Anthony Brogno came to us in the spring of 2020 to visit and get some advice about whether to take a role at Earthlands Farm in Petersham. He took on that role of onsite farm manager and then shortly thereafter started coming over to our farm one day a week for some on farm training, often bringing along a handful of other folks (relatives and other staff at Earthlands). Thursdays in 2020 were days that we quickly slotted for large projects needing many hands. At the end of 2020 when Anthony decided to leave Earthlands, we hired him here full-time up through the end of December 2021. In the fall of 2021 he started a job with a service agency that works with kids and adults with disabilities involving them with outdoor education. Outdoor fun and education is probably one of Anthony’s greatest callings. After a lot of talking and feeling into what was best for all of us, we came to a relationship for us going into the future. Anthony will stick around here as a working shareholder one day per week and go full-time with his new job. Thursday Clare and Anthony and I spent the morning together working on the orange house. It was a wonderfully nostalgic day as we enjoyed every minute while contemplating the future without him around every day. Over the short span of a year he took on all of the haymaking, major responsibility with carpentry and being our closest conduit to Dave Petrovick our machinery whiz. Last year he took on all the management of our weekly fertility sprays. There isn’t a better bed prepper either, and conversationalist about almost anything with anyone. Anthony, we will miss you as a full-timer, but are so happy that you will be around one morning per week on the farm this year.
Anthony digging out the snow around the orange house base on Wednesday preparatory to changing up some rotten boards.
Job Opening at MHOF
Yes, this is still open!
Many Hands Organic Farm is looking for a full-time farmer. We are a certified organic highly diverse family farm in Barre, MA raising vegetables (2 acres), large and small fruit (1 acre), pigs (8 seasonal), chickens for eggs (175) and meat (250-300), and turkeys (100-150). We focus heavily on carbon sequestering methods on our 55 acres of land and prioritize maximum nutrition and biodiversity and stacking of enterprises. We are no/low till. In Barre for now 40 years, we offer a lot of wisdom and perspective to aspiring farmers looking to gain agricultural understanding. You must be physically strong and have a positive and convivial attitude. Duties include animal, vegetable, fruit management, machine and hand work, carpentry, some chain sawing, sometimes leading volunteers, food preservation and making value added products – you name it, we do it. We start at $15/hour and will pay more depending on experience (and hustle) for 40 hours of work each week (Monday – Friday), with a rare need on weekends. Omnivorous meals (breakfast, lunch and morning snacks) are provided. We are looking to hire as early as February 1 and have work through the year, with fewer hours over the winter months. Apply to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-355-2853. Check us out at www.mhof.net. Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge
Never too early to join the CSA
I am sure it seems a long time away, but when you put some of your money down now, we can continue to pay our bills and you are assured a spot in our 22-26 weeks of outstanding produce – vegetables of all sorts, herbs and tree fruit. You can sign up here – https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/
“Participating in a CSA share feels like Christmas or my birthday every week as I unpack each bag of fresh organic produce with excitement and anticipation as to what foods I’ll be preparing and cooking over the next week.” Jennifer shares.
CSA share week 2 – June 4, 2021
Thinking about coming out to the farm to volunteer? If you like cold weather, starting with us in the winter can be fun. We are hosting working shareholders on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 8-12, with breakfast and lunch included. Your pay also includes a dozen eggs. Coming on an irregular basis in winter is quite fine. We are always involved in a variety of adventures, and there is a lot of soup stock, lard, soap and salve making besides our outside work. Presently we are putting up hoop houses and will soon move to fruit tree pruning. Once we get into CSA season, working shareholders will receive a large share in exchange for their labors.
New opportunity this year – In an attempt to be more fiscally sustainable, we have cut back on our paid staffing. One of the areas where this will impact us is in our daily early morning foliar feeding with a 3 ½ gallon gasoline powered back pack mister. We could use up to two working shareholders who would love to arrive here around 6:15 to spray a field or orchard with our nutritional mix (all certified organic and non-toxic). The job will conclude between 7 and 7:15 with breakfast at the end. Barter pay to be determined. You need a strong back, and it would be helpful if you have some skill in operating and sometimes fixing small gasoline engines if it clogs up or fails to start on your day.
