Aging

As August moves into its second half and the early crops in the field start to wane, it is an easy jump to consider our own aging. I was able to put those thoughts at bay for several decades, but as Jack and I attend more funerals of our friends, thoughts of our own deaths and transition enter the consciousness.

Gracefully aging while living a full and meaningful life, albeit perhaps a bit slower, staying relevant while slowly backing into the surroundings are all considerations of the “Third Act” that Jane Fonda so aptly wrote about in her book Prime Time: Creating a Great Third ACT and spoke about in her Ted Talk. I like her reference to the spirit and how it becomes central to our growth and development as full human beings as we age. Soon school will start for some, an end to vacationing for some, but generally a return to a fresh start in the crisp fall. I look forward to really digging in to my Third Act this fall and winter as I climb ever upward on the staircase of life.

More on Breathing – Nitric Oxide

Quoting from Ari Whitten in Breathing for Energy Program – https://theenergyblueprint.com/breathing-for-energy-program-sp/

Nitric Oxide production is significantly increased with nose breathing (6 times better than mouth breathing, and 15 times better if you breathe through your nose while humming). And here is a short explanation of what nitric oxide does in your system:

  • Dilates blood vessels
  • Acts as an anti-oxidant or oxidant as appropriate
  • Boosts vascular and lung health
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Is anti-inflammatory, viral and bacterial
  • Supports homeostasis, neurotransmission, respiration
  • Prevents high blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Creates more flexible arteries

Videos from MHOF this week

Finally got the corn weeded and thinned and then later spread a nice multi-species cover crop mix

On Thursday two groups came to work with us

Anna brought the kids from Home City Housing in Springfield and Allison brought a group from the Somers, CT summer program. It was old home week as both Anna and Allison were colleagues of mine in NOFA back in the day.

CSA Updates This Week

CSA crops this week

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Beet greens from our new beds
  • Beet wrap up from our amazing 8 week run on our first beet crop
  • Tulsi
  • Summer squash and/or zucchini
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  • Parsley
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemon balm

After 11 weeks (halfway), here are the weight numbers for shares so far – large – 9 lbs. average, medium – 7 lbs. average, smalls – 4.5 lbs. average

Fall Share – sign up now

A fall share

We will be picking for the fall share, starting October 31 and running for 4 weeks, on Mondays and Wednesdays. But on the last week we are picking all of the shares on Monday. Keep the good food flowing for one more month.

Reserve a Fall Share

Bulk Sale items

Right now, we have extra zucchini and summer squash. It is $3/lb., but if you buy 25 lbs. or more, we will sell it to you for $2/lb. Give me a call if you would like some for putting by as dried squash or squash puree.

Recipe Ideas

Roasted Fennel, Chickpeas and Kale

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
  • ½ fresh lemon, juiced
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp powdered turmeric
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove fennel fronds from bulb and save for another use. Coarsely chop fennel bulb and add to a medium bowl.
  3. Add ½ tsp turmeric, 1 Tbs olive oil and ½ tsp salt. Toss to coat and lay on a baking sheet.
  4. Place rinsed chickpeas in a medium bowl. Add garlic, ½ tsp turmeric, 1 Tbs olive oil and ½ tsp salt. Toss to coat and lay on the baking sheet next to the fennel.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, remove stems from kale and chop the leaves.
  7. Place chopped kale in a medium bowl and add ginger, sage, lemon juice, remaining olive oil and salt.
  8. Remove fennel and chickpeas from the oven and add kale mixture on top. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and toss everything together. Allow to cool and enjoy! (Great served in a soft tortilla as a taco base, or as a side dish.)

Download Recipe

Meat Birds Available on August 28

Chicken slaughter is coming up very soon. You can get chickens for your freezer for the entire year. Read more about these fantastic birds here and place your order.

MHOF Meat

Other News

Some interesting Podcasts that I listened to this week

Son Dan on inoculants

Gerald Pollack on Structured Water. I hope I am so vibrant when I am 82.

An old friend and colleague, Ridge Shinn, is starting this initiative:

Dear friends,

Because you know me, you probably know how long I’ve advocated for regenerative cattle grazing—which has multiple benefits for health and the environment—to replace conventional, corn-based cattle beef production, which has degraded farmland and driven climate change. I founded a meat company and most recently have co-authored a book about grass-fed beef production, which will be released in November. But this is such a complex and critically important issue, there is much more to be done—much more that must be done.

So, I’m excited to tell you about my newest project: the Northeast Grass-Fed Beef Initiative (NGBI).

NGBI is a not-for-profit organization that will partner with farmers in the region to facilitate on-farm transitions from conventional to regenerative systems. Widespread adoption of this methodology has the power to restore ecosystem health, fight climate change, and revitalize rural economies.

We see a future in which our Northeast communities reclaim vibrant stewardship of soil health, water quality, and economic opportunity. To get there, we’re building a strong regional network of cattle producers, suppliers, farm services, and community members.

Please visit this page to learn more and to join NGBI’s mailing list.

Then, help us spread the word by forwarding this email to 10 people who would be interested in our vision. If you see pathways for collaboration, please be in touch.

This is just an introduction to the new entity, the Northeast Grass-Fed Beef Initiative (NGBI). We hope you will sign on to learn more. Thanks for your support. We’ll get there together.

