May 2020 Newsletter – Opening the Farmstand

           ‘Farm Life’ is a phrase evocative of a simple existence, uncomplicated by modern considerations and fashions, a timeless, idyllic lifestyle that is concerned with fundamental processes and systems, unmediated by and independent of social or cultural conventions. This is largely nonsense of course. Farms and their farmers exist within communities, social contexts and markets. They participate in and depend on the same social systems and networks as their non-agricultural neighbors, depending on supply chains, markets, and local infrastructure as much as any other business.

       But I do think there is something special about farms and farming-though agricultural pursuits are nowhere near as ancient as hunting, gathering and scavenging, they somehow seem to have become an inextricable part of our makeup in their relatively short history. Something about watching seeds germinate in neat rows, seeing a field of grain nodding in a gentle summer breeze, even watching the plow turning over the soil in neat furrows, or an irrigation gun describing its rotating arc of water, creating a rainstorm in the sunshine (complete with rainbow), is deeply, fundamentally appealing and satisfying to the senses.

       We are grateful to be involved in the agricultural enterprise we call Hutchins Farm, and are daily reminded of our good fortune to have found ourselves here, in the orchards and the fields, hawks screeching overhead, measuring the progress of the season in the changing quality of the light and the green of the landscape. We watch amazed as food springs from the earth-understanding all the work and planning that precedes that moment, we are still struck by the magic and beauty of it. Despite the fact that we are firmly ensconced in our local community, our families, our networks, our herd, we are daily able to step out of those roles and into the roles of steward, cultivator, producer, working in a space that, almost incidentally and only partly, is made beautiful through our efforts. Hutchins exists in its local context, but is also apart from it, a haven from the storms that swirl through our towns, states, and nations. We hope that you are able to find some relief or escape from the current insanity, and that maybe Hutchins provides some of that refuge for you as it does for us.

       May has been flying by for us as we learn how to navigate our new realities. The Union Square and Central Square farmers markets opened last week giving us a chance to test run many of our new sanitation and safety procedures, as well as our new online store (more on that in a bit), and in short – we’ve already learned a lot! A great many thanks to our market customers who came out and were our “guinea pigs” – your support and patience means so much to all the farmers at the markets.

       And as we have gotten a few markets under our belts, we’re gearing up to open the farmstand for the season on Tuesday June 2nd, and we will be back to our usual hours of 11am-6pm Tuesday – Sunday. We have what we think are good plans, but as we have found with the markets, sometimes it takes seeing a plan in action to realize what you need to modify. So, with that in mind, here are some new procedures you will find when you get here (subject to change as we figure out what works best!)  

  1. If you are feeling under the weather please stay home – we are asking all our staff to do the same thing – we want to see you, but only if you are feeling good!
  2. Please practice social distancing in the parking lot and in the stand! We will have markers to help when waiting in line to get into the farmstand.
  3. In the beginning of the season, only two to three customers will be allowed in the stand at one time – this will increase as we have more product and social distancing in the building becomes more doable. A crew member will be monitoring how many people are inside and let you know when it is safe to enter.
  4. There will be one entrance and a separate exit in and out of the stand – please pay attention to signage
  5. All customers need to use the provided hand sanitizer before entering the stand
  6. All staff will be wearing masks in the stand and in the parking lot – and all customers should wear masks too. Per the Governor’s order, we won’t be able to let you into the stand without one. Please help us keep our staff and other customers safe!
  7. Per a temporary state regulation, we are not allowed to touch your reusable bags, so kindly leave those in the car. For those of you that want to use them, you can take your shopping basket out to your car and bag there and then return your shopping basket to the crew member out front – we will be disinfecting shopping baskets between uses.
  8. Thank you so much for your cooperation, your patience, and your smiles behind those masks!

For those of you that don’t want to come inside the stand during these wild times, we understand, and some products will be available for pre-order on our website with contactless curbside pickup on Wednesdays and Saturdays – those pickups will start on June 6th. Unfortunately, given our harvest schedules, not everything we have at the stand will be available online, but we will try to get a good mix up there. Please see our website going forward for directions.

       For those of you interested in our “farmers choice bag of veggies” we expect those to start up end of June or early July when we have enough variety to feel like we can offer more than just salad. There will be more information about them on our website and social media when those are ready to be ordered. While they are similar to a traditional CSA in that they are a mix of what the crew harvested that morning, they are unlike a CSA in that you do not sign up for a full season ahead of time – they will be available to order weekly through our online store. As you feel you need another infusion of veggies place an order! They will be available for pickup at the stand (contactless curbside) or at the farmers markets. We expect that as the season progresses, we will have them in multiple sizes (small and large) so you can pick the size that best works for you, or adjust weekly as needed.

       The self-serve porch is open through the weekend with some produce and seedlings, and after June 2nd only seedling sales will continue to be self-serve when the stand is closed – so for those of you plant shopping at 9pm (and we know there are a few of you!) you can keep on doing that. Self-serve produce however, will be discontinued.

         We’re looking forward to seeing you all – adjusting is hard, but we’re muddling through – and we’re excited for another season! Mother nature is sometimes cruel, but she is forever moving forward and evolving – and so we move forward too, adapting to our new circumstance.

We hope to see you (from a six-foot distance) very soon,  
-Brian Cramer and the Hutchins Farm team  

Top row left to right: crew picking arugula, strawberries blooming, Central Square Farmers Market set up.
Bottom row left to right: Maeve and Huey at the Union Square Market, tomato seedlings for sale, peas growing taller.    

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