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Monday, July 28, 2014

Farm Time

pine trees along the back field
Time passes in strange ways during the farm season. The weeks start to blend into one another as the pace of the season quickens, and soon I feel like the hours are seamless successions of planting, harvesting, weeding, sleeping, repeat. Instead of individual days strung together, the weeks become fluid and their passing is only noted by subtle punctuations and changes to routine. One day in the spring, the sun will suddenly become warm and we realize we no longer need our winter hats while planting spinach. Or all at once, after weeks of weeding and waiting, we’re able to pull our first long carrot roots from the field, and finally our early summer share has a new color in its palette.

This season has felt like any other in that way, with time passing rapidly or very slowly, and almost always vaguely. Wasn’t it just April? I’m not sure. Isn’t September next week? I’ll check. But I noticed today, when I took a long walk around the fields, a slight change in this pattern. As I scribbled down the projects of the week ahead, matching tasks to each new field I walked through, I thought about this season coming together as a collection of places, even more so than passing moments. I realized that this year, the pace of the season feels less defined by those familiar seasonal benchmarks and more so by the physical changes of the farm and fields themselves. Picking potatoes in July, I was reminded that our Apprentices spent some of their first weeks together this April carefully planting each seed potato in 250-foot long rows, 50 times over. In May, our Summer Crew joined us and we all started getting to know each other while pulling rye out of those same long potato beds. Now, two months later, we’re moving up and down the familiar rows, elbow deep in soil, treasure-hunting for those matured tubers -full crew and workshares picking, chatting and leap-frogging down the bed with a practiced but effortless choreography.
fairy tale eggplant ripening

In the back field, where we’re now scouting for our first ripe eggplant, I remember that leeks used to grow there in seasons past. Last week, my co-worker and I (both tall ladies), recalled extricating these leeks in a salvage-mission from amaranth trees that were taller than our heads. Tomorrow we’ll start picking our 2014 crop of leeks - also weedy - from the field that held our peppers and eggplant last season, and all our broccoli and kale the season before that. Beyond the 2014 allium field, our current season of peppers start to lean under the weight of growing fruit and I remember last season’s Summer Crew making hula skirts out of wreaths of grass they wrestled free from our 2013 sweet potatoes in that same corner of the farm. Here is the field that Kasey remembers picking winter squash from last season, tossing fruit after fruit from their orderly windrows into wooden harvest crates. Here is the field where the crew ate broken watermelons after work until we couldn’t bear to eat any more, and the field where the truck got stuck outside the fence line in a lightening storm, and here is the field where we saw a coyote suddenly break into a run and bolt towards the back meadow.

this guy

As I made my way back up towards the barn at the end of my farm walk, I stopped by the 4-H office, where Powisset’s livestock care-taker planted a butterfly bush years ago, and under the afternoon shade of which I know James, the tuxedo-ed farm cat, likes to lounge. As luck would have it, he was there and ready for belly rubs, and I took a moment to appreciate another incidence of place that the farm and this season had created. It makes me wonder, how the season feels for you. Does your summer pass quickly like ours does in the field, with weeks between pick-ups in the barn speeding by? Does the farm offer you a sense of time according to moments or to place? Like the time you tasted a season’s first strawberry, or the field in which you realized that sungold cherry tomatoes are your favorite.

Thinking of the farm as a collection of places, brings to mind how much has happened in these fields and barns throughout the seasons. So many cycles, so much life and so much time has come and gone and been renewed again in these spaces. And just like that, July ends this week and we press on to August, halfway through another summer season and yet still in the heady thick magic of farm time.

See you on the farm,
Tessa (on behalf of the Powisset Crew)

What’s in the share (most likely):
Full: summer squash, cucumbers, celery or arugula, scallions, leeks, lettuce, greens choice, cabbage choice, potatoes, beets, carrots, maybe peppers and/or eggplant

Small: summer squash, cucumbers, celery or arugula, allium choice, lettuce, cabbage or greens choice, potatoes, roots choice, maybe peppers

PYO: beans, parsley, sunflowers, kale or chard, dill flowers, first hint of raspberries.

