March 2020 Newsletter - Parsnips are ready!

Happy Spring? We guess? What happened to winter this year?

         The warm weather woke up our parsnips early, which in turn piqued the interest of our resident deer, so we thought it prudent to dig them right away – they will be available self-serve on the porch beginning Saturday, March 7th – remember it’s an honor system and exact change or check is required. As farmers and gardeners who grow them know, producing parsnips is fraught with difficulties: they germinate very slowly, and can easily dry out and fail to get established during this protracted phase; and should you be lucky enough to get a strong stand, they are extremely slow to grow and not competitive with weeds, so they require constant attention to keep them from getting overwhelmed by aggressive garden bullies. They take a long time (well over 3 months) to mature, so problems with germination or early growth often means that a second try is wasted effort. Should the stars align and the gods smile and you achieve a creditable stand of parsnips, further difficulties arise during the marketing phase: otherwise tolerant and open-minded people are inexplicably prone to statements like “I’m pretty sure I don’t like parsnips” despite never having tried them. Perhaps something about the “-ip” ending, in common with turnips and the bunyip, is off-putting. We’re confident that those who are able to rise above irrational prejudice and rank slander will find our freshly dug parsnips, sweetened by the winter, are a delicious and satisfying way to welcome the new season. They are exceptionally versatile and make a wonderful soup, desirable addition to stocks, purees and roasts, and a sweet treat shredded and fried.
        Our annual shipment of McEnroe compost and potting soil has arrived. Stop by at your convenience to get what you need for the upcoming growing season-payment is honor system: leave cash or check in the slot next to the door. Potting soil is $12 per 22 quart bag, or 3 for $33 (price includes tax). Compost is $9 per 40 pound bag, or 5 for $40. Potting soil is best used for growing in containers or for starting your own seedlings, compost is best for mixing into beds and gardens prior to planting, or topdressing existing plantings.
        Other developments include the return of several members of our team, including such luminaries as assistant farm manager Brian Daubenspeck (recently returned from an agriculturally oriented vacation in Colombia), Huey-harn Chen (our farmer’s market manager, among her many other roles), and Melanie Hardy (once again managing our greenhouse while operating her own, on-site cut-flower operation: Field Edge Flowers– which still has CSA shares available). In addition to these familiar faces, we welcome Dave and Kathy Rice, most recently of Sweetcore Farm, in way upstate New York – Dave will be managing our neglected apple orchards, and seeking ways to boost yield and consistency in that organically challenging crop, while Kathy will be working in the farm stand. We are excited to have them join us in our efforts to maintain Hutchins as a vibrant and productive part of Concord’s agricultural landscape.
       The Hutchins Farm 2020 plant catalog is up on our website for all you gardeners planning already – just check the tab under “produce information” for the downloadable PDF. We hope you can join us as well, as the winter recedes (did it ever show up?) and the world awakens under the benign regard of the sun and the gentle encouragement of the rain, light breezes cajoling drowsy trees to swell their buds and unfurl their leaves, warm evenings inviting peepers to awake and fill the night with their song.
Best,
-Brian Cramer and the Hutchins Farm Team
    
  From left to right: Mel harvesting parsnips, parsnips after they have been washed, Dave harvesting parsnips.

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