See you on the farm,
Ridge and the NGBI team

Letters from subscribers

“Hi Julie,

I love your newsletter and read every word and watch your informative videos. In the past I have grated my zucchini for use during the colder months. (I have a vacuum sealer and use it for everything going into my freezers.)

This past Friday I received the fennel and celery with which to make one of my very favorite salads and I make fennel frond pesto with the tops. Actually, I make pesto with quite a few things – young carrot tops and garlic scapes are two of my favorites. They are delicious as Bruchetta with crumbled goat cheese.

I’ve included a few of my favorite recipes for you to share or try if you see fit.

Have a great week.

Take care

Beth

Thanks, Beth, 

Sounds like you are a real cook. I will pass these on to Christy, who also is a sketch more gourmet than I am, to test and share in the newsletter throughout the season. We are always looking for ways to enjoy fennel to pass along to folks, and I also love using carrot tops. 

Julie

Circle of Song starting up September 8

Circle of Song is a community chorus that I co-direct with my friend Nancy Afonso. We are starting up our fall session on September 8 – Barre Congregational church – enter at left side door – from 7-8:30pm. We are always looking for singers who are a little on the irrepressible side and who like to sing in four-part harmony. We will be doing one movement from Faure’s Requiem along with some modestly challenging pieces, some of which might be in a foreign language. Minnie likes peppy, Jack likes beautiful, Karen likes challenging, all us of like to laugh and not take life too seriously (except for musical diligence, of course). Give me a call – 978-257-1192, or email – [email protected] to find out more. We charge $40 – $70 sliding scale for annual membership.

Can’t read that well? We will help you with that. A good ear is appreciated. We meet every Thursday night and are planning our concert for December 17 at the Barre Town Hall.

We also like to eat together

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farewell to Deb. It was with great sadness that I accepted Deb’s resignation last week end. She started as a half-day working shareholder in the spring and then quickly moved to three days per week. Out of the starting gate she was fast, had a strong sense of quality, and was a very convivial member of our farm team – quickly making herself indispensable. Life circumstances changed and she had to leave us. We hope she will return sooner rather than later.

Deb, June 22, 2022

No Newsletter next week

Christy is going on vacation. See you again on the 29th!

Farm Doin’s

The week started hot and got hotter, but then things broke a bit and we truly enjoyed Thursday and Friday on the farm (except for the fact that we are concerned about the ever- drier conditions!)

Highlights were getting the corn weeded, thinned and cover-cropped, weeding and mulching one of our lettuce successions and our new brassicas, mulching those new brassicas and the tulsi and the ground cherries. We finally picked up all of the hay that we have down on the field and Kamarin got all of the fruit trees mowed. We started picking peaches, and sadly the crop is very small this year. Another early apple tree provided us with 14 quarts of applesauce and the eating apples (for CSA shares) are just around the corner.

With the Home City Housing folks we were able to do some significant cover cropping under many different crops. Now we need a little rain to help them germinate.

Jonathan and Stu did some more work on the garage and cut down our lilacs to side the south side (we are banking on them growing back over time). John, Jonathan and Jack puzzled out our pig shock system problems and then started the repair in advance of their arrival on August 26.

The tomato hornworm collection has continued and Maria took some awesome pictures of hornworms infested with wasps.

And Eloise had her tenth? litter on Wednesday and eluded our attempts at finding them for a couple of days.

While the rest of us were out slaving in the hot sun, these guys were reconnoitering about pig shock

Turns out watering chickens is a great entry level job for 5 year-olds. Alexandria took care of Saturday and Raffi did Sunday

Amazing that these big boys and girls were all gone by Saturday morning

Maria took this amazing picture of a tomato hornworm being taken out by wasp larvae

Kamarin with one of the kittens

Agnes feeding the turkeys on Thursday

Eloise contemplating her last moments of freedom

Dear Clare in the corn

Making applesauce

Julie

Quick Links

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Products available right now at the farm
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Work/Life Balance

I was sure that the worst of the heat was past us, but then the last few days have been pretty oppressive. Perhaps the wonderful pass that we got on heat up until July 15 was just pushing off the heat until a little later in the season. Regardless, it has been difficult to stay centered, focused and happy while working outside, just to come in and feel the heat up through the night. Normally there is a time between about 5-7 am where I can run around to check the meat birds, let the dogs off their night shift, give the seedlings a spritz and bathe my feet in the dewy grass, and that is my recharge time. Friday morning was dew-less and sticky and I found myself behind the eight ball before I even got started on the day.

Friday Hannah and Joey were over, farming partners of Peter, who works here two days per week. We were discussing work/life balance, a challenging topic for farmers who must follow the sun, but also must rejuvenate and recharge. The mere act of discussing strategies for how to joyfully manage this reality is of great help, if only because misery loves company. But as we ponder this issue, especially in the unrelenting heat, we start to come up with balancing strategies, so that Clare and Jonathan and I and all of the wonderful less than full-time people who focus effort on this farm, can continue lovingly to steward the work here. Now is the time where we try on different scenarios – less land more carefully tended with more animal and cover crop rotations, perhaps less animals, and more diligent management of our off season prioritizing perennial management and tool organization, repairs both mechanical and of a carpentering nature. My goal is to continue farming well into my 70s and 80s, while factoring in some vacation time, real down time every day to play and learn, time to continue to strengthen my relationship with Jack and my family, see friends, play and sing music, and all with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Oppressive heat has a way of requiring attention to one’s functionality while under stress. In that way it is a blessing.