Events and Awesomeness at the farm:
Tuesday: Jordan Brothers Seafoood at the farm from 1:30-6:30
Friday: 2pm-3pm, volunteer in the flower garden for Flower Power Hour
Saturday: 8am-noon, volunteer in the fields with the farmers

Launching Powisset Cooks!
(A note from our Farm-Based Education and Outreach Coordinator: Rachel Kaplan)

Tod bakes bread!

I hope by now that the majority of you have seen our amazing new kitchen and classroom. After months of planning and organizing, the time has come to launch our newest program at the farm, Powisset Cooks!

The following farm-based culinary workshops start on August 12 and we are beyond excited to learn and eat with you! Space in each workshop is limited so sign up quickly.

Please note that the Powisset Cooks! website is coming soon with online registration and the list of the rest of our workshops for 2014. For any questions, please email Rachel at

I look forward to seeing you all in the kitchen!
With gratitude,

From the Fields: Sassy Salads
Tuesday, August 12 | 4-6PM
Powisset Farm, Dover
Looking for creative ways to make your salads more exciting? Join Powisset Cooks! in the field for a short harvest followed by an exciting hands-on exploration in the kitchen with our Culinary Educator to learn new salad combinations that will spice up any meal. Limited to 12 participants, so sign up quickly!

For the Pantry: Pickling Extravaganza
Thursday, August 21| 4-6PM
Powisset Farm, Dover
Wondering what to do with your abundance of cucumbers? Join Powisset Cooks! in the field for a short harvest followed by an exciting hands-on exploration in the kitchen with our Culinary Educator to learn the fine art of pickle making. Limited to 12 participants, so sign up quickly!

From the Fields: Wild Edibles
Sunday, August 24 | 10AM-12PM
Powisset Farm, Dover
Do you know there are delicacies in our own backyards that we can enjoyJoin Powisset Cooks! in the field for a wild edible walk, followed by an exciting hands-on exploration in the kitchen with our Culinary Educator where we will prepare delicious treats. Limited to 12 participants, so sign up quickly!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Barn Dinner! Volunteer Opportunity!

Join us for another special barn dinner! 

Come! Eat! Celebrate each other and the beautiful farm and produce.  We will be hosting another special, potluck-style barn dinner at Powisset Farm on August 17th.  We will have tables set up down the center of the barn, farm crew in attendance, stories to tell and delicious food to eat!  
Last year there was even some (forced) sharing about why the farm is a special place to each of us! 

There is no fee to attend the barn dinner. 
If you would like to join us, please email Tod at: 
Then, make something delicious to share with about 6-8 people that night.  Bring your own place setting and beverages.  Bring you, your friends and your family.  
Eat with us and enjoy the farm in a new way!

I can't wait to share another lovely meal with you and the farm crew!
Space is limited, so secure your spot soon!

looks delicious!

happy people!

so festive!

Volunteer Opportunity:
We are looking for someone to help drive produce from our farm to one of our donation partners in Dorchester.  If you are free between 10am-1pm on Thursdays and are excited about helping us keep up with our donations, let us know!  
Please email meryl at: if you are available and interested!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Many Hands

just picked. by many hands.
This morning I did some quick math and figured out that about 5 billion hands have worked these Powisset fields over the last seven and a half years since I’ve been here.   OK, I’m not one for quick math with many hands multiplied by many hours multiplied by many years, but there have been so many people that have given work and time and love to this farm, making it what it is today.  And this morning as Tessa and I walked the fields making our plan for the week ahead, we passed our summer crew picking hundreds of pounds of cukes, two volunteers spending their morning weeding our herb garden and a greenhouse full of garlic, picked by friends the day before.   I imagined seeing all of the faces of the many people who have worked in these fields, lined up across the horizon, as if we were taking some group picture together.  I imagined them smiling, arms up towards the sky, like an old picture I have of a past crew member, as she tossed cherry tomatoes up above her, one summer day in 2007.
Yesterday, we had a special volunteer day.  Our crew invited our friends and family out to the fields for a work project and potluck dinner by the flower garden.  During the farm season, it can be challenging to make time for the ones we love (even when we live with them).  Our twelve hour days and exhausting work make it hard to make (or keep) social commitments and most of my friends know at this point to come find me at the farm if they want to see me, or wait until fall.  When we are focused on the weeding and the broken tractors and the endless harvesting we don’t always get to share the beauty of the farm with those that hold us in community outside of the farm day.  So, we decided it was time to bring our friends to the farm.  
this week's bok choi
And they came.  Family and friends arrived with food to share and energy to give.  Together we pulled over 10,000 bulbs of garlic, now curing in the greenhouse.  They pulled the beautiful alliums, significant because they represent the past and the future; planted last fall with our 2013 crew, to be enjoyed this season by our current farm community.  Like our friends and family, they see us through all the seasons; the calm of the fall, the cold of the winter, the hectic spring and the tired summer.  I ran the tractor through the fields, loosening the bulbs from their roots, watching new and old friends see me in my element, help me with my work and become even more a part of it.  

