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Boo!

Wow, what a spooky Halloween night up here on the hill, and I’m not talking about the zombies, wolves, witches and native pollinators going from door to door. That wind! We somehow only ended up with one child in our bed, but it kept the three of us up all night. Only the littlest one somehow slept through it all and was in wonderful spirits the next day.

I went out to assess the damage the next morning and almost got KO’d by a harvest bin flying across the street. Then I watched one of the covers flapping wildly and fly away as I thought ‘I should probably go put some more rocks on that one’. Of the 10 covers we diligently set out and pinned down on Wednesday, only 3 were where they were supposed to be. After the close call with the harvest bin, I defeatedly decided it was best to stay in, let nature take its course, and we’d clean up the aftermath after things calmed down. Did I mention wind freaks me out ever since we moved to the top of the hill? Seems to be a constant theme!

I was as prepared as I could have been for that storm. I saw the high winds coming a few days in advance followed by the first real cold of the season, so we covered all the tender veggies and used extra heavy rocks to secure the covers. Even after a fantastic season, it’s nights/days like those that I question the sanity of trying to farm up here. It’s such a picturesque and magical place…on a still day. But Mother Nature is so unforgiving and powerful – I feel so helpless at times like these! What I wouldn’t give for a flat protected garden area with a diversity of wet and dry soils! Doesn’t exist in this area? Grumble grumble.

We waited and waited for the opportune time to fight back against Her fury. There was a 45 minute window after the wind calmed down before dusk when we went for it full speed. We were able to put the covers back on just in the nick of time before the cold really set in Friday night, and it seems to have paid off as the lettuce underneath the cover looks great. We have at least one more week of abundance – all bets are off after the temperature nosedive forecast for Friday. Get all those green things while you still can! And please note, due to setting the clocks back, I am moving the pickup to 3-6pm. If this is an obstacle to getting your veggies, please let me know and we will work around it.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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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No Rest for the Farmer

Although things slowed down a bit with the end of market season last week, I’ve chosen not to shift down a gear – when the weather is this nice at the end of October and you’re a farmer in the Massachusetts, you take advantage of it! I know I’ll be patting myself on the back when that cold pummeling wind finally settles in for the winter and I’m NOT out pulling tomato plants, taking down their trellising, futilely putting down cover crop, etc etc etc. No no, we are way ahead of the cleanup game this season. 

We spent Thursday morning yanking tomato plants out of the ground even though they were still quite green and loaded with fruit. Tomatoes don’t really like moisture, and they certainly don’t like uneven moisture. They do ok with consistent moisture or none, but not sporadic. Add on the cold, which makes their skin super fragile, and the already thin skin of an heirloom (all I grow outside the tunnel), and their skins will split with the first passing dark cloud. That 3″ of rain preceded by a long period of drought? Split those potential November gems wide open! We salvaged what we could and will let them ripen up slowly over the next week or two, but it’s a huge bummer to be composting a few hundred pounds of potential deliciousness!

But summer is over anyway and it’s long past time to move on to the fall stuff right? Fortunately the aforementioned perfect weather has been very forgiving to this farmer. Much of what I thought was planted too late has actually thrived. Really the only black cloud over the season is that it was such a great fall that I’m kicking myself for not putting in more hail mary crops that would have done great! Instead of mere abundance, we could have been absolutely swimming in veggies right now. Generally the list continues narrowing this time of year, but I actually added a bunch of yum yum this week so now you have 36 items to choose from! That might be a season high…and the last week of October? Not too shabby, but nothing this good lasts forever so get it while the getting’s good!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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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Rockin’

Yikes! Was your house rocking like ours was Wednesday night? We ended up with 2 little ones in our bed. The wind was WILD. Fun fact: when Mass Save inspected our farmhouse (from 1770) that we rent, the guy was using his thermal gun to confirm how awful our insulation was (not good) and noticed that we had hurricane bracing in the house. In one of the histories I read about this farm, it mentioned the original farmhouse on the hill from 1745 blew down in the 1815 hurricane. Live and learn! The extra support doesn’t help with keeping the draft out, but at least the house is still standing after a bomb cyclone.

I went out to inspect the damage to the garden the next morning and was impressed that the tunnel was also still standing even though the power had been cut to it, presumably from water tripping the GFCI outlet. There is an inflater that constantly blows air in between two layers of plastic…except when it doesn’t have power! Being inflated makes the plastic nice and taut so it doesn’t catch in the wind – I went to great lengths this winter to ensure it kept power during the outages. Seems like maybe I didn’t have to, but better safe than sorry I guess.

