Dear friends and customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

I like this reminder that it is all on me to take responsibility for my actions, my happiness, how I interact with others, and whether I will ever get our house cleaned! From the high minded thinking and philosophizing to the daily chores of life it can be quite exhilarating to realize that I have so much power in my hands to make the most of every day and to enjoy the process of each day, start to finish. Friday this joie de vivre was tested as the 7 of us – Clare, Cathleen, Stu, Scott, Alison, Deb and I worked diligently through 4 hours of almost continuous pouring rain putting together the CSA shares for 45 folks. This was arguably the most unpleasant CSA picking day of 2021, but as you can see below, we had a great time! I do wish the heavy rains would stop, however, as our poor soil microbes are drowning in the mud.

Allison, Scott and Clare washing apples (left), Picking arugula Scott and Stu exchanged witticisms while Clare, Deb and I enjoyed (right)

Squash counting contest
Yes, this is a gimmick, but what can I say? Come closest to guessing the number of winter squash that we harvested this week and you will win a prize of your choice from our $10 or so per item list, based on whether you are local or need it shipped. Winner will choose between a dozen eggs, soap, salve, tincture, apple juice or grape juice. Send your guess to Contest closes at midnight, Friday, October 1.

We have eggs for sale!
In abundance all of a sudden as our new layers are at it with great gusto. At $8.00 per dozen these nature’s perfect food are the best eggs you will encounter. Besides their certified organic grain from Green Mountain Feeds, the chickens get fresh pasture each day which is loaded with grasses and wild herbs.  Contact me to arrange getting eggs.

Anthony mowing in front of the chickens to make house moving easier (left), our friday crew doing chicken chores (right)

CSA Update – Week 19 of 22
Last Week – Week of October 18

Week 19 best guess at what you will get

  • Brussels sprouts tops or collards
  • Turnip greens and/or
  • Hakurei turnips
  • Lettuce
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Some Radishes
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Some Summer squash
  • Winter squash
  • Some Carrots
  • Fennel
  • Tulsi basil
  • Apples – last week for Grimes Golden

Email question
The apples have a surface fungus that we’ve seen on all in our share since receiving them.  Reluctant to eat or use them in cooking. Karen
Hi Karen,

Thanks for reaching out about this. I am sure that others are concerned too. I had to look it up on the internet, and found that what you are concerned about is “sooty blotch”. Here is what I found –

The conspic- uous symptoms of sooty blotch and flyspeck diminish the outward appearance of the fruit. However, neither disease will cause a serious rot, and affected fruit can be eaten safely. Sooty blotch and flyspeck are aptly named based on the symptoms of these diseases.

And here are some more details –

“Sooty blotch and flyspeck are separate diseases that often occur together on apple and pear fruit during late summer. Both diseases are favored by extended periods of warm, humid weather and are usually not serious problems in Wisconsin. However, in organic orchards or home gardens where fungicides are not used, the diseases occur more frequently.

You can read more here –

Please be sure to enjoy the apples, as they are very tasty, especially the grimes golden that you are receiving now.


Letters to the editor regarding the “Big Tent”
Lots of emails this week on the topic of the “big tent.” I have decided to reprint them all, as they are all over the map and each has thoughtful observations. I do believe that the best medicine for a controversial topic is to air the opinions so that we can all learn something. I have removed names to protect people’s confidentiality. Julie

Hi Julie,

As a contributor to the MHOF newsletter, I’d thought I would chime in from behind the scenes on this latest issue, as a letter to the editor. As you likely know, I’m vaccinated. I also, as folks who have been on the farm know, I wore a mask for the duration of the pandemic prior to vaccines becoming available for agricultural workers (even through working in hot and wet weather). I plan to take the booster shot when it becomes available to me.

I didn’t do that to cast judgement on anyone else – I did that to protect myself and my community that extends beyond the farm. It was difficult and anxiety producing at times to be working in an environment where I was one of few who wore a mask. I took precautions at work, such as eating in a different room, and I appreciate that those precautions were respected without too much hub-bub for the most part.

I appreciate the ability for folks to hold their boundaries steadfast, and find ways to exist that respect those boundaries. However, I have become increasingly concerned about one aspect of the conversation about vaccines – and that’s its extreme focus on the injustice of vaccines as the epitome of a movement that ought to be focusing on the injustices of the medical industrial complex as a whole. I’m not a bleeding heart liberal that will follow Biden to my grave – rather, I’m an anarchist that makes difficult decisions in a world wholly built for those that already hold power. I have had many traumas from the medical industrial complex, as is common in our toxic profit-driven racist and sexist world. As someone who is genderqueer, my entire identity has been invaldated by “science” that has been informed by toxic gender norms.

