March 2019 Newsletter

Early March and we’re still in the grips of deep winter, with bitter winds scouring the snow covered landscape, and stars glinting like ice in a frozen night sky. Sure of nothing, I’m fairly certain that’s all about to change-hopefully, the change comes in a gradual, measured fashion, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

In any case, one of the most comforting things to do in discouraging weather is to peruse the pages of seed catalogs, with their glossy photos of impossibly beautiful vegetables and flowers, their promise of interesting novelty in the context of the timeless turning of the seasons. Full of hyperbole and equivocation, long experience teaches that, in the context of a seed catalog, ‘mild’ usually means ‘tasteless’, ‘medium-sized’ often stands in for ‘puny’, and so forth. That said, the prose found in seed catalogs is an interesting (occasionally brilliant, in the case of the Fedco catalog, until recently penned by the very funny, very lefty CR Lawn) subset of the larger, largely vapid realm of advertising copy. Having tried my hand at writing variety descriptions in our own (colorless, digital) catalog of the plants we offer for sale every spring, I’m always fascinated at how various, usually anonymous, writers of catalog copy deal with the inevitability of repetition, the difficulty in differentiating two varieties that, apart from the name (and the price?) may be essentially identical. A good thesaurus, and careful rereading to minimize avoidable repetition, are essential. Caveat Emptor.

Our humble plant catalog, largely a rehash of older versions, is updated and available on our website under the tab “Produce Information.” We’re committed to focusing more attention this season on consistently producing a wide variety of garden plants for our gardening customers, so come mid-April, keep a look out for the first arrivals. And be assured that all of our offerings (unless otherwise noted) are varieties grown on the farm because of their outstanding qualities, and the descriptions aren’t simply lifted from seed catalogs, but reflect our actual experience with these crops and varieties. Once mid-April rolls around, we will as always attempt to keep an update of what is available for sale on the front page of our website.

Also coming soon to lift the March malaise, the Concord Ag Committee is presenting its annual Spring Forum-this year’s program features local food establishments that are committed to using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, explaining their philosophies and practices. Participating establishments include Saltbox Kitchen, Papa Razzi Trattoria, The Concord Cheese Shop, and Newbury Court kitchen. The forum begins at 7 PM on March 21st at the Harvey Wheeler Center in West Concord-come be inspired by how professionals incorporate a seasonal, locavore ethos in their offerings.

We have a number of returning faces this year at Hutchins on our crew and with that also comes an exciting announcement: we are thrilled that Mel from Field Edge Flowers is returning to grow certified organic blooms at Hutchins Farm once again this season! Field Edge Flowers will be selling lots of simple bunches at the Hutchins farm stand just as they did back in 2016, but this season they also have expanded to offer a weekly CSA flower share:

From Mel: “A generous bundle of 25-30 stems of fresh, organic blooms and greenery carefully arranged and wrapped in paper….and handed to you by the farmer herself, every week for eight weeks! Over the course of the season, everything Field Edge Flowers grows will appear in your bouquets–we are planning on lisianthus, sunflowers, dahlias, and zinnias, and all of the many little bits and bobs that we grow and that you can’t find at your local flower shop. Once the CSA season starts (we let you know-weather dependent-usually in late June or so), pick ups will be at the Hutchins farm stand on Tuesdays from 2-6 pm….so you can grab your veggies for the week while you are there!”

For those of you interested in purchasing a flower share, more information can be found on Field Edge Flowers website: and for any questions about Field Edge Flowers or anything else flower related Mel can be reached by email at

While we have been spending this winter dreaming and planning, we also have been hard at work. The apple orchard pruning has just finished for the winter, and the blueberry bushes are the next project to tackle. Planting schedules are written (and will probably be rewritten ten times over as mother nature changes her mind over and over this spring), and we have begun seeding in the greenhouse – and already spent a few nights fretting about the temperatures. The joys of March!

