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Early Abundance

As you can see, my girls are back! It sure was nice catching up on the farm while Jenni and Paddy Rose were away, but the farm/house just wasn’t right without them. We’re actually trying a little experiment in July of having me watch PR one day a week again. Starting this week! I’ve always watched her for a day or two in the winter, and it was a personal goal at the start of the season to have the time throughout the season….but things got away from me for a bit. We’ll see how it goes! Watching her seed some microgreen peas made it all worth it, but boy is it exhausting. I could work outside for 12 straight hours in 95 degrees without food or water and not be as tired as I was when I put her down for a blissful 2 hour nap on Thursday. Speaking of blissful, cheese from Couet Farm is finally back available for order!
Maybe it’s overconfident stupidity, but I felt pretty comfortable taking the day “off” because the garden looks fantastic. Get your abundance while it lasts! I know we’re in a bit of a lull with most everything planted in the ground and the summer veggies yet to really come in in buckets (literally), but the tomatoes and cucumbers are trellised, I’ve set up about 90% of a rough irrigation system (rain sure would be nice), and we just hand weeded the entire garden. And yet, the to do list is a mile long with the priorities being FINISHING the irrigation, pruning the tomatoes so we can actually see the ripening fruit, prepping the new high tunnel site, and doing something about those pesky groundhogs!
My current confidence does cause me to pause as I distinctly remember the same feeling going into September last year. And then it didn’t rain for the entire month. We ended up limping through the homestretch. Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself, though it sure has been dry lately…

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Finally, some relief! Much needed rain and an incredible sleeping night after such miserable (in this farmer’s opinion) weather…although it does seem to have inspired some of our heat loving crops. Cherry tomatoes at the start of July? Seems early but I’ll have to look back at pictures. I doubt there will be enough to sell on Monday, but there’s loads of other great stuff!  Jenni and Paddy Rose are in Ohio again visiting the grandparents, so I’m taking advantage of every minute of daylight to catch up out in the field. Helping me catch up is a friendly face you may recognize if you’re a longtime customer or longtime resident of Grafton. It’s been amazing to have Sophie back, even if it’s only for a couple days. She even offered to write the rest of the newsletter this week when I mentioned I forgot last night….

It’s been about 3 years since I’ve gotten my hands dirty in the soil at Potter Hill. Working at this farm during and after university was, (cliché yet true) life changing for me – I worked harder than I’ve ever worked before, became stubborn and persistent in the most positive ways possible, and realized that I can figure things out myself. It has been so special to me to come back and volunteer for a couple of days and see the evolution that Potter Hill Farm has undergone since I’ve been gone. The varieties of produce! The chickens! Officially an organic farm! A CSA with excited and involved members! New barn and field spaces! More young people who want to farm! Thank you, thank you for supporting Paul and this farm as it continues to grow in size and character. This place is close to my heart, and if it hasn’t made it close to yours yet too, it will be soon.

Love, Newsletter Guest Writer Sophie Dennis

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Dreams of October

So that’s a new one. My weather app has a warning scrolling across the top – Excessive Heat Watch. Excessive indeed, who’s controlling the weather these days!? You all can stop your rain dances and start doing your ’80s dances. I’m not talking about The Moonwalk or The Carlton, I’m talking the ‘no one and certainly no plants like 97 degrees so please stay in the 80s’ dance! In case you don’t watch the forecast incessantly like I do, today started the first of 9 straight days it’s going to be in the 90s.
While my mom was here, she reminded me I used to LOVE the heat, but that was when I was chained to my desk in an overly air conditioned cubicle. I guess I wanted to intensely experience the outdoors in the few minutes a day they allowed me to walk around. In fact, I’d go out and run when the temps hit triple digits while I was living in DC.
Not anymore though, I’m more of an October guy now than a July guy. Not too hot, not too cold. 2-3 layers in the morning and just a t-shirt by the afternoon. That said, I do love me sum summer veggies – cherry tomatoes incoming in a few weeks! These last few days of rain have been perfect and the garden looks AMAZING. We’re hauling in tons of good veggies now – order via this link. We’ll see how the plants adapt and react to 97. They’re hardier than I am, for sure, but that’s some down right excessive heat!
Jeff is coming down on Monday to join the 90s party. Load up for your 4th of July barbecues – here’s a list of what he has available. Email him directly with orders at
Please note the preferred earlier order cutoff time this week below because of the heat!
Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.
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Rain Dance

