Weekly newsletters

Fall Share, Week 2

November 13, 2017

Many Hands Organic Farm Fall CSA
November 13 – Week 2

Two bags this week

Hi folks,
Boy did we have a rough week last week. First it was rainy on Monday and then the temperature headed quickly downward to the bottom at about 13 degrees on Friday and Saturday nights. Kudos especially to Josh and Brent who work liked dogs to get as much harvested as possible and as much covered in remay (polyester covers) to hope to save it. The walk in was full by the week end. And Brent stayed the course on Friday through all the wind to patiently try to put the remay back on and try to hold it down with jugs of water, rocks and whatever else we could find.

The result for you is TWO BAGS each today. And we saved some more things for next week. The good news is that after peaking under the row cover, it looks like we will have some more lettuce, carrots and greens for the last two weeks. And we haven’t broken into the root cellar yet either, so there should be a couple of more bountiful weeks for you. Here below is what you will find in your two bags.

• Kale
• Carrots
• Brussels sprouts
• Cilantro
• Parsley
• Tatsoi
• Collards
• Celery
• Lettuce
• Mesclun
• arugula
• Chives
• Leeks

Other sale items available at the farm:

Now we have old layers for chicken soup at $5/lb (they are 2-3 lb birds)
Meat chickens in the freezer – $6.50/lb
Pork is available Friday – except the smoked ham, bacon and hot dogs.
Turkey harvest for November 21 and 22 pick up here – best Thanksgiving bird you will ever eat! – $5.50/lb.
Frozen peaches – $12 for a 2 lb. bag
Comfrey salve – $8/jar
Garlic powder – $5/ounce
Peppermint and lavender soap – $6/bar

Looks like a mild week here for us to get our 4 100 foot beds of garlic planted for 2018.
I hope all is well with you.


Fall Share, Week 1

November 4, 2017

Many Hands Organic Farm Fall CSA
November 6 – We are heading into week one

Hi folks,

Welcome back. It seems like it has just been a day or two since we harvested your food! I am always really enthusiastic about the fall CSA. There are less of you so we can take better care of you, and we only pick once per week so we can spend the rest of the week getting the farm ready for winter, doing more food preservation, putting away drip tape, weeding and mulching perennials, fixing bird houses, cleaning up barns and sheds, splitting wood, and the list goes on.

Accompanying this newsletter will be a list of who you all are and where I have you listed as picking up. Check it to make sure I have no made any mistakes. The CSA runs for 4 Mondays. Barre pick up is here. Worcester pick up in at Living Earth and Holden pick up is at Teresa’s garage at 51 Boyden Road in Holden. Food should be ready by noon for pick up here. Jack will usually be leaving here around 1:30 or so to get your bags to Worcester or Holden, so I trust you can pick them up by 3 pm. If ever in doubt about pick up time, just call here at the number above to check that Jack has left.

Would you like weekly eggs? Just send along $28 and we will pop them in your bag. Send me and email right to let me know in time for Monday.

We have a nice line up this week – with frosts still being not too harsh, and our row covers in place to slow the chill.

o Brussels sprouts – I think 2 to 3 weeks all told on these
o Parsley – this may be our last pick
o Kale – good to go for all 4 weeks – it seems all we did was to plant yet one more bed of kale this year to keep you in good supply
o Brassica choice – broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower – these were picked this week to avoid the 28 degree night we had. I might give you a larger quantity of these this week, with uncertainty into the future – hopefully cabbage still coming along later
o Asian Green selection – tatsoi and or Chinese cabbage and pac choi
o Lettuce – two heads this week; I love our late fall lettuce
o Cilantro – I thought this was done already, but it grew back
o Carrots – from our new beds that you received this week – they should go all four weeks – ah, so sweet
o Leeks – for 2 -3 or maybe 4 more weeks
o Dill – I found that out there yesterday – an interesting out of season treat
o Tomatoes – one or two from the basement floor

Later on we will have onions and garlic to add in to the mix, some more celery, plus some combination of the above. We will take a look at our parsnips to see if they are ready enough for harvest – could be a great treat for Thanksgiving week if they are mature enough. I am sad to say that we have no extra potatoes for you – too large of a crowd to feed all winter here. And beets are gone. We had to do an early harvest of all of them because our little cow foamy kept getting out and heading straight for them.

If you haven’t yet, but wanted to, donate to the NOFA Run on my or Jack’s behalf, it isn’t too late. It happens tomorrow, but you can donate until the end of the month. I am looking to raise $1500 and now stand at $1275 – oh, so close – https://www.crowdrise.com/nofamassachusetts1/fundraiser/julierawson

Chickens in the freezer, and also very nice frozen peaches
Pigs going away tomorrow and back in packages on November 17
Turkey harvest for November 21 and 22 pick up here – best Thanksgiving bird you will ever eat!

Bring your bags back each week so we (and you) don’t have to deal with paper ones.

