A Return to Simplicity

“Working together in the bush, sawing and cutting and stacking the wood
for winter, is a return to simplicity.

The feel of energies bent to a task and seeing it through is the stuff of community, and a realization of how much we let slip away to technology and the speed of things. Reach out, leave the keyboard, be with people-that’s- spiritual”

-Ojibway Richard Wagamese

Thanks to Laurie for sending this one along. I suspect that she thought of us because we have been doing so much wood these days. Of course, we are using chain saws, tractors and wood splitters, but we have been experiencing a lot of special community on the farm this late winter. It has been particularly heartwarming for me to see the Stetson School boys learn how to make and keep bonfires going, and really become adept at running the wood splitter and stacking wood carefully on a pallet.

Our most recent pile of wood

It does harken back for me the 25 or so years that our family “did wood” together here each year, about 15-19 cords, with an old Ford 9N, a repurposed manure spreader, a chainsaw and axes and mauls. The wood splitting contests alone were worth the price of admission!

Farm Education Materials

I forgot to publish this recipe last week along with the seed starting video.

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) – add this only at soaking time
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.

Expressing Gratitude this Week

This week I am especially thankful to the board of directors of the Many Hands Sustainability Center who met on Saturday for our annual meeting. Ed Stockman, farmer from Plainfield, Dave Petrovick, farmer from Barre – both founding members of the board, Mary Fierro – long term customer, retired activist social worker from Worcester, and John Wilson, newly elected board member from Worcester were in attendance along with Jack, Clare, Jonathan and me.

We discussed MHOF’s relationship with providing food for those of limited means, recurring donations, adding in a significant feature to our education around sustainable building, employment for at-risk youth, and broadening our reach through YouTube. Watch for more highlights of the above here. And thanks to all of you who support us in our educational work through the Many Hands Sustainability Center.

Farm Videos From Last Week

Promo for our longer running chicken management video that you can watch on YouTube, link below

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Weeding in the yellow house

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You light ’em, we fight ’em

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Fixing the wood splitter

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Podcasts from the Outside World

Can You Use Food to Heal Emotional Trauma?

With Christa Orecchio

Avoid Seed Oils

with Sally Fallon Morell

The bottles of yellow oil on the supermarket shelves are labeled heart-healthy, but they are in actuality damaging for our health (and the heart). Sally offers guidance on the problem with seed oils—and what to cook with instead.


Sally Fallon is a long-term hero of mine. I have to say that if you do anything to change your diet, get rid of seed oils (except for coconut and olive oils) in your diet.

Dr. Talks Microbes and the Brain Summit musings

Wim Hof, who is fast becoming famous for his cold showers and breathing programs, is a man on fire with his message regarding taking your own mental and physical health into your own hands. His wife committed suicide by jumping several stories to her death and he went on a very interesting journey to consider how to deal with depression. He is all over the internet and worth a visit there. Here are some quotes from his session that I particularly enjoyed.

“A happy man does not go to war.”
“Take a damn shower.” And
“Get high on your own supply.” This refers to stimulating your happy chemicals – gaba, dopamine, serotonin, etc. – naturally.

I already shared that Jack and I are working with daughter Ellen to clear up our gut permeability and challenging symptoms by working with MicroBiome Labs. We are in process and I will report back to you in a couple of months. But I encourage anyone to contact MicroBiome Labs, who is led by their super intelligent CEO Kiran Krishnan, to do this work. There are a number of online videos and podcasts with Kiran that can further illuminate what they have to offer.

I have heard 3 or so talks with Isaac Eliaz, neurologist of many decades, discussing galectin-3 and the Survival Paradox, which keeps so many of us these days in autoimmune dysfunction. If I were to advise anyone to do a simple thing for health, it would be to buy some Pectasol (modified citrus pectin) and take it as a supplement to be the first activity to address autoimmunity. He has a book by the name of “The Survival Paradox” that I will get and report back on later. Listening to this man puts one in immediate calm – an advanced soul for sure.

Join the 2023 Summer and Fall CSA

We have about 60 shareholders signed up for 2023 and are looking for about 150 in order to meet budget. Now is a good time to take the leap to upgrade how you eat and how you feel. Sign up today. Information is at the link below.

Thanks for keeping that CSA application investment coming!