Wow – this is the second newsletter this season I’ve started with “Wow”. But WOW…my big week is almost over. Paddy Rose turned 2 on Wednesday and we had tons of little ones over on Father’s Day to celebrate her birthday! Monday was a harvest day, my parents flew in late Tuesday to further spoil our now 2-year old, Wednesday was the first Grafton Market of the season, my wife left yesterday morning for a conference until Sunday (Paddy Rose’s first time away from mom for more than a night), we prepped all day today for my inaugural CSA pickup, and we’ll start harvesting at sunup today for the first CSA of the season! That said, so far so good, but I am definitely looking forward to the week being over.

I held a lot of veggies back from the first Grafton market to make sure I have enough for the CSA, so it was a small sales day for me. But it was an awesome day regardless. I kind of inherited coordinating the market committee this year (because I don’t have enough to do already) – it was a lot of working building up to Opening Day, but it was worth it alone to see half of Grafton (and all of Grafton’s 1-10 year olds) enjoying some outdoor time.

There will be zucchini on Monday, although it’s unclear if we’ll have tons or just a few baby zukes so it’s first come first serve! It all depends on how well y’alls rain dances are. I’m depending on you to ensure it actually rains the the next two days, so dance your hearts out! Despite the dry weather in a particularly crucial time for the plants to establish themselves, I have to say the garden looks really good and I’m optimistic for a fantastic season ahead. I remember also being extremely bullish at the start of September last season, and then the overhead sprinklers shut off for a month and a half. It did of course eventually start raining again and we limped through the fall. Such is the life of a farmer!

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Groundhog Day

Happy Father’s Day to all you Fathers out there! I’m taking a break from chasing groundhogs around (second favorite activity only behind chasing chickens) to give you a quick farm update. Everything is growing great…that is covered, unpalatable, or out of reach of groundhogs. It’s become so bad that last week we planted lettuce in the morning and came back after lunch to plant cucumbers. Much to our consternation, the whole lettuce row had already been taken out by those cute, fuzzy, malicious and evil creatures.

I’ve never had much of a problem with them before, but the writing was on the wall – I’ve been trying to coexist with a family of them that lived behind the barn for a couple years now. Well, nature has run its course and it seems they’ve become a bigger, hungrier, evil extended family. Of course my garden butts right up to a hedgerow absolutely infested in poison ivy and rocks galore, so there’s no eliminating their habitat. And I’m too much of a softie to eliminate them, so I’m building Fort Knox up here on the hill. To simply pick a head of lettuce, last count there were 2 fence chargers I had to turn off, 5 fences I had to step over (you can see them if you look closely), and then remove the cover off the lettuce. On the bright side, I have become more limber stepping over tall fences 800 times per day. Down side is that I’m SO over these groundhogs. I just want my gorgeous, uncovered lettuce back!

That said, we have TONS of lovely (covered) lettuce with your name on it. Scallions are new to the list, and are incredible right now – they’re so tall they’re hitting the cover above them, but still as tender as the day they were germinated. Order away and don’t forget the egggggs!

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.


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Happy Hens

Happy hens make happy eggs, and a happy (mentally) healthy farmer. Unfortunately, the ladies and I have yet to fully reach that agreement. Chickens aren’t known for their smarts, but I swear we got the extra simple chickens this season. The eggs at least are quite delicious and prolific, it’s just that I have to retrieve them (the eggs and the chickens) from everywhere. Just today, as we were finally putting the wheels on this far too large of a coop, a chicken who was sitting on the perch immediately outside the nest box shot an egg out as we watched (literally while we were thinking ‘she looks like she’s trying to lay an egg, but she would never lay there right?’). Me and 8 chickens chased the egg as I swear it ping-ponged around the coop and started rolling down the hill.

Fortunately (unfortunately?) I’ve had a lot of practice catching chickens lately so I beat them to it before they could eat it. Yes, chickens will eat their own eggs (see sentence 3). And that’s just the tip of the chickenberg – if you have a couple hours, come up sometime and ask me how else these ladies have brought me to my knees a few times already. If I had to monetize how much labor and frustration these eggs have been, I would have to charge a million dollars to break even, so they’re a steal at $6/dozen!

Having tamed the older flock almost a year ago now, it took me a while to remember how challenging they are when they first arrive. The good news is they’re pretty much maintenance free at this point, which makes this farmer quite happy!

