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Help Wanted

The 2016 Potter Hill season has officially begun. I started the first seeds of the season (leeks!) yesterday at Joy Nicholson’s house, who generously shares her greenhouse space. It gets cramped come April, but it will get us through until I get a greenhouse of my own.

I’ve been busy dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of starting a business. I officially registered with the town, obtained liability and workers comp insurance, and set up a business checking account and credit card just in time for the seed order. Next up is finding some reliable help for the season! If anyone out there knows a hard-working youth who’s not afraid to get his/her hands dirty, please share this job posting with them. I’d prefer someone who can commit 40 hours/week during the peak season and can continue to work hours through October…perhaps a recent grad looking to get outside and decompress from all that time cooped up in the library? Lack of farming experience isn’t an issue, just a fondness for physical work and curiosity to learn about farming. Did I already mention hard work will be involved?!

This is a meat pickup week. If you’ve run out of beef or want to try Jeff’s latest and greatest sausages, head over to his new farm’s website and place an order via email.



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Last Call for Veggies!

We’re having another pop-up party market to celebrate leap day…and the last veggie pickup of the year. It’s been a long ride for our roots, and yet, all good things must come to an end. We still have tons of beets and carrots ($1.50/lb bulk pricing for 10+ pounds), but the celeriac and rutabaga supply is dwindling. I put exactly the amount we have left on the website – when they’re gone they’re gone…until October!

Zach will be selling his fresh-baked breads, Sarah’s chocolate eggs will blow your mind, and Jeff’s been experimenting in the kitchen – there are some new varieties of sausage I can’t wait to try. As is our winter tradition, pickup is on Monday at Community Harvest Project (37 Wheeler Rd, North Grafton) from 4-7pm. See you then!

Choco Bunnies



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Why Grow Heirlooms?

We get this question a lot at Potter Hill. A lot. I have to admit, sometimes I wonder about the wisdom behind growing only older, fickle, and lower producing varieties of vegetables. Especially the financial wisdom. While planning for an epic 2016 farming season and perusing the various seed catalogs, (Baker Creek, Johnny’s, High Mowing, and FEDCO if you need to know), I came across a great article in the Baker Creek seed catalog. If you are fascinated by unique, colorful, and exotic vegetables, this is the seed catalog for you! The writer’s first bullet point to the heirloom quandary is simple: Quality.

Modern seed breeding often sacrifices quality (nutrition and taste) for the convenience of mechanical harvesting, and shipping yuuge amounts of produce yuuge distances. Heirlooms are selected for taste over many generations, while modern produce is bred for things like tough skin that will survive their trek around the world. Many of our customers tell us that we have the best tasting tomatoes they have ever tried. The old-timers tell us the taste brings back fond memories, because it’s what they remember a tomato tasting like growing up.

But are we sacrificing sales for flavor? One of the books I am reading this winter is called The Lean Farm. A small farm in Indiana, similar to Potter Hill in size, applied the principles of lean concepts, developed by the founder of the Toyota Production System, to his farm. The farmer writes that he grew mostly heirloom tomatoes at first for the complex flavor, better texture, and aesthetics. Over the next few seasons, he realized heirlooms are what he prefers. His customers prefer standard red tomatoes, which he sells for less as they are less costly to grow. Now he grows mostly standard red tomatoes and has seen an uptick in profit.


Are we losing out on sales to potential customers unfamiliar with a ripe green tomato that would knock their socks off if they gave it a chance? Or unwilling to pay the premium for the extra expense of growing heirlooms? What good is growing what I want to grow if that means I can’t financially support my (also growing) family? Those are the questions I’m pondering as I decide which heirloom tomato varieties to plant this season.

If anyone else is stuck in the Grafton arctic and not traveling somewhere warmer next week, we will be at Community Harvest Project on Monday from 4-7pm as usual. Stock up on your root vegetables, Simple Bread from Zach, and meat from Jeff. You can drop-in for your veggies and bread, but don’t forget to order the meat ahead of time.

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Snow Day!

My wife’s been wishing for a snow day all winter, and finally we have one! Despite the cracking of tree limbs and more coming down overhead, I do love the beauty of a heavy wet snow. And we still have power, somehow.


I’ve been up to my ankles in alligators lately planning and preparing for spring, and with only a few veggie orders on non-meat weeks, I’m switching to every other week for the Monday pickup. That means this is an off week, so there will be no pickup on Monday. However, you can still find us and our carroty goodness tomorrow from 9am-noon at the Canal District Farmers Market. Hope to see you there!