Have a great November. I look forward to spending it with you. Julie

CSA Week 22, last Summer Share

October 30, 2017
Week 22 of 22
October 30, November 1 and 3

Dear friends,

Somehow another season has come and gone for the MHOF Summer CSA. It is clear that we are near the end when some of the bags seem to be disintegrating under the weight of produce (the Brussels sprouts did in more than 1 bag last week!) We have a new baby in our midst – yes, Maggie comes to work now with her ever patient and skillful mother, Clare. Brent has accomplished a complete year of recovery and goes for his license tomorrow and moves into his family home in West Springfield which he inherited from his grandfather. Mario, Luke, and Phil are back in school, Lindsay has left to seek her fortune and more experience on another organic farm in readiness to start her own farm in NH sometime in 2018, and Josh is homeschooling his last year in high school and will be with us at least through the end of the year, if not longer. Many thanks to Jack who made the big delivery to Worcester each week to WSU and also Living Earth. And to Julie Emmets who did the lion share of the deliveries on Wednesday and Friday.

I was not happy with quantity or quality in your bags in the first handful of weeks of the CSA – the weather was so cold and cloudy/rainy. As global warming trends us towards colder springs and longer falls we have to realign our farming practices to keep up. I do hope you enjoyed this long fall with many crops staying around longer than ever. We are learning to keep planting, much later than we used to, in late July, August and September, for the inevitable bounty into October and November. Next year we will more proactively work to plant perhaps a little later, keep things covered with row covers a little later and tend to our soil electrical conductivity. I learned from my ag consultant, son Dan, that some sea salt in solution and even a little sugar will keep the minerals functioning and the microbes fed so that they can support the necessary photosynthesis to get the plants growing and keep them growing.

Here is the line up for your last CSA share
o Leek
o Kale
o Lettuce
o Celery
o Cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower
o Potatoes
o Brussels sprouts
o Carrots
o Radish or turnip
o Dandelions
o Chinese cabbage or tatsoi
Please send your evaluation results of the CSA. What did you like, what didn’t you like, how was quality, how was quantity, service, news (I know I was short on being in touch this year – sorry), etc. Just send me a quick email to Julie@mhof.net with your thoughts.

Return your Bags
Be sure to return your bags to your CSA pick up spot. Some of them are end of life, but those that can be used for another year, we would appreciate back.

Fall CSA
Keep the good produce coming for one more month. Starting next Monday we will begin our late fall CSA with pick ups at Living Earth, Teresa’s garage in Holden and at the farm. You can sign up here – https://mhof.net/2017-csa-share-options/. Or you can just send a check for $120 for the CSA and $8 for delivery (for Worcester or Holden) sometime this week. Let me know if you are planning to join so I can be sure to have your bag ready for Monday.

Meat at MHOF
We did our last slaughter of chickens yesterday and we have a few more for sale at $6.50/lb. Enquire. And pork will be back from the slaughterhouse on November 17. And turkeys for Thanksgiving are available too. Check out the website for all of these products – https://mhof.net/organic-meat/.

Thanks for your patronage this year. We very much appreciate you.

For The Many Hands Organic Farm staff

CSA Week 19

October 9, 2017
Week 19 of 22
October 9, 11, 13

Dear 2017 CSA Members,

I am not sure why I seem more busy than ever before this year, with the upshot of very infrequent newsletters, but apologize for the lack of communication. I wanted to let you Monday folks know that indeed, we are running the CSA today. Living Earth will be open and Monday Barre folks will find their food here too.

I feel very fortunate that although great sections of this country and the Caribbean have been devastated by hurricanes this late summer and early fall, we have mostly just benefited from warm weather and adequate but not too aggressive rains. I am a bit anxious about how warm it is, as we all should be with the increasingly warm oceans. Let’s all keep up our diligent efforts regarding climate change. We hope that our small part of growing good food and attempting to build soil organic matter to sequester atmospheric carbon can continue to be a part of a global strategy to cool our planet down.

For the past 6 or so weeks we have been on a mission to get all of our soil covered in mulch if it hasn’t already been enhanced and covered with cover crops. This really protects the soil in the winter, and in the growing season, it builds a very positive habitat for the soil life that feed the growing system. Perhaps this week we will be able to finish the mulching of the fall crops and then sprinkle on some crimson clover to grow in place on top to add more complexity into the system.

Fall Shares Available. If you have really enjoyed the CSA and don’t want your produce to stop – sign up for the Fall share. It begins immediately after this 22 week CSA stops. The last week of the summer CSA is the week of October 30. And the fall share runs each Monday in November – 6, 13, 20, 27. You can pick up here, at Living Earth, or at Teresa’s house at 51 Boyden Road in Holden. Shares are $120 and delivery is $8. Send a check or download a form at https://mhof.net/2017-csa-share-options/; https://mhof.net/csa-order-form/

Chicken, pork, turkey, old layers for soup, chicken feet, frozen peaches, grape juice, lard, eggs, soap, salve, garlic powder – all available or soon to be at the farm. Peruse the website or give a call to place an order or come visit.

