THE CSA Cycle Starts Again

Today starts our 2024 Summer CSA. For the next 26 weeks (22 for summer and 4 for fall) we know what we will be doing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. We started our CSA in 1992 so this will be year 33. We may be one of the oldest continuous CSAs in the country, for those who like to keep stats (yes you, Lew!). Shawna was asking me the other night if I get excited about the CSA still, and I responded with a resounding “yes”! There are those of you who have been members for years or decades, those who made it through the rough first  year of changing eating habits and decided to come back, and there are the newbies, many of you excited to change your lives for the better by significantly shifting your eating habits for the first time, and making that commitment with your $$ to go on a 22 week journey together to tap into local farming cycles and get that much closer to the natural way of things. We realize that anyone can now days get any food you want any day of the year, and especially appreciate that you are willing to eat in season with us. We hope you will find this decision to have been a life-changing one.

Expressing Gratitude this Week

It is all about the CSA. First, super gratitude to Matt who found the funding for 8 summer and 8 fall CSA shares for the Fridges, and who also noted that his neighbor will continue to be a shareholder if he still wants his lawn mowed. And there are the 26 people with whose pooled resources we were able to come up with 8 summer and 8 fall Community Fridge shares And then there is a new star, Matt, who pulled off 16 shares for the 696 Crossfit Gym in Gardner, and finally the woman behind so many shares, including Matt’s, Jennifer. I watched her pigeonhole a woman in our driveway one day and get her to sign up. Thank you, Jennifer.

Continuing on the CSA theme, special thanks to Dan, Shawna and Meghan who came over for dinner and helped us prepare CSA bags for a couple hours. Jennifer, though sick this week, did all the back-end work for labels, spreadsheets, pick lists, and email notifications. And finally, there is Jack, who offered to help me with the slog of printing 10 different colors of labels (about 400 or so), cut them, laminate them, cut them again, punch holes in them, tie them, and then tie them onto the bags. We got it all done by Saturday night, right after I took him out to the Sole Proprietor for a thank you supper.

On Thursday in process

Letters from folks

thanks for your thoughtful reflection on Memorial Day and helping set an example of remembering on that day that is often lost today as a holiday only.

Hi Julie, I was one of the lucky/fortunate ones who, despite having a low draft number (53), was saved by the college deferment. Why going to college would make such a difference I will never understand. It was a white, middle class advantage I had that so many others didn’t for a war that should have never happened. I was a classic example of “There but for fortune go I”.
This tune was released in 1985 and is still a powerful condemnation of the Vietnam war. So many veterans of that war are still fighting it in their shattered psyches.
Peace, Love and Grooviness, Frankadelic

Thank you, Frank, you expressed so eloquently what I was trying to get across. Julie
I like your sentiments…maybe we are twins!  They also apply to me and my evolution.  I am 76 presently.  My brother was in college during the war and when he graduated got a high draft number.

Love to You and your Beautiful Soul,

Thank you, Doris, I am happy to be your twin. 😊 Julie

The CSA has Started

The deadline has passed to join up for the first week of the CSA. But we are still taking new shareholders. The price goes down incrementally each week. Check the website here for how to sign up.

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The center of gravity for the CSA has shifted a bit this year, in large part because of the work of Jennifer and Matt Cali.

We have folks picking up in the following numbers:

  • Athol – 8
  • MHOF – 30
  • Gardner – 26
  • Holden – 19
  • Shrewsbury – 12
  • Worcester – 39

What is in your Share this week

  • Lettuce

  • Chinese cabbage – I like this sauteed in a stir fry or lightly steamed and cooked with eggs. You can also just steam it and serve straight. Good with garlic, onions, olive oil, tamari. Don’t overcook it.

  • Kale from the hoop house or Swiss chard

  • Spearmint – chop it into salad or make sun tea – put it in a jar of water and leave in the sun for half a day and have a wonderful cooling drink

  • Green onions – please use the entire onion. You will be getting these for awhile. I use them in everything from salads to stir fries to soups, to egg dishes.

  • Oregano – can be chopped fine for salad, or added as a seasoning in soups and stews

  • Spinach
  • Radishes

Need some help? Give me a call. 978-257-1192

Education this week

No time to listen this week!

Volunteering at MHOF

There is no question that we survive with our regular staff of paid folks and volunteers, but we are able to thrive with the help of one-off volunteers and groups. This past Saturday at a co-sponsored MHSC and NOFA workshop on keeping the soil covered the folks had a “working education” where we planted two beds of tomatoes, hilled and mulched 3 rows of our 14 potato rows and mulched some of our hemp and winter squash. We are still taking working shareholders. Alex joined us last week and Declan starts today. Be in touch.