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Pop-Up Market This Monday

What a way to end January and welcome February! It will be 55 degrees on Monday for our little pop-up market we’re organizing inside Community Harvest Project’s barn at 37 Wheeler Rd in North Grafton from 4-7pm. Maybe we should set up tents outside instead?

In addition to our veggies and meats, we’re bringing in all your favorites from the summer market. Zach from Simple Bread will be selling bread, Corinn will be selling her herbal infusions, AND Sarah from Anna Banana’s will be selling her sweets just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Other than meat, no need to order ahead. Get your order in to Jeff at by Sunday evening. Inventory found here. Don’t miss out on the best pastured pork and grass-fed beef around!


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Dodging (Snow) Bullets

Whew, looks like we dodged another one! The predicted first big storm of the year looks like it will lose steam and leave us with only a few inches. I’m convinced this winter is politely waiting for me to finish repairs from the water damage we sustained last winter before walloping us again. Be warned – I’m declaring victory this weekend after finishing the trim in the guest bedroom! I’m tempted to wait till the threat of snow has passed, but my wife might divorce me.

Moral of the story…you are in the clear to come get your Potter Hill veggies and other local goodies at the Canal District Winter Farmers Market tomorrow from 9am-noon. If not Saturday, be sure to put your order in for Monday’s INDOOR pickup at Community Harvest Project from 4-7pm.


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Saturday Hours, Finally

We’ve been trying to get into the Canal District Farmers Market in Worcester since October, and they finally have a spot for us – come see us tomorrow from 9am-noon to get your roots. We’ll have carrots, beets, rutabaga, celeriac, and maybe even some fresh ground cornmeal. The market has many other vendors, including a great cheese vendor and is just below BirchTree Bread, a great stop afterward for bread and lunch. Plus you get to navigate Kelley Square…good times!

We will still have our Monday pickup from 4-7pm at Community Harvest Project as usual, despite the holiday. This is a meat week, so check out the selection on Jeff’s new farm’s website and get your orders in to him. The pork and beef this year are incredible!

Eat more beef
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A Tough Decision

And we’re back! Hope everyone had a nice holiday and a great start to the new year. I got back from the Midwest this week after lots of quality time with the family and 2,000+ more miles on my vehicle.

Just before I left, I was faced with a tough decision – I realized the covered area of the barn just wasn’t fit to overwinter chickens. The roof leaks and water runs off the road right through the barn. With the warm December weather and plenty of rain, they were swamp creatures. During the previous storm, I thought had fixed the issue, but running water can be relentless. With a two week trip coming up, I had to send the chickens to the farm. Not the NH farm and not the figurative farm in the sky, but to a farm in Boylston. They’re doing great (I actually visited them today), but I will miss them and their eggscellent production.

On the ‘all good things’ topic, it was tropical when I left and frigid when I returned – any and everything green (finally) is done for the season, though we have tons of great roots in storage.

New location for the rest of the winter: Community Harvest Project – 37 Wheeler Rd in North Grafton. A great organization that’s generously allowing us to use their beautiful indoor space. No matter the weather outside, it will be warm inside. Same time (Monday 4-7pm), different place – get your order in by Sunday night and I’ll see you then!

Empty Nest
Empty Nest
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December Lettuce?

What a strange/pleasant fall it has been. I heard recently that it was the 7th warmest October-November on record in Worcester, and that was before this start to December. Usually anything green is hard to find this time of year, yet if you’ve made it up Potter Hill (in daylight) you know that the hill is alive! I won’t gloat too much for fear of it coming back to haunt us, and I’ve been reminded that last winter started out pretty mild, but I have to at least say it’s been VERY nice washing veggies in above freezing temps. That said, this freak weather won’t keep for long, so now is the time to stock up on (clean) roots.

I plan to wash a ton of roots Monday, so if you can’t make the usual hours, I can meet you at the farm for root orders of 20 pounds or more (any mixture of carrots, beets, rutabaga, Munchener Bier radishes, and celeriac). Just note on your order that you aren’t able to make it, and I will email you directly.


Oh, and December lettuce? Unprotected? That’s as rare as hens’ teeth in New England. I made a limited amount of lettuce available on the website, get it while it lasts. Baby heads are 3 for $2.



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Thanksgiving for Fresh Veggies

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family, friends, turkey and maybe even some delicious Potter Hill veggies!

We’ll take some time off around Christmas, but there are too many great veggies coming out of the garden right now to miss a pickup. As always, get your orders in before Monday morning – you can now pick up your orders from 3-7 pm on Monday.

We are thankful for your support!



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