We hope you are having a warm and cozy winter,
-Brian Cramer and the Hutchins Farm Crew

Apple trees at dawn, March snow, Leeks emerging

End of Season Newsletter 2018

Short, windswept days, frosty mornings and the beginning of the endless drone of leafblowers are the sure harbingers of fall in historic Concord, and the end of our growing season. 2018 was a challenging one for us at Hutchins, with a variety of circumstances seeming to conspire against our success. The spring started out well enough—though it was cool and rainy, our earliest tomatoes, corn, melons and squash all shrugged off the cold, and were ready to take off when the heat finally arrived. The cool weather in June lasted long enough for us to have exceptional crops of asparagus and strawberries before the sudden arrival of July and the tropical heat, which settled in for a good long stay, well into September.

Like rain, heat can be a blessing, but in excess, a curse. Apart from the discomfort to those who work outside, high temperatures can have surprising and disastrous effects on plants, even those which are typically thought to love the heat. For example, beans, eggplants and peppers readily drop blossoms when temperatures are outside their preferred range—a phenomenon which we were able to witness firsthand and over an extended period this summer. The eggplant and pepper plants were large and robust, but the fruits were few and far between, at least until things cooled down a bit in September. Luckily, tomatoes are more tolerant of extremes than their more finicky cousins, so we were not faced with a disastrous tomato shortage in addition to our merely unfortunate dearth of peppers and eggplants.

Another confounding aspect of extended heat is its effect on seed germination. Most seeds germinate readily around 70 degrees, with some variation. Some, like turnips and other mustard family members, can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and still emerge, while others are extremely fussy. Lettuce and spinach are notorious for their reluctance to emerge at temperatures above about 80. Other vegetables are slow germinators under the best of conditions: carrots and parsnips can take weeks to fully emerge, and any period of adverse conditions during this time can have detrimental effects.

So our concern began to grow as multiple seedings of lettuce struggled to germinate in July and on into August, as our carefully cultivated beds seeded to parsnips and carrots failed to sprout the usual unbroken lines of green, but rather sent up sparse and scattered clumps of seedlings, with lots of empty space between, soon occupied by opportunistic weeds. The timing of these seedings is critical—you can’t just wait until conditions improve, or your crops may not have time to develop. To harvest parsnips in October, you need to seed them by the end of June; to harvest carrots in October, they have to be seeded and up by early August. Lettuce seeded after the middle of August is not likely to mature. By early August, the heat had affected enough crops (and it continued to wreak havoc on spinach germination through the end of the month) that we knew it was going to be a lean fall, and so it has been—and I haven’t even gotten to the apple situation.

The missing apples are another story altogether. I’m not exactly sure how things went before I began to pay serious attention about five years ago, but at least since that time, the apples have almost completely reverted to their (natural) tendency to bear biennially—that is to give a large crop every other year, with a much smaller crop on the alternate year. They nonetheless require annual pruning, mowing, and, ideally, spraying for disease and insects, but without the prospect of a crop, it becomes very difficult to allocate labor and machinery resources to them. Conventional orchards are able to overcome the tendency to alternate bearing by spraying chemical thinning agents during the month following petal fall. As an organic orchard, this crop load management strategy isn’t available to us—our only option would be to hand thin the newly pollinated blooms and developing fruit during this same period, which really isn’t an option at all because it is not economically feasible even if we were able to find enough employees to attempt it. Which leaves us with an apple crop every other year until we can figure out a way to get out of this vicious cycle.

So we bid farewell to a difficult season, humbly trying our best to learn the right lessons from our experiences. There is something very appropriate about how the word ‘humility’ derives ultimately from the Latin word for soil, that irreducibly complex matrix with which we attempt to perform our simple, sustaining magic, never completely understanding the processes we initiate and try to manipulate. And it is with humility and gratitude that we thank all of you for your continued patronage in fat times and lean, and all of our steadfast workers for their tireless efforts to bring you the best that we can produce.

We’ll be at the Somerville Union Square Market and the Cambridge Central Square Market until Thanksgiving, and there will be a limited selection of items on our honor system self-serve front porch at the stand starting later this week. Please check our website to see what might be available before making the trip over.

Again, thank you all for this season, we hope you have a restful winter, and we’ll see you in the spring!