Reserve a 2023 CSA Share

Reason Number one to join the MHOF CSA

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Working Shareholders Always Welcome

We are able to make the finances work here by working with volunteers who “sing for their supper” so to speak, receiving a large share of produce for their efforts, and undying appreciation and pats on the back. Right now we are taking working shareholders on M and W from 8-12 with lunch, eggs, and applesauce. Come and join us.

This week’s working shareholder highlight: Stu is definitely our mouthiest working shareholder, but of the recent crop he is the longest standing. And we love him!

Stu enjoying a bit of breakfast before work

Retired District Chief Stuart Howe

Working Shareholder

Stu has been with us since 2020 and comes to the farm each week because of the eggs he gets, usually a dozen. He enjoys the people out here – he has met a lot of nice people. Julie doesn’t ask anything of us that she doesn’t do. It is good exercise, sometimes too much. But if you just sit around and do nothing you end up being dead, so he does other volunteer work that also keeps him busy. He enjoys doing carpentry with Jonathan, and what he doesn’t like is making decisions about picking shares. He had to do that all the time with his job. Weeding is fun (Stu is one of our top flight weeders!). He also thinks we made a good choice in hiring Jonathan.

Ways to Donate to MHSC

Many Hands Sustainability Center – our farm non-profit

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. We have received a few Community Fridges donations this year. We have raised $1,350 so far.

To provide 14 summer shares this year there will be a total need of $6650. The WCF folks will attempt to raise “their” half, and we will raise our half – $3325. Here below is their promotional material. If you would like to donate to us directly, write a check to MHOF. If you would like to donate to them directly, here is the link –
Thanks in advance for your generosity.

Workshops at MHOF

Pruning and Managing an Orchard Trees, Grapes and Small Fruit
Saturday, April 1, 2023
10 am – noon followed by potluck lunch

This is a hands-on event. We will supply tools.
Price for workshop: $25-$75. Register here.

Building and Using a Chicken Tractor
Saturday, April 22, 2023
10 am – noon followed by potluck lunch
Many Hands Sustainability Center
411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA

Pasturing poultry gives your birds access to the extra nutrients only Nature can supply best. Yet how do you protect them from predators out on grass? A well-designed range-house “tractor” offers security from hawks, owls and four-footed varmints.

Each year we raise 500-600 birds in these “tractors” on pasture. Two people feed and water the animals and move their range houses by hand every day to fresh grass. We will be moving some for this workshop presentation, as well as building one so you can get up close and learn how it is done.

Price for workshop – $25-$75. Register here.

Other Upcoming Workshops

  • Growing Shiitakes Mushrooms on Logs – Saturday May 13; 10-12 with potluck lunch; $25-$75; Jonathan and Clare to lead
  • MHOF vegetable production intensive (all day) – June 10; 10-3 with pot luck lunch; $50-$100; Clare and Julie to lead
  • The Permaculture Farm and Agroforestry hedgerows – June 24; 10-3 with pot luck lunch: $50-$100; Jono Neiger to lead
  • Cooking with your CSA share – July 22; Clare and Julie to do this one. 10-noon with complimentary lunch; $25-$75
  • Food preservation – September 16, Julie, Clare and Jack; 10-2 with pot luck; $50-$100

Register here

Farm Doin’s

Monday we raced around to get ahead of the storm that came on Tuesday and dumped 18”. We got a lot of wood harvested and split and stacked, but ran out of time. Clare got it all out of the snowbank on Wednesday so that it could melt, and Friday we finished the week’s supply, filling up another one of our outdoor makeshift wood piles.

We have now called all of the 2022 and 2021 shareholders to invite them back to the CSA, with mixed results. It is always good to hear what customers have to say, even when it is not what you want to hear!

Jonathan is almost finished grouting the bathroom. We will definitely have an “opening” once it is grouted, has a new coat of paint, and we have cleaned up all the grout dust!

We made progress in the hoophouses weeding (not all done yet) and replanting where things were not well filled in.

Check out this beautiful arugula

We had a really good time, but then found lots of ticks on us after we left the houses

Chickens enjoyed the chickweed, after Dingo determined it was not for dog consumption

Seedlings are up in the greenhouse. We will whisk them out to the yellow hoop house on Monday to keep them from getting leggy.


Quick Links

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CSA pick up information
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Products available right now at the farm
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SNAP deliveries
Community Fridges