Week 15: Big News

Well, the cat is basically out of the bag, we are not going to be able to renew our current lease at Upswing Farm’s current home base, 28 South St.. For those of you who haven’t heard, we may grow a reduced crop of vegetables up the road next year to 22 Elliot St, in Ashland. We’ve had a lease on that two acre parcel, owned by the town of Ashland, where we have been cover cropping for the last two years.

Kevin, Erin and Melissa planting the last transplants of 2019, and the last transplants Upswing Farm will plant in the fields at 28 South St. Still more transplanting to do in the greenhouses for our fall and winter shares.

Our business will shift, with Erin taking the lead on summer crop production for the Ashland Farmers Market and a reduced summer CSA, while Kevin and I solidify plans for a fall and winter share (we are deciding between a few options). We will still hold the seedling sale, we have several other places to either construct our greenhouse or rent greenhouse space. But we will not be able to meet our current demand – we will be cutting the amount of land we farm by 80%.

We were hoping to have some perfectly defined plans before we officially broke the news, but since it made it to the local paper under the headline “Upswing Out, Out Post In”, I guess now is the time to say something. It’s still September, I’m still farming full time and Mom-ing almost full time (no afternoon sitter anymore! We miss you Leah!) so there isn’t a lot of time to sit and draft this exactly right.

It’s ok. Really, it’s ok. Accessing farmland in the Metro-West area is next to impossible. Our time at 28 South St has been precious, and we will cherish memories from the last four years for the rest of our lives. We are so grateful for all of the wonderful customers who have supported us and who we have built relationships with.

I’m not sure how to communicate the whole story, it is long and leaves me winded just to think about it, but here is what I want your take-away to be:

  1. We were invited to lease the land in January, 2016 when the tenants, Out Post Farm, decided not to renew their lease on the land. This was less than a month after I resigned from my role at Medway Community Farm. At the end of 2016 we were invited to try and purchase the property for $2.5 million and given an option to purchase for that amount, with a timeline of three years.
  2. We tried our best preserve this farmland, and build a business from scratch, and raise a baby, and stay true to our values. We made contact with the Sudbury Valley Trustees and together worked with representatives from the towns of Ashland and Holliston to get and appraisal and create a collaborative plan to preserve and purchase the property. We were a part of a preliminary offer in the spring of 2018 for the full appraised value of 1.8 million which was rejected.
  3. We believe that our work to save this property was an essential part of convincing the landlord that preserving the farm was a real possibility. When we started in 2016 it had always been his intention to allow the land to be developed after his passing, not believing there was money to preserve it. Now the development rights are being sold to the Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program (APR)- a strict program that will keep important land farmed in perpetuity.
  4. We gave up our option to purchase the land so we would not put the preservation of the land in jeopardy.
  5. If you live in Holliston you should vote to approve the town spending $500,000 of Community Preservation Funds for the APR restriction on the property. If you live anywhere else, you should ALWAYS vote to preserve farmland as ACTIVE farmland. Even in my position, I would vote yes if I lived in town.

This is just a transition period for us now, we knew it would be a risk to take on this project, and we gave it all we had to give. This is the second farm in a decade that we have built from scratch . . . and we are tired (and just a little downtrodden).

We have decided that scaling down, but maintaining our presence at the Ashland Farmers Market (the coolest market ever) and giving Erin a chance to take on more management responsibility is a great way to keep the business going while giving ourselves space and time to get some perspective and find a permanent place to farm.

Thank you for all your support over the last four years.

We are fortunate and privileged to be able to choose this lifestyle, even though it can be a struggle. We are grateful that we can live our values on a daily basis – or at least do a good job trying. And our son, at two and a half, knows about ripeness, and roots and seeds. That apples come in September, strawberries come in June, and where the compost pile is. He says he wants to be a farmer like mom, and I’m like, no way, you’re going to have to be an investment banker so you can support us in our old age!

Well, that’s that. The vegetables still need to be picked and enjoyed.

What’s in the share:

The deer ate all the zucchini this weekend. Or at least they took a bite out of every one. Sorry guys. They also ate almost all of the fall dandelion greens. Not sorry?

Choices: Corn/Tomatoes/Cherry Tomatoes/Spaghetti Squash/Other Pints
Choices: Bok Choy, Kale, Chard, Kohlrabi, Sweet Turnip, Radish, Carrot, Herbs
Lettuce
Arugula
Choices: Onion, Fennel, Peppers, Eggplant

Jess’s Recipes

COWBOY CAVIAR

I had a delightful visit with fellow CSA member Anne Buckley last week and she served up some of this delicious Cowboy Caviar brimming with CSA ingredients. Side note: if you ever have an issue with the NY Times recipes (like it tells you that you have to subscribe in order to view the recipe) just open a new browser window and do a search for the recipe or do the search on your phone. I find that that solves the problem for me.

ROASTED CARROTS WITH HERBES DE HOLLISTON

I was quite the social butterfly this week and also got to spend a lovely afternoon at Broad Hill Lavender Farm right here in Holliston. If you haven’t tried any of their products yet – they’re amazing! Carrie made us some delicious treats all with their very own, Holliston grown, organic, culinary lavender (check their website https://www.broadhilllavender.com/ for which Farmer’s Markets they’ll be at so you can pick some up). Among these were some mouth-watering roasted carrots. She sliced them into thin “fries”, tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and Herbes de Provence (with lavender of course and other Upswing Farm herbs) and slow roasted them at 400 for 40-45 minutes. They were amazing.

SHAVED VEGETABLE SALAD

Hakurei Turnips (or salad turnips) are back this week. This is a super versatile recipe that will use lots of your share items. Slice them up super thin along with zucchini, carrots, beets, fennel, kohlrabi, etc. and toss with a zingy lemon-dill vinaigrette.

SAUTEED JAPANESE HAKUREI TURNIPS WITH BOK CHOY

Here’s another quick way to use your turnips AND bok choy in one recipe.

STUFFED MINI PEPPERS

I’ve heard the mini peppers are delicious this year. I haven’t actually gotten to try them as my son eats them all before I get a chance. I’m going to try to beat him to it this week and make these for an after-school snack after I pick up my share this week.

BAKED “FRIED” EGGPLANT

Here’s a twist – instead of me sending Brittany recipes this week, she sent me this one! Great on its own or layer it into an eggplant parm.

KALE SALAD WITH DATES, PARMESAN AND ALMONDS

I love the combination of sweet, salty and crunchy and this salad accomplishes all of that. One of my favorite things about kale is that you can dress it and it will still keep for a day or two and not go all wilty like lettuce does.

SPICY CORN AND SHISHITO SALAD

Trying to make the most of the last few weeks of corn for the summer!

SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH SWISS CHARD, DRIED CRANBERRIES & DIJON VINAIGRETTE

This fall spin on spaghetti squash with swiss chard and dried cranberries sounds like a must try!

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