Dear 2017 CSA Members,
It is here at last – the first week of the CSA. As we have been doing this continuously for 26 years now, it is one of those rites of passage by now – and still after all these years I get a little nervous about the beginning week. As we prepare to “feed” you each year it is kind of like what it must feel like for the teacher who is about to meet her class for the first time, wondering about each student and how he or she will enjoy the learning experience. If anything is confusing to you, give me a call or drop an email line – firstname.lastname@example.org; 978-355-2853.
After last year’s very dry spring after a very dry winter, this year’s rain was at first welcomed and by now we are a bit tired of the overcast and cold days. Luckily the nights have been reasonably warm so we suffered no late frosts for our fruit trees (they are loaded with fruit). Photosynthesis will proceed faster when we have more sun, however, so we will hope for that.
Here is the game plan for your first share
- Lettuce – mesclun or cut lettuce leaves from the hoop houses. We will do this for a week or two until we transition to the field lettuce. Some of it is ready, but not enough. And the mesclun is a nice treat
- Rhubarb – you can enjoy this “old fashioned” perennial vegetable thus- cut it up and throw it in a saucepan with some honey and cook it down for about 5 minutes – serve warm or refrigerate it and eat it cold – from the internet I garnered this – “Some of the health benefits of rhubarb include its ability to aid weight loss, improve digestion, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, stimulate bone growth, avoid neuronal damage, increase skin health, prevent cancer, optimize metabolism, improve circulation, and protect against various cardiovascular conditions.” And it tastes good
- Spinach – from the field – our first cutting, and maybe our last as it will soon go to seed. We lost access to our favorite spinach variety that holds better in the field. Enjoy it while it lasts.
- Oregano – another perennial in season right now – Oregano contains vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, calcium, and potassium Oregano has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal effects, and may kill MRSA, listeria, and other pathogens. Oregano essential oil may be useful for respiratory ailments like colds and flu. I either add a bit fresh to salads or chop it and add it late in the process for a soup or stir fry
- Chives –another perennial – we have topped these of their purple tops to delay them going stiff with maturity – they have been great for us this spring – we are at the end of this onion substitute crop
- Parsley – these are grow back plants from last season – short term before they go to seed as next week they will likely be taken out to plant something in their place
- Beets from the greenhouse – a few are of good size. They will size up over the next weeks
- Spearmint – another perennial – “Some of the most important health benefits of spearmint and spearmint tea include its ability to improve digestion, boost respiratory health, optimize hormonal levels, relieve stress, increase circulation, maximize heart health, and protect the integrity and strength of the immune system.” Use it fresh or dry it for use later
- Radishes – some from the hoop house and some from the field
- Turnips – the greens are going by, but the roots are tasty for salad – these are at the end of the hoophouse season
- Cilantro from the hoop house
- There might be something else – maybe Chinese cabbage – we will see next week . . . .
Sometimes we have extra things that are in smaller quantities that you can order to add to your bag. You can build up an “account” and I will bill you once in awhile. This week – yesterday – I stumbled upon a stash of Garden Giant mushrooms in our rhubarb patch. These are also called “Godzilla mushrooms” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stropharia_rugosoannulata. I am selling them for $8/lb. (one of last night’s was almost 1 lb). First come first served. Email me at Julie@mhof.net to order.
Watch for the newsletter each week as I am able. Sometimes things just get too busy, so if I miss a week or three over the season, chalk it up to too much work that week. It will contain a lot of information about the organic food movement, and educational and advocacy opportunities, along with what you will get each week, and some recipes from time to time. We also have guest editorials from the paid and volunteer farm staff.
Contact list – please check your data
Attached to this email is a list of who you are and your pick up day and location. Hopefully I have it all correct. Please be in touch with me if somehow I made a mistake on your share size, your pick up location, etc.
Still taking members
For the first time in years we have enough members, though we can still take more if you know of anyone interested. After next week the price will go down each week, and it will be updated on the website – www.mhof.net/csa.