Hannah is on the left

Joey

More on Breathing

Lots of response on this one over the past week. Dave stopped me after band practice to speak delightfully about George Catlin’s work in the 1830’s studying and painting native Americans on the plains of the American west. Catlin noted that mothers would carefully close babies’ mouths after breastfeeding to encourage nose breathing. He wrote “Shut Your Mouth to Save Your Life” in 1862. His work is definitely worth checking out.

Daughter Ellen sent a link to a breathing program organized by Ari Whitten of the Energy Blue Print. I signed up for this course – Breathing for Energy, and will see where it takes me. Meanwhile, my mouth is shut!

From Laurie:

Julie, I have read and enjoyed both breathing books you mention. Patrick McKeown is amazing, and I recently read James Nestor.

About 6 years ago, (after a yoga teacher mentioned I must breathe through my mouth to stimulate the parasympathetic system- rest, digest and build) I got online to learn how to nose breathe. I came across videos of McKeown teaching Buteyko nasal breathing. It really only took me about 10 minutes to learn to do it. He helped save my sanity. I had been a long time mouth breather as I had some awful, low-oxygen childhood experiences in my dad’s unpressurized small plane. I have been trying to correct the PTSD (or learn to live with it) since then. Patrick M  4 minutes… changed my life…

Unblock your Nose in 3 minutes – stop snoring -, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAf8Elez6bg&t=9s

Snoring significantly reduces when the nose is unblocked. Patrick McKeown, author of 7 books including ‘The Oxygen Advantage’ ‘Close Your Mouth’, and ‘Sleep with Buteyko’ (the book for snoring and sleep apnea) shows how to unblock your nose in a few minutes.

Videos from MHOF this week

Weeding beets and carrots

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Freezing beans

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Making applesauce

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Transitioning from peas to green beans and cucumbers

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How to preserve summer squash

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How to preserve chard

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CSA Updates This Week

Coming up this Week

  • Lettuce is back – a new crop attempting to beat the heat

  • Kale
  • Chard

  • Cabbage, broccoli or collards
  • Basil – this crop is struggling in the heat. Friday Peter and Joey and I went through and seriously trimmed it hoping that it will rejuvenate without all of the black spots.
  • Tulsi – Holy basil, will also be on the docket this week. Enjoy this as a tea, or as an addition to salads and stir fries
  • Summer squash and/or zucchini – with the heat the cucumbers have gone down hill, but this past Friday’s squashes were healthier than ever. We have been focusing on soil drenches and specific foliars to keep the plants out of stress; check out the sheen

  • Cucumbers – still coming
  • Green beans – we had a flush on Monday and on Friday from some plants that are challenged by Mexican bean beetles. The purple striped rattlesnakes are in this week

  • Beets – we are nearing the end of these four beds that have been supporting our needs for about 8 weeks
  • Peppermint – a nicely established bed now right next to the yellow hoop house

  • Garlic – enjoy a bulb from our storage this week
  • Carrots – I know they didn’t materialize last week – we will dig some this week for you
  • Tomatoes – they are starting and there will be a few this week – not sure for how many folks

Bulk Sale Items

Right now, we have extra zucchini and summer squash. It is $3/lb., but if you buy 25 lbs. or more, we will sell it to you for $2/lb. Give me a call if you would like some for putting by as dried squash or squash puree. (978) 257-1192

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Jonathan has Muscovy ducks for sale

4-6 week old Muscovy Ducklings for Sale in Sutton. Pastured with their mothers and fed organic grain from Green Mountain Feeds. Hens are great mothers, raising 2-3 clutches a year. Quiet, great foragers and excellent meat ducks. Perfect for small farms and homesteads.

Asking $15 per duckling. Text Jonathan at 774-222-3531.

Farm Doin’s

The week started on Saturday last week with Raffi and Doodle here all week end and eager to make some money. Besides fixing hoses, making up foliars and drenches, doing chores, preserving food, mowing and blueberry picking, we had some great time to go swimming and play ball too, and cards before bed!

Fixing hoses with dad

I have noticed that boys who help chop vegetables are more likely to eat them also!

Our days were organized around the heat last week. One early morning Kamarin and I were sure we were going to expire after making some long moves with the layers. The layers and meat birds are right now on some “straight runs” which means just one house length per day.

 

Jake and Kamarin moving layers

The turkeys are doing a little fertilizing in the front yard and also we can keep a close eye on them while they are still quite young. Soon they will head to the home orchard.

We were able to get the west field all weeded – good crop of beets coming, but the carrots did not germinate well. And we replanted several beds in the west to late beets, rutabaga, dill and arugula.

Kalina, Scott and Jake making rows for dill in beds previously planted to lettuce.

We also finished mulching peppers and celeriac, a task left undone from the previous week.

In the north we ripped out the peas and replanted the trellises to pole beans and cucumbers. We also tied the tomatoes and mowed between them. Kamarin has taken on the task of annihilating every tomato hornworm that he comes upon, except those that are already infested with parasitic wasp larvae. https://ugaurbanag.com/tomato-hornworms-and-parasitic-wasps/

He left on Friday with the commitment to check each and every tomato this week!

