“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L.M. Montgomery

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

First, we had a such a great time during our CSA member farm day a few weekends ago. We had our biggest turn out to date with over 200 of our members joining us (did you know we feed over 550 people!?)! The weather held out for us too and it was truly a beautiful October day. Folks were able to take in the veggie gardens, pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and say hi to the goats and chickens. It sure was nice to talk about the goals of the farm and its role in the community. The members were happy to share their CSA experience and how their relationship to food was changing their lives for the better. It’s so important to take a step back, to listen and to connect. Cultivating community and feeding folks the best possible food has always been at the heart of why we farm. Our members go above and beyond and inspire us all the time and we are so grateful for all their support.

Thank you to all the members who came out to CSA DAY and for those who were unable to come we look forward to seeing you at next year’s event!

Decorative gourd season is the cutest, pumpkin picking time!  

It sure feels like September (and October too) are going by in a blink of an eye.  I’m trying my best to savor every bit of it because I love fall on the farm.  The quote (up above) pops in my head every October and I feel it in my bones… I just feel so darn inspired. Maybe my appreciation stems from growing up in the northeast but October is hands down my favorite month. I just love this time of the year.

October has welcome us with some fruitful rains and has made quick work of turning our summer tomatoes into goops and globs hanging on the branches of those summer lovin’ plants. It’s shoulder season on the farm where we we begin to say goodbye to the tastes of summer (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash etc) and welcome the delicious possibilities of Fall. When turning on the oven no longer feels like a chore and the greens and roots and broccoli and cauliflower etc have their moment to really shine.

We had our first light frost last week (33) and said goodbye to the summer squash, cucumbers and tomatoes etc. We heeded with precaution and covered up some of our tender crops (peppers, celery, lettuces etc) with agribon row cover (aka floating row cover that provides frost protection up to 2-4 degrees). One perk of the frost is that the cold makes the fall veggies sweeter because in order to protect their cells from bursting they convert their complex carbohydrates (bonded sugars) into simple sugars! Kale, greens, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi etc.. all those veggies sweeten up with the colder temps.

The view from the kale patch, some freshly planted baby plants and the big wood barns favorite time of year!   

This time of the year can feel like a whirlwind on the farm! September and October is where the material handlers part of being a farmer really kicks into high gear and usually begins with our epic Winter Squash harvest. This year we harvested over 25,000 lbs (that’s around 12.5 tons) of squash over a 2 day period. We also started our giant Sweet Potato harvest and have so far harvested around 3,200lbs with another 1,200+ lbs to harvest once the fields dry out again later this week! We started harvesting the first ton of winter carrots and we have a few more tons to harvest out of the field before Thanksgiving. We’ve really come a long way as professional material handlers and it’s been a real game changer to have a larger horse power tractor that can move these heavy loads, the macro bins to store the produce in, the insulated barn to put it all in and the barrel washer to wash all our roots!

There’s still plenty of hand work to do (harvesting, stacking, moving, bagging etc) but all the equipment we’ve invested in really takes a load off our backs and helps us to finish projects more efficiently since it’s mostly just the two of us with our part time crew member Becca.

Sweet Potato harvest is under way with the last few beds to harvest later this week!  (Plus, a happy cloud face)

While bulk harvest continues to be a big one for us as we near closer to Winter we are also busy planting and seeding the last crops of the 2017 season. Over the weekend I seeded one of the last rounds of spinach and winter hardy lettuce that will be planted in our high tunnels for late Winter/Spring harvest. We will begin prepping and planting the first Winter Tunnel (we have 3 total) this coming week/weekend as well as a few beds of crops out in the field once things dry out. The ten-day is looking awesome out there -65 and mixed sun and clouds – let’s do this thing!

Another thing we can cross of the list is our annual garlic planting!   This was our 7th season planting garlic together and as Farmer Brian says, “garlic should be the foundation of any good relationship. And weeding it in the Spring should be a test of that relationship.” We began planting two weekends ago when we saw the “atmospheric river” on the horizon the following week. In order to get it all done we went out on Tuesday and Wednesday morning for CSA harvest and by the afternoon we were planting garlic. Over the course of a few days, we planted over 9,000 cloves. It was a pretty big push but it was also absolutely gorgeous outside and the trees were turning colors and the sunsets were out of this world. It felt great to be outside and to be in the moment even though the days were long and the task was a bit monotonous. We listened to the Farmer to Farmer Podcast and planted our little farmer hearts away and were even able to finish before the big rainstorm hit on Wednesday Night. Here’s to many more years of planting garlic together and to the first crop of the 2018 CSA season!

Pop/shuck, flame, plant, repeat!  All 9,000 cloves destined for CSA shares next season!  

The recent “atmospheric river” brought 3.5” of rain (starting Wednesday night) which gave us the welcome opportunity to take pause over the weekend. The shorter days have lent a hand in that as well.  Once the garlic was tucked in and we could see there was abundant sunshine (or rainless days) on the horizon we took the opportunity to give our bodies a little break. A friend was visiting for a few days out of state too which was a nice change of pace as well. We are definitely at a place with farming where we have better systems, can grow some darn tasty and nutritious veggies and feel like the business is in a good place. We have an awesome community of folks who rally around the farm and support what it is we do. All of these things are incredibly positive and it has been without a doubt our best (and most productive) farming season to date.