-Brian Cramer and the Hutchins Farm Team



Bulk Orders and Closing Day 2018

Happy October from Hutchins Farm!

Two announcements from us today, one: Bulk Order Sign-Ups begin today! And two: Our closing day of the farmstand this season will be Wednesday October 31st.

BULK ORDER SIGN-UPS: In contrast to last season, when we had so many carrots that we didn’t have people sign up for 25lb bags, just had plenty on hand, this year we have so few carrots that we won’t have any 25 lb bags of carrots available. We ARE able to offer our usual 50 lb bags of potatoes, with three varieties available: ‘Kennebec’, with white skin and flesh, versatile in the kitchen, and excellent storage characteristics; ‘Keuka Gold’, a nice newer variety developed by Cornell with good storage potential, light yellow flesh, and excellent culinary characteristics; and ‘Carola’, our old favorite with bright yellow, moist flesh and distinctive flavor.

Sign-ups can happen in one of two ways:

  • e-mail-send your order to Please let us know how many 50 lb bags and of which variety (from those listed above) and any backup variety choices you would be willing to accept if we are out of your first choice.
  • in person at the farmstand on our ‘official’ sign-up sheets

All varieties are limited in quantity-we will fill orders on a first come/first serve basis. In case of shortages, we HIGHLY encourage you to provide a second choice variety when you sign up or you will risk not getting any at all. Bags will be available to pick up beginning Tuesday, October 23rd, through closing on Wednesday the 31st. If you’re unable to pick up during that period, please contact us to set up a pick up date after we close.

The arrival of late autumn is in many ways a relief after a season more full of challenges, setbacks and failures than most. As an organic farmer with many seasons behind me, I am no stranger to the disappointment of crop failure, the frustration of missed opportunities, the dismay of watching the slow-motion train wreck of a row or a bed or an entire field failing to thrive, overrun by weeds, or insects, or disease. Over the course of the last half a decade or more, we have been fortunate enough to have kept these unwelcome events to a minimum, so that maybe we have a short crop or two (or three) during a season, but the abundance and variety of everything else made up for it.

There have been seasons where spinach was hardly to be found in the fall, seasons where carrot germination was spotty and yields were low, seasons where late summer heat led to a shortage of lettuce in September and October, seasons where the parsnips failed to germinate enough to even have a crop at all, seasons where entire broccoli plantings were overrun by disease, seasons where the apple crop was non-existent. These are generally isolated events, sad outliers in a general trend of success and abundance, but circumstances have conspired this year so that this litany of unwelcome episodes, each heartbreaking on its own account, have occurred all at once.

Which is not to say that we haven’t had our triumphs-our eggs are in way too many baskets for all of them to break. Strawberries were early, delicious and abundant. Lettuce was, for a long while, unfailingly abundant. Summer squash and cucumbers had a long, bounteous run. Cool spring weather didn’t slow down our corn, tomatoes or melons which were all harvested at an earlier date than ever. Tomatoes in particular were early, prolific and delicious-tomato yields for the season are at an all-time high. And some of our fall crops performed very well, including a large and beautiful crop of winter squash, pumpkins, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Despite our somewhat abridged fall offerings, we still have a creditable spread of fresh, delicious seasonal vegetables filling our farmstand and markets. If you’re able to visit us before we close the farmstand for the season on Wednesday, October 31, you may find kale, collards, arugula, radishes, winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, celeriac, carrots, parsley, cilantro, dill, turnips, scallions, popcorn, leeks, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, endive, escarole, hot peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, and many more options. We expect to see more beets, spinach and broccoli by then as well.

The farmstand is full and we hope you will come and stock up on New England’s fall bounty a few more times before we close for the year! (and to wish us better luck and better weather next year!)

-The Hutchins Farm team

Potato Display 2018

Happy Fall! Some upcoming events:

Happy Fall from Hutchins! Just a brief note to inform you of some upcoming events that may be of interest.