This farm can’t happen with my one set of hands. Can any farm?  I may write the plan with one pen but the words come to life as they are read and interpreted by countless crew members, volunteers, visitors, friends, family and strangers.  Yes, I think it’s been a billion hands in these fields. So far.  We lift bins together, pull potatoes, obliterate weeds and give high fives.  I hope we get a billion more hands in the next seven and half years.  That’s a lot of high-fives.

See you in the fields (and ready for a high-five, they are still cool, I swear),

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew


What’s in the share (most likely):

Full: lettuce, carrots, beets, squash, cukes, celery, potatoes, scallions, onions,
 cabbage or bok choi, basil

Small: lettuce, carrots or beets, squash, cukes, potatoes, 
 onions, cabbage or bok choi, basil

PYO: beans, parsley, sunflowers, kale or chard, dill flowers,

Events and Awesomeness at the farm:
Tuesday: Jordan Brothers Seafoood at the farm from 1:30-6:30
Friday: 2pm-3pm, volunteer in the flower garden for Flower Power Hour
Saturday: 8am-noon, volunteer in the fields with the farmers
Saturday: Great Sky Solar will be tabling from 10 am to 2 pm. 
Here’s what they will be offering in their own words: 

Greetings all! Great Sky Solar is making its way to the Powisset Farm share! We're Boston's only democratically owned solar panel installer. Just like the farmers at Powisset Farm we are local, bringing the community together to provide you with the best service and the best quality product made in the USA.

 Our cause is to work with you as a part of our green community to fight for a sustainable future. Here at the Powisset's Farm share we'll teach about how Massachusetts is providing huge saving incentives on solar. We are supplying a special opportunity to make $750 on each solar refferal!  Last but not least we are giving away free site visits!

This Week in the Stand:

Breaking Bread
They say, “What must you break apart in order to bring a family close together? Bread, of course.” And so this week, we’re very excited to offer bread in the stand. Our bread baker, France Murphy, grew up baking and cooking alongside her family in her aunt’s restaurant and bakery. Since that time, she’s been a chef, freelance artist and dog walker, living and working on both coasts of the country. She’s returned to her baking roots and is baking small batch baguettes in Medfield with four simple ingredients: organic flour, organic yeast, organic salt and water. She’ll be baking in the morning and delivering those loaves for our Tuesday and Saturday distributions. Enjoy; and as usual, let us know what you think!

Check the Fridge
New to us this week is Alpine Cheese from Appleton Farm. It’s a fresh swiss cheese without all those pesky holes.

You may also notice we’re transitioning over to Powisset Farm Eggs! Our ladies are finally getting their laying legs, and we are bringing a few dozen a day up to the farm stand. They are still in short supply, so be sure to get here early if you can.

Herb Garden:

Have you checked out the herb garden lately? It’s awesome! It’s that small garden behind the flower garden.  Did you know you can take home any herbs in there any time!? Yes, you can.  Please feel free to take a few springs for some sun tea or to eat with your veggies!  Right now there is: spearmint, chives, lavender and even some chamomile!  Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Woman and Machine

view from my favorite cultivating tractor
Have I talked about how much I love tractors?  I must have.  But maybe I haven’t yet, this season.  I love tractors.  I love the noises they make.  They rumble and hum and if you listen closely there is so much that a tractor will tell you about the task you are working on together.  I love the way the soil sounds as the tractor pulls plow blades, discs, or shanks through the fields.  The blending of the sounds of the whirling tractor combined with the earth flipping and turning, all muted through my ear protection is like listening to the album, ‘graceland;’ exciting and soothing and familiar and makes you want to smile and dance.   On tractors I am quiet and focused.  I have to be. It’s dangerous to drive tractors.  I have to be present and breathing and aware of both everything around me and only what is exactly in front of me.   On tractors I am strong even when my body isn’t.  On tractors, I kill weeds.  

