John Bemis Retirement Announcement

August 24, 2015

After 40 plus years as co-manager of Hutchins Farm with his brother Gordon, John Bemis retired at the end of May this year. Gordon is now the sole manager of Hutchins Farm LLC.

John thanks the Town of Concord and the generations of Hutchins customers for their years of support. He is especially grateful for the legions of young workers who have brought their enthusiasm, energies and friendship to the farm.

EPSON MFP imageJohn and Gordon Bemis in the Boston Globe: August 15th, 2001.

August 2015 Newsletter

The dry fever of July has broken to cool, damp August mornings that seem already to whisper of autumn—but tomatoes, which to some (me) are the very emblem and embodiment of summer, are just now beginning to be abundant. In fact, apart from peas, basil, strawberries and blueberries, all now lamentably done for the year, our extensive list of crops should continue to flourish and increase over the next several months. Each season contains within it the seeds of the next—that’s what makes winter tolerable, and what gives the bright days of summer just a hint of melancholy—but this season is still young.

This growing season has been, all in all, a favorable one to us. Although it has been much drier than usual, with deficits in rainfall beginning as early as May, the lack of precipitation has really only caused relatively minor problems—poor or delayed germination in some crops, more time spent on irrigation, some stunting in crops we couldn’t seem to water enough or on time—but the lack of disease pressure that comes with dry conditions compensates for these inconveniences. In fact, though we sigh with relief when the rain does come, relieving us of our irrigation chores, we would be happy with a nice dry, warm August and September and long-lived, disease-free tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and everything else.

Both of our berry crops were quite good this year, with quality at least as good as usual, and quantity much better. We had a surprise bumper crop of artichokes, which may be at an end, but could conceivably pick up again with cool temperatures and moisture. Our garlic crop is the best in years—this year we moved it back to the Monument St. farm from the lean, sandy soils of the Peter Spring fields, and were rewarded with bigger bulbs and better winter survival. Our potato crop, likewise, looks to be the best in years even considering last years big yield. And the apples, as those of you who have visited the stand lately and looked out over the adjacent orchard block can attest, look to be both exceptionally abundant and unusually clean.

On the other side of the ledger, our basil came down with a fatal case of downy mildew earlier than that of most other area farms. Our onion crop is very uneven, with rows of large, well-developed bulbs right next to rows of puny, stunted onions of the exact same variety, planted with the same equipment, on the same day. Some of our June-planted carrots and beets didn’t germinate well as we struggled to keep them irrigated, though our later plantings (which will mature in September and October) look very promising. Parsnips, a notoriously finicky germinator, will likely be in short supply this fall and possibly next spring as well.

So, as usual, success walks with failure, and prudent cultivators remain humble, open-minded, and grateful for the opportunity to practice their craft with the help of willing workers and a receptive clientele. We thank you for your patronage of our early season, and hope to reward you with a bountiful August and fall!

-Brian Cramer
Hutchins Farm

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Around the farm, June 2015

June 1st: Rain! Oh boy did we need this…

vetchjuneJune 4th: The hairy vetch cover crop is blooming!

turtlejuneJune 9th: Well look who’s guarding the onions at the Peter Spring fields…

garlicscapesjuneJune 16th: Garlic scape season is here! Pesto time!

strawberriesjuneJune 17th: All of a sudden the strawberries went nuts!

chinesekalejuneJune 22nd: We’re back at the Central Square Farmers Market this week! Van is *knock on wood* fixed.

potatoeshilledjuneJune 25th: Freshly hilled potatoes. Plants are looking good out there!

 sugarsnappeasjune
June 27th:
Peas, peas, peas, and more peas! Guess what the crew spent all morning picking? Sugar snap, snow, and shelling!

fallonionsJune 30th: Our experiment in fall planted onions was a mild success! Yields maybe aren’t as large as we hoped, but it’s sure nice to have onions so early – fresh ones are up at the farmstand.

Around the farm, May 2015

asparagusMay 4th – Getting closer!

strawberriesMay 8th – Strawberries are blooming!

kalemayMay 11th – Overwintered kale today on the porch!

apple blossomsMay 14th – Apple trees blooming.

cukesmayMay 15th – Cukes in the ground!

greenhousemayMay 17th – greenhouse full of seedlings

central2015May 18th – It’s the first Central Square Farmers’ Market of the season!

asparagusbucketMay 21st – Another day, another bucket…

gordsudangrassMay 24th – Gordon seeding sorghum sudangrass – a covercrop to increase the organic matter in our soil.

irrigationMay 28th – A beautiful rainbow while irrigating the carrots and beets!

lettucemayMay 30th – Lettuce planting while dreaming about rain.

Farmstand opening for the 2015 Season on May 30th

We’re nearing the end of what is shaping up to be an uncommonly dry spring, to say the least-we rarely have had our pumps up and running quite so early, and we’ve seen more attrition of recently planted crops than is usual. Nonetheless we persevere, with a fine coating of dust deepening our fashionable farmer’s tans, and an added crunch to our meals. In the past, I have glibly spoken of the many benefits of dry weather to the farmer, with the dramatic reduction in disease pressure being foremost-but of course desiccated, dead plants aren’t particularly disease prone. When I made those now seemingly ill-considered and hasty statements, I was foresighted enough to reserve the right to complain during dry periods when it seems like all we can do to keep our crops alive-so consider this my complaint.

On a more positive note, the dry weather has allowed us to enter fields weeks and months ahead of usual. Areas that have been underutilized because they lay wet for much of the growing season are now open to us-new and exciting rotational possibilities beckon; fields of grass underlay with rich, black earth feel the unaccustomed bite of the plow and are planted to crops that are generally relegated to our more tired, overtaxed upland fields which we can now allow to rest and rejuvenate under a cover crop until we need them again.

The real reason for this note, however is to announce our opening for the 2015 season: We will open with limited hours on Saturday and Sunday (the 30th and 31st) 11 AM – 4 PM. We’ll be closed on Monday June 1st (and all subsequent Mondays), but on Tuesday our regular schedule will resume: Open Tuesdays – Sundays 11am – 6pm. Self-serve sales of produce will discontinue this weekend, but self-serve seedling sales will continue.

Often our opening coincides with the first strawberries of the season, but I don’t expect to have any until perhaps the first weekend in June. We will continue to harvest asparagus at least through the first week of June (possibly longer) and our growing roster of other vegetable crops include: lettuce, spinach, arugula, radishes, cilantro, dill, Japanese turnips and endive. We’re also experimenting with some new crops this season, some of which are available now, including: sorrel, Italian dandelion (aka Catalogna), and ‘Braising Mix’ (composed of a variety of mustards, Asian greens and kale). We should also begin harvesting kale and possibly chard by our opening weekend, and we’re well supplied with Pete and Jen’s pastured eggs.

We hope to see you this weekend or shortly thereafter, and if you think of it, please bring some rain with you.

Brian Cramer
Farm Manager
Hutchins Farm

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?!