Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined non-conformists who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

These two quotes came across my desk this past week. Martin Luther King was an early mentor for me. I was 15 when he was killed, and for the previous 5 years as the country watched and participated as the Civil Right Movement unfolded, he was a major reason why I felt I had to get out into the world as soon as I could (I dropped out of college when I was 19) to add my energies to the cause of social justice in our country. 55 years later I still find his message of fearless and disciplined life choices and attitudes in our approach to living constructively in the world — no matter what the consequences — guidance to emulate.

Special gratitude this week goes to

Jean Derderian – is a customer now of three years who suggested that we should ask for what we need on the farm, and it will manifest. So, we did – and $1000 was put up for a bale chopper

John Duke – a NOFA friend who helped with my farm workshop last weekend at the NOFA/Mass Winter conference, offered to buy half of it for use on his farm in Mattapoisett. He is also going to come out for our June 10 all day farming workshop and teach us all about soil microscopy.

Leslie Stambler – working shareholder and now our payroll tax lady who has taken our payroll tax system to new levels of perfection, with a lot of background support from husband Kenny.

Jim St. Laurent – former working shareholder and phenomenal engineer, stopped by for lunch on Thursday to share with us some elegant plans for constructing a 50-gallon lactobacillus brew tank for cheap indigenous microorganism fertilizer. Thank you, Jim, for sharing your unique talents to support MHOF in our evolution as a farm. Jim randomly stops by with Reishi and other mushrooms too. What a guy.

Farm Videos From Last Week

Mulching fruit trees

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Getting to know you

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Prepping for planting lettuce in the yellow house

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Join the 2023 Summer and Fall CSA

I am elated that folks continue to join the 2023 CSA in swift order. January is such a heavy expense month, that if we can keep the borrowing from home finances to nil, we can be off on a good footing. Never too early to sign up!

The prices are in place for 2023 now. In order to keep up with rapidly rising costs of supplies, fertility, machine parts, etc. we did raise our share prices. And we made a couple of changes –

Sliding scale – For those of you who want to support a more affordable share for others, you can pay the top of the range. And for those who are of more limited finances, feel free to choose a lower number.

Delivery/handling fee – Trying to make our PayPal options as manageable as possible, we have decided to fold delivery/handling into the share price.

Here are the rates for 2023
Summer large – $750-$850
Summer medium – $550-$650
Summer small – $425-$525
Fall – $170

SNAP pricing
Summer large – $700
Summer medium – $500
Summer small – $400
Fall – $160
SNAP customers reach out to Julie to set up a payment plan.

And we just added Chase Hill Farm in Warwick as a pick-up location. Thanks, Ben and Laura!

Reserve a 2023 CSA Share

Meat for Sale

We have some cuts for sale. All we have left is roasts and regular style ribs. Come on by soon to avoid disappointment. Lard is sold out for the year.

2022 Meat Chickens
We also have 3 or so chickens from our August batch.

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Working Shareholders Always Welcome

Though we have always counted on our working shareholders to meet the labor needs around here, they have become more essential to accomplishing our work each week. Joining this team assures you a warm place in the MHOF community while also giving you a weekly excuse to stretch your muscles.

Working shareholders in January and February are welcome Monday and Friday mornings from 8-12. Come at 7 for breakfast and stay afterward for lunch.

Abby Morgan and Ed Dane have signed up for the summer. Abby worked here summers 1998 -2004. We are absolutely elated that she, and Ed, will be back.

Celebrating her birthday with us this week

Volunteer at MHOF


Ridge Shinn and Lynne Pledger-Shinn are long-term neighbors and friends of ours who have written a book titled – “Grass-Fed Beef for a Post-Pandemic World”. Biodiversity for a Living Planet will be interviewing them this Thursday, January 26 at 6 pm.

Register to attend

MHOF Workshops

We are stepping out with at least 6 workshops this year. We hope to publish them all by next week, but save the date for our fruit tree and grape management and pruning workshop on April 1.

Pruning and Managing an Orchard
Trees, Grapes and Small Fruit

Saturday, April 1, 2023
10 am – noon followed by potluck lunch

Many Hands Sustainability Center
411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA

Few things agricultural give you as much joy and satisfaction as a bountiful crop of healthy fruit. Yet it takes a few years of time and steady effort to achieve these results. Make sure that time is well spent!

Learn how to manage and prune tree fruit, berries, and grapes at our Spring workshop. We have 100 trees in our orchard and produce apples, pears, peaches, paw paws, mulberries, grapes, blueberries and raspberries every year.

We will discuss our fertility management practices and share our foliar and drench recipes. This is a hands-on event. We will supply tools.

