43 years ago . . .

after 18 months of loading children into the back of the jeep, and driving all over New England, we ended up here at 411 Sheldon Road, though there weren’t any numbers on the street at that time. We had seen it once, but wanted to get my parents’ opinion, farmers from Illinois that they were. Dad looked at the approximately 10 acres of played out hayfields and 30 acres of woods and noted that it was a little low in places (thus wet). I remember remarking to myself that we had only 400 square feet in our north facing side yard in Dorchester, so this should surely provide us enough land to grow things. We bought it! Dan had just turned 3, Paul was not quite 2 and Ellen hadn’t made it to 4 months of age yet. Chuk was to join us 15 months later. We had started our small farm/homestead dream.

Expressing Gratitude this Week

Juxtaposing that late August day with Friday, another rain-filled day, I marveled at how things have turned out in those 43 years. 9 folks showed up here between 7 and 8 am and off we went into the rain to move birds, check pigs and pick 53 CSA shares, getting done with enough time to spare to plant a bed each of radishes, hakurei turnips and arugula for the fall share.  Kelton starts 4th grade on Monday, when Abby starts her teaching job at Bancroft, so we say farewell to these two bright spots until we meet again. Star, a student at UMass Boston was here for the first time, and her farmer heritage from Puerto Rico shined through as she picked up immediately on every task that needed doing. Carlos, our new and already stalwart volunteer from Framingham was here, and Jill and son Jack, working shareholders from Rutland were in the mix. Matt, who has not yet been here a year, but is a fixture on Fridays, Leslie now in her third year on the farm, and Clare, my farming partner of 15 years rounded out the crew. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the always eclectic and always shifting cast of characters who put in their energies to grow food and community at MHOF. And yes, dad was right; this land is low and wet, especially in this year of intense rain!

Videos this week

I took a cell phone break this week!

Kittens, Kittens, Kittens

Eloise has been at it again and has brought forth 6 beautiful kittens. They are ready to go now and I would like to have them out of the house by Saturday. Email me at julie@mhof.net to place your order. First come, first served. They cost $50, and have no shots.

Labor Day pick up will be on Tuesday, September 5, Wednesday and Friday will run as usual

Monday shareholders please note that there will be no CSA pick up on Monday, September 4, but instead on Tuesday, September 5. This is the last Monday holiday.

CSA News Week 14

Here is the line up for this week.
Best guess on what will be in your share bags this week

  • CSA
    • Carrots – better late than never
    • Onions

Our super diligence in June getting these weeded and mulched has brought us one of our best onion crops ever

  • Turnip greens – these are tender greens from thinnings of our fall purple top turnips that will come our way
  • Beets
  • Beet greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Tulsi
  • Corn – Who Gets kissed
  • Ground cherries for some – just pop them open and eat- num! Larges got them last week and we hope to get them to the mediums this week – stay tuned
  • Arugula
  • Beans
  • Cabbage and broccoli for some
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Potatoes – carola yellow potatoes from an amazingly productive harvest

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

As we move into the significant harvest time needed for the fall, we can still use your help – especially on M, W or F mornings, but also on T and Th if you are interested in planting and weeding/mulching projects. Come join us!

Come Sing with Us

Circle of Song, a chorus that a few of us started 23 years ago, will start up again in on September 14. We meet every Thursday night September –probably at the Barre Town Hall. We sing a wide array of music, and it is challenging. And several of us in the group offer extra help for those who feel unsure of their skills. We sing in 4-part harmony, and often in other languages. Contact me to join or discuss julie@mhof.net; 978-257-1192

Podcasts and Zooms of interest

Protect Yourself from EMFs | with Dr. Anthony Balduzzi

I have always been one of those people who is hyper sensitive to EMF’s, among other things. Here is a very scientific explanation of EMF’s and t heir impact on us.

