Interview by Tracy Kinsey, Communications Director
Wright-Locke Farm has seen exponential growth in recent years, adding a new state of the art building with a full service kitchen, known as the All Seasons Barn, a full time preschool, a list of new programming, and Farm to Go, a local food hub providing products from small farms all over New England. After 13 years steering the farm through some tough terrain, Archie McIntyre is retiring to his own farm in New Hampshire. Archie can kick up his boots knowing he has helped save this community oasis from development, expanded its education programming, and built a beautiful new facility to keep the farm offering enrichment and local food year round.
The visionary leader is not leaving his passion project before giving tractor lessons (literally) to young volunteers and handing the wheel over to a new leader, Erika Gorgenyi. A search committee, which included Archie, unanimously recommended Gorgenyi above other candidates to the board after she served the last year and a half working as Associate Executive Director. “I couldn’t be more pleased with Erika’s selection as the Farm’s next Executive Director,” said Archie, “I know that she will provide great leadership for the Farm and all its constituents as we move forward.”
Soft spoken but always observant, Erika is a quiet presence, but you immediately sense her comfort being on a farm and in nature. We sat down to talk about her new role in the recently created staff area in the All Seasons Barn. A comfortable used sofa and armchairs have been lovingly placed there by staff as a welcoming place to create, collaborate, and work. Each piece of furniture has a history, a story to tell of life before “the Farm”, Erika is no exception. I was interested to learn about the road leading her to Wright-Locke, and how the stops along the way have given her the breadth of experience needed to carry one of Winchester’s greatest assets into its next phase.
Growing up in Everett, Erika was not exactly surrounded by green pastures, but her summers spent in rural New Hampshire helped plant the seed for a
future of growth in the field of outdoor education. Naturally curious, Erika attended college here in New England studying History and English, going on to receive Masters degrees in Philosophy and Environmental Studies. A self-proclaimed biophiliac, someone innately drawn to living things and nature, she has dedicated her career to nurturing that connection in others, especially children. Erika joined the Wright-Locke team in 2018 as the Education Director and has worked in every area of the Farm’s operations. Prior to that, Erika led outdoor education programs on the North Shore, helped develop another community farm, managed a town Farmers Market, and ran a small farm herself, producing her own local CSA. These experiences have prepared her well to understand every aspect of Wright-Locke.
When asked what excites her about her new leadership position, she says, “I love the organizational culture here at the farm. It’s a special place being so close to the city, yet you feel so removed when you’re here. The Town gave so much to preserve this place and it’s important that we are giving back by making it accessible to everyone.” Erika has instilled confidence in the staff and board with her connections in community farming, knowing the landscape and working with other farms. Erika hopes to collaborate more with groups like the Conservation Commission and Sustainable Winchester. What does she see as her biggest challenge? She says, “Managing the rapid growth sustainably and responsibly.” Her dedication is evident and she has stepped into her role with both feet, ready to carry Wright-Locke Farm into the future while staying true to its mission of education, sustainability, land stewardship, local food access and of course being a place for people to connect with nature.