Jack’s sister Nancy died this past week at the age of 89. Given two weeks to live over a month ago, she went home from the hospital and her three dedicated children – Steve, Sue and Julie – treated her to a most wonderful exit. They hosted all manner of relatives and friends, and with the help of home health aides and hospice persons, took care of her bodily and emotional and psychological needs during this important time of her life. Jack and I were honored to be able to check in with one or the other of them every day through the journey and thus we got an intimate look at how this process impacted not only Nancy and her children, but the rest of us who participated in some way. I came upon this podcast where the guest used the terminology “Normalizing Grief” in reference to the need for us as Americans to be more in touch with death (and other reasons for grief) so that we can more fully live our lives.
Walk Through Grief with Grace – Jennifer Cormier
Tapping Into Intuition and finding Comfort after loss with Liz Peterson
Expressing Gratitude this Week
I have been going deep into podcasts with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. this week to get a better understanding of what he stands for, now that he is running for president of the US. I don’t remember ever supporting a candidate for president in the past unless you count when I was in second grade and I chanted “Nixon, Nixon, he’s our man, let’s throw Kennedy in the garbage can.” But perhaps I was not really thinking for myself at the time. I have to say that I am pretty impressed with this guy – for his honesty, his willingness to only run a campaign that speaks respectfully of the other candidates, his position on the war in Ukraine, on big Pharma, on glyphosate, and on biological weaponry – for starters. This 3-hour podcast with Joe Rogan is wide ranging and gives a good sense of the guy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCHil6h83q4 – The Joe Rogan Experience podcast with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr – June 2023
I am grateful to him this week, because when I listen to him, I feel inspired to live my most peaceful self. World peace does start right here at home in our own selves.
Videos this week
Making frozen garlic and olive oil paste
Cover Crop Education
5 things we’ve learned from this year’s test plots
From GreenCover Seed –www.greencover.com
Every year at Green Cover we plant cover crop test plots in preparation for our Soil Health Field Days but also as an opportunity to try out any new plant species we’re curious about. During the work week, our team of sales reps working out of Bladen are visiting these on-site plots often to observe how they’re coming along.
Nathan Choat is a member of the Green Cover sales team and has taken a leading role this year in the preparation, planting and maintenance of our summer test plots. Here are some observations he’s shared with us
As our test plots enter their seventh week of growth, I thought I would take a moment to share some observations that I have made this summer. We have approximately 100 different strips of individual cover crops growing, along with a dozen different diverse mixes.
Cover crop mixes are superior. The most obvious indicator of the power of the mix is the weeds, or rather the lack of weeds. We have spent a lot of time pulling weeds from the single species strips to keep the pigweeds under control. However, the cover crop mixes haven’t required any weeding at all. While the individual species may occasionally be shorter in a mix compared to the individual species strips, the mixes are significantly denser and lusher with different plants filling in the canopy. The weeds just can’t compete with a diverse cover crop mix. There is great power in diversity!
Sorghum sudan grasses are great for forage purposes. Most of the sorghum sudans are already around 4 to 5 feet tall after 45 days of growth. This is huge compared to the millets which are mostly 2 to 3 feet tall. The sorghum sudans could be grazed or hayed now or allowed more time to accumulate additional biomass before turning out the animals.
Buckwheat is awesome. It was the first thing to emerge after planting back in May and easily was the first cover crop to achieve full ground canopy. From a weed suppression perspective, buckwheat is amazing and is the best monoculture species in the plots for suppressing palmer amaranth and pigweed. The buckwheat has been flowering for several weeks now and it is buzzing with insect and pollinator activity. Other species that have reached flowering stages are the flax, mustards and squash.
We have a lot to learn about corn interseeding. The jury is still out as far as which species, row spacing, and planting timing is the best combination. We won’t know the impact on yields until harvest The success of a cover crop always depends on its intended goals. At this point the earlier planted cover crops that were drilled at V3 on the corn are more robust compared to the cover crops planted at V5. We are having some weed pressure from pigweed and barnyard grass, so having a more aggressive cover crop to help suppress those is ideal. The corn appears unaffected by the cover crops growing beside it.
Diversity is fun. In an effort to expand the options for diversity in our mixes, we experiment with a lot of potential cover crops. In our test plots we have sesame, dill, chia, fenugreek, okra and some other novel cover crops, including a whole plot of flowers, growing. It is enjoyable watching these novel species grow and learning the role they could play in a cover crop mix.
