Yes, Farmers Do Work in Winter

Kevin and I have been keeping ourselves busy.  In my late state of pregnancy (39 weeks and 1 day!) I have not felt as productive as usual, but we’re still doing really well.  I tend to set unreasonably high expectations for myself, so I thought I’d write a quick blog post to let everyone know what’s been going on and also as a little pick-me-up reminder of everything we are accomplishing.

winter-work-desk

This is the “farm office”.  Otherwise known as Kevin’s desk in our second bedroom.  I’ve been doing a lot more office work than outdoor work, as you can imagine.  Over the past few weeks I’ve set up our 2017 Quickbooks so we can easily send invoices and track income and expenses.  I’ve also set up a PayPal account and a Mail Chimp account and learned how to use it.  In the past I’ve used Constant Contact and other paid services to send mail, but early on, a free service is going to work great for our small business.  It just means taking a little time to learn the ins and outs of the program.

Other “boring” work has been to write and post the job description for our Assistant Grower (know anyone/college kids interested in farming?  Send them our way!), figuring out how to do my own payroll (thanks Elena Coleman from Crooked Row Fields for helping!), marketing our CSA shares, updating our WordPress website, and spending some fun time at the RMV getting our new-to-us truck registered!

I did a lot of work on the crop plan/field maps/greenhouse schedule/seed order before the end of 2016.  We had income left and I wanted to make sure to spend it before the end of the fiscal year.  We got our seed orders in on the 27th of December!  Crop planning is lots of fun, and it’s always a nice “treat” to take a “break” from other administrative work to do it.

And then the seeds come and I get to organize them!

2017-seeds-organized

seed-catalogues

 

We get a lot of our seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  They have incredible organization on their website and ordering from them is very efficient.  But there are lots of other great companies that we like to support, so I try to take the time to go through multiple websites when ordering to compare pricing and spread the love ($$$).

 

Our potting soil is ordered and coming in the with big shipment to White Barn Farm in February.  We don’t plan on starting any seedlings until March 1st.  There is always a push to get going early (mostly from sheer excitement), but we’ve decided the net gain from starting onions in February is not worth the added effort and fuel to heat the greenhouse.

Kevin and I are very glad to be working together again.  One of the challenges that we face is our tendency to gravitate towards gender-normative roles (Brittany in the office/greenhouse/farm stand, Kevin building a greenhouse/fixing a tractor).   Right now, those roles make sense: it would be unsafe and much slower for me to be trying to lift heavy boards or pound posts.  But we try hard to be aware of that tendency and counter act it when possible.

Luckily, we’ve got an excellent community of farmers and craftspeople who want to help us out!  Kevin has had some great help from lots of our friends building this greenhouse.  Many thanks to Rob, Jess, Kenneth, Chris, Laurel and Greg!!

 

We are also very luck to have Jim Brueckner of Wind River Tree Care as a friend.  He is the person who originally introduced us to Mr. Nickerson, and has been a great supporter of us since we met in 2011.  He came over to help cut away a few overhanging branches that might have fallen on our greenhouse in the future.  Check out this video!

Talk about a skill!  If you need some tree-work done and don’t want machines driving through your lawn, definitely give Wind River Tree Care a call.  Jim is really talented, and incredibly friendly too!

We’ve also gotten some help from our landlord, Mr. Nick, who refuses to slow down, even if he is 91 years old!  Together with Kevin he dug out a few big rocks that were in the way of the greenhouse ground posts and helped us put up a utility pole so our electrician can run power to the greenhouse.

Our baby is due any day now, and I’m ready to get going!  We’ve got plenty still on our to-do list, like marketing and selling CSA shares, ordering more supplies, researching tractors and implements we need to purchase before April, hiring staff, finishing the greenhouse schedule and field maps, filing taxes for last year, finishing the greenhouse . . . the list goes on.  But we are feeling pretty on top of things.

Want to help?  The biggest thing you can do to help is spread the word about our CSA.  We use the CSA funds in spring to purchase tools and supplies, a really important part of making our farm successful.  If you are a member you can get a $25 discount for every new CSA member you recruit!

It hasn’t been all work.  We’ve spent some great time with family and friends over the holiday, got to go for a walk on the beach in Sandwich, spent plenty of time at the doctor (I’d rather do almost anything than go to the doctor), and have been putting some of the finishing touches on our house.  We are very lucky to be starting a family and a business at the same time.  We are grateful for all the support we receive from friends and family and look forward to the rest of 2017!

My next blog post will be from the other side.  🙂

-Farmer Brittany

Press Release, Collaboration

Innovative Farm Collaboration

The mission of White Barn Farm starts with land preservation, is filled with healthy food, soil, and staff and ends with ideals of a strong, vibrant community.  Since 2008 Christy and Chris Kantlehner have developed an incredible following of customers, staff and local businesses – inspiring everyone with a subject that connects us all – delicious food.

In an effort to deepen their mission’s success, increase their impact, and strengthen the long term stability of their business, the Kantlehners have decided to partner with Brittany Sidway Overshiner and her new farm venture on the border of Ashland and Holliston: Upswing Farm.

With parallel mission goals and a diversified skillset, this team believes a collaboration and shared resources will streamline their production, making room for important tasks such as: securing land tenure, increasing educational opportunities, diversifying the farm enterprises, improving soil health and improving farmer quality of life.

A part of their shared vision is a local and regional food system that respects a triple bottom line: resource conservation, community well-being and profitability.  Collaboration amongst farmers, instead of competition, will be necessary to keep farming in our suburban communities, where land values and development pressure have all but erased our agricultural landscape.

The collaboration will allow Upswing Farm to benefit from the established infrastructure at White Barn Farm, including greenhouses for seedling production, tractors, equipment and vegetable storage facilities.  In return it will provide added land-base for growing sprawling crops like winter squash, melons and potatoes and a place to rotate crops each year to reduce pest populations without the use of pesticides.   Overshiner will work at both sites, managing CSA distributions and helping with harvest, flowers, greenhouse work, and record keeping throughout the year.

Record keeping will be an essential part of the land management trials planned as a part of this partnership.  These trials will be evaluating different systems of soil preparation and cultivation for their efficiency and ability to build and maintain soil organic matter, and produce healthy crops.  To learn more about these systems, visit the whitebarnfarm.org blog.

White Barn Farm and Upswing Farm are invigorated by this partnership.  They want to engage their communities in this collaborative effort, so everyone can support local agriculture and enjoy the benefits of farm fresh food.   Contact the farm nearest you to find out how to get involved!

How to get involved:

Purchase a CSA Share, for pick up at White Barn Farm: 458 South St, Wrentham
Purchase a CSA Share, for pick up at Upswing Farm: 28 South St, Ashland
Visit the White Barn Farm Stand at 458 South St, Wrentham (Open April 30th)
Purchase seedlings at White Barn Farm’s Plant Sale for your vegetable garden
Visit Upswing Farm at the Ashland Farmers Market
Attend a workshop or tour at either farm

Contact Information:

White Barn Farm
whitebarnfarm.org
458 South St
Wrentham, MA 02093
774-210-0359
info@whitebarnfarm.org

Upswing Farm
Upswingfarm.com
28 South St
Ashland, MA 01721
857-383-7020
farmer@upswingfarm.com

New Beginnings

We are excited to embark on a new project to grow the supply of fresh, local produce in our community, preserve farmland and conserve our natural resources through sustainable production methods.

Stay Tuned to Learn More.