It’s this same world that has created Covid – regardless if it escaped from a lab or if it’s transfer and strength have been caused by laissez faire economic policies that have destroyed the health of people in our country and across the world. The debate should not be about people’s rights to enter a private business if they are unvaccinated – rather, the current moment demands that we stop at nothing to stop corporate control of our food system that has caused many to be poisoned against their will.

To this end, I contribute this to the newsletter – please, everyone, regardless of how you feel about vaccines, organize – just buying our CSA share (and one for the Worcester community fridge), isn’t enough. Organize with indigenous people who are working to protect their sacred species by stopping GMO salmon. Support young people who are fighting for food sovereignty on their campusesOrganize with migrant dairy workers that are facing inhumane conditions farming our milk in Vermont. Individual action is not enough.

I know you know this Julie, but I write to all our readers – if we wish to see justice, we must find the root of the problem – I hope that we can include more of this in our future newsletters.

Hi Julie,

Thank you for your thoughts and observations on Cov… and the delicate situations we all find ourselves in. I am sorry to hear that even in some NOFA people the terror so effectively sold to the public is leading to fear-driven disapproval of the choices of others.

As another person who has gone the route you have, I have been rather lucky myself this time around, at least so far. I do not socialize a lot, so no one is there to hassle me. However, the growing impediments to travel and other activities of daily living might become ominous. We have to wait and see.

There are actually parallels for me with the reactions to my decision in 1998 to refuse western medical treatments for prostate cancer, but that is for another time.

I have wondered at times if I should interrupt my other writing projects to write an essay on the meaning of science, as I see it. It seems like that is a troublesome issue for many people.

It sounds like a water pipeline from Massachusetts to the California Central Valley might be a good idea.

Till later,
Dear Julie,

I hope you and Jack are doing well.

First of all, thank you so much for the weekly email updates on MHOF. I always learn something or find an idea for reflection in them.

This week you talked about not being vaccinated. I have so many thoughts on this topic!

The most important thing I want to tell you is that I fully support your decision on not taking the vaccine and have much respect for your courage in telling us about your decision.

I am fully vaccinated, received the two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine back in April. I am not a vaccine supporter. I do not like vaccines. However, I cave in due to peer pressure (all in my immediate circle of family and friends are merciless with unvaccinated people), I was horrified of ending up in a ventilator in an ICU (which would be very unlikely since I am in good health) and finally, a person I respect, told me that I had a duty to protect others.

Today, I wish I had not received the vaccine (I now have to worry about long term effects and the possible loss of personal freedom). I believe every person should be at liberty to make his/her own decision and more importantly, that we, as a society, should be able to live with each other while having different opinions. Unfortunately, it seems impossible that we can get along when the fear of death and disease and harm to others is so high. But you and other brave and smart people give me hope.

Hi Julie,

Life is full of choices and I respect your opportunity to do just that.  It appears that you have chosen not to be vaccinated against Covid.  Janet and I have, as  members of a high risk population, especially Janet with AFib and stroke issues.  For those reasons we will not be able to enjoy your invitation to visit and stay at your place on November 1 of this year.  There is no good or bad or blame in this decision, it is just what each individual feels is the best decision.  We look forward to the time when we can again visit you at MHOF.
Hi Julie,

Recently read your latest farm post and wanted to thank you for mentioning the challenges of being part of the group choosing to make their own medical choices!  It is a stunning time indeed.  I’ve spent decades researching how our decisions are impacted by corporate messaging and political compliance when large amount of money are at stake.  Whether it’s following what happened with GMO’s and the fraud and coercion surrounding Monsanto and glyphosate or within the medical community itself with routinely disastreous consequences, I understand that information we receive is very often biased towards some large system – Big Ag, Big Food, Big Pharma.  I’m so surprised that people in the organic community would not have seen this play out and reserve some skepticism and am sorry to learn that you have received anything but support from NOFA.  The complete absence about any supportive measures people can take and the glaring poor health of this country pre-pandemic should have been a wake up call for many.  I guess that’s the power of fear.