All these cover crops and more will be on display at our summer field days, August 1st and 4th (same program each day) here in Bladen Nebraska. These are FREE events, but please register so we have enough delicious food for everyone! It will take less than 2 minutes! Get started at www.greencover.com . You won’t want to miss out!
Though we are working assiduously, we still have some crops in weed (and in some cases too much water). This week we hope to tackle the leeks and carrots, and have ordered 20 more round bales for mulch to help us tame the very lush weed crop that this alternating heat and rain bring us.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and Andrew Doyle discuss the intentional irrationality of far-left doctrines using religious rhetoric despite the absence of God, their paramount desire to dismantle societal structures, regardless of need or merit, the argument for transcendence inherent in the pursuit of art, and how woke culture stifles genuine expression, forcing dogma in the place of fundamental truths.
Alright, that is quite a mouthful, but good food for thought. I was particularly interested in Doyle’s conversation about Shakespeare’s plays and their lessons for modern life.
Emails from Shareholders
Hi Julie –
I wonder if this is something you might include in the newsletter. It was a revelation for me and might help some other folks.
I may be the only person in the world who didn’t know this, but there is an ethylene-absorbing bag out there that can effectively prolong the life of your produce. A friend told me about these and I have to say, they work!
The brand is Debbie Meyer and there are probably others. I stored CSA lettuce from a week ago and it was still fresh a week later. Although the instructions say to store only dry produce, I didn’t do that, and it was still fine.
If like me you hate wasting wonderful produce or just don’t have the time to use it all before the next batch arrives, this may be a solution.
Happy, healthy eating,
Thanks for the tip, Willa, and just as a reminder to anyone who might be new to handling fresh produce, always put your fresh vegetables in a plastic bag before putting them in the refrigerator – it extends their life exponentially.
Hey Julie! Hope you are well and enjoying the mid summer bounty!
I saw Jack’s editorial on GMO corn in Mexico about a month ago, and I wanted to chime in from a personal point of view in the newsletter. As some avid readers may remember, I worked at Many Hands during the 2020 and 2021 season until I left to go to Mexico to help study abroad students learn about intercultural communication, neoliberalism, and immigration in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
As a part of this work, I have had the opportunity to visit an indigenous community called Amatlán de Quetzalcoatl and meet Doña Irene (pictured here with my students, I, and her wonderful milpa), a powerful farmer and community advocate. Doña Irene has been planting their communities’ ancestral non-GMO corn for her whole life (about 80 years at this point!). She is staunchly anti-GMO, and often talks about how GMO corn has ruined the fields of other farmers she knows. She talks to my students about her connection to nature, and her milpa (a traditional way of planting corn, beans, squash, and other helper plants together in Mexico). She has told many stories of how she works with nature instead of against it to protect her corn (for example, she leaves out mangos so the ants eat them, instead of her corn- “everyone has to eat after all!”). And from personal experience, I can attest that the tortillas from the ancestral corn in Amatlán are the most delicious in the world.
What is one of the worst parts of the GMO corn crisis in Mexico, is that by flooding the Mexican market with cheap, unhealthy corn, farmers like Doña Irene have very little market to sell their more expensive, Mexican grown, and much better corn. This lack of ability to be able to make a living fuels immigration to the US, where many Mexicans, Central Americans, and South Americans die crossing the desert due to terrible practices by immigration enforcement. Those who make it often end up working in terrible monocultures, breathing in pesticides all day, and making inhumane wages, a large part due to the US addiction to GMO corn.
In order to help with this struggle, please donate to Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy that Jack mentioned before, but also consider donating to organizations working for justice for immigrants in the US, like Student Action with Farmworkers: https://saf-unite.org/ or the Cosecha Movement: https://www.lahuelga.com/
I also wanted to share that I am part of a new project for Spanish learning. Learning Spanish is a great way to break down intercultural barriers and create international solidarity for issues of GMOs, immigration, and beyond. If you have been looking for an affordable and relaxed way to work on your Spanish, starting from 0 or starting from advanced, ConnectEspañol has a teacher for you. At ConnectEspañol we match Spanish teachers in Latin America to Spanish learners across the world. We focus on one-on-one instruction in Spanish. All our teachers have experience teaching across cultures and are excited to forge a genuine connection with their students. We also are committed to providing both a livable wage and affordable classes, which is why we offer classes at a sliding scale of $15 USD to $25 USD per hour and run our program operations solely off of donations. Whether you are hoping to travel, need a tutor for school, or want to connect with your community where you live, we are ready to teach you the Spanish you need. Sign up today here: https://linktr.ee/connectespanol
Sending lots of love from South of the border, and I hope I can make it back up to the farm soon!