Pretty attractive little fellows! One bit me while I was ripping it in half…

In the south field we finished weeding the tulsi while Jonathan did some stirrup hoeing of our new crop of lettuce and brassicas planted the previous week, and at week’s end we were able to a reasonable handle on the corn weeding. This week we will finish that job and thin the corn some before throwing the peas vines in and doing a multi-species cover cropping in the pathways.

In the pond field we removed a tarp and planted 6 beds of carrots and 1 bed of purple top turnips. All this past week we have been soaking the planting rows with water before seeding as precipitation is scarce in this time period.

Here is our melon house (yellow house). We sprayed our heat stress foliar early in the week and then there was a flush of flowers.

Spraying is an integral part of each morning. Some double combination of Clare, Jonathan, Kamarin and Peter spend almost an hour each day with foliars and soil drenches to keep production high and support plant health.

We are constantly moving tarps off and on various parts of the fields.

And hauling sand bags around

Thursday 10 folks from the Bionutrient Food Association from Chicago and Acton came for lunch and 17 of us shared food out on the driveway at picnic tables in the best shade we could find on that hot day.

Friday was highlighted with a visit of two guys, Lee and Dan from NCAT who were interviewing farmers about barriers to organic growing. Nice visit.

Hopefully we can ponder work/life balance with lower temperatures this upcoming week.

Julie

Quick Links

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Buy meat
CSA pick up information
Contact Julie
Products available right now at the farm
Become a working shareholder

 

Breathing

Breathing

Videos from MHOF this week

At some point this week, everyone on staff was gone at least one if not 3 ½ days, so I didn’t do as many movies.

Mulching late chard

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Turkeys onto pasture

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Showing off the squash

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Letters to the Editor

“I had to reply to say that I am sorry you feel there are only two paths to finding life‘s meaning and purpose. You left out a major consideration that there is a being larger than us who can help find meaning and purpose. That being can also bring comfort in those hot July times when you are at the end of yourself. Maybe He is the meaning and purpose you seek.

I find that the Holy Spirit can bring comfort and help to find God’s plan for my life. I hope and pray you find that too.”

Thanks, Chris, for your thoughtful response. Just to be clear, I don’t believe that there are only two paths to anything. I was just juxtaposing meditation vs. action.  I call on my Protestant Christian upbringing all the time, especially when times get tough. Sometimes I think that it is a question of terminology and that many folks draw on the same inner strength, and outer strength, but give it different names. What I feel I need to do is to drop judgment of others as they follow their paths to their meaning. I do believe that we are all on a journey, for sure. 

Julie

Ed. Note – Chris is a CSA shareholder

“loved this letter Julie. I read every one of your letters and your work astounds me.

Keep doing it! I find July is hardest for our farmers too!

Thank you for keeping us so informed on what is in your mind and going on each week on the farm.

In gratitude,

Linley”

Thank you, Linley, 

I appreciate that you enjoy our newsletter. Though it seems to take more time than I think I have some weeks, it serves my soul in a way. I am glad that it is useful for folks. 

July is a funny one. I ponder why it seems so hard every year, and try to prepare for it by being more organized each year. There will always be more work to accomplish than it seems possible to manage, and there will always be weeds and lost crops, it seems, when we are pumping out so much food and keeping successions running all spring, summer and fall. And I noticed this year that we were better organized and have been managing successions better than usual, with the real outcome of that meaning more work than usual with all of the mix of older, younger and baby crops all needing attention. The sun is still driving things so unrelentingly in July, so it will never be easy. Regardless, August is here now and we can all leave behind the thoughts of getting out of farming for sure next year and just enjoy the shorter days and cooler nights. 

Julie

Ed. Note – Linley is Associate Director of the Real Organic Project and farms in Durango, CO

“Hi Julie

August 27th is fine for us to partake in a MHOF supper. We appreciate the invite and look forward to seeing you and Jack and sampling your fresh organic farm fare.

I enjoy receiving your newsletter and particularly delight in your ruminations on health, nutrition, nature, community, energy, truth to power issues, one’s purpose in life and life in general with its routines, surprises, rewards, disappointments, moments of crystal clarity and love in its many configurations; seasoned with a dose of whimsy and serendipity.

Your own “life of ACTION” leaves me breathless (and out of breath!) Maybe you can’t meditate for more than 30 minutes but what you accomplish in the course of a day, through your form of “working meditation”, warrants the blessing of the Buddha and Mother Nature herself.

Frank”

Gosh, Frank, thanks, and you are in the calendar. With the newsletter and our videos that various people remark on weekly, it seems that we are farming in a fish bowl here with so many people egging us on and supporting the day in and day out interface with nature that we actualize almost every day of the year. I used to feel more lonely, especially in the summer when it seemed that all of our customers were taking restful vacations and we usually weren’t. Now it feels that we have this large cheering section that allows us to grow more high quality food every year, and have more fun with it. I know that when it is over 90 degrees out or 50 degrees and raining (or 33 degrees and snowing) on a CSA picking day that many of our readers are thinking of us. That is very powerful support. Looking forward to seeing you and Denise. 

Love, Julie

Ed. Note- Frank was the manager at the Living Earth before we started selling to them in 1985 up until they closed in 2019.