I love tractors, but I hate when they break.  (this is only partly true, but I’ll get to that later).  And the other night, on a Thursday night after distribution, I sprinted out from the closing barn door to launch into a tractor seat for some late night work on our precious tomato crop.  Our tomatoes are prone to a fungus referred to as “late blight.”  So a couple times a season I spray the rows with a protective copper spray to shield them from the fungus that can take whole fields down in a matter of days.  I like to do this at night and all at once and swiftly and accurately.  And at the end of an already twelve hour work day, I have to be particularly focused.   

Well, so focused I was on finishing the task, that I forgot to fill the tank on the tractor, so I ran out fuel and then proceeded to incorrectly bleed my diesel engine, something I’ve done dozens of times. Yes, I am saying that this farmer, made one of those mistakes at the end of a long day that just makes you sad and frustrated and feel a bit ridiculous.   There I was, in full spraying gears: goggles, my handkerchief up around my mouth, ear protection on, sweat building up under my long-sleeved shirt as I grew impatient with myself.  The tractor was broken. And I wasn’t going to be able to fix it in that moment.  It was now 8:30pm.  There was pizza waiting inside for me, getting as cold as my face grew hot.  I finally gave in, tore off my gear and left a bucket under the tractor where the fuel was now escaping.  

Standing there, hot and worn and wishing I hadn’t cranked so hard on that bolt, I grabbed my teal bike with the basket and headed up towards the barn for the parts manual to the tractor.  I shut the fields’ gates as I rode and let out some long breaths.  At the barn, I tossed the thick blue and white manual into the basket and started to ride back , manual bouncing with each turn of the pedals.  Then I noticed the light, the sky, the orange and pink and stretched out clouds and the barn and fields were lit up and my face was now reflecting the light of the dying sun instead of my impatience with myself.  The land was soothing me and now I was smiling at this absurd moment; so much frustration set to such a gorgeous sight.  The days come and go and are beautiful and full of light and unexpected wonderful minutes as much as they are filled with mistakes and frustrations.   And sometimes tractors break.  And then they can be fixed, but that story is for another time.

look what tractors can do!

See you out in the fields! Maybe I’ll be on a tractor.

our oldest Cub. 1949.

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew


What’s in the share (most likely):

Full: lettuce, cukes, squash, onions, scallions, beets, carrots, fennel or kohlrabi, 
basil, cilantro, choice of greens
Small: lettuce, cukes, squash, onions or scallions, fennel or kohlrabi, choice of herbs, choice of greens, choice of roots

PYO: favas, herbs

Events and Awesomeness at the farm this week:

Tuesday: Jordan Brother's Seafood vendor...during pick up! 
(he's been running out by 6pm..some come early!)
Friday: 2pm-3pm volunteer in the flower garden during: Flower Power Hour!
Saturday: 8am-noon: volunteer in the fields with the farmers! All welcome

This Week in the Stand:

Meal Planning Made Easy
We’re introducing a new product in the Farm Stand this week: Farm2Fork Kits! These are kits put together by a small group in Wellesley, looking to provide creative and nutritious meals for folks that participate in CSAs. You take your kit, you take your CSA veggies, throw them together and boom: dinner. We’ve chosen just a few to try out, based on what veggies we’re currently pulling out of the field. The crew has taken these home and sampled them for you and it turns out they are as easy and delicious as you would hope. A favorite stand out is the farro and kale kit, but it’s  also hard to top a tasty zucchini bread, especially as our fridges start filling up with pounds of summer squash. Let us know what you think!

Get Yer Pies!
It’s pie week again, and we’ll be bringing in a small number of pies for purchase in the Stand. This round’s sweet flavor? Blueberry lavender with a cornmeal almond crumb. It sounds ridiculously delicious. Available this Thursday and Saturday this week!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Twining Tomatoes

The wind woke me up early this morning when I heard the tree branches shaking their leaves in a thick symphony deep into the woods outside my window, surrounding the farm.  I lay in bed thinking about the week ahead.  I did a mental scan of the fields and thought about what the crew would be up to this Monday morning.  I kept thinking of the tomatoes, those overflowing beds of green stems and soft leaves with yellow flowers and green fruit starting to take over the rows.  We would need to twine today.  I fell into a hazy morning slumber thinking about tying up the plants, protecting them from disease, getting them ready for harvest.