Anyway, just wanted to give you some support and gratitude for all you do.
Hi Julie ~~ I just want to send you some loving transformative energy after reading your recent e-mail, The Big Tent.  Funny, I happened to mention to Dick this past weekend how grateful I am you came across my path in this life (and your family).   You live your life by “being the example” and not by the pressures of our modern culture.  I don’t have many role models or like-minded people in my immediate family or neighbors and that’s okay.  I remember the Nearings in their book running into a similar circumstance stating that it could be a lonely life with the path they chose, yet it was a rich and fulfilling life.  I choose to look at it that way and have you as an example of how it can be done. You manage to be so positive when there is so much negativity all around.  I am grateful to those who have opened the eyes of my heart:  Jean Iversen, Dr. Mae Wan Ho, Ronnie Cummins, Katia & Brendan, Stephanie Seneff, Dr. Judy Mitkovits, Dr. Mercola, Jack, Dan and you, an integrative nutritionist friend who has moved to Vermont and others.  I have not been jabbed either and have no intention to get jabbed.  More and more information is coming to light on the immense failure of this globel experiment.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout out that I stand with you.   I keep your entire family and you in my prayers.  You are a blessing and a bright light to so many.  You go girl!   Have a wonderful day!
Julie–I  try not to read your “philosophical’ blogs about covid vaccines because they disappoint me so and I have such respect for you and Jack’s work over the years.  You talk of the big tent–perhaps the best argument for getting a vaccine.  It’s not to protect you but to protect all of us.  This is even more important with the Delta strain and the breakthrough cases of the vaccinated themselves.   Getting a vaccine isn’t like getting a steroid shot which affects only you or taking a political stance.  If we could only get a vaccine for global warming or to prevent stupid politicians or greed or racism.
Your refusal seems like an act of ignorance (I doubt that)  or hubris and not one of caring for the health of the the world. You have been  an inspiration and role model for all those who have worked with you and Jack over the years.  Living on the edge of society in and of itself is not admirable unless you respect the importance of unity in times like today.  And grace and peace are not going stop the pandemic.
It’s been a lousy summer crop-wise but we have lots of potatoes.  Which we will eat as this pandemic continues because of the stubbornness of people who won’t get vaccinated.

Jack’s response –
Thanks for your response to Julie’s article last week on “the Big Tent” which might accommodate us all, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike. You mention your disappointment at Julie’s position since you have had such respect for her and my work in the past. I appreciate that reference. So many of our friends of years have written us off as somehow turned toward the dark side and no longer worthy of discussing this topic with that I enjoy the opportunity to explain my thoughts to someone who has thought highly of us in the past.

There are several reasons why I have decided not to be vaccinated and I encourage anyone who seeks my advice to consider them as well.

When confronted by an issue where I don’t have much technical knowledge, I seek out the opinions of those who are considered experts in the area, especially looking for points where they differ. I then apply what I might call a “smell test” in two parts. First, I take what little I know about the topic and look at whether or not the experts are acknowledging that information, and secondly I look at what financial and professional ties the experts have to institutions which stand to gain by one outcome or another.

One thing I know is that Nature has prepared us for just such things as viral outbreaks. It has given us a powerful immune system (the very thing vaccines are designed to activate) at no cost, but it does expect us to take care of it. That requires eating well, especially vitamin D and fish oils. Julie and I have been doing this for the last thirty years and have sailed through those years without any viral infections at all. That public health officials, who have had the rapt world’s attention for the past two years, have failed to mention the individual’s responsibility for maintaining his or her immune system is a dereliction of duty in my book. No one has stressed that the modern junk food diet — which leads to obesity, diabetes, and manifold other co-morbidities – is the first place to look for changes leading back to health. Part one of the smell test suggests a failure of honesty by US public health officials.

Part two is no better. Certain vested interests profit from our having poor health – the industrial food system depends on our addictions to sugar and other non-foods, pharmaceutical corporations count on our taking pills for every malaise, institutional health providers need to keep patients coming to pay for their big investments in equipment and structures. Many well-meaning people work for these interests, but generally seem to be unwilling to publically challenge the failures of each other. Witness the penetration of industrial food into hospital meals, the rush to prescribe medications rather than good nutrition and exercise, or the lack of emphasis on diet in training medical professionals. Simple steps that would challenge powerful interests are not being considered.

I don’t know if you remember the very early days of the organic movement. One of the reactions we had to deal with from conventional agricultural advocates – those wedded to pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, etc. – was that we organic growers were doing an irresponsible and selfish thing: we were refusing to use the chemicals they wanted us to use and thus not controlling the crop infections, pests, etc. they were afraid might attack their farms. I find the prevailing attitude of many who urge vaccinations strikingly similar — it is somehow our responsibility to adopt methods we abhor in order to prevent disaster for them.

Julie and I have always tried to run a farm where healthy food and exercise is available and where all kinds of people are welcome. Those who fear this approach are free to go elsewhere. But we find many people enjoy working here each week and appreciate that freedom from fear. Our farm lunches commonly feature a dozen people, some vaccinated, some not, some masked, some not, some at the big table, some in the next room on chairs properly distanced from the rest of us. Talk about a big tent!

There is plenty of information out there on COVID and vaccines, more than I can possibly absorb. But one thing which makes me very suspicious of those calling for more vaccinations is the intensity with which they want to quash the reporting of alternative facts. As a long time believer in free speech and the ability of humans to sort through different points of view (in fact I think such ‘sunshine’ is the only way to sort through them) I am deeply disturbed by support for censorship of what is seen as ‘anti-vax’ points of view.