On Sunday, September 23rd, Verrill Farm will be hosting the 11th annual Stone Soup Dinner. Cocktail hour begins at 4pm with local restaurant tastings beginning at 5pm. Hutchins Farm again will be participating providing some of the produce, and we’ll be there to hang out and chat. Tickets are available for $40 at Hutchins Farm, Verrill Farm, Marshall Farm, the Concord Cheese Shop, and Barrett’s Mill Farm. Cash or check only. for more information.

Then on Sunday, September 30th, Bondir Restaurant of Cambridge will be closing out its Summer Series of events with a dinner highlighting Hutchins Farm produce. We’ll be there too, so please come join us for dinner! Reservations are from 5pm-10pm – dinner is prix fixe at $68 per person, with an optional $42 wine pairing. Call 617-661-0009 or make reservations online: – give them a call for any questions about dietary restrictions/accommodations etc.

Both of these events are celebrations of the local, the specific, the place and the moment that we are in right now, never to be repeated except in memory. Each summer is singular, a unique unfolding pageant of energy, color, music and flavor-like the dishes created by chefs inspired by that pageant, singular creations, unrepeatable. And yet in some sense they are all the same, each summer unfolding to a similar rhythm, a recognizable theme with infinite variation, each dish an elaboration and reconfiguration of the same familiar ingredients. The participants are your friends and neighbors, the people who live where you live, celebrating this confluence of the particular and the universal in the most delicious and enjoyable way possible, by eating good food, produced and prepared locally and lovingly. Hope you can join us!

Hope to see you soon,
-The Hutchins Farm team
 Sunrise on August 29th, 2018

Concord's Food, Farm, and Garden Fair - This Upcoming Weekend!

August has ended, and summer is on the wane, but the weather doesn’t seem to agree. The heat continues this week and so does our challenging summer. The field crew has been putting in an enormous effort this year in this unrelenting humidity, and they continue to work in overdrive – our endless thanks for their continued good attitudes! Our crop variety and abundance are on the increase. Summer crops like tomatoes and peppers are still coming on strong, with the late summer/early fall veggies like winter squash, potatoes, turnips, and winter radishes beginning to make appearances. Sadly, it doesn’t look like much of an apple crop this year – the nature of our every-other-year orchard combined with the humidly has resulted in a rather poor showing. On the plus side – we are potentially looking at a bumper crop of sweet potatoes! Those heat loving southerners have enjoyed this hot summer.


Just a reminder that this upcoming weekend, September 8th and 9th, is the annual Concord Food, Farm and Garden Fair, which begins on Saturday with the 13th annual ‘Ag’ Day Market in downtown Concord. Hutchins Farm will be represented, along with about ten additional Concord farms and a variety of local organizations that promote agriculture. Ag Day will run from 10 AM to 2 PM right on Main St., which will be closed from the roundabout to Walden St. Come on down and see the bounty Concord has to offer!

Because of the Ag Day Market, this week we will not be attending our usual Saturday market at Union Square, Somerville. Our apologies to our Somerville customers! We will be back next week (September 15th).

The Farm and Garden Fair continues with garden tours on Saturday afternoon – get information online at  or at the Garden Club table at Ag Day. Then on Sunday, a number of Concord farms will be hosting farm tours – a tour of Hutchins Farm led by our farm manager Brian Cramer will begin at 1 PM Sunday September 9th. No signups are necessary, just show up at the farm stand before the tour begins. Tours require walking on rough (muddy/dusty) farm roads and may include encounters with unfriendly weeds and stinging insects – good footwear is suggested, and folks with allergies to bees or wasps should take appropriate precautions.

As always please check our website for crop updates, and we hope to see you at the stand or markets this fall!
Hope to see you soon,
-The Hutchins Farm team
 Concord Ag Day in 2016

July 2018 Newsletter – High Summer is here!

                You are receiving this message because Hutchins Farm is very excited to have begun picking tomatoes (along with other faves like corn and blueberries). The current flow of tomatoes has been characterized as a ‘trickle’, which means that we don’t yet have a consistent supply every day, but we should by sometime next week. We’ve clearly entered a new phase, call it ‘High Summer’.