Anyway, the tunnel was still standing, but all the cover crop work we had foolishly done (in hindsight) the day before was undone. The 2.95″ of rain (according to our neighbor’s rain gauge) we had in about 8 hours had completely uncovered the seed and washed some of it away. That and one of the tomato rows blew down. Again. We get a lot of wind up here. All things considered, I can live with a few less tomatoes in mid-October and a day of deja vu re-raking our beds to cover the cover crop seed!

Our house isn’t the only thing rocking up on the hill. The garden continues to pump out abundant deliciousness despite the few frosts we’ve had now. Even the tomatoes and peppers are still alive (as of Saturday evening, feeling like another cold one tonight). I know it won’t last forever, but it sure is fun while it lasts and the fun may last a little longer if I’m not too late planting these greens in the tunnel. With such a long list, it’s easy to overlook a few gems amongst the fall staples like butternut squash, potatoes, and all the frost sweetened greens. Specifically I’m talking about the fried green tomatoes and pea tendrils. Both of these items have a short window in which they’re available – don’t let that window close before getting some!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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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All of Fall

Hey y’all – All of fall has arrived! Before I get too far into things…YES Monday is a holiday and YES the pickup will be the usual time. If you want to come early (after 1), mention it in the notes and I should be able to accommodate you.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but this has to be my favorite time of year. YES, I can say that with a straight face even after a week of 50s and feeling like Nora is constantly blowing raspberries in my face. Not that I particularly enjoy constantly being spat on but the forecast coming up is downright spectacular. I much prefer when the high and low ADD up to 100 instead of it being 100. 60s during the day, 40s at night…doesn’t get much better in my book.

Amongst the spitty weather, we had our last farmers market of the season last week. Unfortunately it kept with the market theme and was a dud (we moved indoors on account of the weather). I took a TON of stuff to the market, and brought a TON of stuff back. When it’s all said and done, missing 7 out of 16 markets (and might as well count last week as 8) will really hit the bottom line hard, but right now I’m thrilled to strike that obligation from the weekly list. The market committee dwindled down to myself and the market manager, who had as much time to dedicate to it as I did. If any of you want to see the market continue, let me know (because it won’t without you next year)! It really isn’t that big of a commitment…as long as we have more than one volunteer!

More importantly, last week was also Nora’s first birthday. She went from taking a few steps a few days ago to walking laps around the Municipal Center gym at the market on Wednesday . She is the goofiest one year old I know, and I love her to death. Hopefully she’ll join me out in the garage after nap to show off her walking skills.

The garden continues to impress, even this late in the season. However, I think for the first time since June, the list actually shrank a bit. While a few things came off the list, some of my favorites reappeared. #1 being pea tendrils. A delicacy that only comes around twice a year, just wait till the purple (edible) flowers open up! Next week perhaps? The list reflects the changing seasons, and yet somehow the tomatoes are still cranking. Get them while you can because this may be their last week! If I can strike up the nerve, I will be taking out the tunnel tomato plants in favor of planting greens in the remaining beds.

It’s a hard decision to take out a healthy, productive planting, but it’s a frequent decision I have to make this time of year. I have been selectively removing rows in the field with an eye on soil health for next year. There comes a point in the season when it’s too late to establish a cover crop to feed the soil and prevent it from eroding all winter long. We’re coming up on that date! But that’s a whole newsletter topic on its own and it’s getting late and I’ve rambled enough already. Cheers to those still reading, see you Monday!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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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Last Gasp

Shh….quiet. Did you here that? I did, though I didn’t just hear it – I’ve been harvesting its bounty all week: summer’s last gasp! And very generous indeed this year. What a different feeling going into October this year than last. I was 100% defeated last year due to the constant onslaught of heat and rain. This fall’s been a constant onslaught of beautiful mild sunny days, capped off finally by perfect rain last week, and more predicted ahead. The garden is loaded and I’m so excited to share the abundance with you over the next few weeks.

Brrrrr! It was cold yesterday morning. My weather app said 30 when I woke up, then dropped to 29 by 7am. Saturday CSA harvest was far from a walk in the park, but we got through it, mitts intact. I expected to see more damage out in the field but all I found was some blackened basil – and not even all of the plants, so it might yet bounce back. It’s still on the list but don’t hold it against me if you show up and I don’t have it. It is October after all!