Thanks for this chance to explain my thinking on this, and the opportunity to let people understand my belief that there is a thoughtful, healthy, better alternative to the dominant pressure to use vaccines, boosters, and yet more shots to deal with COVID-19. — Jack Kittredge

Hi, Julie,

I am fully vaccinated but I respect the beliefs of those who chose not to.   I  certainly respect your choice!   Don’t let the liberal thought police get you down.   Actually, there is nothing “liberal” about their actions.  When you are unwilling to even listen to the other side of an argument, even if it is the polar opposite of your views, that is not liberal.

Keep doing what you are doing Julie.  You are an inspiration to all that your touch who are open to truly listening.

Maybe it’s a personal bias of mine, but I have a hard time tolerating zealots and it seems like there are a lot more of them these days.

I look forward to all of your farm musings enews.   They are both educational and motivational.
BTW….I love the big tent idea from Leslie.

Enjoy this glorious fall weather.   Good news on the weather front is that we will not have a frost until October, unlike last year’s 3 consecutive frosts in Sept.  That will give plenty of time for the winter squash to reach full maturity.

Hi Julie,

Wow, sorry to hear about your being ostracized by NOFA. We three over here are also feeling pressure from family, friends. and people in general.

Speak truth or lie?  A delicate dance !

An alternative response I heard of that many are using.

For me it’d be – I identify as he, him, his and vaccinated.

When asked to explain, many refuse to say more, some respond with their definition of “vaccinated”, meaning a life long journey of wellness through healthy diet, mindset, not becoming overweight or obese, not immune compromised, etc….

I also jokingly remind people to never stand upwind of anyone alive if you care for their well-being,…and never stand downwind of anyone alive… mask wearing or not!!! vaccinated or not !!! for all could be carriers of covid…

I also live in nowhere Oakham and pretty much stay here,,, though do often wear mask when out even though it’s unclear as to their effectiveness…

Global psychosis prevails, and the exploration of vaccinating children as young as 5 is beyond comprehension, when no one knows the long term effect of these vaccines, no discussion allowed, ivermectin not promoted,, on and on….

The level of fear is staggering, exemplified by all the people I see driving (without passengers), windows up and mask in place.

Give my best to Jack, I hope he is recovering from his hip surgery..

All the best,


Oh my goodness- those kittens are adorable and a perfect way to end your newsletter.  Thanks again for all of your (Many Hands crew) hard work to bring us such clean, nutritious food.

Take Care,
HI Julie,

I just read the big tent email from this morning and it was really helpful to hear someone I look up to is also struggling to meet people where they are while feeling cast out. I have decided not to vaccinate either and it has been brutal to navigate losing my job amongst the loud opposition of friends and family. I hope you are enjoying the transition to fall. I miss you and the farm.
Thanks for your shout out in your story. I continue to be your dear friend.

Farm Doins
Back to pesto making for the freezer on Sunday, and harvest of our winter squash on Monday and Tuesday. We were also able to plant some spinach and radishes on Tuesday, covering the new plantings with row cover to hurry the process of germination and growing. We will see if they make it before frost. With the full harvest moon on Monday not causing a dip into frost as it did last year, we were given a growing reprieve. With 9 more CSA weeks ahead of us we will take all the warm(er) weather we can get. Clare and I knocked out 72 quarts of apple juice while Cathleen and Anthony got close to a finish on the new chicken house. Thursday found us moving the pigs to a new location in the woods, and we were also able to weed some fall carrots. Though we didn’t finish the job, it was good to get out and weed again. The last of the grapes got turned into juice, and at the end of the day on Friday we froze all of the remaining cabbage from a spring planting. I enjoyed an hour long chat with some WPI students presently in Iceland learning about local food production and distribution in Iceland and Massachusetts. Tomatoes are done for the season, and also the canning of same. Yippee!

Raffi processing parsley in oil for pesto (1), While Doodle, Jack and Dan prep herbs (2), A peaceful apple harvest on Monday morning (3), We will have a good supply of celery for the fall. A highlight Monday was Emily and kids driving by with a celery stalk each for the ride home (4), No time for Cathleen to enjoy her peanut butter ball as she washes fennel (5), Planting spinach in the turned over soybean beds (6), Clare and Laurie enjoy washing radishes and arugula (7), The final pot of grapes for juice (8), Beautiful carrots, fennel and lettuce that we hope will make it to harvest (9), Pigs waiting patiently while we move their electric fence (10), Released finally from incarceration in their new forest pasture (11), Turkeys moving slowly through the potato field. When they make the end of the field, it will be planted to cover crops for the winter  (12), Cathleen chopping cabbage for freezing (13).