                 ‘High Summer’, to me a phrase redolent of musky corn pollen, sweat-soaked bodies laboring under a merciless sun, purple-black stacks of clouds enlivening the endless afternoons with gusty torrents, thunder and flashes of electricity. High Summer has arrived in Concord, filling every space with thrumming, throbbing, steaming, swarming life, animating every corner however desolate, covering each freshly turned furrow with a shaggy coat of weeds seemingly instantaneously. One feels that, if we could just slow down a little bit, like a 45 played on the LP setting, we could watch the squash vines running, tendrils gesticulating, clasping each other across the space between rows like long sundered old friends (or maybe wrestlers readying for a contest with an audience of wildly waving trees at field’s edge?)
                High Summer’s riotous celebration thrills the senses, with the sultry, occasionally oppressive heat, the primal terror of the flash and thunderclap, aromas of every description carried on the languid breeze, the ceaseless cacophony of bird squabbles and croons, the afternoon buzzsaw of the cicada, the late night chorus of anonymous frogs and bugs, and, close to our hearts, the flavors both intense and subtle that this brash, overheated season engenders in the fruits and vegetables it permits us to grow.
                The roll call of those fruits and vegetables, despite certain desertions like spinach and peas, seems to grow daily, with some of the most recent (and welcome) recruits including melons, watermelons, tomatoes, sweet corn, garlic, peppers, eggplant and blueberries. The farmstand slowly fills, with the early arrivals (lettuce, kale, arugula, radish) joined by their slower companions (beets, carrots, basil, parsley), the crowd pleasers (blueberries, sweet corn, tomatoes), the overachievers (summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers), the bit players (artichokes, garlic, tomatillo) and the long list of those who have yet to make an appearance.
                Our crew, those who work at the farmstand, the farmer’s markets and in the field, have really pulled together and given their best efforts to understand and execute the complicated choreography of growing produce for our retail operation. As in any season, challenges abound, but challenges make work interesting and satisfying (especially when they are overcome or at least put behind us).
                We are open at the stand the usual Tuesday – Sunday 11AM to 6PM, and the markets are rolling along on their regular schedule: Mondays in Cambridge’s Central Square, Thursdays in Belmont Center, and Saturdays in Somerville’s Union Square. Happily, the construction in Union is over, and we are returning to our normal location in Union Square starting this weekend – so please come look for us in our regular old spot!
                We hope you are all able to visit the farm one of these glorious high summer days and enjoy the incomparable flavor of one very specific summer day in one very special and beautiful place.
Hope to see you soon,
-Brian Cramer and the Hutchins Farm Crew
 July 17th: Apprentices Maria and Ted planting the not-quite-final sweet corn planting of the year.

May 2018 Newsletter - Opening Day is near!

Although we’ve been busy in the greenhouse and the fields for months now, and have been attending the Union Square Somerville and Central Square Cambridge markets for a few weeks, and will be attending Central Square tomorrow on Memorial Day (regular hours!), our official ‘Season’ has yet to begin. We have decided that it will begin precisely at 11 AM on the morning of Friday, June 1st, at which point the farmstand doors will open up, revealing the fruits of our early labor. And I use the word ‘fruits’ loosely, because, although we may have a few strawberries by then, most of our offerings will be things like lettuce, arugula, radishes, kale, spinach, asparagus, parsley, cilantro, dill, endive, escarole, and garden plants. I guess some folks think of rhubarb as a fruit, and we’ll have plenty of that.
As we get deeper into June, we expect to see squash, basil, cucumbers, beets, garlic tops and chard, and we hope to see abundant strawberries and peas. For the most accurate and up-to-date list of what should be available each day check our website, but if you’re making a special trip for something specific, call during our open hours to see if it’s available. Be aware that our policy is not to hold items (except rutabagas) for customers, but at least you can find out whether we’re likely to have what you’re looking for.
When we officially open, our self-service offerings will be limited to plants and compost – farmstand hours will be 11-6 daily except Mondays, when we will be closed. In addition, we will be attending our usual three weekly farmer’s markets, two of which have already begun: Mondays from 12-6 at Central Square, Cambridge; and Saturdays 9-1 at Union Square, Somerville. The third market, Thursdays 2-6:30 at Belmont Center, will begin the afternoon of June 7th.