What else is on the list this week? Everything! What’s best? Everything! Special bonus to anyone who gets at least one of all 30 different veggies on the list. Get it (all) while the getting’s good!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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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Peak Season

The first day of fall felt a lot like summer, and the last week of summer sure felt a lot like fall. Figures! Although I complained about the heat to anyone willing to listen, a most welcome surprise came with the return of summer weather. Holy tomato! Tanner picked 28 pints of cherry tomatoes on Wednesday. From just the tunnel. Where we have like 15 plants. And then we got another two dozen or so from the field cherry tomatoes.

It’s great to be back in tomato abundance, but more importantly, it’s reassuring that I haven’t lost the tomato magic – it just hasn’t been a great tomato season. I thought it was probably just the cooler weather keeping them down, but it’s nice to see what they’re capable of…at the end of September! I’m thrilled to have cherry tomatoes coming out my ears again, but picking all of them certainly doesn’t lighten the workload. I tried to turn over a new leaf and quit working under the light of a headlamp, but that lasted only one day.

Wow y’all – I don’t even know where to start. Everything is SO good right now, you really need to just order some (or a lot) of everything. If you really pressed me, this is my top 5 of the best of the best that you can’t live without this week.

-Greens Galore: OMG, so good and so bountiful. Kale this tender only comes around twice a year. But it’s not the only green in town; yokatta na, chard, tatsoi, bok choi, tokyo bekana…so hard to choose, just get one of each!
-Cherry Tomatoes: Because it’s (basically) October and they’re coming out our ears. Get you some!
-Cut Lettuce: It just keeps getting better every week. New varieties added to the mix.
-Basil: At the end of September? Yes please!
-Salad Turnips: SO big by now and yet still so silky tender.

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Frosty Hot

I woke up to a surprise Thursday morning. Frost on the ground! Did you all have some too? I had to hunt for it up here on the hill where it generally stays warmer (cold air sinks), but sure enough it was there. A full month and a day ahead of last year. To be honest, it wasn’t really a surprise. I was out Wednesday night unpacking my truck from the market around 10 and it was COOL (still not a complaint, I love this weather!). 
I had a feeling it was going to frost, which is why I woke up early and looked out the window like a kid checking for overnight snow. Not that I was excited about it – I’m not ready for the summer treats to end, though they had ground to a halt in this week’s cold anyway (distant memory after hitting 88 yesterday!!?). I just wanted to test how in tune with the weather I am. It wasn’t obvious from my window so I went out to see what I could see. I only found it in the gully leading up to the pond and a few drops in the terrain. The only possibly damage I found was some rough looking basil leaves in the secret garden, though I’m not 100% convinced it was from the frost.

How nice is it to have September basil by the way!? Hopefully this heat wave kicks the tomatoes into high gear so we can have some proper TBMs. Basil and tomatoes seem to be doing an awkward dance trying to catch up with the other. First we had basil out our ears, but the tomatoes were behind because of the wet spring. Next the basil succumbed to basil downy mildew (BDM) just as the tomatoes exploded. I heard about a new organic variety of basil that’s resistant to BDM, ordered it within seconds, and 6 weeks later we’re picking basil again (not a fast crop). By that time the cold nights slowed down the tomatoes – still lots of fruit on the green plants but they haven’t been turning. I could do without any more 88 degree days (that was a complaint), but if it’s going to be hot, we might as well enjoy summer fruits again. I limited tomatoes on the website, but there’s a chance we’ll have extra at the pickup on Monday. Lots of other great stuff available – ’tis the season!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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.

Always planting! This is (possibly too) late lettuce and spinach for your later October/November enjoyment fingers crossed. Notice how dry the soil is! Atypical for September
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Brrrr…..

‘Tis my favorite time of year veggie-wise, when seasons collide I like to say. This year’s collision is looking pretty lopsided – like a hummer (fall) vs a mini cooper (summer) as we’ve had the mildest September that I can remember farming. (That’s my way of saying cold without sounding like I’m complaining because, really, how could I complain about this weather?!) It’s just the start of the fall stuff, while the summer fun veggies are still hanging in there, though I’m writing this Friday night and it’s currently 45 degrees (and dropped to 39 Saturday morning yikes). I just checked the list and there are 32 different vegetables you can order….from 1/3 of an acre…not bad! Get it while the getting’s good.

