Dear Friends and Customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

So says Ben Taylor-Davies who was the guest this week on John Kempf’s podcast. He is a regenerative farming consultant in the UK who moved away from conventional agriculture, in part motivated by his son of 16 months being kicked in the head by a horse and then undergoing a painful health journey.

I agree with him. So often people quote “settled science” when, I believe, there is nothing settled about science. In my opinion science is a continuous process of learning and discovery. I feel that it behooves all of us to keep an open mind and heart, ready for the new and evolving knowledge that is coming our way every day, from all corners of the earth. When we weaponize the word “science” to prove, usually the present status quo, we miss out on the diverse and flowering world of knowledge that can be ours if we continue to keep open minds, hearts and spirits.

Organic Fruit Tree Management
That seems so long ago – and it was another fun workshop with a bunch of folks beamed into our kitchen on zoom and many others enjoying it in person. Thanks for coming and for donating for the opportunity. Here is the link to view all our workshop recordings – and the slides are here –

Clare demonstrating shortening a peach shoot (left), Jane and Clare pruning in an apple tree (right).

Organic Small Fruit Production
Coming up quickly on Saturday, March 20 from 10-12 with pot luck lunch at the end. This will be a split Zoom and in person workshop. It will differ from our previous two workshops in that when we repair to outside we will turn off zoom. We will record the workshop (complete with new mics!), and then send the online participants the recording. After looking at our options for livestreaming we determined it would be better to not attempt that with our resource base.

We will start with a powerpoint on small fruit culture and pruning and fertility. Once we move outside we will try our hands at pruning blueberries, grapes, red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, elderberries, etc. We will spend a little time with the strawberries also. We will demonstrate our mulching and care practices. Clare, Jack and Julie will be our presenters.

Register here:

Strawberries on July 1, 2019 (left), Grapes on arbor in August 2019 (right)

Mushroom Plugging Workshop
Cathleen will lead us in this workshop where we will plug shiitake mushroom logs and establish some oyster totems. This will take place on Saturday, April 10. More info to follow.

Anthony cutting down tree for use as a mushroom log

Sign up for the 2021 CSA options
The CSA subscriptions are rolling in fast now – another sign of spring. Yet we are at $10,000 of our budgeted $83,000 – so only $73,000 to go! Sign up here – It will be the best eating experience that you have had yet.

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

Cardboard update
Wow, it is coming in from everywhere, a bale from Tractor Supply (Stu), the West Boylston Recycling Center (Melissa and Norma), a fun couple who stopped by and got two bars of soap, Bob, a regular supplier, an unrelenting supply from Wholesome Farmers Market (stop by on a Monday afternoon and you can see me careening through the aisles with my shopping cart filled to the gills). Clare hooked up with an appliance store in Athol too. We may have the end of the cardboard period in sight, but not yet – still some veg land to cover and then all of the perennial areas. Thanks for your continued support in this department. And yes, the soap offer still stands!

Stu sorting his cardboard find on the back of his truck (right)

Doins on the farm
Now we are in full swing with Cathleen returned this week and new working shareholders arriving each day. This week we welcomed Kym and Deb. Now we can burn through lots of cardboarding, and Tyson Neukirch delivered those promised 16 round bales of hay for the topping on the cardboard. Tuesday’s storm ripped one of our hoop house doors off its hinge. We are going full force on fruit tree pruning right now under Clare’s tutelage and about half of our 100 trees are pruned. Maya and I did a satisfying job of cutting out any grapes, blackberries and bittersweet that had found their way up the tree trunks. Cathleen, Anthony and Ari cut down some oak for shiitake mushroom logs and Cathleen is readying our hives for us to set up two colonies this year. Jack worked with Heinrich on replacing tiles in the kitchen and fixing some things in the root cellar, while Jack and Ari worked on upgrading our tech for our workshops. Stu’s bale of cardboard from Tractor Supply serviced 10 trees, with more than half of it left.

Kym pruning a peach tree (left), Deb Mulching a peach tree (right)

Ellen’s newsletter
Daughter Ellen has amassed a lot of information on how to heal from Covid. Check out her latest newsletter. There is also a great recipe for gluten-free bread!

2021 Soil Health Resource Guide –
We buy a lot of cover crop seed from Green Cover. These folks who were traditionally a very conventionally based cover crop seed company, and who are still using some practices that are not certifiably organic, are moving in an organic directions and importantly, are focusing significantly on soil health. This guide has articles from my most favorite ag consultants including Christine Jones, Ray Archuleta, and John Kempf. And it is free! Get one now, and while you are at it, shop for some exotic cover crops.

Soil Health Academy – Allen Williams
A very inspiring article about the 6-4-3 Principle
6 principles of soil health
4 ecosystem processes
3 rules of adaptive stewardship

Another cool quote
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” Masanobu Fukuoka

Speaking of Octopuses
Here is a beautiful documentary about a man and his time with an octopus in the wilds at the tip of South Africa – stunning and remarkable – “My octopus Teacher” Thank you, Andres, for sending this along.

Welcome to March! Julie