CSA News Week 7
Here is the line up for this week.
Best guess on what will be in your share bags this week
- Basil or tulsi – you know what to do with the basil; the tulsi is great in tea, or chopped fine in a stir fry or soup – super nutritious
- Summer squash
- Peas – you might get either sugar snaps or shell peas. With sugar snaps, just pop the top off and eat the whole thing, shell and all (they look like crescents). With shell peas they tend to be straighter, and if you bit into the shell you would know to spit it out. Turn these peas over and pop them open from the bottom end and scoop the peas out.
- Cabbage for larges, broccoli for mediums and perhaps for smalls
Working Shareholders Always Welcome
It is not too late to join us.
I could use help on Sunday mornings for animal chores. You must be a heavy lifter (heavier than I am anyway) in order to handle the back end of the chicken tractors. Presently we are at 7 tractors and soon moving to 9 and more. Breakfast of eggs, bacon and veggies, along with super power packed pancakes – no sugar, just lots of grains and nuts. And a dozen eggs for your efforts. All advice is given freely! You needn’t sign up for every Sunday, but twice per month would be very much appreciated.
Alex came back one more time before heading home to Brasil
Now is a good time to order broilers for our August 27 slaughter date
They are in the peak of health, devouring fresh grass, comfrey and their organic grain from Green Mountain Feeds. We offer hens at around 5 lbs. and cockerels at around 7 lbs. This is a one-time per year purchase. The birds are whole. We have one per week here at the farm. First, we roast it, then make chicken stock, have another major meal with that, and have a few meals that include chicken salad. It is the best chicken you will ever taste – guaranteed. Order via the link below.
Ways to Donate to MHSC
Worcester Community Fridges
We are now providing 14 summer shares to these folks and only need $1000 more to provide 14 fall shares to the Worcester Community Fridges.
If you would like to donate for shares you can make a check out to the Many Hands Sustainability Center and send to 411 Sheldon Road, Bare, MA 01005 or make a donation on line here –
Workshops at MHOF
Cooking with your CSA share
Saturday, July 22, 2023
10 am – noon followed by farm lunch
Many Hands Sustainability Center
411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA
Taking the large step to buy a CSA share is sometimes followed by overwhelm, especially for those who may not center their eating around vegetables. Clare Caldwell and Julie Rawson, farmers at Many Hands Organic Farm will take the share from the week of July 17 and turn it into a delicious lunch for us all to eat. Last year the CSA received these items during that week – chard, parsley, lettuce, chives, kale, summer squash, cucumbers, beets, sugar snap peas, radishes.
Limit – 12 participants. Price for workshop: $25-$75. Register here:
Other Upcoming workshops:
- Food preservation– September 16, Julie, Clare and Jack; 10-2 with pot luck; $50-$100
- Hedgerows for Food and Diversity; Agroforestry on Farms and Homesteads October 7, Jono Neiger to lead; 10-3 with pot luck; $50-$100
Our sprayers were down, so we spent the time doing more weeding and planting this week. We got two big beds of lettuce planted, and some celery and basil. We finished mulching the parsley, and also the potatoes, and half finished mulching the first crop of green beans, and completed mulching the second crop of same. We mulched our tiny eggplants, and weeded most of our first broccoli crop and got a start on the cabbage. We also weeded our arugula, and finished up the mulching of the winter squash and ground cherries. We are in process on the tomatoes, which we will eventually mulch with wood chips. The young turnips got taken care of, and some collards, though they are very weedy. We used up our tower of mulch straw.
Garden looking good
Front of south field all tucked in
Very happy green bean weeders
Tomatoes in process
Look at that beautiful parsley
Some of these green arrow shell peas look to be almost 9 feet tall
Kale looking good
And the chard and broccoli
We will weed this dill before harvesting
Grandsons Geoff and Matt, and son Paul came to work twice this week while on vacation here – what a treat.
Eloise has been at it again