Around the farm, April 2015

parsnips_aprilApril 7th – Overwintered parsnips!

garlic_aprilApril 13th – Garlic poking out! Getting closer!

dylan_aprilApril 16th – Dylan spreading manure. Nice warm week, we’re getting lots done!

porch_aprilApril 18th – A small selection of seedlings are available on the front porch self serve. Please check our website for the most up to date listing (or as up to date as we can be…)

plow_aprilApril 22nd – Plowing = Pretty

lettuce_aprilApril 27th – Grow little lettuce, grow!

Self-Serve Porch offerings begin

With winter in full rout, our fields thawing and slowly drying, the unmistakable color and aroma of freshly turned earth evident in the high and dry areas of the farm, we embark on another season. Our overwintered parsnips have been dug, and are available on the front porch self-serve. They are incomparably tender and sweet, and remarkably versatile for such a relatively unknown vegetable—roasted until caramelized, pureed in a creamy soup, chopped into a chicken soup, shredded and fried, mashed with potatoes: now is the time to enjoy them at their very best. They are in bags of between two and a half and three pounds for $5.  If you plan to store them for any length of time, make sure to cut out the growing point (where the leaves emerge at the top). By this weekend, the first of the hardy garden plants will appear on the front porch as well – lettuce, kale, cabbage and onions to start. The roster will grow as the weeks go by, so be sure to check our website (www.hutchinsfarm.com) for what’s available.

A bit of a housekeeping note: we are (slowly) transitioning away from our old earthlink email to a new Hutchins Farm one – info@hutchinsfarm.com. Future newsletters will be sent from this new account, so if you filter your emails, please allow this new email address into your inbox!

As we mentioned in our last letter, the bagged compost and potting soil from McEnroe Organic Farm has already arrived and is available now on the front porch. This season, compost will be $8/bag or 4 bags for $30; potting soil will be $10/bag or 3 bags for $28. Make sure you check the bags carefully to be sure you’re getting the right thing—the compost and potting soil bags look quite similar.

Asparagus shouldn’t be too far off! Please check our website for updates as we get closer. We are in our final year of documenting our management of the McGrath fields under organic care (year three of three), so this will be the last season we are required to call them “transitional” instead of “certified organic”. Please remember they are grown exactly the same way as all our certified crops. We are thrilled to continue Pat McGrath’s asparagus legacy and are grateful to the town for the lease on that wonderful piece of land.

This season we welcome back many familiar faces, and we are joined by some new ones! While we will miss our long time harvest manager Ellen Schramm who left to join her family in the Pioneer Valley, we welcome Ryan McGuire, who made the move to Hutchins all the way from Oregon. This year, in the newly formed positions of apprentices, we welcome Dylan McGurn and Hannah Tremblay to the farm team – if you see them around, please say hello! We’re back at it over here on Monument Street, working to bring all our combined energies and enthusiasm to our common goal – to provide you with the freshest, finest food you can find anywhere. Please continue to check in with us online as our offerings grow!

baby garlic

Garlic growing!

March 2015 Newsletter

The dead season appears to be loosing its grip on Concord at last, though I’m sure that we will continue to stumble across dirty little piles of winter in hidden corners for awhile yet. Our greenhouses, oblivious to the still wintry landscape, are rapidly filling with a carpet of hopeful green: thousands and thousands of young plants coddled during the frigid nights by the near-constant hum of furnaces. Days are longer, the sun is higher, but the cold still lingers.

As of this writing, we have caught glimpses of our fields emerging from under the snow, cover crops flattened by the drifts yet bright green and ready to grow. We’re still holding out hope that we’ll be able to begin turning the soil in time to get our first scheduled plantings in the ground by mid-April, but there may well be some delay—I can imagine some cold, gray day in late April, the greenhouse growing crowded and unruly with leggy, pale transplants past their prime, increasingly desperate for some real soil in which to spread their roots. But nothing is sure, and a couple of sunny, warm days will go a long way toward putting the winter behind us and getting us back on track.

One of our first priorities as conditions allow will be to dig the beds of parsnips we left in the ground over the winter—I would hope to have them out by the third week in April. Those of you who have tasted overwintered parsnips know what a treat they are, with their caramel sweetness and tender texture. We’ll also be interested, as the snow recedes and allows us a glimpse, to see how our experiment in overwintering onions has fared. We may have picked the wrong year to attempt it, but if they survived, we may have fresh sweet onions as early as June.

Much more certain is that our garden plants will begin to appear on the porch sometime in the second half of April, and the bagged compost and potting soil we sell has already arrived and is available right now. This season, compost will be $8/bag or 4 bags for $30; potting soil will be $10/bag or 3 bags for $28. Make sure you check the bags carefully to be sure you’re getting the right thing—the compost and potting soil bags look quite similar. Our annual plant catalog listing most of the crops and varieties we offer as garden plants has been posted on our website.

We’re hoping you all survived the winter with your sanity mostly intact. We’re laying the groundwork for another season, starting seeds, putting together our new cast of indefatigable workers who will collaborate with us, with the soil, with the plants, to produce a pageant of produce (pardon the preponderance of p’s in the preceding) to convince us, once again, that winter’s woes are amply compensated for by the warmth, the colors, the smells, the flavors, the parade of changes that defines each season of growth.

Hope to see you all soon!

 Baby BeetsBaby beets in the prop house

Around the farm, March 2015

Onions in GreenhouseMarch 12th – We might still be covered in snow, but the prop house is humming with the early signs of spring!

John in the applesMarch 19th – The master at work – John pruning the liberty apples. Nice day out in the orchard – a lot less windy than yesterday!

