Join Us for Organic Fruit Tree Management – February 27, 10:00 – 12:00

Organic Fruit Tree Management – February 27, 10:00 – 12:00

At MHOF we have about 100 fruit trees with some of them as old as 40 years. They are managed in a certifiably organic fashion and both orchards are grazed at least once per year by our turkeys or chickens.

During the workshop, Jack will cover the biology of grafted fruit seedlings (including selecting root stock and variety), requirements for properly siting the orchard (including spacing the trees and digging and protecting adequate planting holes), the tools and equipment you will need, and managing the growing trees for shape, health, and light penetration as well as fruit size, quality and quantity.

In the section on fertility, Julie will discuss mulching, with cardboard and chips, dry fertility according to soil tests, foliar feeding throughout the growing season and the use of sap tests to determine in the moment nutrient deficiencies. We will also discuss care under the trees including grazing of animals, mowing, use of comfrey and undersowing of perennial pollinator plants.

In the portion of the workshop led by Clare we’ll take a walk through the orchards at Many Hands to look at the spacing of trees and work on pruning an apple and a peach tree together. We will cover identifying dead wood, making cuts for good airflow and sunlight throughout the whole tree to maximize photosynthesis, and talk about overall shaping of the tree.

The workshop will be on February 27th from 10:00 to noon, at the farm and via Zoom. Stick around for a potluck lunch if you like, right at the end of the workshop. Register below.

We offer this workshop at no charge and we truly appreciate it if you can donate on a free will basis to help cover costs. Donations can be made via PayPal at https://mhof.net/many-hands-sustainability-center/ or in cash/check the day of the workshop. MHSC is a 501(c)3 and any donation is tax deductible.

Register Here

Life is like a pile of kittens . . .

Join us Saturday to discuss Risky Decisions

January 25, 2020

Dear Friends and Customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

Though we did spend some time this week buying more black bags, filling them with sand by banging the tractor bucket against the frozen pile to shake it free first, and battening down the hatches of the tarps that had so elegantly blown off of their respective fields, we hope that we now have that project in hand. But no promises! We are now focusing a lot of our attention on our old tried and true soil prep technique of putting down cardboard and then covering it leaves and hay. If all goes well, when we pull this mulch back, or even better, find we can plant through it, we expect to see masses of earthworms. We also cleaned out 3 hoop house beds to ready them for planting turnips, radishes, spinach and beets on Monday. And we will start some things inside too. Keep an eye out for a composite video on seed starting that Maya will be putting together soon – and positing it on our new YouTube Channel. Stu had a birthday, and Anthony is on his way to Colorado for a nice winter vacation. Maya and Ari have been working feverishly behind the scenes, and Clare and I are holding down the fort on our continued winter schedule. We welcomed Ram on Friday as a potential new working shareholder.

Stu on his birthday posing with Ram (left), more black bags to hold down tarps (right)

First On Farm Workshop for 2021 – January 30 – 10:30 am
The Five Risky Decisions that Defined our Lives
Jack has been carrying all the effort on putting this retrospective workshop together for us. We are excited that we already have 12 registrants (3 in person). This is the first of our free monthly series of wide ranging and educational workshops that we will be holding at our farm. This first workshop will help you get to know Jack and Julie and our journey over the past 40 years. We feel we have a rather unique lifestyle that has allowed us to live our lives and raise our 4 children relatively unfettered by socially accepted norms.

These workshops are free, and you can come in person (and stay for a pot luck lunch at noon) or join us via zoom.

Register here – bit.ly/MHSCWorkshop1

Download this poster and get it around to friends – https://mhof.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Many-Hands-sustainability-Center-3.pdf

 

Sign up for the 2021 CSA options
We are now up to 25 shareholders for 2021. And this past Friday Clare and I started the fun process of laying out the crop plan for the year. This is by far our most fun project each year. So far we know where the corn, beans, peas, onions and leeks are going to be planted.  We truly appreciate those of you who early sign on the dotted line.
https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/

Reading Inspiration this week
Friend Christy gave me a copy of Mindset by Carol Dweck as a retirement gift. I just finished. This book really had a strong impact on me. Of course I have a growth mindset, I posited. Then I started to really investigate my many fixed mindset perspectives in certain aspects of my life. A great book to help one consider the roadblocks and blind spots that keep us from being as forward moving as we might like.

