess I’m more outdoorsy than most people my age,” she said. “Most people my age like computers, music, texting and cellphones, but I don’t.”
Instead, the self-described “redneck hippie” prefers spending her time outdoors doing things like camping and hiking. She said that sometimes she’ll even go out barefoot because she feels more of a connection to the earth that way. Ally’s mother said it’s not unusual for her daughter to come home on any given day covered in sweat and a thick layer of dirt from working outside.
Calling Ally a joy to have on board, Karen Cook, co-owner of Cider Hill Farm, said she possesses a passion for farming not often seen in kids these days.
“She’s running every single aspect of our business from A to Z,” Cook said. “She’s the real deal and we see that in her; we want to watch her continue to grow.”
Ally was brought to the attention of the state Department of Agricultural Resources earlier this summer when Cook introduced her to Anna Waclawiczek, the department’s chief of staff, at a farmers market in Marblehead.
“Karen and I started talking and then along came Ally, who came over to ask if she could help,” Waclawiczek said. “Karen introduced us and said she was mentoring Ally.”
Intrigued by Ally, Waclawiczek asked the young woman a few questions and walked away. Waclawiczek was impressed. She reached out to all of her division directors across the state to tell them about Ally and to see if they knew anybody else like her, which became the basis for the “Fab Five.”
Waclawiczek said Ally seems to have found an environment that fits her perfectly.
“You could tell how she found her home,” Waclawiczek said. “They just embraced her and inspired her, and now you get the sense that she’s found what she wants to do.”
This fall, Ally will be moving on to The White Mountain School in Bethlehem, N.H., where she will commute from her aunt’s house in Littleton, N.H., as a day student.
Down the road, Ally hopes to move south to the Blue Ridge Mountain area. She dreams of owning a large piece of property with a farm store and enjoying the warm southern air.
Cook said whatever the future holds, she knows Ally has what it takes to accomplish her goals.
“There is no job she’s not willing to do, no day too hot to work and no task too dirty to handle,” Cook said.