Winding down and gearing up
March is here in Granby, with everything from the sweet smell of maple sap boiling to the rumble of plows heard clearing late-season heavy snowfall to stimulate our senses. From those talented enough to turn out verse, there is plenty of perspective with which anyone who spends anytime in the great outdoors will agree. You notice it as you wake each morning.
A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here.
— Emily Dickinson, No. 812
And you notice again, as you decide what to wear.
The first day of spring is one thing, and the first
spring day is another. The difference between them is
sometimes as great as a month.
— Henry Van Dyke, Fisherman’s Luck
At the farm, we have been working to tease the most out of each season as we grow the best local produce that our rich soil and talented farmers can nurture, even as we continue to wind down from the abundance produced last summer.
We had our best Winter CSA season ever, with 125 shareholders enjoying five large pick-ups from November through February. This year, after the last pick-up, we still aren’t done. The bounty of the summer of 2019, coupled with the fresh greens we are now producing year-round, will allow for a special new opportunity: a St. Paddy’s Day Veggie Box Sale. Farmer Joe O’Grady has promised big boxes of veggies—spinach and salad greens from the hoop houses, rainbow carrots, turnips, beets, onions, crushed tomatoes and more will be available during several pick-up windows the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Watch for more details or contact O’Grady at email@example.com, but mark your calendars now. The cost will be $50 for 2020 Summer CSA members—and you can sign up then, if you haven’t already—and $55 for non-members. The retail value will far exceed this price, and you’ll have all the veggies you need for the best boiled-dinner celebration ever.
Meanwhile, the gearing up for the 2020 growing season is well underway. Our sustainable production capacity continues to increase, and our Summer CSA share sales are way ahead of prior years, so go to holcombfarm.org to sign up.
Expanding Fresh Access
Our Fresh Access program relies on member contributions, donors and grants, to allow a portion of the food we produce at Holcomb Farm to go to people with limited access. We focus first on Granby, through Social Services, the Senior Center, and the Waste Not Want Not program. However, the Friends are also committed to reaching beyond the Granby community. Two years back, we began working with the Wheeler Clinic in Hartford to provide Holcomb Farm’s fresh produce to their clients, as a part of its holistic outreach. Here’s an excerpt from their report back to us about how it’s going.
[What we like most about the Fresh Access program is] “The joy and feedback we received from our visitors. For some, the bag of food was the only secured meal(s) they had for the week. Knowing that we helped people go less hungry was a highlight to my week during the duration of the program. Below are some responses from surveys we provided asking visitors how the program has helped them:
“Supplemented groceries during a time of reduced income. Introduced family to meal preps as shared activity.”
“It has introduced me to some healthy food choices that I will definitely add to my diet.”
“We can’t afford good food, so this is miraculous.”
“It has exposed my children to a variety of fresh vegetables and helped me not be afraid to buy different produce.”
Building on this success, at its February board meeting the Friends of Holcomb Farm agreed to partner with Wheeler to double our relationship, increasing the food we provide from a wholesale value of $12,000 to $24,000 annually. Wheeler, in turn, will expand its reach beyond the Hartford campus, to New Britain, Waterbury and Bristol. We hope all who are involved in any way—as members of FOHF, as customers of the farm, as donors and as volunteers—share in the warm feelings this program offers.
Which brings us back to March, for which we turn to the master of verse about our fickle New England seasons.
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
— Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time