Last week was Lindsay’s last week. She had an amazing 5 year run with us. We wish her well as she and her family prepare to build their farm dream in NH. Clare returns officially to work today after 2 months off with baby Maggie. We welcome her return. Marion and Phil are gone back to school, but will be here today as it is a holiday. And Josh continues at 20 hours as a diligent home schooler who does his studies around his active work schedule. Brent is our anchor – the only one at 40 hours per week. I am grateful for all of our farm staff, and our volunteers who show up irregularly but are always utilized.

Recycle your paper and plastic grocery-size bags with us. You can leave them in your CSA bags. We also like rubber bands,. And don’t forget any corrugated cardboard. We can use it. We are enjoying your cardboard – thanks for sending that along. Black and white newspapers actually work nicely too if you have those laying around.

Food this week –

o Lettuce
o Parsley
o dandelions
o Chard
o Leeks
o Carrots
o Garlic
o Chives
o Squash, winter
o Tomatoes
o Broccoli or cabbage
o Brussels sprouts heads or collards

Have a great week with rain and heat and then perhaps some more “regularized” weather later in the week.

For The Many Hands Organic Farm staff

CSA Week 14

September 2, 2017
CSA Week 14 – September 5, 6, 8

Dear 2017 CSA Members,

Some folks have two bags
Especially if you have eggs and especially if you get two eggs, you are likely to have two bags for awhile. Your extra bag will be a paper bag and we will make every effort to make sure that it is sitting right next to your cloth bag (also with your name on it), but please carefully check for your second bag in these heavy and bulky weeks.

Still in Peach Heaven
Yes, we are in peach season and hopefully yours have been making it to you in decent condition . If they are bruised, eat them immediately. If they aren’t you might want to eat them immediately anyway because they are so good. Jack and I watch movies at the table at night and cut and freeze peach parts. They are on sale from now on – $12 for a 2 lb. bag. Many thanks to Lindsay who faithfully do the foliar feeding all winter last winter to help build tree strength. And we did a super pruning and thinning job too. Picking peaches right now with the drier weather has been magical as fruit quality goes up later in the season.

Some crops not in heaven
Never have I had such a slow year for summer squash and zucchini (last year was our best year ever), but the weather has been overall cold this summer. We even went below 40 degrees this week. Our first crop suffered from the early cold weather and I was not as diligent as I could have been about getting succession plantings in. They are coming now, but it might be too late if the weather continues to be cold. We could have a frost any day, or things could hold until late October. Time will tell.

Field tomatoes have been abysmal, but we are starting to get some good ones in the hoop houses. We gave out a reasonable quantity on Monday, and even better by Friday. Wednesday tomatoes were almost non-existent. We do a lot of mixing and matching over the week to make things more fair. Some folks got radishes, others broccoli, some got some mediocre green beans, others extra lettuce, in an attempt to make it all come out relatively even. Peppers are weak too, but you may continue to get one each week.

Though we had a marvelous fruit set on the apples this spring, the gypsy moths took out all but one of our 30 trees. Sorry no apples this year. They have struggled to refoliate. I am not sure how much trauma that will cause them for next year.

Crops going forward
You will see carrots and beets this week as plantings of those two crops are coming in again. We have been planting copious plantings of lettuce, arugula, and all the brassica family. If fall stays cold we may be covering a large number of crops with polyester row covers to extend the season out.

We harvested some onions last week and will finish them this week. You will notice a variety of size from small to large. We trialed a number of varieties this year as we look to replace Copra, a variety that has been discontinued. You will notice, however, the chink of super health in the onions, regardless of size.

We are starting potato harvest this week and you should enjoy those for weeks to come.

I haven’t done my farm walk for next week to let you know exactly what to expect, but your bags should be full.

Workshop at MHOF on Sunday, September 10
We will be encapsulating 35 years of farming into one workshop on Sunday, August 10. It runs 10 am – 4 pm here. There will be a pot luck lunch. Come learn about our cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, our fruit trees and bushes, and our vegetable operation from seedling to food preservation. We will also show off our passive solar house, root cellar, attached greenhouse, etc. You can register here. http://www.nofamass.org/events/integrated-farm.

Volunteers on the farm
Many thanks to Cindy Bell, a shareholder who took one of her vacation days to come and volunteer on the farm. We had a great time and really appreciated her help on Monday – our hardest of all days. You are always welcome to come out and volunteer. I will feed you breakfast and lunch.

Recycle your paper and plastic grocery-size bags with us. You can leave them in your CSA bags. We also like rubber bands,. And don’t forget any corrugated cardboard. We can use it. We are enjoying your cardboard – thanks for sending that along. Black and white newspapers actually work nicely too if you have those laying around.

For The Many Hands Organic Farm staff