Friends of Holcomb Farm — May 2023

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Farming News

By the time you read this, Joe and his crew will have planted peas, onions and a whole lot more in the farm fields.

We send special thanks to the Granby Land Trust for access to the long field on the northwest side of the Salmon Brook bridge over Simsbury Road, which they own, and where we will, for the first time in three years, plant potatoes.

Meanwhile, considerable work was done to develop an erosion-preventing windbreak in the Carriage Barn field. The first to go into the ground were disease-resistant hybrid hazelnuts. The crew then prepped the rest of the area for our white pines, dogwoods, summersweet and other appropriate species.

The Farm Crew used the early spring weeks, before planting was possible, to prepare for the annual arrival of our friends from Jamaica—critical members of our farm crew who live each summer in the Annex of the main Farmhouse. They tackled significant interior painting and other maintenance in the Annex. The work, done in cooperation with the town, is yet another example of how there is never a lack of things to do for a farmer.

The Summer CSA shares sold out by early April, but you can still include Holcomb Farm produce in your meal planning beginning June 17, when the Farm Store officially opens for the season. We can’t wait to see you there, as well as at any and all of the other farm and trail-based events we will be hosting this summer in celebration of our 30 years of service to the Granby community. Don’t miss the information provided in this month’s Drummer insert and mark your calendars!

Fresh Access and Granby Social Services

This month, we highlight our partnership with Granby Social Services. Since 2017, the Friends of Holcomb Farm has been pleased to include the Granby’s Social Services Department as one of our Fresh Access program’s institutional partners.

Our institutional partners are the organizations that help us get the food we grow to people who might not otherwise have access, using funds provided by our members, donors and grant-making organizations. The focus of Social Services is to coordinate federal, state, regional and local services; to increase community awareness of these services; and to develop new programs to meet the needs of Granby residents. In other words, our partnership with the town is a perfect fit!

In 2022, as part of the new Lease and Use Agreement between the Friends and the Town of Granby, the Friends committed to continue to provide 15 half-CSA shares to Granby families and 2,800 pounds of produce to the Senior Center. Thanks in part to the continued annual support of the Granby Community Fund, we are confident in our ability to do so.

This is how the two programs work.

Senior Center: Beginning in mid-June and continuing for 22 weeks through early November, each Thursday the Senior Van picks up the week’s allocation and drops it off to the dynamic volunteer team led by Patty Sansone and Donna Snyder. They assess the quantities available and divide it up for registered Senior Center members. Last year, the drive-up distribution had cars lined up from the Senior Center all the way down the driveway to West Granby Road. If you aren’t a participant and would like to be for the summer of 2023, please contact the Senior Center.

CSA Families: Each year, Social Services reviews its clients to identify those who might benefit from the opportunity to participate in the CSA, including picking up their own food from the farm each week. The opportunity for these families to actively participate in selecting their weekly share, including picking fresh berries and flowers, can be transformative. We receive so much positive feedback regarding not only the food, but the experience. If you or someone in Granby you know could benefit from this program, please contact Granby Social Services.

Every Thursday, seniors line up for their weekly share of the harvest at the Senior Center. This service is provided through a collaboration between the Friends of Holcomb Farm’s Fresh Access program, the Granby Senior Center, and the Granby Community Fund. Photo by Donna Snyder

Invasives battle continues

Major invasive removal work was done at several sites on the Holcomb Tree Trail at the beginning of April. For dozens of years, invasive plants like bittersweet, multiflora rose, and Japanese barberry took hold in the farm’s pastures on the east side of Simsbury Road after the farming operations there ceased.

The annual mowing done by the Friends has helped to suppress these plants in the fields, but in the hedgerows and other places where mowing is not possible, these plants have grown up into the trees, encasing them with vines.

The Friends hired Ted D’Onofrio of TR Landworks to cut down and mulch all the invasives and damaged trees around the pond near the eastern edge of the fields. He also removed several trees that were overcome with vines along the hedgerow separating Still Field and Cedar Grove Field which now gives Tree Trail visitors a great view of the Holcomb Farm Main Campus with the farmhouse and barns—quintessential New England.

The newly cleared area around the pond will be restored with native shrubs to promote a healthy habitat for the pond dwellers. Trees will also be sited nearby, and we will work to make sure that the pond still receives plenty of sunlight, as this particular pond attracts species that prefer warmer water temperatures.

TR Landworks in Action, removing invasives from the East Fields at Holcomb Farm. Photo by Eric Lukingbeal

Volunteer Opportunities

Granby Senior Center Fresh Access drive-by weekly produce distribution on Thursdays, mid-June through early November, 10:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Two to three people are needed for this two-hour shift each week. Tasks: prepare produce, pack and deliver bags to waiting cars. You don’t need to commit for every week; we will coordinate a calendar.

Wheeler Healthcare weekly Fresh Access delivery driver. We need someone to deliver produce every Wednesday from Holcomb Farm to five Wheeler Healthcare locations, in Hartford, New Britain, Waterbury, Plainville and Bristol. One person needed for five hours; we have the van; we just need a driver.

Fruit harvesting at Thrall Homestead in Windsor each week from mid-August to mid-October.  Weekday afternoons, typically Tuesday or Wednesday, weather dependent. Five to 10 people needed for about three hours (two hours picking, one hour travel time). Tasks: Picking peaches, grapes and apples into bins and loading into designated vehicle. We will coordinate a calendar, so even one-time participation works.

Interested? Contact

Farm crew member Melody Smith plants hazelnuts, part of a future windbreak to protect the fields. Photo by Tom Spatcher