The Big Pick

November 13, 2023
The Big Pick

There is one day each year where we have to double down and accomplish the “big pick.” This is the date after which it was too late to pick the remaining field crops if we want to pass them out in the CSA. And it was this past Friday. While the guys were madly putting the roof on the chicken house, the ladies were working assiduously in the field before the inevitable drop in temperature of Friday night, colder on Saturday night, and then coldest on Sunday night.

As we worked our way through spinach, parsley, turnips, rutabaga, arugula and kale, and added double layers of row cover in the hoophouses (where we have lettuce and Asians) and on the field radishes, I drifted into the past, and revisited flashes from all the years over the past forty where groups of smaller or larger numbers of folks extracted the last of nature’s annual bounty before the long rest of winter. There is a particular excitement about this day, coupled with cold fingers and the feeling of satisfaction that we made it through another year of farming with not a bad harvest to show for it. The one incident I will remember from this year was a simple one. Kelton was in the back of the truck with his walky talky and Marissa was in the driver’s seat about 3 feet away with hers in hand. Kelton, “We have reached the greenhouse. Roger”. Marissa – “Roger that.” Our crew on Friday included two kids with Maggie the youngest at 6 and Jack on the upper end at 79. I think we have reached nirvana.

Hard at kohlrabi harvest

Expressing Gratitude this Week

I know that there are a lot of really remarkable college students out there. We have had the honor of being found by Paige Agostini, a chemical engineer student at WPI who someday wants to be working on the right side of toxic chemical exposure to the environment. She started a garden at WPI and a garden club and on Wednesday brought members of the club to visit Jack and me and learn about carbon sequestration. After a quick tour that included chicken, turkey and pig chores, the students settled in for one of professor Jack’s talks. What a great time. Nigel was quoted as saying, “This place is vibey!” Thank you, Paige, for being a leader of your generation for environmental sanity.

Videos from this Week

Tom turkeys establishing dominance – they are all sold out, by the way

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Showing off our mycorrhizal fungi on celery

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Meat for Sale at MHOF

All we have left now are some great roaster chickens in the freezer – $8.50/lb. and they weigh approximately 7 lbs. each.

Many Hands Make a Farm

We now have copies available for sale of, Many Hands Make a Farm. The price is $25 each and if you buy one from us, the $12.50 that we clear will go directly to the Many Hands Sustainability Center. And if you would like us to sign your copy, we can do that too! We’ll ship one to you also. Enquire.

“One of my best memories of helping people connect with their inner child was a morning in early September when many of us were sitting around the kitchen table doing soybeans. It was hot and we were bored. Dan, who was in his early twenties at the time, started throwing soybean shells up into the ceiling fan above us that was turning at a quick clip. Fearing mutiny, I told everyone that as soon as we finished, we could throw all of the shells up into the fan. So we did. And I still remember the glee with which two of my more proper working shareholders, Nina and Leslie, went about whipping soybean hulls into the fan, which ricocheted them wildly all around the kitchen – childish, naughty delight, no doubt!”

From Tim LaSalle, co-founder, Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems
“In this uplifting memoir, Jack Kittredge and Julie Rawson describe how they carved out a life of their dreams solidly based on the clarity of their values. Their ability to incorporate new understandings, such as the importance of not tilling their soil, placed them at the cutting edge of innovation. They are visionary early leaders in the movement toward a more regenerative agriculture.”

Fall CSA News – Week 3

Remember, everyone, that this CSA runs for 4 weeks. The fourth and final week will all be picked and distributed on Monday, November 20, even for the folks who will be picking up on Wednesday and Friday on the three previous weeks.

We did a lot of scurrying on Friday to prepare us for the final two weeks of the CSA. Now, all the crops that would have been damaged by the freeze over this past weekend are harvested, except for some late planted radishes. We have our fingers crossed that they will be big enough by next Monday, November 20, the last day of distribution. And the beautiful lettuces and Asian greens in the hoophouses weathered the freeze very nicely under their double blankets.


  • Spinach – from the walk in – nice stuff
  • Lettuce or Asian from hoophouses –a head count on Monday morning (today) will determine whether we can give each shareholder two plants
  • Turnips – from the walk in
  • Arugula – also in the walk in
  • Carrots – the one crop that we will harvest from the field this week – these beauties are a little on the small side, but have exceptional taste and will only get sweeter with the cold
  • Kale – now from the walk in

Here we are stripping the kale plants.

  • Parsley – from the walk in
  • Rutabagas – from the walk in; these have what I would call a creamier flavor that turnips and they go well cooked with potatoes and then mashed. You might want to peel them.

  • Celery – we started these plants late and they are small, but will be good to add their exceptional celery flavor to your soup or turkey stuffing
  • Kohlrabi – use the leaves and the bulb – they are quite variable in size, but all have that great brassica flavor
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic – last week for this
  • Squash – probably the last week for this
  • Onions

Volunteering at MHOF

Starting November 27, we go down to 3 days per week – Monday, Tuesday and Friday. You are always welcome on those days. “Payment” for your 4 hour stint will include a dozen eggs and some greens from the hoophouse until they run out.

The Middle East

Who isn’t distraught over what is happening in the Middle East right now. Here are two angles for engagement, both by 43 year old heroes of mine, Leah Penniman, and Ellen Kittredge that you might want to know about.