Friday working shareholders take the day in 3 degree weather. Despite the cold, Stu, Paula, Laurie and Kerri helped us get the orange house completely recovered and repaired.
Circle of Song starting up February 3
Yes, you have another chance to join our compilation of delightful and high energy singers for our spring season. We are a SATB chorus that knows no bounds when it comes to music selection. Supported by the talented Cailan McClure on piano, we can go that much further in our quest to perform beautiful and varied music. We sing every Thursday night at the Barre Town Hall from 7 – 8:30 pm starting on February 3. We will have our spring concert on the week end of Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15 (date to be determined). Call or email me to find out more or to sign up – Julie@mhof.net; 978-257-1192
Musical Line up for this spring – Silver Rain, Three Nocturnes –Lullaby, Ballade to the Moon, Star Sonnet, Can’t Buy Me Love, Last Words of David, Sounds of Silence , Alma Llanera, Locus Iste, Down by the Riverside, Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears, Celtic Blessing – take a listen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFCWN_9FREI
Emails this week
Dear Julie and Jack,
Thanks for your email on energy in its many forms. I, too, have had the privilege of meeting and becoming friends with some very wonderful people who have been very influential in my life. One of them, Atova Roell, came to my first book launch without an invitation from me. She inspired and helped me with my book series for twelve years before she died. During that time, she was instrumental in adding to my awareness of all that was important.
Since about 45 I’ve been pursuing my deep interest in all that we are and all that is there for us to remember and use to enhance this lifetime. It has gradually filled me with a deep sense of gratitude
I’m pleased that you also have been exploring this amazing world and all that it holds for you. If we let it, life becomes richer the longer we’re here. Each of us are on a specific path and I wish we all could discover this. It makes life so much more interesting.
Thank you Ella,
Hey, maybe this quest that I am on is genetically inspired (Aunt Ella is 91 and is my mom’s little sister – you can access her books here – https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=books+by+Ella+Murphy) ! Thanks for sharing your insights. Love, Julie
Interesting, Julie. This is the precise intention, one goal of several, but Buddhist practice. Happiness in the mind turns out NOT to depend upon external circumstances going well. Happiness is a state of mind IN-dependent of externals. I am sure deep meditative states and mental transformations have counterparts in the chemistry of the brain, body circuits, etc.
Very nice, Lloyd, how all of these disciplines come together. Now onto practicing it! Julie
Just want to be sure that my share will be $375. I think I saw that figure but didn’t know if that is the early sign-in or the later one.
We have enjoyed all the articles you have sent to us. Also, thank you for your suggestion about Lucy Wyndham Read on you tube. I do her program every day mostly at night and I find that it really does make a difference. She is very good, lovely personality and so supportive. She is becoming a real friend. Before Covid I went to Kates Powerhouse in Princeton which I enjoyed, but it is inside and I am hesitant to go plus the fact that she has raised her rates to $15.00 for 45 minutes. Now I just stay in the comfort of my den and do Lucy’s program. She has plenty of variety.
Hope you are staying well!
Because you paid for your share in advance of 2022 you only owe a total of $350.
So glad you like Lucy Wyndham. She is a regular body saver for me and keeps my legs strong and in shape!
Always good to hear from you.
Health Topics of Interest
Calendula flowers are a new addition to our daily tea. I credit Maya Egan from our staff in 2020 and 2021 for this one. She persevered (along with help from Ari) in harvesting calendula flower heads all summer long and drying them. We made our first ever calendula salve this year (a most beautiful orange color) from calendula infused olive oil. And boy does that work on chapped and unhappy skin. But they do miracles internally also. You can read more here – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/calendula-tea#7. Other-uses I am constantly awed by what nature has provided for our health!