Alex with the big biceps to the right of Stu – kale weeded and mulched on Monday

Dear friend Dale, hoeing potatoes while former colleague and 2011 working shareholder Laura videotapes the workshop on Saturday

Didier came to the workshop to translate as needed, but it turns out he grew up on a coffee farm in Colombia and had the time of his life working in the field again.


Chive paste making

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Baby meat birds arrived

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Don’t forget the Party on June 29

Here is half of the invite that went out via email. This must be a Jack featuring week!

Beginning of Summer Gala Party and Pot luck at Many. Please RSVP
Many Hands Organic Farm
Saturday, June 29 from 2:00 pm until the end
Jack Kittredge and Clare Caldwell are two very essential remarkable members of the Many Hands community. We are celebrating them for a few reasons
Jack turned 80 this year and this is a celebration of his long and productive involvement in the world. Here are a few highlights.

  • Radical from his early age – when he took over the island at Carleton College to protest the Bay of Pigs; or the armory on Cape Cod to protest the lack of housing for poor people on the Cape, then there was the cow on Boston Common to protest the unavailability of raw milk in Massachusetts, the proposed GWEN tower in Barre, gmos in our food, etc., etc.
  • Master designer and builder of the MHOF house, barn, sheds, chicken tractors and pig houses, sets for Quabbin shows
  • Master designer of board and video games – Cosmic Encounter, Dune, Borderlands, and others
  • Editor, of the family newspaper at age 5, and later editor of the Natural Farmer for 33 years, popular Christmas newsletter, etc., etc.
  • Father for 46 years and superb life partner for 47 years. The list goes on, but most importantly,
  • Highly intelligent, discerning, integrated and iconoclastic member of the world

2024 Workshop Series

Here listed is our last workshop for the spring. Register here. –

Homestead Carpentry

  • Saturday, June 15, 2024
  • 9am-12 with pot luck lunch
  • Price: $50-$100 – sliding scale
  • Presenter: John Wilson, with some help from Jack Kittredge and Danny LeBlanc

There’s a time in every homesteader’s life when some carpentry is needed to build or repair something made of wood.  This workshop will provide a solid grounding in getting started. Very basic questions will be explored in a setting that requires no knowledge of woodworking.

Topics will include: how to select the right lumber for your task, how to measure it and cut it to size, the options for fastening it together, and making a good assembly.  Each topic will cover the tools needed, with a demonstration of technique, and how to avoid some common pitfalls.  Emphasis will be on hand tools where feasible.

While in his 20s, John Wilson was a carpenter for 10 years.  He worked on framing apartments, finish work in condos, a cabinet shop, and built two houses.  He’s kept active in carpentry remodeling work in the intervening years, and was part of the MHOF garage and chicken coop renovations the past two years.  He has always had an appreciation for tools and techniques.

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Jennifer’s Recipe of the Week

Sorry, Too sick to cook and eat this week.  Recipes will be back next week using the amazing CSA food.

Farm Doins

It was a most beautiful and productive May. This year we got a jump on our haymaking thanks to Jim for cutting, Luke for raking and Clare for managing the pick up. That will keep in process until we complete our first round. Last week Jim cut the annex and the west field.

Luke raking in west field

In terms of planting we got the following in the ground – more lettuce, 2nd round of carrots and radishes, corn, some tomatoes, all of our squash and cucumbers, and some of our flowers.

We knocked off 6 rows of corn planting in 40 minutes

In the weeding and mulching department we took care of the kale, 3 rows of potatoes, some squash and hemp, and also made some more chopped hay.

Clare and Matt straining over a leaf tote to be used for mulching potatoes

Another round of foliar spraying until both sprayers died, but Dave came over and worked with Matt to get them up and running.

The mowing got done this week and we now have three functioning mowers, though we are awaiting Dave’s fixes on our weed whacker.

Many hours on CSA prep, and 10 new blueberries planted and 20 pints of chive paste for the freezer. A new round of lettuce seedlings started. Baby meat birds arrived.

The pig yard is ready to go. Jack and Julie started an aborted trip to Maine to get our piglets. Our truck is awaiting a new strut at Quabbin Auto.


Quick Links

Buy meat
CSA pick up information
Contact Julie
Products available right now at the farm
Become a working shareholder
Donate to the MHSC
Links Workshops

Link to buy J and J’s book – Many Hands Make a Farm-