April 2020 Newsletter - Self-Serve Seedlings & Covid-19 Update

Spring arrived in March and with it some wild warmth – we got the peas planted and they started to emerge a full two weeks ahead of their usually scheduled planting date! But then cooler weather prevailed in the beginning of April, and in true New England fashion, we’re alternating between winter coats and t-shirts.

What, of course, has been even more wild, is our collective new reality. Or reality at least for now? We’re getting use to standing 6 feet away from each other in meetings, wearing masks, and learning to wildly gesture now that no one can see our facial expressions. While Covid-19 has upended many of our usual protocols and social norms here on the farm, it hasn’t slowed down Mother Nature – spring is persisting along, and we must follow. We hope this newsletter finds you well, and we’re looking forward to the day when we can hug you all instead of wave across the parking lot.

The honor system self-serve front porch at the stand is up and running for early spring seedlings –please check the website daily as we try to keep the list of what’s out for sale as accurate as possible (you can even see what time the list was last updated). We still have some bagged McEnroe compost and potting soil also available. It shouldn’t be too much longer before the variety of seedlings grows, and maybe we even get some edible early greens and rhubarb up there (if the weather cooperates that is). Please remember that this is done on the honor systems, so exact change or check only. And it’s open as long as the weather is above freezing – so feel free to come by anytime – social distancing is easier at 9pm? Although it’s a little dark to see the plant tags then…

While spring planting is in full swing, we’re starting to think about how we are going to tackle this season from a retail perspective. Let’s start with the good news – we will be opening the farmstand in late May/early June as usual! Farms are classified as “essential businesses” and certainly getting food is an essential part of life.  While we will be adding additional protocols in the stand to help with physical distancing and potential cross-contamination points, we will be opening and you will be able to still get the somewhat usual Hutchins experience you are used to.  The Farmers’ markets also will be opening on schedule, but with different protocols and some physical changes to reduce hand to hand interactions.

Hutchins is known for a few things, but perhaps chief among them is our daily harvest – attempting to provide our customers with the freshest produce we can, we run through this crazy dance of harvesting all our greens first thing before the stand opens. This perhaps obsessive devotion to this goal means we plant many plantings of a single product to attempt to get a consistent stream of produce to the farmstand each day. This does not lend itself easily to a sudden pivot to a weekly CSA model or pre-orders, and the wheels were already set in motion back with our seed orders in December. So, while we won’t be offering a traditional CSA, we will be offering weekly a “Farmers’ Choice Box” on a pre-ordered online platform. These will contain a variety of what we are growing at the time, and as the name implies, the farmers picking that day will be deciding what goes into them. While the boxes won’t be all the same, but they will all contain the same dollar amount of produce. We expect to offer them in different sizes, and you can change your size every week depending on your needs. Likely these will start up in late June or early July when we actually have enough produce variety to do them without drowning you all in salad. We will also be offering some pre-ordered “a la carte” (if you will) items as well, for example lettuce by the head. All of these pre-paid orders will be available for curbside pickup so you don’t even need to come into the stand. They will also be available for pick up at our three farmers markets. Liza is working hard to set this up and figure out all the logistics, so many more details on how this will work to come!

Also, for those of you looking for a weekly pick-me-up, Mel’s Field Edge Flowers CSF share still has spots open – please see her website here for more details. We will also be offering Field Edge Flower’s bunches on our online platform for pre-order as well.

We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls and emails from you all over the past several weeks, and we cannot thank you enough for your support as we take on these new challenges. We are happy to still be farming and will be happy to see you all again, even under these strange circumstances. We hope you continue to shop with us, whatever that looks like as we go forward!

Wishing you health and peace,

-The Hutchins Farm Team

  From left to right: Baby pepper plants, Huey transplanting in the greenhouse, Peas up in the field      

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