October 2021 Newsletter: Closing Day will be October 31st!

The sun is setting on another growing season in Eastern Massachusetts, though summer seems reluctant to make a graceful departure. Cool, fog obscured mornings that seem to speak quietly of autumn think better of it by mid-morning—a little taste of fall each morning retreats and the brilliant blue days revert to endless summer. Unlike the mild days of spring, however, this warm spell is an empty promise, portending nothing. Trees, weeds and farmers, following the ancient dictates of the seasons, respond to the shortening days by jettisoning foliage (after a brief and brilliant show), ripening their seeds, and suspending the furious round of tillage and planting that characterizes most of the season from March through September. The afternoon assures us it’s August, but the dark mornings and early evenings are the sure augurs of the dead season to come.

In contrast to the droughty season of 2020, much of our acreage was waterlogged and unusable for most of this season, with the result that we were unable to get as much planted as we intended to, and were forced to plant areas that we hadn’t intended to and which weren’t adequately prepared.  Many crops that we managed to plant suffered either from saturated soil, lack of fertility because heavy rains washed away nutrients, unusually intense disease pressure, and abnormally high weed pressure because weeds are nearly impossible to efficiently destroy when fields lay wet.

What this has meant for our customers is that we have had some shortfalls and gaps in availability of some vegetables, some of them ongoing, and that many of our storage crops that we like to offer in bulk during the closing days of the season are in such short supply that we won’t be able to offer big volume discounts. Our usual sign-ups for 25 lb bags of carrots and 50 lb bags of potatoes won’t be happening—the best we may be able to do, assuming we have adequate supplies, is offer certain items at a volume discount during the last week. No promises though, so please check our website for any volume deals we are able to offer that final week.

We still have good quantities of some varieties of winter squash, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. We still have plantings of Chinese cabbage and storage cabbage yet to harvest. We have yet to harvest the last two plantings of carrots, but they seem unlikely to yield enough to justify 25 lb bag sign-ups. Warm weather means that we should continue to have good supplies of lettuce, kale, sweet and hot peppers, and certain other greens and herbs, but many of our latest crops are planted in excessively well-drained soils (since that was all we could get ready to plant when it was time) that readily leach nutrients during heavy rain events, to the point where some crops are showing nutrient deficiencies and may not be marketable. Chard, beets and parsley are all in short supply. Diseases associated with wet weather have ruined much of our early fall broccoli and cauliflower, but our latest plantings seem to be enjoying this extended summer weather.

To cut short and temper this prolonged lament, let me admit that there were many successes, many beautiful crops, many assumptions of disaster that were incorrect (our pumpkin crop is amazing!), and many reprieves from situations we thought were ruinous. For resilient farmers and resilient farms there is always another day, another chance, another planting, another season. On brighter notes, our popcorn and ornamental corn are perhaps the most beautiful we have ever had, and Huey’s dried flower arrangements and wreaths are just hitting the stand and are a welcome addition to the fall vegetable display. Apples, while not perfect, have been plentiful and tasty, and we should continue to have them through the end of the month. So, while it hasn’t been the banner year we all hoped it would be, the stand is still full!

We hope all our customers, new and old, will have an opportunity to visit the farm before we close. The last day the farmstand will be open will be Sunday, October 31st, when we will be closing an hour earlier than usual, at 5pm instead of 6. We will still have quite the roster of seasonal veggies available, but we’re unlikely to have very much available in bulk as we usually do. As always we try and keep the “what’s at the stand” tab on our website as accurate as we can – so please check there to see all our current variety. Whatever is still available after the stand closes we will have on the front porch for self-serve on the honor system as usual. Two of our farmers markets – Monday’s Central Square and Saturday’s Union Square will continue until Thanksgiving – as long as we still have produce we will be there!

We hope to see you soon to take in all that New England fall has to offer – whether we see you at the markets or in the stand, we are so grateful for your continued support this year, and for your good cheer and continuous flexibility as you weather these wild years with us.

Much gratitude,
-Brian Cramer, Liza Bemis, and the rest of the Hutchins Farm Team.
One of Huey’s dried flower wreaths
Apples on October 13th

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