Check out our Facebook at this address https://www.facebook.com/manyhandsorganicfarm.. Clare and I are the main contributors. You can like us, refer us and also write a review if you enjoy what you are receiving. That all helps get the word out for our farm. Thanks for what many of you have already done to help us get the word out.
We will be using our recyclable bags this year for the sixth year. Yours will have your name on it, the size of your share (medium or large) and where you pick up. Each week, please bring back your bag and leave it in the designated location at your pick up site when you pick up your new bag. There will be a banana box with our name on it into which you can deposit your bag. We have 2 bags for Barre folks and 3 for those of you who pick up off site, so if you return the most recent bag each time we will always have a new one for you. But you get only the specified number of bags. If you don’t bring your bag back each week, we will end up here with no bags for you and will revert to a paper bag (labeled the “paper bag of shame” by one CSAer) for you.
Getting your share
Every year it happens that someone comes to a pick up site and takes the wrong bag. This sets up a chain reaction when the owner of the bag shows up and can’t find his/her food. Do take your bag only (and instruct anyone who is picking up for you to do so). If you mistakenly get the wrong bag, call and email me immediately (email@example.com; 978-355-2853), so I can rectify the situation quickly. Now that I am cell phone savvy, you can also text me at 978-257-1192 as another way to reach me. Do all three and you will catch me more quickly. You might be asked to deliver the bag to its rightful owner.
Here below is the list of pick up locations. Please pick up your food in a timely fashion, realizing that all of these pick up locations are doing this as a service to MHOF and you. If you are not able to pick up your food during specified times in any particular week, you have a few options –
- Contact me one week in advance to change your day of the week to pick up at MHOF for that week (sorry, no alternative off site pick ups)
- Ask a friend to pick up for you
- Contact me to cancel for the week – we will then know to not pick for you – we do not send two shares to make up for a missed week.
Food that is left at the offsite pick up sites will be donated.
CSA Pick Ups:
There will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday pickup options at Many Hands Organic Farm from 12 noon to 8:00 PM. The pick up is in the barn. Park on either side of the driveway or down by the garage (full of feed). Walk around behind the house and go into the last building on the left. The walk-in cooler is in front of you and slightly to the right. It is a big wooden old fashioned door. Be sure to turn off the light and close the door tightly on your way out. Your bag will almost always be on the left hand side of the walk in.
There will be a Wednesday pickup at St Francis Episcopal Church, 70 Highland Street in Holden (the church is located around the corner from Friendly’s on Main Street and the Holden Library). Enter in the red door on the parking-lot side of the building marked “Fellowship Hall.” Pickup is available from 4:300 PM to 7:00 PM. Local contact is Becca Miller – 508-829-4182; cell – 774-242-2562; firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be a Friday pickup at the barn of Teresa Wolcott on 51 Boyden Ave. Pickup is available from 4:30 PM to 10:00 PM. Teresa – 508-829-6474; email@example.com
There will be a Monday pickup at Living Earth Natural Foods store, 232-234 Chandler St. (corner of Rte 9 – Park Ave and Rte 122) in the hallway outside the store. Pickup is available from 4:30 to 7:00 PM. Your contact is Rob White or Frank Phelan, who should be at the store during this time – 508-753-1896.
Our dog – Franny is the orange Golden who is very friendly and might try to jump up on you when you get out of your car. Do everyone a favor and speak to her sharply when necessary. We have a four-feet-on-the-floor policy that she will obey if they hear a sharp “no”. We are presently in the market for a new dog. More on their particular behavioral issues as we know what they are! If one of the dogs jumps up on your car or you, feel free to find one of us, so that we can reprimand them and chain them up for a time to enforce their training. Petting is fine, but indulging is bad training and only hurts them when the next person who comes doesn’t like to be jumped up on. Our dogs are our police personnel and enable us to farm. They help us protect our animals and plants so that they are not destroyed by the local predators. Please remember they are working dogs. Thanks for helping us in this way. Also, leave your dogs at home. They will stir ours up and are not welcome here.