 

CSA Updates This Week

Coming up this Week

  • No lettuce this week – a small hiatus and you can count on it back next week
  • Kale – I think we will serve up Red Russian kale this week – check out the beautiful purple stems

  • Chard
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage, broccoli or collards
  • Fennel – that is the frilly stuff – I like it best in salads, but it can be lightly steamed with other vegetables in a stir fry also
  • Basil
  • Summer squash and/or zucchini – check out the food preservation video coming out this week that Christy and I did on this crop if you are feeling overwhelmed
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Beets
  • Celery – I am super proud of this celery this year. Enjoy this highly nutritious vegetable
  • Carrots – nothing to write home about yet this year, but after we clean out this early bed, we are still crossing our fingers for later carrots in October and November

Recipe Ideas

Zucchini Fritters

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 4-5 chard stems, chopped
  • ½ cup cooked corn
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup arrowroot powder
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup oil of choice for frying (lard, bacon grease, olive oil, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Shred zucchini with a hand grater or food processor. Place shredded zucchini between 2 layers of clean kitchen towels or paper towels to absorb some of the moisture. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Remove shreds from towels.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet on the stovetop until it sizzles when a drop of water hits it, but not so hot that it is smoking. (350 degrees F.)
  3. Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder and salt. Mix. (The mixture will be thick like heavy batter at this stage, but will water down when vegetables are added.)
  4. Add zucchini, chard, corn and garlic. Mix just until combined.
  5. Scoop ¼ cup of mixture and place gently into hot oil. Press down gently with a fork to spread vegetables evenly. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side, flipping with a spatula once golden brown.
  6. Remove fritter from oil and place on a plate to cool. Enjoy!

Download Recipe

Bulk Sale Items

Right now, we have extra zucchini and summer squash. It is $3/lb., but if you buy 25 lbs. or more, we will sell it to you for $2/lb. Give me a call if you would like some for putting by as dried squash or squash puree. (978) 257-1192

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

With a short staff we moved a little slower this week. But on Friday, with Stetson here for a second day, and Clare, Paula and Peter back from vacation, we finished the CSA in record time and had time to prepare 5 beds for planting out a fall crop of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.

The guys prepped all those beds while the dolls picked green beans

Kamarin and Jonathan and I finished weeding the peppers and celeriac, and Kalina and Jake helped us weed a leek bed

and weed and mulch our second crop of new green beans. On the second shift Dan, Raffi, Doodle and Jack and I finished up 5 gallons of blueberry picking on Tuesday.

Thursday’s crew that includes Stu and Scott was able to weed the yellow house melons, weed and mulch the blue house melons, weed and mulch the new chard beds

and almost get the tulsi weeded. We did skip that last week as it seemed too young. Probably it will show up in share bags in another week.

Check out the horse radish in the lower left

Maria and Clare and I stopped to weed our little flower bed on Friday

We moved the turkeys out, turned the meat birds around to head back closer to the farm, and edged the layers up the hill in the west field finishing our 2nd time around the outside of that field. The birds are now in 13 movable pens and take a real chunk of time each day to move.

We upgraded our spraying this week with more in season correction foliars and drenches to help the crops pull through these times when they are growing quickly and needing lots of nutrition.

Julie

Quick Links

Buy CSA
Buy meat
CSA pick up information
Contact Julie
Products available right now at the farm
Become a working shareholder

Politics

“Politics” is derived from the juicier Greek word, “politeia,” which implies an active engagement in which people empower each other to enhance their communities.”  – Jean Houston

I happened on to this quote Saturday morning in my Eden Energy feed. We talk about a lot of things while in the field, especially on a weeding week like this past one where we are all close by and find it easy to talk. On Thursday we got off on finding one’s true life meaning and purpose, whether through meditation and inner work or active engagement in the world, or perhaps through both. I noted that although we have been selling produce to the Insight Meditation Society in town, the International Headquarters for Vipassana meditation, I could never see myself meditating for 10 days. Though I have made it up to about a half hour from time to time, that is about my limit, preferring a life of action. The good news is that we each have our pathway to accomplish the above. Perhaps all we need to do in life is to keep honing that pathway. I checked out Jean Houston online – maybe a good way to spend some money if you find yourself casting about for your purpose at the moment.

My darkest hours on the farm are usually in July when it seems that no matter how hard we have worked, there are still plants in crisis, coyotes eating meat birds, and the weather is too hot and unrelenting. This is the month of the year where I often contemplate doing something else with my life. I am elated as we draw to the end of this very hot week that 1 month out from the Solstice, our farm is more energized and productive than it ever has been at this time. It has been a long journey for me since I started “farming” on my own in Dorchester back in 1977, but I just now am starting to see what power to enhance community can be all about. One of my heroes is Wendell Berry and he said, “The Earth is what we all have in common.” I am so happy to be an earth-worker.

Videos from MHOF this week

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CSA Updates This Week

Coming up this week

Okay, now is when we will start having a lot of food for you. If you have not yet become a food preservationist, now is the time to start. Beginning next Friday, Christy and I will attempt a video per week on how to preserve one crop that you have received in your share. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, I suggest that you eat veggies for breakfast, lunch and supper!