Ag Tip this week – wonderful cover crops
My friend Mike Lombard from Ideal Compost in Peterborough, NH turned me on to Green Cover Seeds – https://greencoverseed.com/  a few years back. They have an incredible selection of cover crops from all families. And over the years they have moved from a conventional farming system to a much more regenerative one (check out their bags). We purchased 4 50 lb. bags of cover crop mixes to use on our farm in 2021 (1 mix from the NOFA bulk order). We are excited to use these mixes in a thoroughly integrated way on our farm. Most of these mixes have up to 13 species, which wildly builds biodiversity above and below ground.
Cool Season Soil Builder Mix – Spring and Summer Intersow Cover Crops
Perennial Pollinator Mix – under fruit trees
Cool Season Pollinator Mix – vegetative pathways
NOFA Cover Crop Mix – Fall Intersow in Crops

Products available now

  • Ground pork in 1 lb. packages – $10/lb.
  • Pork chops in close to 1 lb. packages – $10/lb.
  • Lard – $20/quart
  • Pork stock – $7.50/quart
  • Eggs – $8/dozen
  • Comfrey salve – $8/2 oz.
  • Hemp salve – $10/2 oz.
  • Garlic powder – $10/2 oz.
  • Lavender soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Peppermint soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Dandelion tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Yellow dock tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Frozen applesauce – $6/quart
  • Canned (jarred) tomatoes) – $6/1 quart

Make arrangements to pick up at the farm or we can ship some things to you. Call at 978-355-3853 or email Julie@mhof.net

NOFA Tri-state Bulk order
The real last call. Don’t tarry. Here is a link to order. https://www.nofamass.org/bulk-order-program/

Keep that Cardboard Coming!
Although it is looking a bit like a warehouse in the garage right now, we have great plans to cover large areas of our fields with cardboard and hay over the next month. Thanks for the cardboard coming from all quarters. We are getting it out there.

Julie

Weekly Staff Spotlight:

Here is the first of our series of weekly farm staff and community member profiles. No better place to start than with co-owner Julie Rawson.

After growing up on a conventional farm in Illinois, Julie Rawson spent the first several years of her adulthood doing community organizing in Chicago and Boston where she met her husband Jack Kittredge. Once she and Jack started a family, they moved out to Barre to start Many Hands Organic Farm in 1982. It was important to both Julie and Jack to raise their family in the country and with homegrown food. Julie always says that her most formative moments as a kid were when she “was down at the crick with my sister Sue and brother Tom just playing in the mud.”

Over the past several decades, Julie has continued to be a pioneer in organic farming practices, especially in soil fertility and carbon sequestration. Julie remarked that “It’s not enough just to be organic, we have to really up our game to have organic and high quality food”. Besides raising high quality, organic produce and meat, Julie is committed to living up to the name, Many Hands, through her dedication to working with community members, young adults, and folks looking to connect with the land and food system. “It is very important to me, to be able to share what we have with as many people as possible, so that they can also gain from it,” says Julie. And of course there’s the added bonus of getting to play in the dirt all day long.

Check out the latest photos from the farm on our Instagram!

5 Risky Decisions that Defined Our Lives – Sustaining Our Homestead

43 years ago Jack Kittredge and Julie Rawson were a young couple working and starting a family in Dorchester, MA. During the next few years wemade five risky decisions that changed our life paths and created Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre.

In the past year (2020) many volunteers have come from the city to work on our farm and expressed an interest in doing something similar. In this presentation we will share what we did, the difficulties it presented and the chances we took. Join us to learn about why we decided to move to Central Massachusetts, how we were able to construct an energy conscious house and homestead, build a community oriented organic farm, all while working at home and raising a family.

This is the first of our free monthly series of wide ranging and educational workshops that we will be holding at our farm. This first workshop will help you get to know Jack and Julie and our journey over the past 40 years. We feel we have a rather unique lifestyle that has allowed us to live our lives and raise our 4 children relatively unfettered by socially accepted norms.

We will be presenting our story on January 30, 2021, from 10:30 to noon, at the farm and via Zoom. Stick around for a potluck lunch if you like, right at the end of the workshop.

Register online here

Share the flyer for the event here

Had We Known in 2015 What We Know Now…

January 18, 2020

Dear Friends and Customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

This week has had a definite “silage tarp” focus. Over Thursday and Friday we successfully covered about 34,000 square feet with silage tarps, in some cases first putting down a preparatory spray of molasses, microbial stimulants and fish, and in others, putting down cardboard before the tarps. Of our 3-4 acres we targeted areas that are presently sod (we are expanding again in 2021 (first heavily dosed with basalt rock dust), or have had a lot of grass grow back in already cultivated areas. The plan is that leaving those tarps on for the next 3 or so months will slowly and gently prepare the soil for planting obviating the need to use any “steel” to prepare the soil. Although we are still doing some cardboard and hay on irascible vegetable areas, Clare and I hearkened back to 2015 when it took us three solid months of work to cover ½ acre with said cardboard and hay. The learning curve on how to do the most effective and efficient and fertile no till system is still a steep one.