Sliding Scale: $25-$75 per person
Pay by check: Mail check made out to “MHSC” to 411 Sheldon Rd. Barre, MA 01005
Pay by PayPal: (Please add 3.5% plus $.50 processing fee to your payment) Pay here.

Register to attend

Circle of Song

Starts Spring Session on Thursday, January 26, 2023

Yes, we cancelled last Thursday due to weather concerns, so if you still want to get in on the ground floor, come to our first rehearsal this Thursday.  Check in to make sure we didn’t have to cancel again, looks like more storms on Thursday predicted.

Though often performing an eclectic mix of music, Circle of Song has chosen a theme of “show tunes” this season. Our lineup is as follows:

  • West Side Story
  • Singing in the Rain
  • You Will Be Found
  • The Impossible Dream
  • Old Man River
  • Corner of the Sky
  • Memory
  • Pilgrim’s Chorus
  • Sabbath Prayer

All singers are welcome, both the musically trained, and those who sing by ear. Strong members of each vocal part – soprano, alto, tenor and baritone – are there to support the timid. And challenge abounds for those who would like to take on a solo.

Rehearsals are every Thursday evening from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. Most rehearsals will take place at Many Hands Organic Farm, 411 Sheldon Road, Barre. With some regularity the chorus will meet at the Barre Town Hall, the location of the eventual concert, scheduled for Saturday evening, May 20 at 7 pm.

Interested singers can just show up at 411 Sheldon Road, Barre at 7 pm on Thursday, January 19. Or call or email for more information to Julie Rawson, COS co-director, at or 978-257-1192. There is a sliding scale annual membership fee of $40-$70/year. All are welcome.

Ways to Donate to MHOF/MHSC

Many Hands Organic Farm

Bale Chopper
We were approached by one of our customers regarding ways to invest in the farm. After some thought, we decided that we have one smaller need – a bale chopper, and one larger need – a new winter chicken house. Today I want to talk about the bale chopper. We spend many hours trying to get our mulch around our plants. One of the biggest barriers is the size of the hay or straw or leaves, especially when we are trying to mulch difficult crops like onions and leeks. Jonathan did a bunch of research and found the bale/leaf chopper of our dreams. It will run off of the PTO on the tractor and can take both leaves and hay or straw. Our investor has pledged $1000 and we need about $2700 more to complete the purchase. I promise copious onions and leeks this year once we have this in place! If you would like to help, you can contact either Jack or me at

Many Hands Sustainability Center 
our farm non-profit

Many kind folks have been making an annual donation to the MHSC (read about it here – since 2007 through the present. This goes into our general operations of the MHSC and usually helps pay for hiring an outstanding Stetson School student. Recently the MHSC has helped with funding the publication of this newsletter which utilizes significant resources to publish each week. If you are interested in donating to special programs that help make our high quality food available to folks with lesser means, you are welcome to donate to these two programs below.

Community Fridges
We have been donating food to this elegantly simple project in Worcester whereby four refrigerators are stocked with fresh produce from volunteers, and those in need shop for free at these locations. Last year MHSC supporters donated $6700 to this cause. I had a good meeting with Maria Ravelli of Community Fridges this past week. They are in for next year and will be fundraising on their end to keep this enjoyable partnership going.

SNAP support
SNAP recipients are encouraged to use SNAP and Healthy Incentive Program funds to purchase a MHOF CSA share. We work with around 20 of those customers each year and provide a slightly discounted share to these folks. A total of $1000 in donations will help us defray the costs of providing this assistance to these valued shareholders.

Farm Doin’s

It was a short week with cancellation on Friday due to the sleet, freezing rain and snow. But heck, it is January. Monday, we finished woodchip mulching the pond field orchard and also made huge progress on those cat shit guards. I am not sure where the little darlings will go to do their business, now, but it won’t be in our flower boxes. Thanks, Jonathan and Stu. I love this little place of my life where I can keep everything weeded and looking nice all season. I have had flower boxes for about 46 years now since Jack built my first ones back in Dorchester.

We did plant the yellow house with lettuce seed on Thursday. Fingers crossed. Jonathan did some work on our riding lawnmower, moved ahead on the bathtub repair and more on the flower boxes. Clare ordered some more seeds and plants. We also worked out the details around the bale chopper with John. Finally, we put the finishing touches on our workshop selections and will publish when Christy can get it all up on the website with registration options.

Clare getting wood chips

Thank you, Jason Pimental from the DPW for bringing us wood chips this year

Stu and Jonathan finishing up our cat shit barriers

I hope you are enjoying the winter. Only 2 months left to go. I vacillate between enjoying the time to work on Jack’s and my book, and getting itchy to be running around barefoot in the soil.

What a difference two days makes – essentially the same landscape on Thursday and then Saturday. There is a lot of natural beauty out there to enjoy this time of  year.


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