We hope you all had a restful winter and are looking forward to another season of fresh fruits and veggies from Hutchins.

Hope to see you soon,
-Brian Cramer and the Hutchins Farm Crew
 Opening Day is Friday, June 1st!

March 2018 Newsletter

With winter parked stubbornly over the region, the arrival of the vernal equinox seems somehow premature. The sun traces a longer, higher arc each day, the angle and quality of the light whispers of warm breezes riffling newly unfolded leaves, but buds remain firmly clenched against the cold, and wind-scoured snowfields persist where we had hoped to see slowly greening fields exhaling into the bright spring morning. Hopeful birds squabble, and speak of spring and summer as they scrape a meager living from last year’s leftovers, impatient like all of us for the world to come to life again.

There was a brief moment about two weeks ago as I contemplated the newly thawed ground, the first garlic leaves poking out from their straw blanket, the doughty parsnips sending up tiny new leaves, with ravenous deer pawing and biting at the knobby white roots, accepting mouthfuls of mud for a taste of the super sweet, newly thawed parsnips, that I thought spring had arrived early. I’m glad that my cautious nature (AKA a tendency to procrastinate) prevailed. With luck and some cooperative weather, our first forays into the fields–to seed the peas and spinach, plow and fertilize the areas that will be planted to other early crops, to dig the patient parsnips—will happen right on schedule, around the middle of April. I’m often asked if climate change has affected when I plant and what I plant, and I suppose to some degree it does, but it seems like the most salient feature of climate change is violent unpredictability rather than some gentle warming and lengthening of the season. So I’ll stick with my planting dates for the moment, and maybe take a few side bets on unusual crops or additional plantings into the fall.

Farm activities this time of year include pruning apples and blueberries, machinery and building repair and maintenance and seeding and transplanting in the greenhouse. The pace is measured and deliberate, though repeat nor’easters cause a few stumbles. Within a few weeks, the tempo of the season’s music will pick up, and we, the dancers, will begin our increasingly furious dance, familiar and brand new at the same time. More stumbles will doubtless ensue, but hopefully we know our steps well enough that the humble magic of seed and soil and water and work will result in another season of plentiful harvests.

For our gardeners, our 2018 plant catalogue will be on the website soon, so keep a lookout on our social media and website for the announcement of its arrival. The first harvest, mentioned above, is really a holdover from last season: parsnips, sweetened by a long winter sleep. Parsnips are a problematic crop, with their strange-shaped, flaky seeds, which require up to three weeks to germinate (emerging like late risers among the newly germinated carpet of weeds that sprout more promptly), the roots requiring another four months after that to grow to maturity. The amount of effort required to raise a crop of parsnips is out of proportion to the economic value of the crop, but the value of the first freshly harvested produce to winter-weary folks can’t be calculated on a balance sheet. We eagerly await the time when we can get in the field and harvest each year, and hope to have parsnips for sale on the porch, self-serve style, beginning in early to mid-April.

Alongside the parsnips, we’ll have the usual bagged compost and potting soil for gardeners, to be followed by the earliest garden plants (spinach, lettuce, onions) in late April or early May. Also arriving in late April, if history is any guide, will be the first asparagus of the season, delicious harbinger of all the fruits and veggies that follow.

As we await these mundane yet extraordinary developments, those who wish to get a more complete understanding of the historical and current role of agriculture in the town and the region may wish to attend the Concord Ag Committee’s Spring Forum, featuring a presentation by Brandeis professor Brian Donahue, entitled ‘Wildlands, Woodlands, Farmland and Community: Farming in Concord and New England’, to be held on Thursday, March 29th at 7PM at the Willard School Auditorium.

                  Check our website for the freshest, most up-to-date information about what we have available and what may be coming soon. We hope you all have an opportunity to come visit this season, whether it be once or many times, to restore and refresh a connection with a place and community through the communion of good, healthy food.