First On Farm Workshop for 2021 – January 30 – 10:30 am
The Five Risky Decisions that Defined our Lives
This is the first of our free monthly series of wide ranging and educational workshops that we will be holding at our farm. This first workshop will help you get to know Jack and Julie and our journey over the past 40 years. We feel we have a rather unique lifestyle that has allowed us to live our lives and raise our 4 children relatively unfettered by socially accepted norms.
These workshops are free, and you can come in person (and stay for a pot luck lunch at noon) or join us via zoom.

Register here – bit.ly/MHSCWorkshop1

Download this poster and get it around to friends – https://mhof.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Many-Hands-sustainability-Center-3.pdf

Sign up for the 2021 CSA options
The shares keep rolling in and so far (along with swift egg sales)  we have been able to keep up with payroll, annual farm insurance, monthly payroll taxes, seed purchases, etc. We truly appreciate those of you who early sign on the dotted line.
https://mhof.net/community-supported-agriculture/

A dream come true
We had been selling produce and eggs to the Living Earth in Worcester since 1985 until they closed their doors at the end of 2019. One of the people who I so appreciated for the past 15 years of our relationship at Living Earth was Rob White, the produce manager. I walked into the Wholesome Farmers Market in Barre last spring and felt a huge difference in the air in this small former IGA. 2 weeks later Rob called to let me know that he had been hired to become the produce manager. For anyone who has been shopping there for many years, or for perhaps just a few months, you will be surprised at how much produce there is and how attractively it is presented. And how bustling and friendly and vibrant the whole store has become. Rob, with a straight face said. “That’s because of me. Whenever someone comes within 10 feet of me in the store I say hi and thank them for coming and ask what their produce needs are.” Rob met with Clare and Jack and me this past week and we put together a long list of produce that we will sell to them, at organic prices, come spring and summer. Pretty soon this store is going to rival or exceed most stores in Central Mass for quality and quantity of organic and local produce. It is so good to be back working with Rob.

Health Tip this week
I am back hyping Graeme Sait again, ag consultant from Australia. His most recent podcast – Grame Sait – 5 Profit building tips  . . .  – https://anchor.fm/nutrition-farming/episodes/Five-Profit-Building-Tips—Boost-Your-Productivity-and-Sustainability-eolrr7
He has a very thorough list of recommendations for protecting against Covid, building your immune system generally and working with Covid should you be unlucky enough to get it. An important listen with recommendations for vitamin, D, A, C, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and more.

Ag Tip this week
Don’t miss the Bionutrient Food Association’s Soil and Nutrition Conference, starting February 4th and running every Thursday at 3 through September. Son Dan is the ED of this organization that puts on a top notch conference which focuses on soil health and human health (do you see a family theme developing here? 🙂) You can sign up here – https://soilandnutrition.org/. Some of my favorite teachers and mentors are always featured at this conference.

We have also started a YouTube channel for the farm! You can expect longer videos than our social media accounts. We hope that this can serve as a resource for other farmers and homesteaders. Click the image below to watch out first video, Making Lard on our Wood Cook Stove.


Products available now

  • Ground pork in 1 lb. packages – $10/lb.
  • Pork chops in close to 1 lb. packages – $10/lb.
  • Lard – $20/quart
  • Pork stock – $7.50/quart
  • Eggs – $8/dozen
  • Comfrey salve – $8/2 oz.
  • Hemp salve – $10/2 oz.
  • Garlic powder – $10/2 oz.
  • Lavender soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Peppermint soap – $6/5 oz. bar
  • Dandelion tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Yellow dock tincture – $6/2 oz. bottle
  • Frozen applesauce – $6/quart
  • Canned (jarred) tomatoes) – $6/1 quart

Make arrangements to pick up at the farm or we can ship some things to you. Call at 978-355-3853 or email Julie@mhof.net

Pray for Ann Please
Ann Harris, one of our most memorable and remarkable working shareholders, is in the hospital with kidney issues. She is challenging her doctors to help her find natural solutions to her ailments and keeping the doctors and nurses variably in stitches and on their toes. She can use a little boost from all of us to get better and get out and get back to her work of supporting her very large community of friends and family in their evolution as healthy human beings. Thanks for whatever energy you can offer.

NOFA Tri-state Bulk order
Just two more weeks to order your supplies. Don’t tarry. Here is a link to order. https://www.nofamass.org/bulk-order-program/

Keep that Cardboard Coming!
We blew through all of our cardboard supply last week and this week will be focusing on covering some areas that the tarps couldn’t quite reach. We so appreciate your offerings.

Julie