From Leah –
So many of us are mortified, grieving, terrified, heartbroken, angry, and overwhelmed in the face of catastrophic violence, collective punishment, and war crimes in Palestine-Israel. For BIPOC Farmers and Land Stewards, it can be challenging to find the time and resources to take part in solidarity and human rights actions. Soul Fire Farm has established a travel fund to help defray costs of participation. APPLY HERE.
Over 10,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed this month. Over 4,500 Palestinians are detained and 245+ Israelis kidnapped. There are 1.5 million internally displaced people in Gaza. Islamophobia, Anti-semitism, doxxing, hate crimes are impacting our loved ones for existing and for speaking. Civilians, especially children and women, are the most impacted. The body of the Earth is overwhelmed with the blood of her children and crying for the weapons to be still.
As a collective that centers nonviolence, abolition, demilitarization, and land sovereignty, we at Soul Fire Farm call for:

**An immediate ceasefire in Gaza
**An end to apartheid and occupation in Israel-Palestine
**An end to Islamophobia, casteism, and dehumanization of Palestinian people
**An end to Anti-Semitism and the conflation of Jewish people with the Israeli state
**Freedom for all political prisoners and hostages
**Environmental justice in Gaza – clean water, food security, tree protection, and land justice
**A global commitment to using skillful, nuanced, informed, nonviolent means to solve our problems

Humanity’s way forward will be rooted in peace, compassion, and love not in military might, punishment, revenge, or violence. Each of us deserve safety and freedom. Each child deserves to grow up. We will stay rooted in our humanity and our values.

Thank you to those who are standing up for human rights. APPLY HERE FOR TRAVEL FUNDS.
[You may also donate to the fund at, indicate “solidarity” in the memo]

From Ellen –
“People say walking on water is a miracle, but to me walking in peace on the earth is the real miracle” Thich Naht Hanh
The Israeli and Palestinian Peace Intention Experiment

Jennifer’s recipe for the week

Rosemary Sage Rutabaga Homefries


  • 3 T Lard
  • 1 large Leek, sliced
  • 2 cloves, Garlic
  • 1 Large Rutabaga, cut in bite size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried Rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried Sage
  • Pink Himalayan Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a cast iron skillet on medium heat, melt lard on stovetop.
  3. Add leeks, salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add Rutabaga, herbs and stir to coat all vegetables with seasoning.
  5. Transfer skillet to the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes.
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!


Emails from subscribers 

Need to let you know how much I LOVE your newsletter.  Thank YOU.

The new NOFA paper is much diminished…miss your husband’s style also!!


Hi Julie, I look forward to your newsletter every Monday. Your creative wordplay is a delight to read as well as being so informative. The article on digging holes reminded me of this tune from 25 years ago. The only thing in common is it’s title, “Holes” which are “dug by little moles”. The music is ethereal, as if composed in another galaxy and the lyrics are equally esoteric, purported to be about loneliness, the quest for connection and the vagaries of the human condition. While your holes serve a fundamental purpose, these holes of emptiness are longing for fulfillment.

I brine your turkey, I anoint your turkey, I stuff your turkey and I roast your turkey.
I don’t eat your turkey. But I derive immense pleasure from watching everyone else at the table devour your turkey. They are special people in my life and they deserve the finest turkey that only MHOF can provide. Thank you.

Love to you, Jack & the extended MHOF family.  Frankadelic

I appreciate you sharing the comments you received about RFK Jr. Although I don’t agree with all of his ideas (particularly his support of the Israeli gov.) when has ANY presidential candidate had a round-table on regenerative agriculture? Surely this is newsworthy for this community.


Son Dan has potatoes

$3/lb. – North Brookfield – contact him at 978-257-2627;

Farm Doin’s

Food preservation – pear sauce
Our “giving pear tree” featured last year for its 40 years of hard work  in our orchard, was the only tree, except a pawpaw which gave us about 10 fruits, to produce fruit this year. We were able to put away 24 quarts of pear sauce this week. Normally we do up about 400 quarts of apple and pear sauce, so this year it will be treated like gold.

Clare, Maggie and Ann cutting up the last batch

Chicken house

Our chicken house crew made fast tracks last week, finishing the sides and back, doing prep work on the roof and then actualizing it. Just the rest of the front left, the door, the roosts and the egg boxes. The birds plan to move in before Thanksgiving!

Cooler update –

Marcia, Paula and Jennifer somewhat gleefully clean up the barn floor to make ready for the cooler to show up and be installed on Tuesday

Jack checking on the new cooler. Thanks again, Jack, for having the foresight to deal with what turned out to be a failure of our old one, get the grant and then prod the right folks to get it installed. Many thanks to Gillette Restaurant Equipment in North Brookfield for a quick and professional installation

Here we are at the end of the day on Friday, having picked everything and packed it into our functioning walk in cooler

Second Fall share – on all days we were dancing around the cooler installation, with an almost train wreck on Friday when the electrician showed up just as we were delivering crate after crate of produce into the barn. But now it is and functioning and life will be so easy!

Maggie still hard at work, this time cutting cilantro. Too bad she is moving to VT!

Elderberries and rhubarb – On Tuesday we were able to move 3 elderberries to the back of the south field, one more on Wednesday, and we will make the final move this week of bush number 5. They were very big! The rhubarb holes, all 62 of them, are filled at the back of then north.


The farm on a cold Monday morning as we prepare to cut spinach for the week

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