Happy first day of “Spring”!
-Brian and the Hutchins Farm Crew

March2018From left to right: Snowstorm on March 13th, Onions in the prop house

November 2017 Newsletter

With another season at an end, Hutchins Farm prepares for our winter lull, the enforced leisure the northern vegetable grower feels- and chafes at a bit, but appreciates in contrast to the hectic bustle of the rest of the year. Not that complete hibernation is an option, or even a month-long Hawaiian vacation. Just a period when the cold provides a ready excuse to loaf a bit, sleep longer; when the impossibility of growing crops frees the monomaniacal mind of a grower to explore realms unrelated to tomatoes and tractors. The irony is that, now freed to spend happy hours preparing intricate meals, one can hardly find any decent ingredients.


The relief that comes with the end of the growing season, as the last lettuce is cut and the last carrot dug, is tempered this year by the news that Dan Kamen, who over his four years helping manage the farm has provided copious amounts of both inspiration and perspiration, will be moving with his wife Rachel to Dayton, Ohio. Dan is the finest co-manager I could have hoped for, with a real passion for farming, with intelligence, energy, enthusiasm, humor, and creativity. In his relatively brief time with us, Dan initiated and innovated lots of changes, improvements, experiments and systems, many of which have become our standard way of doing things. Our apprentice program was started at his urging, as was our holiday CSA, the expansion of our cold storage capacity, and our improved wash up station. This winter, I can imagine the periodic panic I’ll feel during the usually placid ritual of leafing through seed catalogs as I face a season without his help. Naturally, we’re trying to fill the position, but I’m pretty sure his absence will be felt for a while.


This season was a bounteous one, and that is in no small part due to our tireless crew led by the returning duo of Sammi Brown and Ben Clark as co-harvest managers.  I finally realized my lifelong ambition of never having to say ‘Sorry, no lettuce today’ during the entire season (major thanks to Sammi, who kept on top of the greenhouse schedule). The rain and cold of the early season delayed the arrival of tomatoes and put a quick end to strawberries, and the beans were not as plentiful as usual, but most all other crops did either well or exceptionally well. Blueberry bushes were heavily laden, eggplant was enormous and endless, we had a good run on corn until the worms finally arrived. Spinach, carrots, beets, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower-all abundant, some still in evidence.


The real proof of our success lies in the enthusiasm and kindness of our customers, old and new, who visit the farmstand (or a market) regularly and whose patronage for our enterprise is the engine that drives our efforts. We are grateful to be able to do this work, hard and uncomfortable as it sometimes is, more often interesting and rewarding, and it is all of you who allow us to continue. Thank you!


Our Saturday morning market at Union Square Somerville and our Monday market at Central Square Cambridge will continue until Thanksgiving, and our self-serve offerings on the porch will continue as long as vegetables and weather hold out. Anyone who is still in the market for a large (25#) bag of carrots or (20# or 50#) potatoes should contact us to set up a pickup – price and variety information are on our website.


Here’s hoping we all have a restful and peaceful winter, and hope we see you next year!
-Brian Cramer
and the Hutchins Farm Team

 From left to right: Pumpkins on the stone wall on Halloween, rainbow carrots, view in November

Closing Day Information and Bulk Order Sign-up 2017


 Finally a frost to break the sultry, tropical weather we’ve been having. We welcomed it with relief rather than the usual panic as a normal event (even if it was late in coming), a comfort in these roller coaster days of mayhem and uncertainty. And this tardy mid-October frost found us ready-not to protect our delicate summer annuals and coax a few more squash and tomatoes from the tired plants, but to let them go to their reward and embrace the bittersweet season of death and decay, not to mention of increased leisure time for exhausted farmers.


No growing season (at least none that I’ve weathered) is a complete success or a complete failure, but on balance we had a very good run this year. The early spring was cold and much wetter than it has been for the last several years, which caused some disappointed assumptions, foiled plans, and a serious case of scab on many apple varieties. Rain continued to fall even as it warmed, so constant that the word ‘irrigation’, much in circulation the previous year, rarely passed our lips. Even as the rain clouds dampened our desire to water, they hampered our ability to kill weeds-the resulting lusty stands of pigweed and galinsoga reproach us still, barely touched by the recent frost, dropping enough seed to ensure their progeny for a hundred years of frustrated farming.


