Friends of Holcomb Farm

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Photo by Georgia McDougall

Here’s a great gift idea for yourself or a friend—the Holcomb Farm CSA is offering Holiday Gift Bags for pick-up Dec. 18–23. In a handsome Holcomb Farm tote, you’ll get lots of winter produce, plus our own crushed tomatoes and basil pesto.

Enjoy a winter walk in the woods

Friends of Holcomb Farm volunteers have been busy all year expanding the Holcomb Tree Trail and enhancing the miles of trails throughout our woodlands; and the community has noticed. More people than ever have been coming to enjoy this special place, which makes this a great time to share more information about what it is you are enjoying as you wander through the meadows and woods. We asked our Stewardship Volunteers to share some of their knowledge. Here is a first installment:

The importance of leaving downed and dead trees

Trees die in forests all the time. They might be felled by winds or irreparably damaged by insects or decay resulting from fungus or disease. These trees may be standing as snags—as is the case with most of the ash trees that have been killed by bacteria and insects, including the emerald ash borer—or they may be lying on the ground. Though these dead trees make for an unkempt-looking forest, they are important for the health of the forest plants and animals.

A young shingle oak shows off its fall foliage on the Holcomb Tree Trail. The leaves of the shingle oak do not have the typical lobes found in more recognizable oaks. Photo by Eric Lukingbeal

Dead trees are home to a variety of wildlife. Insects live under the bark, or in heartwood that has been damaged by fungus. These insects are food for birds like woodpeckers. While excavating the trees to get insects, woodpeckers open larger cavities that they and other birds, like nuthatches and flickers, use for nesting. Eventually, these cavities get even bigger, making space for larger animals, like squirrels, porcupines, and even bears. These cavities are most often many feet above the ground, allowing for safe denning and roosting. Downed trees offer similar protection for ground species like rabbits, chipmunks and other rodents, as well as amphibians.

Downed trees also provide beneficial support to fungi and plant life. Fungi and invertebrates help break down the trees into nutrients that go back into the soil to be used by neighboring plants. As the wood is broken down, it also releases stored water. When a tree falls, it opens a space in the tree canopy, allowing in more light for younger trees to thrive and allowing plant species that had once been shaded out to grow.

The forests at Holcomb Farm are maintained by the stewardship volunteers of the nonprofit Friends of Holcomb Farm. They clear downed trees and branches only when they obstruct trails or could be a trail hazard. This land is owned by the Town of Granby, and the Department of Public Works assists when large hazardous trees need to be removed. Please do not take down or remove any trees from town land without permission. While they might appear ugly or messy, these downed and dead trees are essential to keeping this ecosystem healthy. If you are interested in becoming a stewardship volunteer, please contact Eric Lukingbeal at

Reminder: All Holcomb Farm trails, like all town-owned properties, require that dogs to be leashed.

Holiday gift bags, summer 2021 shares

If you have not already signed up as a 2021 Summer CSA member, please hurry, as shares are going fast. Sign-up at

2020 Winter CSA shares sold out quickly, but Farmer Joe and his team had such a great harvest this year that they are offering a limited supply of Holcomb Farm Holiday Gift Bags. In a handsome Holcomb Farm Tote, you’ll get: Approximately two pounds each of potatoes, rainbow carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, turnips, radishes and beets; a head of cabbage; a jar of our own crushed tomatoes and our own basil pesto. The price is $50 for 2021 CSA members, $55 for non-CSA members, pick up will be at the farm Dec. 18–23; cash or check only. This a great gift idea, but they won’t last. Reserve yours now by e-mailing

Paula Johnson (l.) and Shirley Murtha love the look of these Brussels sprouts—and the carrots, potatoes, winter squash, beets, greens, and more—at their first pick-up of the Winter CSA Season. Photo by Donna Snyder

Thank you for supporting Fresh

In October, the Friends reached out in a special campaign to raise funds for Fresh Access. Our goal, to replace the money usually raised through our annual harvest Dinner and Silent Auction, was to raise $15,000, money which goes directly to providing our fresh local produce to people in need. Thanks to many of you, we are excited to report that we exceeded that goal.

Please support Friends of Holcomb Farm

Each November and December, we turn our attention to our general Annual Appeal, supporting all the activities of the Friends, including land stewardship, Fresh Access, and general operating expenses. Our operating expenses are extremely low; we work hard, and leverage wonderful volunteers, to assure that most of the donations we receive go directly to the work that benefits the community. If you are able, please consider beginning or renewing your annual support for the Friends of Holcomb Farm. Go to and click on “Donate.” Thank you!