January 31, 2018
Dear 2017 MHOF shareholders,
I write to you today to encourage you to join our CSA this year. The summer CSA will run from the week of June 4 through the week of October 29 for 22 weeks. The price is $650 for full shares (9-10 lbs. per week on average) and $425 for medium shares (around 6 lbs. on average). Pick up days are M, W, F in Barre, M in Worcester, and Wednesday and Friday in Holden.
The fall share runs the four weeks of November on Mondays only. You can pick up in Barre, Worcester or Holden. The price is $120 for this share.
You can order on line with Paypal at http://mhof.net/csa-order-form/. If you would like to pay with check on a payment plan, you can use the form that I have attached.
I know that there are a lot of CSA’s out there. I would submit that you would choose ours for any of a number of reasons which I will enumerate here below. But first you might wonder why it is so important to join right now when June is 5 months away. The beauty of the CSA is that it is a partnership between the farmer and the customer. Your dollars help us pay our upfront bills for fertility, insurance, seed, potting soil, supplies, machinery repairs and tool purchase, and the big one – staff salaries – which is ongoing. In turn we prioritize your share in all of our planning, divide what is available carefully between you, and put your food first. We do have other accounts for the overflow that occurs, but they always play second fiddle to the CSA. In exchange you put your money up front when we need it, and essentially trust that we will come through for you – which we have done successfully for the past 25 years.
Quality and nutritional value of the produce
I can say unequivocally that the nutritional quality, taste and longevity of our produce is of the highest quality we can muster. We attend assiduously to soil fertility in the following ways.
- We carefully rotate our animals – cows, chickens and turkeys – through the vegetable fields in the off season for their benefit of the forage and the vegetable’s and fruit’s benefit of fertilizing manure – one of the oldest and most reliable fertility enhancements known to humankind.
- We take soil tests each fall and amend with organically approved fertilizers, rock powders and dusts, humic substances and micro-nutrients (where the power packed nutrition really lies).
- We weekly provide a nutrient drench that stimulates the soil biology to more effectively do its symbiotic work with plant roots to increase their capacity to grow to their full potential.
- We weekly provide a foliar feeding to all of our vegetables and fruits. These foliar feedings of liquid fertility and our own home brewed microbial inoculants enhance the photosynthetic capacity of the plant through its leaves by as much as 20% more than if it wasn’t applied.
- We interplant cover crop cocktails of many species in and among our food crops to enhance the microbial relationships in the soil that drive the fertility and photosynthesis.
- Or we use heavy mulches which attract the earthworms in droves who spend their lives passing soil through their bodies and leaving it better than when they found it due to the microbial partners that live in their guts who will break down the soil to leave it more accessible to the plant roots to uptake.
Variety and the inclusion of fruit
We grow about as many things as one can grow at 1000 feet at this latitude. Not only will you get a large variety of vegetables, but as they are in season and available we share our strawberries, black raspberries, red raspberries, peaches, plums (occasionally), pears and apples with you.
Bounty of health-giving greens and herbs
Lettuces, brassicas (kale, collard, broccoli, cabbage, Asian greens), dandelions, and herbs like parsley, basil, oregano, and others are amongst the most nutritious of growing plants for us humans. Our specialty at MHOF is these greens that will put your digestive tract back in motion for your overall health improvement.
Our carbon sequestering practices
Four years ago we realized we had to give up our rototiller if we were to really be working with nature and natural systems. Nature does not rototill, nor leave the ground uncovered. With tillage carbon escapes to the atmosphere and causes climate change and the worms and microbial underground workers get their homes destroyed and their livelihood ruined. With poorly functioning microbes, and earthworms, the plants cannot find their way to the fertility of the soil as it is these microbes that connect the plant roots to the minerals. We are now totally rototiller free and were able to achieve 85% soil coverage for the winter with mulches and cover crops (Our goal for 2018 is 100% coverage by season’s end.) Every year the food quality and soil quality rises over all. We are still on the learning curve after 30 years of tilling, but growing by leaps and bounds each year and with each climate change curve ball that is thrown us (and all farmers) each year.
Our organic certification
We have been certified organic since 1987. It is a given that we don’t use poisons. And we seek biodiversity and we want to have as light a footprint as possible. We also take from biodynamics, permaculture, biological and natural farming disciplines.
Our mission to use farming as a means to support recovery
For 11 years we have been employing recovering addicts and for 5 years we have been working with institutionalized youth on our farm. They provide a large portion of our farm labor. And they blossom on the farm.
Our partnership with the DTA to provide shares to SNAP recipients
Last year the Department of Transitional Assistance called us to be part of a pilot project to take SNAP customers as CSA members. Folks can use their SNAP benefits to pre-pay each month for their CSA share. And in conjunction with the Healthy Incentives Program they can get extra benefits to purchase more fruits and vegetables. Attached is the agreement that folks need to sign and return to participate with us.
Our longevity in the trade
Yes, we have been farming here since 1982 and in business as a CSA since 1992. We have made many of the mistakes (there are always new ones to learn from!) and also come up with better ways of doing things. You benefit by our accumulated wisdom in that you can be assured that your CSA farm is stable and will provide what we say we can provide. Take a look here for more detail on what you get – http://mhof.net/2017-csa-share-options/. Even so, each year is radically different, and that is part of the fun.
Our dedicated farm staff
It sometimes brings tears to my eyes how dedicated our farm staff is to the goal of raising the best food possible. Clare, Brent, Josh, and all the folks who have come before them have the highest standards for excellence each day as they work on the myriad aspects of the farm. Jack and I are indeed blessed by our farming community. This year we hope to add Gabe to the mix and train up another future organic farmer.
Please rejoin us today!
Thanks, Julie and Jack