We plant our tomatoes into black plastic rows.  The plastic warms the soil, keeping the temperature high for the heat-loving plants.  The plastic also acts as a mulch, keeping weeds down, especially close to the plants.  Then we drive stakes into the earth, between the plants, at intervals of three or 4 plants.  As the plants grow, it is our objective to twine along with the plants, supporting them as they grow from six inches to nearly six feet, depending on the variety.

To twine, we slip the roll of twine onto our belt loops, becoming one with our string.  We pull the white string, strong yet thin, from the box and tie off to the end of the bed.  We scoop low along the plants, making our way from one stake to the next, in a move that could easily make it on to some work out video.  We squat and walk and extend our arms low along the plants and then high up over the top of the stake, holding it tight with the other hand so that we keep the tension on the twine.  Once around the stake, then tighten, then once around again.  For a five foot person it's uncomfortable, my fingers are fully pointed to the sky and I may even grunt unexpectedly to finally hook the twine over the top of the stake. However difficult, I embrace the challenge and start picking up speed as I move along the row.  Once we reach the end of the row we turn back down the other side to sandwich the wild tomatoes between the two sides of twine. 

If done well, you can look down the rows and see the plants standing up straighter, pulled up from the ground.  We twine so that the tomatoes are off of the soil, where they pick up diseases.  We twine to provide better airflow to our plants.  We twine so that we can harvest on upright plants.  We twine so our fruit does not rest on the ground where it will rot or be eaten by the bunnies who can't help themselves. 

Sometimes, the plants win.  They grow too fast for us to properly twine them.  Or, they grow limbs of tomato plants from the bottom out...and we can't tame them with our thin twine.  We do our best.  The tomatoes do their best.  We dance along rows and stretch our arms as tall as they will go and we walk with a kind of swagger with those boxes of twine resting on our waists.  Like so much on our farm, I love the ritual of twining.  Of being up close to the plants.  Of being a little uncomfortable, but pushing through it to see results.  And when those first ripe tomatoes hang perfectly at waist height and I reach in to pull one out between tomatoes and twine, I am proud.  Hopefully you will feel that same joy as you reach in for your first sun gold of the season, coming soon.

See you out in those fields of tomato stakes,

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew

What's in the share (most likely):

full: lettuce, carrots, beets, fennel, choice of greens, onions, scallions, potatoes, squash, kohlrabi
small: lettuce, carrots, choice of greens, onions or scallions, squash, choice of roots.

pick your own: peas, herbs, fava beans, flowers

Events and Awesomeness at the farm this week:

Tuesday: Jordan Brothers Seafood vendor at farm 1:30-6:30
Friday: Flower Power Hour, come volunteer with us: 2-3pm
Saturday: volunteer drop in time: 8am-Noon!

You can still Join Powisset's Flower CSA! (this is the last week to join)
Do you want a bouquet each week from our farm, expertly arranged? 
Check this out! 
 10 weeks of beautiful blooms arranged by Powisset Farm flower growers especially for you!
 Powisset Farm (37 Powisset Street, Dover, MA) in our CSA barn
  Tuesdays (1:30 – 6:30) or Saturdays (10 - 5)
 the beginning of July - ending the beginning of September
What you can expect:
  Each bouquet will feature fresh picked, sustainably grown focal and filler flowers tastefully arranged for your home, office or as a gift. Large, vibrant, mixed flower bouquets including your summer favorites: Sunflowers, Dahlias, Snapdragons, Zinnias, Asters, Celosia, Black Eyed Susans and other exciting and unique blooms.
How it works:
  At the beginning of the season, when you sign up for your share choose which day makes the most sense for your pick up day, Tuesday or Saturday. Flowers will be harvested the day before and kept cool to maintain freshness and extend their vase life.
  $100 ($10/week for 10 weeks) for a $150 value. You’ll be getting a high value product while supporting our farm and the expansion of our flower production. You’ll also be supporting flowers grown locally without harmful chemicals, by farmers working in a healthy working environment.
 If you’re interested in signing up or have questions please email Kasey -