ThymeMarch 25th – Baby Thyme in the prop house. Still plenty of snow on the ground out here, let’s hope this week’s warm up makes a dent!

Around the farm, February 2015

Feb_4February 4th – Well this is a new perspective on the orchard….

Feb_12February 12th – The van’s getting taller… Ready for more this weekend?!

Around the farm, January 2015

Jan_8January 8th – Time to start thinking about 2015 farmers’ markets… The Central Square annual farmers meeting is today- nice to see all our fellow farmers looking a little more rested than usual!

Jan_28_1January 28th – Well, we got some snow… Time to dig out! Hope everyone is safe and warm!

Jan_28_2January 28th

Around the farm, December 2014

December 15th – Self Serve is winding down

December 27th – Happy winter solstice everyone! Shortest day of the year is tomorrow

Around the farm, November 2014

November 2nd: It’s starting to snow?! Last day of the farmstand this season.

November 3rd: Pictured above is some of the fall crew, a heartfelt thank you to all of our spring, summer and fall crews: Sarah, Colin, Ronnie, Conor, Abby, Ellen, Katie, Danielle, Cassandra, Phil, Ramon, Ryan, Patrick, Sam A., Sam N., Caroline, Matt, Kira, Kaitlyn, Ben, Allison, Sophie, Paul, Dan, Hunter, Justin, Ainara, Ariel, Josh, Hannah, Mayn, and probably a few others I am forgetting!!

November 8th: setting up at the Union Square Farmers Market

November 10th: setting up at the Central Square Farmers’ Market

November 14th: We might have a dusting of slush out here, but we’re still harvesting lettuce, spinach, and kale!

November 17th: Wet raw day down at the Central Square Farmers Market ! Come on out and say hi! (And maybe bring hot coffee…)

November 22nd: Last Union Square Farmers Market of the season! We’ve still got lettuce!

November 24th: Rainy and warm down in Cambridge for the last Central Square Farmers Market of the season

Thank you Hartney Greymont!

For those of you driving out to the farm today – you might notice the Hartney Greymont arborists pruning our beautiful iconic oak down in the field- thanks guys!

November Newsletter

Autumn’s pageant has already passed, leaving drifts of red, yellow and orange confetti as evidence of that somber parade, only to disappear promptly into the bellies of makeshift plywood box trucks.  Fall in New England, once signaled by the tang of smoke from burning piles of leaves, the gentle sound of raking, morning frost and early evenings, is now heralded by the endless drone of leaf blowers and leaf vacuums.  More traditional signs of the waning year can still be found on our front porch—winter squash of various sizes and varieties, crisp-sweet carrots, homely potatoes and rutabagas, and a selection of the hardier greens like spinach, lettuce and kale. All make for welcome, warming fare on cold evenings, but they won’t last long—as temperatures begin to plunge, our offerings will dwindle until, when temperatures barely rise above freezing, we call it a season.

We began the 2014 season with a very slow warm up, at least compared to recent history.  Although we didn’t have any late frost, the lingering cool temperatures may have affected our blueberry and apple crops by discouraging bee activity during bloom time, and by slowing the development of key pests that, during a more ‘normal’ spring, could be controlled by one or two carefully timed sprays. We suspect that, because the materials we are allowed to use under the organic regimen have virtually no residual activity, a longer period of egg hatch in response to cool weather may have meant that a significant number of winter moth were continuing to emerge after we thought we had dealt with them.

After that unusual spring, which followed a very cold winter, the season began to shape up nicely.  We continued to experiment with transplanting greenhouse seeded starts of plants we usually seed directly—spinach, beets, cilantro, dill—with the result that we began harvest of those crops up to three weeks earlier than we otherwise might have.  Asparagus harvest from the old McGrath field was robust, almost double what it had been the previous year. We moved our early kale, arugula and radishes to fields that hadn’t grown crops in that family for many years, and so escaped the usual onslaught of flea beetles.  We did the same for our potatoes, and they likewise (mostly) escaped the usual onslaught of Colorado potato beetles. The cold winter, or some other less apparent factor, seemed to suppress and delay the annual invasion of striped cucumber beetles, with the result that all our crops in the ‘cucurbit’ (squash, cukes, melons) family produced well and over longer periods than we have come to expect (except our watermelons, and that’s because the crows have developed a taste for them).  On the other hand, the usual smattering of leafminers that afflict our chard, spinach and beets increased to a bona fide infestation, which repeated itself several times over the course of the season even affecting crops well into October—an unprecedented and worrisome development.  For the most part, however, our crops prospered under the enthusiastic and expert care of our staff—and the farm prospers with the continued support and enthusiasm of our customers.

If you visit the farm over the next week or two, you can expect to find some self-serve offerings during times when the temperatures are above freezing, and we will continue to attend Union Square Somerville market on Saturdays 9-1, and Central Square Cambridge market on Mondays 12-5 until Thanksgiving.  We still have plenty of delicious carrots and can easily accommodate additional orders for 25 lb bags ($25 each)—just contact us at hutchfarm@earthlink.net and we can set up a pickup time.  For a more or less up to date list of everything we have available, check our website.

Thanks again for your continued support. We hope all of you enjoy the winter ahead—or if that’s not possible, at least tolerate it. Before we know it, winter will seem like a vaguely unpleasant dream as we wake to a bright July morning with the prospect of sunny weather, adventure, and fresh picked tomatoes, blueberries and sweet corn.

 

Thank you for a great season!
-Brian, John, Gordon, and the Hutchins Farm crew