Along with the million dollar eggs, we have a limited selection of veggies available for purchase. It’s greens season, get them while they’re at their best! The lettuce especially has been incredible. And my apologies for the late notice, but I’ve been chasing chickens!

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Coming Up For Air

Happy June y’all! Wow, what a few weeks it has been! I mean months. Time flies when you’re having fun, or when you consolidate three months of work into a few weeks. The long, wet end of winter we had seems like a distant memory, but it was only a month ago that I was dying for some sunshine and warm weather. Careful what you ask for…it’s too soon in the season for 90s, let alone half a dozen of them in the last two weeks. Could we get a few weeks of spring before winter starts again!?

Cliff Notes:
Eggs, Meat, and (some) Greens available this Monday from 4-7pm! Plenty of eggs and maybe a few yummy greens from Potter Hill, and pastured meat and handmade sausages available for purchase from Jeff at Short Creek Farm. Veggies and eggs will be first come first served, but you must order your meat by Sunday evening by emailing

Jenni and Paddy Rose spent the last week in Ohio visiting the family, so I’ve been working sunup to sundown trying to catch up. Literally. And we’ve made great progress, so I’m finally coming up for air…ironically in an urban park in Eastie. Jenni left her laptop and iPad in security on the way out of town, and since lost and found closes at 4 and she’s not getting in till 730, I’ve been forced into some downtime. I consulted with my little brother, a former resident of East Boston on where to go and where to eat. I ended up at this gorgeous park and community garden a stone’s throw from the Mass Pike and two minutes from Logan. I definitely feel like a fish out of water here with my Carhartts and John Deere gear on, but what an oasis this place is! Next up is some good food at my little brother’s favorite hole in the wall. Apparently, you can find good food, and people growing good food, anywhere!

It’s been an up and down start to the season so far, but I think most of the perceived downs are only a result of my lofty expectations for the year. With our heavy, rich soils, we’ve always got a late start. Thanks to my experimental dive into no-till farming, I was in the ground much earlier than last year, though also much later than I was hoping. The first market of the season previously has been a source of stress in terms of what, if anything, I’d have for sale. It’s still a few weeks off and already we have plentiful lettuce, bok choi, swiss chard, kale, radishes, salad turnips, cilantro, spinach (huge beautiful leaves), pea tendrils, and micro greens. And eggs, lots and lots of eggs! Next year I intend to start the pickups regularly by now – this week is just a teaser of what’s to come! 
Check out what Jeff has for sale via this link. While Jenni was gone, I survived almost exclusively on sausage from his farm, combined with our greens and eggs. It’s not a long-term diet I intend to follow, but I ate REALLY well! Looking forward to seeing some of you Monday!


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Flip Flop Season

Y’all Massachusettsans are crazy! It eked above 40 degrees today and I spotted the first flip flops of the season on a kid walking home from school. It’s as sure of a sign of spring as the robins that have been invading the hill the past couple days. In fact, I saw my first robin the same day as the snowstorm that never came – clearly they knew something the meteorologists didn’t! I haven’t gone so far as to get my sandals out of storage, but I did take advantage of the beautiful day to work outside and in the greenhouse all day. We’re supposed to get one more cold front coming through (on my birthday of course), and then it’s all 40s and blue skies from there. I haven’t been this excited for 40s since college!

With a lovely white blanket still on the fields, it’s looking like another delayed start to the season. It’s a shame too – with my beds already made from last year, I had lofty plans to seed peas a week ago…but I’m pretty sure they won’t germinate in snow! Regardless, it’s shaping up to be another fantastic year. With the newly minted CSA selling out in 5 days, I’m launching an alternative called a CSA Card that can be used at both the Monday pickups and the Wednesday Grafton Market. I tested it out on a few regulars last season and they loved it, as do I. It’s a super-flexible way to support the farm. The upfront expenses of seeds, supplies, and labor early in the season are steep, while veggies are a labor of love and patience. Without the revenue from pre-selling CSA shares and now CSA Cards, we don’t start earning anything back until the year is half over.

The CSA Card is essentially a gift card that you purchase at the start of the season and then use throughout the season. In return for investing in your health and the farm, you get a bonus added to your card. Plus you make my day, which is all the reward you really need right?