  • Lettuce – 2 for larges, 1 for mediums and smalls
  • Kale – we will harvest from the new beds this week to change it up a bit
  • Chard
  • Parsley
  • Green cabbage – for larges and medium

  • Chives
  • Basil – new crop. This is a touchy crop that sometimes succumbs to powdery mildew. It is looking very healthy, so fingers crossed it will be a long season

  • Tulsi – Indian basil or holy basil – good in tea or in your favorite salads and stir fries

Here it is with its weeds. We will attempt to have them cleared out by week’s end

  • Summer squash and/or zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans

  • Beets
  • Cilantro – back for probably just one week

Recipe Ideas

Easy Chard Roll Ups

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup rice, partially cooked
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbs fresh oregano
  • 12 chard leaves
  • 1 pint tomato sauce

Directions

  1. Cook rice in boiling water, but reduce recommended cooking time by about 5 minutes so that the rice remains slightly firm. Remove from heat and drain.
  2. Mix beef, vegetables, herbs, spices and partially cooked rice.
  3. Remove chard stems and reserve for another use. Blanch chard leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from boiling water and cool in an ice water bath. Drain.
  4. Roll 1/4 cup of the beef mixture into each chard leaf. Tuck edges into each roll as you go.
  5. Place rolls in a baking dish lined with tomato sauce. Top with more tomato sauce.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Enjoy!

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Update on Toxins in Compost

Response by NOFA/Mass on safety of compost and the need to buy from only certified organic composters – https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/07/23/opinion/toxic-ground-just-underscores-importance-organic-certification/

In case anyone wonders, we buy potting soil only on our farm (no compost), but this is from Ideal Compost Company, which is approved for use by Baystate Organic Certifiers.

More from MHOF

Young Layers for Sale

We have only 5 left of extra laying birds that have been brooded and acclimated to the outside world. They are 11 weeks old and in top physical condition having been fed on organic grain and lots of comfrey from birth. They are $25 each. Please contact me to make your purchase. [email protected] or 978-257-1192.

“Red Stars” – high production egg laying chickens.

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Poster girl Paula with the final pick on lettuce crop #3.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

This was a week of weed, weed, weed, and mulch, mulch, mulch. Our early crop of broccoli is now weeded and almost all mulched – to be concluded on Monday. These plants have been a bit under stress, but we are hoping we can save this crop. We also finished weeding what we call the far west, and mulched our way down the hill.

Here are some nice pictures.

Generally, the whole neighborhood in the west field is as beautiful and bounteous as it has ever been. We have some parsley, leeks, celeriac and a few peppers to weed and mulch for this field to be completely in a place of full capacity.

Skippy showing off our 2nd newest lettuce patch, new kale, celeriac and peppers (still partially in weeds), cabbage, and fennel below the tarp.

Close up of the new kale (winterbor).

The celery got its final weed and mulch for the season along with a midseason gallon each bed of ProGro to give it a boost. The pond field is in pretty good shape with a new bed of cucumbers mulched this week and the beets still holding strong and sweet. The one bed of carrots that we were able to save from the weeds is interminably slow. New crops of radishes, turnips, dill and cilantro are following green onions, but just germinating. Though it was very hot this week we lucked out with a large storm on Monday and Monday night, followed by some gentle showers both Wednesday and Thursday nights.

In the south field weeding and mulching of tulsi and husk cherries, and weeding and multi-species cover cropping of corn remains to be accomplished this week. Squashes are performing at best levels ever and cukes looking good too (often a challenge for us). The onion harvest will be thin.

We harvested garlic out of the garden this week, with the upper beds doing quite well and the lower one succumbing to rot. Over the next while there will be garlic in the shares. The potatoes in the garden seem to have out-maneuvered the Colorado potato bugs and are still growing, some of them luxuriantly, some doing well enough. 20-20 hindsight suggests that we should have gotten them weeded, hilled and mulched about 2 weeks earlier than we were able to accomplish it.

The north field is now all well managed with better than ever tomatoes and beans that look like they may not succumb to the Mexican bean beetle until after a good harvest (more beans are planted in far west). And our kale, collard, broccoli suite in the back of the north (behind the orange house) is now fully weeded and soon mulched. This is a new accomplishment for this area of the farm. If nothing else this year, we are attempting to break the hold that some weeds have had on us (most notably bindweed, but also pig weed and galinsoga), making farming next year all that much easier.

Friday afternoon we efficiently tarped four different areas of the farm where crops had gone out. We now know to get tarps on immediately, and how many sand bags to use to keep them down in windy times. Replanting then becomes almost simple.

Cooler temps next week. I can take it!

-Julie

Feeding others

This is the title of one of the chapters of our upcoming book with Chelsea Green. As I wrote this chapter last fall, I decided to daily track how many meals would be served to people here each day in 2022. Right now, we are at 2,481 meals with 118 clocked in the past 7 days. I am not sure how this really happened, but I am elated. For years Jack and the kids and I would discuss the idea of having a restaurant here. I guess it has come to pass. This week we had two birthday parties, people as young as 4 and as old as 78, people from CO, CA and MI, had hilarious conversations and just down right enjoyed the food.

Jonathan’s birthday on Tuesday, celebrated with coconut milk tapioca pudding.

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Friday at lunch we were proud to serve 12 different vegetables in amongst the meat stocks, Jack’s famous house salad dressing and 2 desserts (blueberry/mulberry pie and chocolate pudding). In my ideal world, everyone will sit down to eat with others 3 times per day, and share not just food but also the closeness that develops when we converse and rub elbows at the table, followed by the cleaning up of dishes, the sweeping, wood box filling, and setting the kitchen right and to rest for a few short hours until we meet again.