Like many farmers, I’m a bit prickly when it comes to talk of the weather. When weeks of drought are broken by a shower, maybe a tenth of an inch, and people call it ‘rain’, I often stare at them in exasperation, knowing that if I stick my pinky into the soil, I’ll hit dry before I get to the first joint. On the other hand, when people congratulate me during extended periods of rainy weather, assuming that if some is good, more is better, I get equally exasperated. I assure them that rain is not an unmitigated blessing, that most of the vegetables grown in this country are grown in the Western desert, that fungi and bacteria-plant pathogens-thrive in moisture, and that, as a prudent (and lucky) farmer with good irrigation infrastructure, I can make it rain when I want to.


As factually accurate as my testy response is, the ‘truth’ is more nuanced. I can, indeed, make it rain when I want to, if I have the time and energy and if the creek don’t dry up. Furthermore, the layout of our fields, the nature of our irrigation delivery systems, and the complexity of our planting layouts can make irrigation complicated and time consuming, not to mention somewhat less than optimally effective. The truth is that, on balance, the rain was a blessing. There, I admitted it–but don’t now assume that I’m thrilled every time it rains or I’ll have to tell you about California and Arizona again.


Potato Bulk Order Sign Up
One crop that seems to have benefited from the rain is potatoes-we will be doing our usual end-of-season potato bulk order sign up, with some minor changes. We will have our usual trio of varieties available in 50 lb bags for $40, with a number of other types available in 20 lb bags for $22.
Those interested in 50 lb potato bags can select from three varieties:
  • ‘Kennebec’, our old standby, a great all-purpose, white flesh potato with good flavor and excellent storage (sold out)
  • ‘Keuka Gold’, a new Cornell introduction with large size, good storage potential, and similar flavor and texture to ‘Yukon Gold’; (sold out)
  • ‘Carola’, our favorite yellow-flesh variety, smaller on average than the others, with good flavor and firm texture. (sold out)
In addition, we will be offering 20 lb bags in five varieties:
  • Adirondack Blue’, a dark purple potato with purple flesh and high anthocyanins (sold out)
  • ‘Adirondack Red’, with red skin and red flesh (sold out)
  • ‘Peter Wilcox’, with purple skin and yellow flesh, (sold out)
  • ‘Chieftain’, a fluffy white flesh red
  • ‘Russet’, excellent for baking and mashing
As always, we have finite quantities of all these varieties, and those who sign up earliest will be more assured of getting their preferred potatoes. In case of shortages, we encourage you to include a second choice variety (and even a third choice) when you sign up. Sign-ups can happen in one of two ways:
  • e-mail-send your order to Please let us know how many 50 lb bags and of which variety (from those listed above), or how many 20lb bags and of which variety (from those listed above)
  • in person at the farmstand on our ‘official’ sign-up sheets;
As we log orders received, we will confirm via e-mail, and when the bags are ready to be picked up (most likely the last week of October) we will contact people again. Those who wish to get bulk potatoes but are unable to pick up during the last week of October can make arrangements for pick up at a later date.


Carrot Bulk Bags 
We have plenty of beautiful carrots this fall, so many in fact that we’re not bothering with sign-ups for 25 lb bags-we’re just going to have plenty of them on hand starting October 24th. They will be $28 each. Interested parties can just pick one up at the stand rather than signing up. If you are a farmers market customer we can send them in for a market pick up instead – just email us to make arrangements.


Farmstand Closing Information:
We will close for the season on Tuesday, October 31st at 6pm. As per our usual practice, we will make any additional produce available self-serve on the porch after we close for as long as the weather permits and the produce holds out. Please check our website for updates. Just a reminder that the Cambridge Central Square Farmers Market and the Somerville Union Square Farmers Market will continue until Thanksgiving. Thank you all for a wonderful season, and we hope to see you at the stand soon!
-Brian Cramer
and the Hutchins Farm Team

 Pumpkins on the porch