November 2022 Newsletter

The beginning of November heralds the traditional end-of-season at Hutchins—fields settle down under their blanket of green cover crop for a winter’s rest, leaves flake off the suddenly exposed branches of trees, settling in rusty heaps wherever the wind deposits them. November is a transition period, when frosty mornings, sun-soaked afternoons, and blustery evenings can all coexist in a single day. This November, despite the shedding leaves and morning frosts, summer seems stubbornly to hang on, confounding our expectations and complicating our wardrobe choices.

A positive aspect to this disquieting warm spell is that it has allowed our latest plantings, which we characterize variously as Hail Mary passes or crapshoots, to pay out handsomely (or score a TD depending on your preferred metaphor). Clearly, the time of tomatoes and eggplant is well behind us, melons and cucumbers a delicious memory, but the unseasonable weather has spared many of our late season crops, leaving us with a bountiful selection of produce—at least for the moment. In addition, our storage crops were exceptionally productive this year, so the fresh offerings that have been spared their usual frosty demise are joined with abundant fall and winter stalwarts like potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cabbage, turnips, even the homely celeriac. The only regular missing from our list is parsnips, but you can’t win ‘em all.

From very early on, the difference between growing season 2022 and 2021 couldn’t have been more stark. From regular twice-a-week dousings of multi-inch rain events that recurred through most of 2021, we went to rare drizzles that might drop a fraction of an inch a couple times a month, with constant irrigation our only option to keep things alive and growing. The success of most of our crops this year is a testament both to the hard work and skill of those tasked with moving and running the irrigation, and the fact that dry weather and low humidity (assuming ample irrigation) is actually healthy for most crops. Evidence includes record-breaking (or close) yields for celery, celeriac, peppers, and eggplant, and unprecedentedly disease-free crops of potatoes, winter squash, broccoli and cauliflower.
Crops that fared a little less well included beans, which were absent for most of the season (after an early bounty) due to neglect (it’s tough to get water on everything), and tomatoes, which were healthy and delicious, but because of a few irrigation hiccups, ended up with some serious drought-induced blossom-end rot to reduce yields. Peppers had the same problem, but they more than made up for it in the long drawn-out warmth of fall.

Weather means a lot to the success or failure of various crops, and the farm as a whole, but, absent truly calamitous weather, it is far from the whole story. We had the good fortune to have an exceptionally motivated, hard-working and amiable crew this season, with a good number of folks who had experience working at Hutchins previously and a good understanding of our rhythms and routines. Chaos and disaster always lurk close by as we wend our way through the season, but a crew with a combination of experience and motivation can do a lot to stave off the worst.

Equally important to our ultimate success is the continued patronage of our customers, many of whom find their way to Hutchins regularly from long before we officially open, buying garden plants and those precocious bunches of asparagus, until long after we close, as long as the weather holds and we can continue to stock the self-serve porch with produce. We cannot thank you enough for your patronage, and your continued support!

As noted, the weather is holding. With 70s predicted for this weekend (11/5 and 11/6) the farmstand porch will be loaded with fresh and storage crops, including salad and cooking greens, herbs, brassicas (look it up if that term is not familiar), roots, tubers, and winter squash—for a complete list, check our website’s “Whats at the stand” tab where we attempt to update offerings throughout the day. Please remember the porch is on the honor system and is self-serve: exact change or check only please!

While the Somerville Union Square Market closed early this year, our stalwart Cambridge Central Square Market will continue every Monday afternoon until Thanksgiving. New for us this year is a one time fall harvest farmers market at the Burlington Mall on Saturday November 12th from 11am-5pm, please come join us there! You can also check to see what we sent into market each week on our website’s “whats at the farmers market” tab.

Thank you for another season of shopping, cooking, and eating with us (our 50th growing season!), and we wish you a cozy and peaceful winter!
-Brian Cramer, Liza Bemis, and the Hutchins Farm crew

A portion of the fall crew – some of the faces who make this place function!
Lit pumpkins over the farm on October 31st

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