Hutchins Farm April 2013 Newsletter

From last spring to this, two more different seasons you could hardly find (unless they were summer and winter).  Of the two, we decidedly prefer the measured pace of this year’s warm up over last year’s headlong rush into summer.  We are pleased to report that over the last several weeks we entered into a ‘licensing agreement’ (basically a lease) with the Town of Concord to rent 12 acres at the McGrath Farm on Barrett’s Hill Rd.  We don’t plan to dramatically increase our cultivated acreage, but are very pleased to be able to execute longer and more meaningful rotations for our crops—having three large centers of cultivation far enough from one another to preclude the exchange of many pests could have a very positive effect on our success with certain crops, most notably winter squash and potatoes.  Similar to our approach at the field we currently rent from the town off Bedford St., we will likely use about a third of the acreage for cash crops each year, growing soil improving cover crops and ‘green manures’ on the remaining two thirds to keep the soil productive and healthy.

One item of note regarding the new field is that there is currently a planting of asparagus located on some of the acreage.  Although the asparagus can’t be considered ‘certified organic’ until we have managed it accordingly for three years, we’re still thrilled to have asparagus to offer again after many years without.  Our first crop this year is parsnips, which were left in the field over the winter to develop their characteristic sweetness, and dug this past weekend.  They are available on the porch, self-serve, along with the usual bagged compost and potting soil.

Plants of the hardier sort (6-packs of lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage and chard; peat pots of chervil, cilantro, arugula, dill and claytonia) will begin to appear around mid-month, presumably accompanied by the aforementioned asparagus.  Plant offerings will expand through April and May (though a few types might drop out) and will continue almost through July, by which time we will be thoroughly tired of watering and otherwise caring for them.  Lettuce and other greens will begin to appear on the porch sometime during May, and by the time June comes, the first berries should have arrived and our doors will open.

Last fall, our stalwart managers Taylor and Andrea Bemis decided to strike out on their own, and are currently farming in Oregon.  They and their considerable contributions will be missed, but we have brought on board two new management trainees—Andy Friedberg and Rachel Kaplan—whose experience, enthusiasm, intelligence and work ethic will be an example to the crew.  Ward Cheney remains a key player on our team, keeping our field operations on schedule and our machinery in good shape.  Liza Bemis is with us again, magically making order from the daily chaos of a diversified vegetable farm, and making sure that the essence of our mission—providing our customers with the finest, freshest produce possible—is always foremost in our minds.  And John and Gordon continue to play important roles in the orchard, the farm infrastructure, and charting a secure and sustainable future for the farm

Another growing season begins, very much the same as the others, yet very different.  With eyes and mind open, each go round provides some lesson, some insight and, yes, a fair amount of puzzlement. With an open heart, each season provides some elation, some sadness, some frustration, some satisfaction.  Looking back, they begin to blend together, the details of each season combining with the others like looking at a map with a series of overlays superimposed.  Although I begin to have difficulty combing out the details of one year from another, I hope that the loss of specificity will be accompanied by a gain, perhaps the blending images will weave themselves into some fabric, a pattern with implications greater that those to be gotten from the distinct strands of successive seasons.  In any case, here we go again—now that spring is here, we hope your footsteps lead you back to join us in our fruitful endeavor.

Brian Cramer
Farm Manager

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