Biting off more than you can chew and chewing it, revisited

Hi Julie,

The subject this week made me chuckle a bit, because that is precisely what I am trying NOT to do this season! It’s easy for us over-achievers (especially if we are self-employed) to work long days with little time for rest, often burning ourselves out. The past few weeks I have been focusing on doable daily lists that DON’T overextend me, with at least a few breaks in the day, and to me that is true success! Often during the “busy season” Randy and I both get a bit extra stressed out which is in turn a stress on our relationship and family, and this year we are trying hard to make that not happen! There is a time and place for biting off more than we can chew, but I think often workaholism is celebrated/valued in our society more than making sure we are living sustainable even regenerative lives!

Much love,

Well stated, Holly, in my estimation. When I think back to when I was running NOFA, the farm, raising 4 kids, doing musicals every fall and community band all summer, throwing in a lot of sewing clothes and quilts, I know that I sometimes found myself in that place of overwhelm and the subsequent negativity that usually follows. I don’t want to be an advocate for over achievement, especially when we are playing it out in order to be seen or appreciated by the outside world. Instead, I want to impart that as we get more and more comfortable with ourselves, we are able to do more “pure” work in the world, the kind that doesn’t come with strings attached, but comes naturally from expressing our unique gifts with a true desire to be in service to those around us; no self-flagellation, no drive for fame or appreciation or acquisition of goods, or love.

I don’t always accomplish it each day, and for me Thursdays are the most challenging because I start at 4 am and end at about 8:45 pm after directing our community chorus. But I am learning how to put together a reasonable “list” for the day which includes self-care in the early am, a realistic set of accomplishments to undertake each day on the farm, a relaxed lunch with the farm staff, clear boundaries on time to start and finish the day’s work, then rest and relaxation with Jack from supper until bedtime.

And then there is the conscious work of living fully with each moment of the day, each interaction with people and plants and computers and delivery people, and dogs and cats and chickens. Layer into that watching all of our reactions to life around us, without judgment, just observation -living in the present and enjoying it thoroughly and evenly.

When I can truly do that, then time spaces out and I feel full and at peace at the end of each day, ready after a long rest for the next day ahead.

I know that all of this is easier said than done when you have four young children and a farm and a living to make. It sounds, however, that you and Randy have your priorities clarified and are continuing to live exemplary lives. I guess the part about biting off more than you can chew and chewing it for me means that each day I look a little higher for how I can grow as a human being.

Much love to you too,

Expressing Gratitude this Week

It would have to be to Dave Petrovick, our machinery genius, who has been struggling with the hydraulics for our Ford 2120 for about three weeks now. We ran out of potting soil and needed a delivery and needed to get it off of Mike Lombard’s trailer, so Dave drove his own tractor over to accomplish the task. Meanwhile later this past week, Dave drove our tractor over to his place about 3 miles away to double down on fixing this challenging problem. We love you, Dave!

Join the 2023 Summer and Fall CSA

We have 98 shareholders signed up for 2023 with 29 days left until the start of the CSA on May 30. Join the MHOF CSA and gain access to our farmers. You are welcome to come to the farm on any work day and follow us around and help out, ask questions and then take your share home. This week we planted the following crops – Swiss chard, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and Brussels sprouts. We cleaned up the oregano bed and look forward to this wonderful early herb. Additionally, we won the short battle against Bishop’s weed in the rhubarb (but don’t worry – it will be back!) We also started new beds for peppermint and spearmint, broadening our supply of those. Please join us – you will enjoy a burst of health.

Reason #7 to join the CSA

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Reserve a 2023 CSA Share

Job Opening

Opening for Director of Communications at Many Hands Organic Farm

It is with great regret that I accept the resignation of Christy Bassett as our Director of Communications. The next person in this job will have very large shoes to fill! This job is available as soon as we can find a replacement.

As a director of communications at Many Hands Organic Farm you will be the support person for logistics of a 150 person CSA, organic pork & poultry operation, and the Many Hands Sustainability Center – the farm’s sister non-profit. Your weekly tasks will include editing and sending our weekly newsletter and promoting our products on social media. The position requires management and updating of the website and supporting Julie with technological assistance. Creativity in our marketing is encouraged, and we love new ideas for how to promote our products as well as our farming and homesteading education.