We did finally get a little rain Thursday, but I had to run the irrigation the next day anyway as it wasn’t exactly a soaker, and it’s been so dry lately. Usually irrigating is one of those pesky items you can remove from your mile-long farm to do list in September. Do a little rain dance for me – my to do list could use some lightening. Update: Yay rain!

On the labor front, I may have been a bit overly optimistic. We’ll see! For some odd reason in the hottest labor market in perhaps forever, I can’t find someone to work their tails off for less money than they can make sitting behind a counter at DD and texting their friends. Funny how we prioritize what we’re willing to spend our money on huh? I’d love to pay a living wage, but I’d like to be making half of a living wage myself first. I could grumpily make this a millennial critique that ‘no one wants to work hard anymore’…but depending on who’s counting, some may lump me into that generation. It’s certainly not for anyone at every stage of life, but I just need that one person willing to go all in for a season or two or career! It has happened before with some rock star farmers so I’m holding out hope. They’re out there, I know they are. Please keep spreading the word to help me find them!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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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Meaty Monday

Wow, I didn’t think I could get any busier – what a week…my head is spinning. The good news is that help may be on the way! I’m meeting with 3 potential employees over 4 days – that’s more applicants than I had for the full year position at the start of the season. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

Different structure to this email because I have to go move the cows before they move themselves (again)! Look for them on the right on the way up the hill. They seem to enjoy the pasture down there so this time I just put up the fence around them instead of trying to get them back up. Plus I didn’t have any Korean takeout food to lure them back up! My neighbor showed me a hilarious clip from his security camera of them prancing through his backyard.

  • Potter Hill honey has finally arrived! The first harvest was wildflower honey – the beekeeper can tell by color and taste. It’s REALLY good and is up on the website for $10 a jar
  • Meaty Monday! Jeff from Short Creek and formerly of Potter Hill will be coming down Monday with meat. Here’s a link to his website. Availability is found on his price list. Email him directly to order at jeff@nullshortcreeknh.com.
  • OMG you guys. I keep saying this but the lettuce is getting better and better. This week will be the first pick from our newest planting. I sampled some the other night just to make sure it was as good as it looks. I think it’s actually better! 
  • Some new and returning items are up on the website. This is the best time of the year to be a veggie, and the next few weeks are looking to be even better. Tomatoes and cucumbers are still cranking (somehow despite the cool weather), the greens are taking off, and fall veggies are just starting to come in. I’m holding off on the butternut this week to let them sweeten up but maybe next week.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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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Help Me Help You!

Before I dive into why you should come help me help you all eat great food, the normal Monday pickup is being bumped up to 12-2pm so you can add some Potter Hill deliciousness to your Labor Day barbecues. If you can’t make it by 2, just let me know when you place your order and I will bag it up for you. With the earlier pickup time, I had to shorten the list up a bit but there’s still 20+ items to choose from, plus surely some that didn’t make the list! No rainbow carrots this week, but the one pictured above is the first one I pulled from the next planting…almost ready to go!

Have you recently had the itch to get your hands dirty learning how to grow your own food? Have you had trouble sleeping lately? Are you looking for a more rewarding job? Or a super flexible way to make some money while the kids are in school? Bored with your current workout? Looking to spend more time outdoors? Stuck eating terribly and can’t figure out how to get out of the rut? Taking some time away from school to figure out life? So many questions! Even if you answered no to all these…do you know someone who may have said yes to some of these?

I’m looking for someone or a couple someones to help me finish off this fantastic season. Bonus if you’re interested in a longer term opportunity, as I lose all my current crew to school and life opportunities next season. Perks of the job – a good night’s sleep after a great paid workout while learning how to grow your own food in the great outdoors. Not to mention you will eat like a king…on a pauper’s salary, which is only downside to the job in my opinion. But until we as a society reevaluate if a Starbucks coffee is more valuable than an organic heirloom tomato or that dog food should be the same price per pound as never sprayed rainbow carrots, that’s all I can offer! Qualifications are a willingness to work hard, interest in learning, satisfaction in a job well done, ability to lift 20 pounds repeatedly, attention to detail, and an appreciation of working outside, even in less than ideal weather. Please share far and wide -as of 9/21, it will be just me and a part-timer. Stay-at-home parent hours would fit well with the job!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm 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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