All of those things also make room for conversations about taking a day off (or two!) during the week, making time for friends and family, and making time for our selves outside the farm. Being farmers is such a big part of who we are and we love it! We also know how important it is to have other interests and perspectives in order to be balanced people and we finally feel like we are in the midst of a natural transition to be able to do (prioritize) some of these things. Making time for other things helps us to be better people and farmers too. The work that we do – it just being the two of us who farm these 40 acres – over the past 8 seasons – it’s all we’ve ever known as the owners and farmers of Working Hands Farm. We’ve made it work for these 8 years – learning a lot along the way and feeding hundreds and hundreds of families in the process.   We’re looking towards the future and all the endless possibilities.

I took these pictures during a purple sunset while pre emergence flaming the garlic beds… 

It’s crazy that after this week we only have 3 more weekly CSA pick ups left in the Spring/Summer/Fall Season. One of our members posted this in the Member’s Group this past week, “Back when we bought veggies from the grocery store I had to check eggplants carefully against being too soft before buying, and still needed to use in the next day or two or the innards would turn soft and brown. Cut into a WHF eggplant a week after bringing it home and it was still pure white and crisp. We have been eating like royalty since joining.  Looking forward to the rest of the spring/summer/fall share, and to what will come in this winter’s share.”

It means everything to hear that. As farmers, eating fresh, delicious, organically grown food is the reason we got into farming and is an important part of the process. It’s not enough to just grow the food but to make time to prepare three homemade meals a day, and process the extras into what will nourish us to do this hard but good work 12 months a year is everything. That amazing food is what keeps us so healthy and productive and energetic. No way this work would be sustainable if we weren’t eating well. Eating well is at the heart of the CSA. Heck, the size of our shares is based on our own diet (eat all the veggggieeess). We are not a CSA farm that will size our shares according to what sells but will always size them according to what we believe promotes good health in our members and according to the bounty the growing conditions allows.

Casper Kale (it gets more white as it gets colder), Leeks! and chiogga radicchio forming heads..

Brian and I both came at farming from different perspectives – he was looking for a connection to nature after years of working abroad in a stressful job and I was looking to educate my community about the food we eat & how to eat well and in season. A few years later, when our paths came together we were both on the same page. As Farmer Brian once wrote, “And that’s when Jess showed up and gave me a lickin’ you can’t believe. She taught me that you must lead by example. She taught me to fall in love not with just growing vegetables but cooking and eating them too. She taught me that cooking and eating isn’t something you do after all the other needs of the day are met it is something that you do so you can meet the needs of the day. She taught me that eating well is a matter of priorities.”

So, not only was it important that our community wanted to support our farm, they also had to eat the produce, to cook more at home and to overhaul their eating habits. After one year of CSA, members who were feeling challenged by the share were now getting through the whole share no problem, they were trying new recipes & experiences, the look of their plates were changing (to ¾ veggies), some even shared good news from their doctor or had to add a smaller notch to their old belt. But perhaps the most important thing is that after one year of trying the CSA their relationship with food had forever changed or improved for the better. They were spending more time with their partner in the kitchen processing the week’s goodies, they were taking the time to plan home cooked meals through the week, they learned how to make stock with leftovers or preserve the rest. Those tasteless canned beets from their childhood were no longer the only memory they had with beets. They were creating new and exciting and pleasurable habits surrounding food and they were sharing those positive experiences with their loved ones.

Winter Squash harvest, peasoup morning overlooking our overwintering brassicas, Gloucester taking in the first frost + sunrise..

As farmer Brian wrote last year, “Our goal is to see to it that the community that supports our farm eats healthier and as a result is more able, at least in a small way, to contribute to our society in a positive way. It’s a pretty high expectation you say? Well, I sure as hell am not doing this for the big bucks. It’s because I believe that the only work worth doing is work that makes the community and the environment better, so that those communities can make their communities better and so on and so forth. It’s pretty simple really.”

So, we do just that. For every seed the we sow, for every share that we harvest, for every meal that we prepare, we are all connected by this place, by the food that we eat and enjoy. All the hard work comes full circle when we see and hear how the shares are being utilized and enjoyed.

Treviso Radicchio heading up, Gloucester checking out the pumpkin patch, and Kalettes (a cross between brussels and kale for Winter CSA) are forming!  

So here’s to you CSA members! We are proud of all of our members because you have all made the decision to make a change in your life. That whatever brought you to our little CSA farm, whether it be health related, for reasons that help protect the environment, to support small farms, to know your farmers or simply because you were hungry for delicious food etc.. whatever the reason (s), you decided to make a change in your life happen and now you are here. This is where change happens. When a community comes together with a united voice we are empowered to make positive change. And because of all of you this land, these two farmers and this farm’s members are becoming healthier, happier and more productive.

Here’s to Fall, eating well & enjoying the seasonal bounty (with just 3 weekly pick ups left of Spring/Summer/Fall CSA!)


Cheers to you all, enjoy the week and we’ll see you soon!

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts 


CSA Shares 18, 19, 20, 21