In my super ideal world, everyone will have a hand in raising the food and preparing it. Find a reason to show up here for breakfast, lunch or supper. Beware, we will put you to work to earn your meal!

Peter’s birthday on Friday, celebrated with blueberry/mulberry pie.

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Happy 53rd to Jonathan and 30th to Peter this week.

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Mulching parsley

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Mulberries

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Showing off our tomatoes

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This from shareholder Rich regarding toxins and compost:

“Hello, Sterling Against Waste Project (StAWP) members. And Happy Summer!

It’s been a few months, so I thought that I should send an update.

The short status:

Some of you may not be familiar with the genesis of our StAWP group (StAWP stands for Sterling Against Waste Project). So here’s a recap of our history. In June 2021, the Sterling DPW Board (not the DPW itself) proposed building a Regional Food Waste Processing facility in town. The DPW Board member who drove the report (and “reviewed and accepted” it on 6/23/2021) is also a founding member of the Keeping Sterling Action Committee (a local environmental group that, IMO, was the real driver of the food waste composting initiative).

The proposed site was at the capped town landfill off of Chocksett Rd and George E. Peeso Ln — less than 1,000 feet behind the Sterling Police station (also less than 1,000 feet from the 45 families who live in Patriots Way). This site also sits near the Wekepeke Brook, atop the Wekepeke Aquifer, and adjacent to Barlett’s Pond and many nearby wetlands. In other words, it is in a very delicate environmental area full of wildlife (some likely endangered or threatened or special concern)–as well as actual human beings. This DPW report was worked on for over 6 months before being “reviewed and approved” by a single DPW board member. During that 6 month writing period: no abutters were notified; public opinion was not solicited; and we only found out about the report via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

You can read that “final” report here: Sterling DPW Compost Facility Final Report June 23, 2021.pdf

After abutters raised a ruckus with the DPW board and with town officials, it seems like the Keeping Sterling Action Committee folks walked back the flawed report, and even somewhat disavowed it.

So the short status is that, of late, there’s been no talk (that we know of) about building the proposed Regional Food Waste composting facility. That is good news. 

The longer status & other news:

1. Westminster composting facility:

Tragically, a similar composting facility in nearby Westminster, MA was recently found to have likely contaminated over 200 neighboring properties by spreading significant amounts of ‘forever chemicals’ (aka PFAS). The site also sold compost as loam, mulch, and potting soil for 30+ years–whereby the PFAS were introduced into food (then “mainlined” into human beings when they consumed the food grown in the contaminated mulch and loam). Similarly, people and animals who drank well water contaminated by the composting site were exposed to PFAS. The EPA says that no amount of PFAS exposure is considered to be safe–PFAS pose health risks even at levels so low they cannot currently be detected. PFAS are also found in game animals, and are similarly “mainlined” into human beings via ingestion of the game animals.

Here are two recent articles from the Boston Globe on this issue and the Westminster site–the first two links require a Boston Globe subscription to read but the second two links are “free” (albeit watered down) versions from Boston.com:

  1. When organic is toxic: How a composting facility likely spread massive amounts of ‘forever chemicals’ across one town in Massachusetts – The Boston Globe
  2. Why are they called ‘forever chemicals,’ and other things to know about PFAS – The Boston Globe
  3. Mass. composting facility likely spread large amounts of ‘forever chemicals’
  4. EPA: ‘Forever chemicals’ pose risk even at very low levels

This Westminster tragedy is a powerful argument against hosting such a risky project in Sterling.
Also, many studies show the manifest risks of commercial composting sites and PFAS; I encourage everyone to google commercial composting and PFAS and read the studies.

2. Sterling Select Board expansion:

Recall that at the last town meeting, the Keeping Sterling Action Committee folks succeeded in expanding the Sterling select board from 3 to 5 members. I said at the time that this was a path for Keeping Sterling Action Committee to “pack” the Select Board with members who may support a composting project (and other green initiatives like electric trash vehicles at 4x the cost of diesel-powered trash trucks) — and I still feel that way. Going forward, it is essential that we all vote in town elections (and participate in town meetings) for folks who do not support this risky project. For instance, there will be a town election on the 3 versus 5 member select board in the future once the legislature okays the change request — but before it is implemented.

3. “Black Earth Compost” curbside service:

In my previous status update, I noted that the private “Black Earth Compost” company pitched an “at-home” food waste composting pickup service for Sterling residents: https://www.facebook.com/groups/241793116580786/posts/1134218234004932

I don’t think they got enough takers to make it financially feasible.

But it’s worth noting that, after the initial “project” was rebuffed, the Keeping  Sterling Action Committee folks tried to pitch a 2nd version whereby “Black Earth Compost” would run a regional food waste composting facility for Sterling (on the same proposed site). There was no report produced for this modified project but this bears watching.

Action items:

There are critical things that we need from you:

  1. monitor Sterling board meeting agendas and minutes, taking special care to look for ANYTHING relating to food waste composting, and notify me ASAP if you see anything. You can subscribe to emails for the town meeting notices, agendas, minutes, etc. here: https://www.sterling-ma.gov/subscribe
  2. ask your friends to join our group by sending an email to me at SterlingAgainstWasteProject@gmail.com — currently we have 63 members, but we need more.

