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About Us

The Farm

Many Hands Organic Farm has been in existence since 1982 and has been selling to the public since 1985. We were first certified organic by the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association in 1987. Since 2003 our certification has been handled by the Baystate Organic Certifiers because NOFA/Mass no longer functions as a certifying agency. Organic certification is a process by which a third party organization sets a standard for organic production and management that the farmer adheres to. In October 2002 there came into place a National Organic Program with standards for certification that is the same for all farms across the US. Prior to this date certification was taken care of by 44 independent certifiers across the country. We at Many Hands plan to continue to be certified organic into the future.

The Ideals

Organic farming is broadly defined as a farming system that respects the balance of natural cycles and works as much as possible within those natural cycles.

Practically for us at Many Hands it means that we use no chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides, that we do use natural rock powders, vegetable meals, crop rotation, heavy mulches of our own hay, wood chips, and corrugated cardboard, cover crops, and animals in rotation with vegetables and fruits. We extend the season on both ends with the use of unheated hoop houses. Over the past several years we have focused intensively on fertility, using soil tests and enhanced observation to determine fertility needs. We work closely with son Dan and and daughter-in-law Roshni and their Nutrient Density Supply Company to provide mineral and biological plant nutrient amendments to support in the raising of the most nutritious crops possible. Our biggest advances are since 2014. We have upped our game to prioritize carbon sequestering methods on our farm – more careful mob stocking pasture management, farm-made fungal composts and amendments, living vegetable pathways, heavy use of cover crops during the season and in the winter, and now no tillage. In 2016 our productivity and food quality took a sharp jump up, despite the region’s worst drought in our 36 year history here. In 2017 we sold our roto-tiller! Ask – we are quite voluble on this topic of proper management strategies to keep the mycorrhizal fungi happy and at full capacity to manage the underground soil system for maximum photosynthesis!

The Family

Personnel on our farm used to center around our family labor. We are Jack and Julie and four kids: Dan, Paul, Ellen, and Chuk. Jack and Julie work for NOFA/Mass, edit The Natural Farmer, and do a large amount of volunteer work in the local community with music and theater.

Now all in their mid to late thirties, the kids are leading interesting lives. Dan and wife Roshni are organic farmers in nearby North Brookfield. They also run the Nutrient Density Supply Company and Dan is the executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association. We spend part of each weekend with their children Anya and Samuel and Micha’el. Raphael is yet too young to stay over. Paul, recently retired as our webmaster, is married to Betsy Miller Kittredge. Both of them work for NGP Van Software in Washington DC. They are the proud parents of Geoffrey and Matthew. Ellen is a nutritional counselor with a thriving business and can be reached at ellenkittredge.com. She presently lives between Asheville, NC where she teaches a growing group of students Andean cosmology and earth based healing ways (eaglecondorcouncil.org) and Columbia, CA where she spends time with her sweetheart, David. Chuk lives 25 minutes away in Athol, MA and is a “gentleman contractor” who also serves in the role of volunteer coordinator for both the NOFA Summer and Winter Conferences. He is married to Cathleen O’Keefe who farms at Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst and runs the Amherst Winter Farmers Market.

Additionally, we have had numerous farm apprentices over the years and continue to barter with adult working shareholders for our CSA. Since 2007 we have hired full time seasonal and part time year round staff. Presently there are three full and part time folks on staff. One of our staff members was formerly incarcerated. We make it a priority to train and hire recovering addicts. Over the past four years we have developed a close working relationship with Stetson School in Barre (http://www.sevenhills.org/programs/stetson-school-at-seven-hills ) and enjoy regular volunteers from there. Check out the work of our Many Hands Sustainability Center at www.manyhandssustainabilitycenter.org . Many Hands is our practice and our belief: that farming and community and enjoyment all go together.

Working Shareholder Opportunities

One of the constituencies of our workforce is working shareholders. For 4 hours of work during the 22 week CSA season (M, W, F mornings 8-noon), volunteers receive as barter one large share of produce. Come for breakfast at 7:30 and stay for lunch. It is a good opportunity for someone interested in learning the CSA process from a hands on perspective (there are some animal chores too), and to become a part of our farm community. We are looking for folks who can work with alacrity, take direction well, enjoy all sorts of weather – much of which is not considered ideal- and are timely and responsible. Contact Julie at julie@mhof.net or 978-355-2853 for more information.

We also take volunteers for the day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings year round.

Year Round Employment Opportunity for a recovering addict/former prisoner

Through the Many Hands Sustainability Center, our non-profit partner organization, we will be hiring

One of the constituencies of our workforce is working shareholders. For 4 hours of work during the 22 week CSA season (M, W, F mornings 8-noon), volunteers receive as barter one large share of produce. Come for breakfast at 7:30 and stay for lunch. It is a good opportunity for someone interested in learning the CSA process from a hands on perspective (there are some animal chores too), and to become a part of our farm community. We are looking for folks who can work with alacrity, take direction well, enjoy all sorts of weather – much of which is not considered ideal- and are timely and responsible. Contact Julie at julie@mhof.net or 978-355-2853 for more information.

We also take volunteers for the day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings year round.

At the moment we have no openings for paid farm staff.

an individual for the period between March and December 2016. Applicants must be from the target population of recovering addict and/or former prisoner. Compensation -  $10/hour. Hours vary during the year. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are included. Some wood cutting and management will compliment a broad range of farm chores. Most of our work centers around our vegetable and fruit operation with daily animal chores included. A willing heart and stepping up the plate hands are required.