Dear Friends of the Many Hands Sustainability Center,

We write to you today to ask you to consider a donation to the Many Hands Sustainability Center which will be used to hire recovering addicts on our farm to aid with their recovery.

In this high risk, high gain work that we do here on our farm with recovering addicts we have suffered a great loss. On November 29 Jason Cucchiara, beloved employee, friend and surrogate child died of an overdose of heroin. We have known and been in close association with Jason since 2009, spanning three trips to jail and the rest of the time as co-workers at MHOF. Jason was one of those remarkable people who always left a lasting and endearing impression on those who met him.

Jason’s warmth and enjoyment of people, animals, and work on the farm are missed by us all very much!

For those of us who spent at least 5 days each week with him he was a source of good friendship, strong leadership, curiosity for new ideas, an efficiency expert, and a tender companion for little children and troubled teens. Clare, Lindsay, Tyson, the two of us and all of the others whom Jason touched with his magnanimous personality are still reeling with the knowledge that he won’t show up to work anymore – not in human form anyway. It has been a source of comfort to us that Jason noted this summer that when he did die he would look forward to sitting on a pink fluffy cloud. Needless to say we all feel that — especially when the sky is pink — Jason is watching us and giving us guidance and perhaps some humorous but thoughtful critique from his new station.


Jason always found ways to let children express their desire to help and made them feel special. Here he and Doodle (Dan and Roshni’s 3rd) make sauerkraut.

Another blessing and subsequent blow happened when Brent Tauscher came back to us for about 100 days this summer — becoming his old hardworking, remarkably kind and constantly innovating self on the farm — and then falling prey to his old vice of crack. The good news is that Brent has turned up and will be restarting his recovery. We are extremely grateful that Brent is alive and able to try again to shake this monkey off his back.

Brent loved his pigeon friend Charlie, often guessing at the bird’s thoughts and behavior.

Tyson Wilder worked with us in 2010 and 2011 and left because of return to drug use at that time. We have been in contact off and on for those 5 years with Tyson checking in to ask if he could come back to our farm. The circumstances finally worked in the right direction for this in the late fall, and Tyson started working for us in early November. He promptly paid off an old debt and then returned to the payroll. Tyson has stepped immediately into Jason’s very large shoes and is showing immense maturity and leadership in the two weeks since Jason’s death.

Tyson has become an important member of the farm staff in the few weeks he has been here. His strength and quiet creativity are especially valuable now.

We continue to work with the folks at Stetson School in Barre. The young men that come to volunteer one or two days per week have a lot of baggage, but are usually able to shed it for at least the time they are here and get a different look at what life could offer them once they can leave Stetson. We continue to have relationships with a number of Stetson graduates who fondly remember all the fun things they did while at MHOF.

We are obsessed with carbon as a means to ameliorate climate change in our educational work these days. Jack does what he does best – research, writing and development of protocols for on-farm soil health testing and evaluation. Julie, the practical applicator, trialed 6 or 7 different practices for building soil carbon on the farm – among them eliminating tillage, enhancing collaboration between animal and plant species, mulching with cardboard, leaves, hay and wood chips, coordinating intricate cover crop combinations and planting timing, and solar- izing planting beds. We have spent countless hours on the road sharing our work and results around the northeast and sponsored two workshops on the farm this year. And we’re selling the roto-tiller next spring!

Ray Archuleta, National Resources Conservation Service soil expert, conducts a workshop on soil health at our farm in July. He was pleased with the levels of soil biology, an indicator of soil health, that he found.

Both of us have been reminded this year that grief is best shared with friends, and that we must treasure each day with those we love as if it were the last. In the great scheme of things working with people, nature and natural systems is our highest calling.

Julie and Jack