Friends of Holcomb Farm

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Sarah Thrall (left) and Friends of Holcomb Farm Board member Donna Snyder pose with apples they picked at the Thrall Family Homestead Farm in Windsor. Photo by Mark Fiorentino

It takes a village!

While the wet summer has not been great for vegetable growing, it has been super for fruit, and the bounty at the Thrall Family Homestead Farm in neighboring Windsor was overflowing. What to do? Friend and neighbor Sarah Thrall called and said, “Come on over and pick what you can” to add to the food we provide to our Fresh Access partners. The call went out, the volunteers showed up, and bushel upon bushel of apples and peaches and grapes were harvested. As of mid-October, 500 pounds of apples had been distributed, with 100-plus in cold storage, along with almost 500 pounds of peaches, and 50 pounds of grapes. Thank you! Thank you!

The harvest coincided with a special fundraising appeal for the Fresh Access program, which we are relying upon again this year in place of the Annual Harvest Dinner because of continuing COVID-19 concerns. The call for donations went out in early October, and we are hoping to raise the almost $20,000 realized in 2020: all earmarked for Fresh Access. Where else can you donate a $1, and have it immediately transformed into $1.40 worth of locally grown food, delivered directly to the people who would not otherwise have access? Thank you! Thank you! Donations are welcomed anytime, at

Farm bounty photo by Kim Deyo

It takes a farm!

As the growing season winds down, the opportunities to partake rev up. Here’s what’s happening at West Granby’s own nonprofit Holcomb Farm.

Although the Farm Store and summer CSA season closed Oct. 30, the Farm Store will be open Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5 and 6 for a pop-up market with lots of greens and winter veggies.

We are taking orders for fresh turkeys from Ekonk Hill Farm in Moosup. Order now and pick up in our Farm Store on Nov. 23. To learn more and order your turkey, go to:

Our Farm Store will be open Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 20 to 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a huge Thanksgiving Sale. If you ordered a Turkey, you can pick it up that Tuesday. We will be selling a wide variety of vegetables—all grown locally and without chemical herbicides or pesticides. We will also be at the Lost Acres Vineyard Annual Thanksgiving market Monday, Nov. 22, 1 to 7 p.m., offering much of the same.

For Christmas, we will be doing pre-bagged/boxed pick-up sales close to the holiday—details to be provided next month.

Mark your calendars for the Lost Acres Vineyard Annual Holiday Market Dec. 18, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Summer 2022 CSA shares are now on sale at our website. After careful consideration, share prices for 2022 are increasing for the first time in several years.

Half Shares are $390 cash or check; $400 by credit card; and

Full Shares are $750 cash or check, and $775 by credit card.

We sold out quickly last year, so don’t get left out. Also, don’t forget what an amazing gift a Holcomb farm CSA 2022 Summer Share might make for a friend or relative. 

Sarah Thrall (left) and Friends of Holcomb Farm Board member Donna Snyder pose with apples they picked at the Thrall Family Homestead Farm in Windsor. Photo by Mark Fiorentino

It takes many volunteers, and a lot of red maples

The Holcomb Tree Trail to the east of Simsbury Road continues to develop and grow, thanks to the enduring commitment of our volunteers. Here is Eric Lukingbeal’s report from Oct. 16. 

It was a perfect day for working outside, with light winds and no rain. Six trees were planted, staked and caged with hardware cloth. The six are: two Carolina silverbell cultivars (UConn wedding bells and Jersey belle) two sourwoods, one redbud cultivar (rising sun) and one Heritage River birch. Four oaks were also planted last week. 

Many thanks to the new volunteers: Amy and Jesse Eisler, Josh Anderson and partner Nicole, Fran Brady, and 10-year-old Max Swiniarski of East Hartland. The usual crew of Walter Ford, Jack and Peggy Lareau, Shirley Murtha, and David Desiderato showed up as well. We now have a pretty good seed bank of planting experience.

The last four issues of the Drummer have each featured a tree that’s been planted on the Holcomb Tree Trail. More than 70 trees have been planted by volunteers since 2018, comprising more than 25 species. But the Tree Trail is not limited to just new trees. It includes the mature trees along the miles of trails and in the hedgerows. There are more than 70 trees marked with 2×4-inch aluminum labels containing both the common and scientific names of the trees.

The one that stands out now in the early fall, is the red maple (Acer rubrum). It is also known as the swamp, scarlet or soft maple. There is something red about it in every season. In the winter, its buds are scarlet, turning a brilliant red as spring approaches. Its leaf stalks are red, even in the summer. In the fall, only the sugar maple’s orange surpasses it in splendid color.

The red maple has one of the widest latitudinal ranges of any North American tree and is the most widespread of all the maples. It favors swamps and flood plains, but it is tolerant of heat and drought. The nursery trade likes it, as it is easy to grow, fast growing and easy to transplant. It can even be tapped for maple sugar, although its sugar content is not as high as the sugar maple, so more sap is needed to make the syrup. Two favorite cultivars, red sunset and October glory, are fairly common in our town. Red maple is by far the most common tree in Connecticut. It is far ahead of the tree in second place—black birch, at 10 percent. The Northern red oak is in third place, at 6 percent. In the wild, red maple may reach 100 or even 120 feet. The Connecticut champion in Stratford is 70 feet high, with an 80-foot spread.

This red maple on the Holcomb Tree Trail can be easily seen from the mowed path around the Southeast Field at Holcomb Farm. Photo by Eric Lukingbeal