In case you hadn’t heard . . .

We bought a farm. It took 26 months and one failed attempt, but we are now farming permanently at 65 Brookline St, Pepperell, MA. Read more about our farm acquisition here.

It’s kind of hard to see, but the bright green in the background is 6.5 acres of rye and vetch cover crop we planted in September, and the mid-ground dull green is 3.5 acres of oats planted at the same time. Yes, we gambled and prepared land we didn’t own – it was the only way we would be ready to start paying our mortgage in 2021.

So, now the work begins.

Our plan this year is to:

  • construct 5 high tunnels and 4 caterpillar tunnels, totaling nearly 18,000 square feet of protected growing space
  • retrofit the old stanchion barn to create a FSMA compliant, comfortable and efficient wash and pack facility
  • make all necessary structural, electrical and plumbing repairs to ensure the safety of the existing infrastructure
  • modify the main house to create separate living space for 3 farm employees
  • complete our organic certification application and receive organic certification
  • add compost/manure/organic matter to 10 acres of land prepared last season for vegetable production
  • grow and sell produce for a 4 season CSA (SIGN UP NOW sliding scale pricing, payment plans and SNAP/HIP payment options available), beginning distribution in May for 3 CSA pick up locations, AND attend the Ashland Farmer’s Market and offer online produce ordering for our CSA pick up sites
  • partner with regional producers of other agricultural products to sell through our online store.

Our future goals we hope to begin working on this year:

  • provide access to farmland for other new/beginning farmers who face land access barriers through secure, low-cost leases and equity sharing collaborations and to diversify the farm by inviting in growers with diverse enterprises like: egg and meat production, beekeepers, orchardists, mushroom growers . . .
  • work with area conservation groups to increase access to public lands that abut the farm by creating an on-farm trail that connects these spaces, and adding parking to increase access
  • collaborate with individuals and groups interested in creating community programming and products relating to food, farming and land-based education

We’ve been doing lots of the regular early season work: hiring, crop planning, greenhouse planning, managing CSA sales, and ordering supplies. And we’ve made some major progress on some of our early projects.

We’ve had lots of help from the Jim’s in our life (my dad and our friends). We’ve leveled an existing cement pad and drilled holes in it for the ground posts for our propagation house. That sentence summed up many days of work and problem solving very succinctly!! Kevin is actually out there right now, with Jim T. moving snow out of the way and preparing put up the first ribs!

We’ve also set the ground posts for the first of two high tunnels we hope to complete before May, the second two will be completed in the late summer.

And we’ve made some progress in the demolition needed to prepare for the cement work in the stanchion barn. We can’t wait to be able to push produce on wheels instead of carry it around.

My arms are very sore from knocking out half of that concrete curb yesterday.

We’re moving along in the hiring process – it’s amazing how many talented and passionate people are interested in working with us – we are very excited to be putting together an all-star team.

And we are overwhelmed by the support of our CSA customers who have signed up in droves for our CSA shares this year. Your up front support makes this all possible – and we can’t wait to get started growing food for you. I mean, the work we do now is a part of growing the food, not a very romantic part, but we’re getting all mushy thinking about starting our first seeds on March 1st.

“March 1st?!” you ask? Yes – we are renting a propagation greenhouse from a neighbor to get us started this year, just in case ours isn’t finished on time. We just had the heater serviced on Tuesday and everything seems to be in working order. I should probably get around to unpacking and organizing the first seed order . . .

We’re working on plans to effectively heat this old farm house, but for now, I don’t mind dressing for the weather!

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support! Stay warm.

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