Holcomb Farm preserved

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Last month, we took a break from reporting on the usual activities of the Friends of Holcomb Farm to share the news of the Town’s decision to permanently preserve 277 of the Farm’s acreage as open space and enter into a long-term agreement with the Friends to “lease and use” the land for agriculture, education and passive recreation, for the benefit of all of Granby. Today, it’s back to work; doing what we have done for 30 years—with your support—stewarding the “jewel of Granby.” Happy holidays to all, and here’s to a healthy and fruitful 2023!

A Tale of Two Greenhouses

One of the Friends’ strategic goals is to “grow the growing season,” and in New England that means greenhouses aka hoophouses. In February 2019, Mother Nature decided to challenge that goal with 70 mph winds, which took down what was then our beloved Greenhouse #6 (GH6), home to our best chemical-free spinach.

As reported last spring, that greenhouse was reborn for 2022 as GH4, and I can personally attest to the fact that the spinach is amazing. If you are a Winter Share CSA member, you know this; others can still enjoy the bounty as well.

The late harvest is so strong that Farmer Joe has promised to have the drive-through winter veggie gift bags for sale again in December. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or make sure you are on our email list (contact cathy@holcombfarm.org) for the dates. We will also be at the Lost Acres Vineyard holiday farmers market, Dec. 17, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Weak end-walls in the face of strong winds were determined to be a cause of that 2019 GH6 collapse. Meanwhile, GH1 had end walls that needed some love, and the time was now to do the work. GH1 is exactly that, our first and most important greenhouse. Its doors are opened and closed more than any other structure on the farm. It is our nursery—has radiant heat—where every plant is started from seed and sheltered before slowly beginning their journey to the field. We had to do whatever necessary to make sure our plant babies were safe and sound.

Enter our newest Board member, Jim Szipszky, who rolled up his sleeves, along with Crew Leader Tom Spatcher, to rebuild the end-walls of GH1. GH1  now has solid columns, a level base, reinforced connections, some new siding, louvers, and more. Thanks, too for volunteers Dave Desiderato and Joe Walsh, and to Dave Emery for milling the lumber.

Jim Szipszky rolls up his sleeves and gets the job done. Photo by Eric Lukingbeal

Speaking of Winter Shares, Time for Summer 2023 Shares

The store was open in November, and customers raved about the winter veggies, augmented with greenhouse greens. Photo by Shirley Murtha

Winter Shares sold out early, but great fall weather allowed us to open the retail Farm Store for several days in November, inviting even more people to enjoy the harvest. This year, consistent with our commitment to people in need, Wheeler Clinic is the first Fresh Access partner to receive winter CSA shares. People who need the food we grow don’t stop needing it just because the days are shorter and colder. This is our first small step toward becoming a true, year-round fresh food resource, and we are thankful for our donors, for grants, and for contributions from Wheeler Clinic, for the funding to begin to realize this goal.

Wheeler Clinic clients in Hartford get their first taste of the continuing harvest, thanks to Fresh Access winter shares.

Summer is still the real deal at Holcomb Farm, and as of this writing, 2023 Summer Shares are on sale. If you are interested in purchasing a share, please hurry, as they will sell quickly. Go to: https://holcombfarm.org/join-our-csa/ to order. Despite inflation, we have held 2023 prices at 2022 levels. For those who can, this leaves open the opportunity to add a Fresh Access donation to your own purchase. Remember, for every $1 donated to Fresh Access, an estimated $1.40 worth of food reaches people who might otherwise not have access. It’s the best deal around.

Along the Trails and Meadows

The Tree Trail and land stewardship volunteers have kept busy throughout these colder months, as well. While long-range plans are being drawn up for expanding the Tree Trail, we can all face the coming winter with warm visions of literally thousands of daffodils blooming next spring in the fields to the east of Simsbury Road. Led by intrepid board member and daffodil-whisperer, Eric Lukingbeal, volunteers gathered in mid-November to add 500 daffodil bulbs to the 1000 already planted. One “before picture” is included here; stay tuned for the “after” picture, next June.

Back-breaking work is made easier with the knowledge that some 1500 daffodils should bloom brightly in the East Fields, come June, 2023. Photo by Shirley Murtha

Giving Thanks

Finally, the Friends want to give thanks to all our friends—members, donors, customers, partners, granting organizations—for the time, talents and treasure they share with us, each year, allowing us to “preserve, promote, and utilize this historic New England farm,” for the benefit of all of Granby and neighboring communities. Our Annual Appeal is underway, and we are grateful that so many of you will step up with financial support for our continued work. By the time the February Drummer comes out, we will be reporting that the 2022 farming season was the most successful ever, and that our plans for building on this success are even bigger. We do what we do for all of you, and we can’t do it without you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. See you in 2023!