Necessary job skills:

  • Website management. Must have facility with WordPress and ability to add media and format web pages for best user experience.
  • Mailchimp, Google Photos, WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Video and photo editing, including compiling video clips and uploading to social media
  • Basic PC and iPhone proficiency to support farm staff with technical troubleshooting.
  • Self-starter who looks ahead to the next marketing opportunity for the seasonal farm timeline.

 Required tasks:

  • Website management: update web pages and redesign pages as necessary (heavier workload in the winter and early spring months)
    • Post weekly newsletter before 6am each Monday
    • Update CSA pickup sites and purchasing information
    • Update items available for purchase
    • Work with Julie for the annual review and update of the entire website
    • Update PayPal purchasing options as needed
    • Update plugins as needed
  • Weekly newsletter: format and send the weekly newsletter
    • Typically 3-4 hours over the weekend for a 6am Monday publication via Mailchimp- in regular communication with Julie on Saturday and Sunday
    • Edit and crop photos for each newsletter
  • Social media management: weekly posting to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram
    • Respond to comments on social media or alert Julie to messages needing responses
    • Edit and post videos sent from Julie throughout the week
  • Paper forms and posters (minimally throughout the year):
    • Update CSA and meat order forms as needed
    • Create and update promotional posters
  • Marketing plan creation and execution (initial creation with check ins):
    • Work with Julie to promote the CSA, pork, chicken, turkey, tinctures, soaps and salves, and educational workshops to potential new retail customers.

Salary: negotiable plus a 26 week large vegetable CSA share

Hours: 5 hours per week on average, based on season

  • Most hours can be completed remotely, but the ability to come to the farm would be ideal.

Please send your resume to Julie Rawson at Feel free to call 978-257-1192 if you would like to talk about the job. Please do not reach out through Facebook or Instagram.

Quabbin Community Band

Rehearsals Start Tonight – May 1

Now, I happen to know that many of you out there play a band instrument and that sometimes you wish you could pick it up again and enjoy playing with others. Do I have a deal for you! The Quabbin Community Band, which has been around for over a hundred years, with many different evolving names, is starting up again on May1. Every Monday night from 6:30 – 8:30, you can join us at the Barre Town Hall – corner of Exchange and Mechanic Sts., to play your instrument with folks as young as 12 and as old as 75. Our director, Margaret Reidy, is a wonderful teacher and conductor and all the folks in the band are super friendly. Concerts start on Father’s Day and go through August 13, on the South Barre and Barre Commons. Contact me if you want more info, or just show up at the Town Hall., 978-257-1192.

Circle of Song

Our concert is coming up on Saturday night, May 20 at 7 pm at the Barre Town Hall. We have definitely bit off more than we can chew, but with one month left until the concert, I promise that we will have it well masticated by the concert date. We are collaborating with members of the Quabbin Community Band for two numbers – a West Side Story suite and Pilgrim’s Chorus from Tannhauser.

Cheap Health Tip

Epsom Salts baths have been a mainstay in my life for many years. Back when I felt more toxic inside, I would take a bath every day. Now I can manage nicely with two per week.

Epsom salt is one of many naturally occurring mineral salts, a compound of magnesium and sulfate in rock-like formations. The name “Epsom salt” is a nod to the town of Epsom, located a stone’s throw away from London in England, where the salt was supposedly discovered about 400 years ago.

According to Web MD they are good for:

  • Arthritis pain and swelling
  • Bruises and sprains
  • Fibromyalgia, a condition that makes your muscles, ligaments, and tendons hurt, and causes tender points throughout your body
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Insomnia
  • Psoriasis, a disease that causes red, itchy, scaly skin
  • Sore muscles after working out
  • Soreness from diarrhea during chemotherapy
  • Sunburn pain and redness
  • Tired, swollen feet

Besides getting very happy and feeling very relaxed and calm, I find that soaking in an Epsom salts bath is always a recipe for brilliant ideas to come into my mind. In fact, I often find that I need to jump out of the bath, dry off and run downstairs and write down my idea or answers to a sticky problem that was on my mind.

