February 22, 2021

Dear Friends and Customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

How many of us keep our heads in the sand rather than continually thirsting for more knowledge and understanding about the myriad topics that come our way each day as human beings. I certainly find myself brushing aside perspectives and information when I feel I don’t have the time or the bandwidth to ingest any more ideas that might then cause me internally to have to make a shift in my behavior or mindset.

There is an explosion of accessible knowledge right now in the regenerative agriculture space (broadly defined) that is available mostly for free on the internet. For farmers who still have another month or two of time to take in all of this, this is an opportune moment to double down and learn, learn, learn. As we as farmers, gardeners and eaters try to take our small part in the reversing of climate change through our growing and eating practices, it is extremely valuable to have these resources right at hand. Which of us “elders” could have imagined how accessible knowledge could be via electronic communication even 30 years ago?

If you haven’t signed up for the BFA weekly conference, it is still not too late – https://soilandnutrition.org/ (use code manyhands). This past week John Kempf wowed us yet once again with some great observations about use of silage tarps and tillage and their relative destructive impact on soil quality, and how these practices can be ameliorated with proactive photosynthesis supporting management practices.

The Indigo Ag folks put on a talk with James White, a Rutgers researcher who explains how plants farm microbes to access the minerals and vitamins they need from the soil – Here is a YouTube on the Rhizophagy Cycle – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMr3_tGeAu8

Last week I attended the free Regen Rev Conference and heard two excellent talks
Soil Biology: A critical Component to a Successful Crop | Dennis Warnecke & Steve Becker
Managing Crop Nutrition (vs. Pest Management) & Sap Analysis | John Kempf

T MINUS 37 DAYS to bring the field cardboarding to conclusion – must complete by March 31

Your help with cardboard is extremely appreciated – we would like to thank you with a bar of soap

This week it will be Clare and Heinrich (“you Americans really don’t use much (hot) pepper, do you!”) and I will be joined by farm staff Anthony (finally home from a national winter tour), Ari, and Maya, along with working shareholders Leslie (now a regular after two weeks on the farm), Nikki (returning from 2020 this week), and Stu and Ram. I need lots of cardboard to keep these folks busy finishing up approximately 8,000 square feet of veg ground. We are raising the stakes and offering a bar of soap – your choice of peppermint or lavender- for your delivery here of brown cardboard free of tape and staples. You can redeem it by just knocking on the door!

This week we finished cardboarding the pond field and used up our leaves and are now cutting into our precious farm grown hay supply. It looks like Tyson Neukirch will save us with some old round bales that he hopes to deliver this week. Stu, Heinrich and Clare and I also got our back hoop house doors open this week to find that the chickweed is lush and luckily providing lots of food for the microbes underneath the soil, because there surely is no spinach there. Out the chickweed goes this week to the delight of the chickens who will devour it, and in will go spinach seeds. This past Friday we planted some seeds of radish, turnip and beets in our front houses.

Heinrich getting a tractor lesson (top left), and practicing (top right), snow keeps the mulch down (bottom left), Leslie washing greens (bottom right).

Sign up for the 2021 CSA options
My dear friend Jon Kallio came by last week to renew his medium share and fall share for 2021 and also to give a gift of a fall share to his friends Kevin and Jen DiMauro. I asked him to give me a quote regarding why he would make such a generous gift. Here is what Jon said, “The best neighbors deserve the best produce. Support your local farms and businesses. Love thy neighbor.” Sign up here – https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/

Become a Working Shareholder
One of the essential constituencies of our workforce is working shareholders. For 4 hours of work during the 22 week CSA summer season, the 5 week fall CSA season, and throughout the winter if you desire (M, W, F mornings 8-noon), volunteers receive as barter one large share of produce during the CSA season. Come for breakfast at 6:30 am 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. Volunteers should plan to work quickly, take direction well, and enjoy all sorts of weather (much of which is not considered ideal). Vacations and time off are encouraged. We are always looking for more working shareholders to help us with the very large CSA harvest, and working shareholders become beloved members of our staff.

Read more on our website at mhof.net/volunteer-at-mhof. Contact Julie at julie@mhof.net or 978-355-2853(h) or 978-257-1192 (cell) if interested.

Next MHSC Workshop February 27 10-12 then a pot luck
Organic Fruit Tree Production
We have 23 registrants at this writing and the in person opportunity is closed. Give me a call (978-257-1192)  if you want a special dispensation. Online attendance is still open and encouraged. Come learn about all of our mistakes and some of our successes. Jack’s and my pruning hero Jack Mastrianni will be coming to offer his wisdom all the way from NH. Here is a teaser –

Bud Break and Blossoming Foliar
Mix the following ingredients with at least 25 gal. of water and apply weekly as a foliar
Number of Applications:3; Price per app. – $7.49; Start Date: 6/21; Interval: 1 week
Rates per acre
1.5 Gallons Acceelerate
2 quarts of HoloCal
1 quart Photomag
1 pint Rebound Manganese
1 pint Rebound Iron

Register Here – https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc0e8Kr9gUQN1PEPMmx3F7fvsfA50rWsgdt8MWygbeWl2GBKg/viewform

Products available now at the farm

  • Ground pork in 1 lb. packages – $10/lb.
  • Pork stock – $7.50/quart
  • Beef Stock made from Chase Hill Farm beef bones – $7.50/quart
  • Eggs – $8/dozen
  • Comfrey salve – $8/2 oz.
  • Hemp salve – $10/2 oz.
  • Garlic powder – $10/2 oz.
  • Lavender soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Peppermint soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Dandelion tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Yellow dock tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Frozen applesauce – $6/quart
  • Canned (jarred) tomatoes) – $6/1 quart

Make arrangements to pick up at the farm or we can ship some things to you. Call at 978-355-3853 or email Julie@mhof.net


Weekly Staff Spotlight:

Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, Ari Nicholson was always eager to get out into nature and had a particular interest in wild edible plants. That love of nature led to a passion for environmental activism and eventually social justice organizing. In efforts to be more food sovereign and eat locally, Ari found Many Hands first as a CSA member in 2018 while a student at Clark University. At the beginning of the 2020 season Ari was hopeful to start a working shareholder position at the farm and ended up starting on staff working through the entire CSA season and into the winter. In December of 2020 Ari also started in a communications and database management position. Ari says that organic farming is “a combination of all my interests— nature, being outside and working with my hands, social justice, and building the future I want to live in.”

Ari approaches farming with a justice mindset and is motivated to do this work because of its ability to disrupt the global supply chain. Growing food with others and getting to know folks while connecting with the land is what makes farming so fulfilling for Ari. They are excited about the potential for mutual aid and food justice work in the agriculture world and hope to combine their skills in leadership development and social justice organizing with their work at the farm. As a young person just starting out in agriculture, Ari sees the ability to grow food as a vital skill to bring to their community in the wake of disaster capitalism and climate change. “The intergenerational dynamic on the farm is a great place to develop those skills,” says Ari.

Check out the latest photos from the farm on our Instagram!