That’s all for now! Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I have missed anything. And thanks to all who send me emails of various articles and news!

Sincerely,
Richard DeFuria
8D Patriots Way

[email protected]gmail.com
Sterling Against Waste Project – StAWP”

CSA Updates This Week

Coming up this week

  • Lettuce – after this week the lettuce will be in shorter supply for awhile, so enjoy it while it lasts; some of the heads have broken all records for size

  • Chard – a standby; we still struggle a bit with slugs and some beet leaf miner, but we are staying ahead of those issues and are happy for the new patch we

  • Kale – I am so appreciative of this fantastically nutritious crop that is flourishing this year

  • Beets – we gave out reasonably sized beets last week and hope to keep that up this week. Remember to use the entire plant (maybe minus the very tip of the root). The flavor in these beets is phenomenal.

  • Radishes – we emptied the bed this past week in order to make room for new inhabitants. We will give these out at least on Monday and Wednesday. We planted more radishes on Friday

  • Summer squash and zucchini are as healthy as they have ever been. Expect a modest supply in your bags

  • Cucumbers might be in by Friday – keep an eye out

  • Parsley is back again this week. As we weed and mulch our way through it to keep it well managed through November.

  • Chives are back and strong again.

  • Peas – we are definitely near the end of the crop. They have been great and we are always sad to see them go.

More from MHOF

Young Layers for Sale

We have 13 extra laying birds that have been brooded and acclimated to the outside world. They are 10 weeks old and in top physical condition having been fed on organic grain and lots of comfrey from birth. They are $25 each. Please contact me to make your purchase. [email protected] or 978-257-1192.

“Red Stars” – high production egg laying chickens.

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

The weeding is easier now and we are doing more mulching and long-term management of crops as we work our way through the picking list for the CSA each M, W, F. If you are more interested in what we do on the off days of the CSA, you are welcome to come on a Tuesday or Thursday. Breakfast at 7, or join us at 8, for four hours and then lunch.

Volunteer at MHOF

Farm Doin’s

Each week I develop a new strategy to shoe horn into the allotted 40 hours more work than we can manage. This week, Pete was encouraged by the careful timing that I put on Friday’s pick list that allowed us to weed some cabbage, broccoli, squash, leeks and celery in between picking for the CSA. We were so efficient that some of us were able to address the husk cherries while others finished up the CSA. All told this week, we finished our older cabbage weeding, fertilizing and mulching project, spent Tuesday weeding and undersowing with crimson clover the new cabbage and kale, we weeded the two beds of fennel, finished weeding and mulching the basil, weeded and mulched the rattlesnake pole beans, tied the tomatoes to their fence, finished weeding as many leeks as we have decided to save in the pond field (some of them we mowed and covered with tarps – too far gone), and weeded one of our new beds of cucumbers. We weeded succession 4 of lettuce and our hemp plants, and did battle with some of our bind weed in the blueberries. We also weeded and thinned succession two of the summer squash. We almost finished round two of celery weeding. Along our CSA way each day we manicured the initial squash and cucumber plantation in the back of the south field, pulling errant weeds.

In the planting realm, we filled in some of the skips in the new chard bed, started cilantro, radishes, turnips and dill.

We tarped over the lost leeks, the old lettuce and kohlrabi bed, and a couple of finished beds of lettuce in the west field.

We struggled with turkey management this week with too hot days followed by too cold nights and lost some of our poults to trampling. They seem to be normalized now. Meat birds were attacked by predators on two occasions and 4 were killed out in the pond field. Our stalwart night watch dogs are now chained to the meat birds at night. Skippy has taken on the responsibility like a good citizen. Dingo isn’t quite so sure, but plying them with excessive praise and do cookies seems to work. And Kamarin and Julie spend several minutes each day with “peticures” to remove the armies of ticks that find their way to the dogs’ fur.

Clare gets the prize for keeping an eye on the spraying schedule and encouraged me to unearth the special side dress for tomatoes, beans and squash this week to keep these crops that are soon going into high gear at peak health. Jonathan and Clare will soon reorganize for maximum efficiencies all of our bottles of liquified minerals into one easy location to enable them to get right out on the field each morning at 7 before the sun rises. Pete is a support sprayer and Kamarin will join the team today. Christy, in the back ground is helping me get all of our recipes in more accessible format. I should have been on this one back in April, but, so goes it.

Dan came over and cut some more hay this week – the annex – completing our first round of haymaking. And Deb remains a stalwart support for all of the cooking, household and CSA management and pretty much anything I ask her help with.

I have my eye on the end of July for having our mulching in hand so that Jonathan, John and Stu can go back to working on the garage two days per week.

Clare and Debbie thinning peaches – sadly not our best crop this year

A shot of the celery as we drove by – looking to be an amazing crop this year

Preparing to tarp the old lettuce and kohlrabi bed, right after its nutrient spray of rejuvenate, spectrum and sea shield

Finishing up the weeding and mulching of the basil – we will have that for shareholders next week – not this week

Rattlesnake pole beans all mulched

Tomatoes looking tidy

Weeded and clovered kale on the left, new lettuce transplants on the right

A new succession of cabbage

Fennel should be ready in a couple of weeks

-Julie

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