It’s all automated – it uses the same card reader that allows me to take credit card on my phone – so you get receipts emailed to you every time it’s used. And don’t worry, you’ll never forget it because I keep them on a keychain in my cash box. Easy peasy! Questions? Reply to this email. Ready to order? You can choose from the 3 levels ($300, $450, and $600) directly on the website!

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In Like a Lion

Wow, what a couple weeks! 70s in February, 70 MPH winds in March. You never know what’s going to happen next! Actually, I’m looking into the future now and there is delicious, handmade sausage in it. And chocolates? Jeff has clearly been busy in the kitchen as he has 14 different sausages for sale, plus lots of other goodies. As an added bonus, for meat customers only, we will have fresh eggs for sale…assuming the ladies survived this wind!

So, it seems like the CSA was a hit! I was hoping to get 5 people signed up in the first 5 days. How about 35?! And a few people on the wait list to boot. If you think you signed up but haven’t heard back from me, please let me know. CSA checks have started to roll in, just in time to help pay some big early season bills. This morning I put in a $2,500+ supplies order, to go along with over $1,200 in seeds ordered in January, and a $1,500 equipment order last week. The tractor needs to be split (again) and fixed and then comes almost 4 full months of work before we make our first sale in mid-June. Farming certainly is a funny business, so you can see why I’m so appreciative to all who took the leap and joined the CSA!

That CSA boat may have sailed, but fear not, there will be another boat that will launch as soon as I put the finishing touches on it. It will be a “CSA Card” and can be used at our regularly Monday pickups or the Grafton Market on Wednesdays. I did a test run with 5 customers last season, and they loved it! Stay tuned.

I’ve had a hard time adjusting to non-80s weather and not being in the pool with the little one, but fortunately February was quite kind to this wannabe snowbird. March seems like it may have a little more ‘tude, just like my 20 month old (going on 16). I’m itching to get my hands in the dirt, but I’ll have to settle for some potting soil as soon as it arrives next week. Onions will be first to be seeded, with so much more to follow. Can’t wait!

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Dreams of Weeding and Big Announcement

Hey y’all,

We’re back! And not just back in your inbox – we just returned from an epic vacation, our first in 5 years. Jenni had a veterinary conference in Orlando for the first week, while my mom and I chased Paddy Rose around the pool. We then met up with my father-in-law and ventured even farther south to sunny and hot Fort Myers Beach, where we did pretty much nothing but shop at farmers markets, eat delicious home-cooked meals (and lots of fresh citrus), and adore PR constantly. I intended and pretended to do some garden planning, but I gave up after only a couple days. I realized it’ll likely be another five years before we go on another vacation, so I soaked up all the sun and quality time with my girls as I could get. Best decision I’ve made in a long time!

Our last night there, I had a serene dream of weeding the garden. Weeding may not sound too peaceful, but it was preventative weeding rather than emergency weeding – a big difference! I’m a couple of months ahead of last year on all my big winter tasks (seed order, organic certification paperwork, etc), so maybe staying ahead of the weeds won’t be just a dream this year! Perhaps the warm weather inspired it, or maybe it was the anticipation of returning home to the season ahead of us. Either way, it got me wicked excited to get my hands in the dirt and to fill y’alls bags full of delicious organic veggies again!

But I’m not just invading your inbox to gloat about our fun in the sun. Drum roll please…ever since Jeff started Potter Hill Farm 7 years ago, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has been in its future, but the timing hasn’t been right. Now that I’m going into my third year, I feel the time is finally right to add a CSA, and conveniently Friday is National CSA Sign-Up Day!

If you’re unfamiliar with the CSA concept, it is a direct relationship between our farm and you as a customer and community member. The upfront expenses of running a farm are steep, while veggies are a labor of love and patience. CSA members purchase a “share” of the harvest in advance of the growing season. This helps provide the farm with the capital needed early in the year to buy feed, seeds, compost, supplies, and pay for labor. In return, members receive a weekly “share” of the farm’s harvest – fresh, top quality, organic vegetables grown and harvested right here on our farm.

Please consider making a commitment to your health and supporting our farm! You can choose from a small and full-size share, and if you know anything about me, you know it’ll be a you-centric, flexible program. I’m even partnering with a local food blogger for simple ways to use your share. Pickup will be Saturdays (the Monday ordering system won’t change). Details as always can be found on the website. I’d LOVE to get my first 5 sign-ups by Friday, so please share this widely. And as always, reply to this email with any questions you may have. Thank you!