New Product at MHOF – bitters

There is a large body of research that explains the value of bitters as a digestive aid that will help strengthen our entire digestive system. We have a new product available for your purchase. Our bitters blend has dandelion root, burdock root, yellow dock root, wormwood, tulsi (all from our farm) and organic purchased angelica root. The herbs were steeped in organic vodka for at least two months. Bitters are best taken about 10 minutes before each meal to stimulate the digestive juices. Our 4 oz. bottles go for $20. If you are taking pharmaceuticals, it is wise to check with your health care provider before using digestive bitters.

Time to sign up for the Fall Share

We have 55 shareholders lined up for the fall and at this point are looking to take on a total of 80. Now is a great time to sign up for 4 more weeks of great food. The greens are growing nicely in the fields and we are starting the process of storing the crops like onions, potatoes and winter squash.  This is a large share. What you can’t eat right away you can save for December and January. Enjoy!

Ways to Donate to MHSC

We are now providing 14 summer shares to these folks and now have brought in the extra $500 needed for our match to provide 14 fall shares to the Worcester Community Fridges.

We have an anonymous donor who says,
“Hi! The $1,000 balance on the community fridge fundraising in the newsletter has been gnawing at me. You should feel free to say in the next issue that an anonymous friend of the farm has pledged to match any donations made this month, up to whatever the current balance is.”

Thanks to Becky and Brenda, Laura, and Joe and another friend who have donated $500. Thanks, all, we are all set!

Workshops at MHOF

Two more workshops coming up this fall

Food Preservation with Many Hands Organic Farm
Saturday, September 16, 2023
10 am – 2 pm with pot luck lunch at noon
Many Hands Sustainability Center
411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA

We preserve hundreds of pounds of food each year enough to fill 7 freezers, 400 mason jars, a root cellar, and cupboards with dried foods. Join us at the height of the food preservation season to preserve our way through the day. We will freeze vegetables, can tomatoes and grape juice, make applesauce, start some lacto-fermented sauerkraut, dry some herbs and garlic and discuss best methods for canning, freezing, drying, lacto-fermenting, and root cellaring. At lunch time we will share a pot luck lunch.

Limit – 20 participants. We now have 11 registrants.

Price for workshop: $50-$100.

Register Here

Hedgerows for Food and Diversity; Agroforestry on Farms and Homesteads
October 7, Jono Neiger to lead; 10-3 with pot luck; $50-$100

Jono came over on Saturday and we did a great dive into what we will cover at the workshop. This will be a great workshop to take a look at how best to incorporate perennials in our farms, gardens and landscapes.

Farm Doin’s

Culturally speaking we took some time to weed again and retie our tomatoes that are trellised.

With all this rain, the grass grows very fast and we are constantly trying to find moments to mow the grass, on edges of the field and also the front lawn. We snuck in time to cut the hay in the west field and get it picked up and stored in the hay barn – our first batch.

We harvested 5 of our 25 beds of potatoes and got a fantastic harvest.

We were able to prep and plant many beds this week – 8 beds of lettuce and Asian greens, a bed each of kohlrabi, radishes, hakurei turnips and arugula – all crops for the fall.

The chicken house has been completely taken down, processed (some of it to be used again and other pieces of wood that will be put toward a year’s worth of kindling for our woodstove). Jonathan and crew have graded the area and made it ready for the cement guy to come in next week and pour the cement floor. I have been privy to a flurry of emails between Chuk, Jack, Jonathan and John about how to best rebuild the chicken house to made it sturdy for the next 40 years.

We weeded and mulched 2/3 of our three fall cabbage beds

We have started to prepare and plant to fall cover crops a few beds here and there, while we are tarping a select few more for final planting of vegetables for the season.

We reorganized the meat birds and layers this week to get the meat birds ready for their departure that will have happened by the time you read this.

Some raccoons broke into our turkeys this week and killed a couple. After putting on a new door, we moved Dingo’s chain to the turkey houses so this week Skippy watched the meat birds at night, and Dingo is now in charge of the turkeys. Lots of hungry folks out there. It seems that the coons were enjoying some sweet corn and some fresh turkey! Hopefully we have put a stop to both as the turkeys are pasturing right next to the corn.

The complete foliar spraying program continues, and is our best insurance against the excessive rain that continues . . . .

September comes this week and life is in transition for almost all of us. Enjoy!


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