Speaking of herbs, Hannah Jacobson-Hardy is an herbalist in Western Mass who I have had the honor of knowing for many years connected to my NOFA days. Here is an article she wrote for the NOFA/Mass newsletter this month titled “Herbs for Seasonal Affective Disorder”. https://www.nofamass.org/articles/2022/01/herbs-for-seasonal-affective-disorder/
Agricultural Education of Note this Week
- Green Cover Seed Soil Health Guide – https://greencover.com/guides/ They produce one of these each year. These are the folks from whom I buy most of our cover crops. It is free to download and there are thoughtful articles from many of my favorite agronomists like John Kempf, Christine Jones, Ray Archuleta and others.
- Seed soak recipe to enhance germination and get seeds off to a strong start – From Advancing EcoAgriculture’s Nathan Harmann
- 10 parts water
- 1 part seacrop
- 1 part rejuvenate
- 3 parts seastim
- a wee dash of mycogenesis or biocoat gold (at least 1 gram per pound of seed)
And soak seeds in that for, yeah, about 4 hours. If it’s a seed that desires a much longer soaking time, I would start with plain water, or with just the seacrop added, and then finish with the more robust seed soak.
This is something we practiced in the past but we got away from it. We will do this again this year for both seeds to be planted in the greenhouse and also those that are going straight in the ground. As we grow sprouts every day on our kitchen counter, I will soak those seeds too.
- How Healthy Plants Create Healthy Soil – John Kempf – https://www.slideshare.net/AdvancingEcoAgricult/how-healthy-plants-create-healthy-soil
I find that it is at this time of year I start cramming on the agricultural education. I can listen to these John Kempf webinars and podcasts over and over again because they are packed with useful information for the grower – be you small or large. His main message in this webinar is that although you can improve soil quality by focusing more on the soil itself, the fastest way to good soil health is through maximizing photosynthesis. That turns conventional organic wisdom on its head.
Early treatment for Covid – https://markhochmd.com/blog/covid-19-treatment-updates-2/ – Dr. Mark Hoch – nutritional and drug interventions – source – Ellen Kittredge
Farm store hours
M-F – 12-1 pm
Always call ahead to be sure of supply.
Available this week
- Free range organic eggs at $8/dozen – we newly added free choice kelp to their now full farm free range lifestyle.
- holy basil, burdock, yellow dock tincture in 2 ounce bottles – $12
- frozen certified organic applesauce – just the apples cooked down in water – $7/quart
- 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $10 each
- 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
- 2 ounce jars of calendula salve – $10 each
- garlic powder – $10/2 ounce – we have about 12 bottles of this, and then no more until next late fall – order now
- frozen pork stock – $7.50/quart
- frozen chicken stock – $7.50/quart
- frozen pork cuts –regular ribs, ground pork and roasts – $12/lb.
- ham and bacon – $18/lb.
This week was all about the orange house. We got a slow start as we took off Monday for the storm and Tuesday is presently our day off. Wednesday Laurie, Leslie, Clare and I dug out the orange house, took measurements for board replacements, and then went on an explore for some boards in the woods where Dan has a supply. We made some hummus and guacamole, and did the weekly chicken clean up. Thursday Clare and Anthony and I painted the boards, did a thorough cleaning out of the sides of the house, took off wiggle wire track that needed to be repaired, and got some of the tracking replaced. Friday Stu, Laurie, Kerri and Paula and us replaced boards, replaced all the tracking after digging out any frozen dirt, and then Jennifer arrived just in time for us to successfully recover the orange house with plastic. Though the temperature was only up to 8 degrees by noon, luckily there was absolutely no wind. It was another triumphal week with house number 2 of 3 finished (almost – we need to replace a piece of plastic on the front that some of our cats ripped out in order for easy entry into the house). Clare made more progress on seed ordering and I put together our fertility order for AEA.
A beautiful blue jay was trapped in one of our chicken houses.
Leslie stepped out of our board train to get this short video.
Clare and Anthony taking out rotten board.
Stu supervising Paula in how to wiggle wire.
Wiggle wiring the final side.
Kerri cutting the excess plastic.
I am really enjoying the fact that we are having some true winter, however brief it might be.