Recycle your paper and plastic grocery-size bags with us. You can leave them in your CSA bags. We also like rubber bands, but no longer need yogurt containers.
Everything you get was raised here. Our farm has been certified organic continually since 1987, and as Jack and I are principals in the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter – www.nofamass.org – we are highly committed to organic agriculture and all that means for the health of our customers and of our environment. We also have a special focus on fertility and happy soil biology, tinker with biodynamic principles, and work with a lot of permaculture systems too. For the fourth year we are spending a lot of our time and energy educating ourselves and others about climate change and how farmers and gardeners can bring carbon back into the soil where it belongs, and out of the atmosphere. This year we are completely no till and are still working out the kinks of not having power machinery to prepare beds. My latest passion is cocktail cover crops and growing pathways, cardboard and wood chips. Of late our fields are teeming with earthworms.
Really eating in season
Being involved in a CSA gives you the consumer rather direct knowledge of what is happening each week on the farm. If we are in a serious dry spell, or if we get a 5 inch rain in one night, or if hail comes in quickly and violently, you might notice the impact of the crazy weather on your food that week – or the next if the weather is severe. With climate change pulling lots of tricks these days, we have to keep hopping to learn new and better ways to continue to raise high quality produce. Knowing your farmer and your food gives you a true sense of connection to agriculture – something that Americans have come to seriously lack over the past decades. I will attempt to help you live the farm life vicariously so that it truly becomes part of your experience.
Sometimes I will provide recipes, but there is an immense amount of information on the internet too, so I encourage you to go there. You can YouTube almost any vegetable and there is a plethora of good recipes. Our library of recipes are available here – https://mhof.net/recipes. Check out our newly relaunched website.
If you have not yet become a casual and seasonal cook, now is a good time to do so. This means eating in season, and learning how to substitute for those recipes you read. Think salads, stir fries and soups. Don’t be afraid of things you can’t name. Taste it and see if you would like it raw or steamed, or hidden in a casserole (or give me a call for ID). Cut the sugar from your menu and your tongue will start to really enjoy strong tastes. The stronger the taste, generally, the more healthful the food. Though we do have all the “regular stuff” like peas, beans, tomatoes, summer squash, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, we will be bringing you some wonderful green stuff that has big leaves (Swiss chard, kale, collards, Asians), lots of beets and greens (use the whole plant), and fantastic herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil, oregano, mint) and roots like salad turnips (you can eat these out of hand). We should see some nice broccoli, cabbage, and later cauliflower (late fall). The potatoes, green onions, onions and garlic, followed by leeks, will be a treat of another kind. Fruit will be in your bag on an irregular basis, though I am hoping for a lot more tree fruit this year than last.
We will endeavor to round out your experience. Every year our fertility improves as we focus more heavily on getting the right balance to build the soil and feed the microbial life. We have committed to 6 lbs. for the mediums and 10 lbs. for the larges per week on average. Remember that near the beginning we will have less crops and less quantity, with peak quantity being normally from mid-August through September.
Send me an email, and if you don’t note otherwise, I am likely to publish it. Offer recipes, trials and tribulations from you newcomers, words of wisdom from those who have been with us for decades. If you have a service that you think our members might like to utilize, feel free to write and I will give you free advertising. Ask questions – stop by if you are a local pick up person, or come out and visit if you are picking up in Holden or Worcester. We want to get to know you. I hope you enjoy your local eating experience this year.
Things to remember –
- Pick up your food during the time noted for your site
- Next week – bring your bag back to your delivery location and leave it in the box; we like rubber bands, plastic grocery size bags, paper grocery size bags, egg cartons – you can put them right in your bag when you bring it back
- If vegetables are not in a plastic bag, be sure to put them in one before you pack your food in your fridge – it will keep the produce fresh
Welcome to the farm and thanks so much for choosing us!
For The Many Hands Organic Farm staff