Farm Videos From Last Week

We are in the process of trying to sign up 1,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel. With that in hand, and with 4,000 hours of viewing, we can then apply to start monetizing our site, which could become a viable income stream for the farm. Right now, we’re at 465 subscribers. Subscribe here.

MHOF on YouTube

Putting out tarps with Clark students

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Prepping for strawberries

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Planting strawberries

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Foliar spraying of our kale

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Planting broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts

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Resources from the Outside World

No Till Cover Crops by Jesse Frost

I found this helpful and thorough

Seeds with Speed with John Kempf

Also an excellent article, I thought

Regenerative Tools for Your No-till Toolbox with John Kempf

So you have to take antibiotics. How do you repair your microbiome? by Stephen Skolnick

Dr. Sue Morter on Using your Mind to Create your Optimal Health

I find her resources helpful in getting more in touch with body languages on the inside.

AEA grower webinar with three transitioning farmers

I found this webinar interesting to learn about very large farmers and how they transitioned from conventional growing. There is good info on fireblight, labor and a number of topics.

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weather is beautiful right now (just a very few black flies) and we have plenty of occasions for you to build your physical body and nourish your spirit. M, T, Th, F – 8-12 and lunch. And right now, eggs and greens. What an opportunity. Contact Julie.

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 some generous Community Fridges donations this year. We have raised $1,600 so far.  To provide 14 summer shares and 14 fall shares there will be a total need of $7840. The Community Fridge folks have committed $3500 as of this week. And with our donations from you all, the amount committed is now $5,100. If we can raise another $2740, we will be able to provide these shares. If you would like to donate for shares you can make a check out to the Many Hands Sustainability Center or make a donation online here:


Thanks in advance for your generosity. And thanks to Greg Luckman and Matt and Meghan Kornn, Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger for their donations to our general fund this week.

For Sale

Spinach, lettuce, and chives for sale this week
This week from the farm we have available

  • Spinach – $12/lb.
  • Mesclun lettuce – $12/lb.
  • Chives – $3/bunch

Please place your order  by 10 am on Monday, and pick up can happen by noon on Monday. Text or call Julie at 978-257-1192 any time after 6 am.

Workshops at MHOF

Growing Shiitakes Mushrooms on Logs with Many Hands Organic Farm

Saturday, May 13, 2023
10 am – noon with potluck lunch at noon
Many Hands Sustainability Center
411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA

Come learn how to easily grow your own mushrooms at home! In this 2-hour hands on workshop we’ll be plugging our latest batch of oak logs with shiitake spawn. We’ll tour our mushroom yard in the woods and talk about managing logs for production throughout the season.

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

Other Upcoming Workshops

  • 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

What a week! We are focused in a few different directions right now.

Primary in our minds is getting the annual crops into the ground in a timely fashion. We were able to plant our second iteration of lettuce, Swiss chard, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

In the perennial management area weeded the rhubarb and started on the blueberries. And we planted some new black raspberries, and blueberries, and started a new strawberry bed.

In construction we moved forward on our mobile chicken tractors, and rebuilt a shelf on the back porch. We started mowing this past week after Jonathan serviced our mower. Foliar feeding takes more time each week now, but is a regular event. We moved a lot of tarps around to open up planting space and cover up some of our early plantings of oats to prepare our late in May beds.

We started about 60 trays of things like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squashes, cucumbers, flowers and few other things. And we were able to harvest our burdock, yellow dock and dandelion for drying for tinctures and herb powders and teas.

Finally, we cut and split some more wood that has been laying around and made progress on cleaning up the wall between the pond field and south field. We accomplished all this with our regular staff of employees and volunteers, and additionally 26 Clark University folks who were a massive help on Monday afternoon.

Danny transplanting peonies from the garden into the flower bed

John on the chicken tractor

Clark students harvest dandelions on the left while the crowd on the right hoes grass out of rhubarb

Kamarin manages the wood splitters

Hauling tarps can be heavy!

But rolling is easy with a crowd

Garlic looking good!

Can’t you just taste those radishes

Hoe, hoe, hoe

Placing the remay

“The shelf team is now going to put together a study committee for the next three weeks to plan the picnic table renovations” – Stu Howe


Quick Links

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