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Saturday, April 8, 2017

April News from Appleton Farms

Good morning from Appleton Farms,

We have lots of news from the CSA this week, so we're going to save space (and your attention) for Andrew's post but we do have a few things to share about the farm this month.

We'll be welcoming new goat kids next week from our friends at Dancing Goats Dairy so come visit the farmyard if you want your fill of "completely adorable and endlessly playful". These wethers (castrated males) aren't much use to a goat dairy but they serve our educational purposes well and teach our school children, summer campers, and families all about the role goats play on a farm (think invasive plant control and yes...meat).  These little boys will be getting a big welcome and lots of love over April Vacation when we have a whole menu of week-long, drop in and one-time programs for children and their families.  Find more information on these programs below.

We're also gearing up for our Egg-cellent Easter Adventure, a well-loved family event on Saturday, April 15th.  Register early because this event sells out.  We're still looking for volunteers to help with our quest stations, face-painting, refreshments, and farmyard animals.  Click here if you'd like to sign up to volunteer and join the fun!


From the Fields:
It’s that time of year when spring teases you. A couple warm, sunny days followed by two inches of rain. On another beautiful spring afternoon honeybees abound on willow blossoms, then an April 1st snow storm. It came like a joke, as if Mother Nature wanted to play us a fool. So much for that early spring we had been promised back in late February. But just three days later the snow has melted and there’s warm weather in the forecast. Spring is around the corner and I think I speak for more than myself when I say we’re all anxiously awaiting its arrival.

In farming, we’re completely at the mercy of weather patterns. Too wet and we can’t get in the fields to plow and seed and plant our crops, but too dry and we’re worried we’ll run out of water next summer. It’s a delicate balance and most of what we do on the farm is worked around what the weather gives us. The powerful impact it has on our ability to grow high quality crops for the CSA hasn’t been more evident than last season, when an extreme drought left most of us in the region with our heads spinning. So we decided to service our gravel pack well this winter to improve the flow rate and tuned up the old irrigation pump in preparation for a drought I hope we never see again. And while recently it feels like we’re finally cashing in on all those rain dances we performed last summer, we need to be prepared for whatever comes along.

Despite the recent rain and our desire to get into the field, it feels like spring inside our greenhouse. We’ve spent the past couple weeks seeding our early transplants, which include onions, leeks, lettuce, beets, and spring brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale). These first weeks inside always feel so good with our hands finally back in soil and the green sprouts are a promise of what’s to come. We made a rather modest investment in a vacuum seeder this spring, which allows us to seed whole trays in a fraction of the time is takes to seed by hand. It doesn’t work with all types of crops, but the amount of times it saves makes it well worth the investment.

Other happenings on the farm include getting the last of our supply orders together, tuning up tractors and equipment and putting the finishing touches on the master crop plan. I want to mention that we’ve planned a seedling sale for shareholders that will happen during CSA orientation during the first week of June. We will offer a variety of organically grown vegetables, herbs, and flowers starts, so get your plants here!


Our crew starts next week, and with sun in the forecast we can’t wait to get to our hands dirty and get to work! 

Andrew

Upcoming Programs & Events:

Inspired by Spring: Vegetarian Culinary Workshop
Saturday, April 22nd 6PM-9PM

Spring has arrived on the farmstead and we’re celebrating the soon-arrival of wonderful seasonal crops we’ve all been waiting for.  This special vegetarian-inspired cooking class will incorporate farm foods & flavors of the season with signature dishes such as Dilly Beer-Battered Asparagus, Garden Spring Rolls with Sweet & Sour Maple Dipping Sauce, and savory Spinach & Farro Risotto, along with a seasonal dessert of course! Hands-on cooking, printed recipes, and professional tips & techniques by chef Carolyn Grieco, will all be included as we create our very own vegetarian Spring menu to share and savor at the end of our workshop!  BYOB beer and wine is allowed. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D Trustees Members: $72. Nonmembers: $90

Cheese Making Intensives with Cheese Maker Kristian Holbrook
Thursday April 6th or Thursday, April 27th 11AM-4PM
Spend the afternoon alongside Kristian and observe his process of turning 200 gallons of our Jersey milk into our rich and creamy farmstead cheese.  You’ll join Kristian in the Creamery at 11am just after the milk has been pasteurized and begin your in-depth, instructional cheese making day.  A comprehensive learning experience will follow, covering everything from rennet and rinds to brines and molds.  You’ll watch the process from coagulation to hooping with opportunities to ask questions at every step.  Lunch and cheese tasting included.  This class is for those considering cheese making as a career, serious hobby cheese makers looking to further their learning, or anyone looking for a distinctive experience and fascinating view into the world of cheese.  Before you leave, you will stop at our farm store and pack your own cheese box full of your favorite Appleton cheeses.  Sessions limited to 5 participants.  Significant periods of standing required. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Members: $200. Nonmembers: $250. 



For Children and Families:

Egg-cellent Easter Adventure at Appleton Farms
Saturday, April 15th  10AM-12PM
Say goodbye to the cold and celebrate the arrival of warmer weather here on the Farm! While we often associate eggs with the Easter Bunny, in many cultures eggs symbolize new life and are tied with the coming of spring. At this event, we celebrate spring, new life on the farm, and the bounty of fresh eggs produced by our hens. Go on the “Egg-cellent” Quest around the farm and learn about the journey from egg to chicken, collecting Easter eggs at each station to complete the Quest! Enjoy homemade refreshments and face painting in our Carriage Barn, visit with our chicks, bunnies and calves, try your hand at “candling eggs” and play games in the stone paddock! Quest begins at 10am.  Please plan to arrive between 10AM and 11:15AM and bring a basket of your own to collect the Quest eggs. Recommended for ages 8 and under.  Pre-registration required: http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D Trustees Member families: $24. Nonmember Families: $30


Appleton’s Farmer for a Week:
Tuesday, April 18th - Friday April 21st 
Come celebrate the plants, animals, and people emerging from the winter on the farm. In a small group, camp-like setting we’ll enjoy outdoor activities, gardening, exploration, and of course, try out some new recipes in the kitchen! We’ll learn some farmer yoga, help out with the farm chores, hike across the property in search of signs of the season, get our hands dirty in the soil, and find out how everyone at Appleton is preparing for the springtime! Program runs Tuesday-Friday.  Preregistration is required.  http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D Ages 5-8: 9am-12pm, Ages 8-10: 1-4pm. Trustees Members: $140. Nonmembers: $175.


Farm Felting
Monday, April 17 |  10AM-11AM
Warmer spring weather means its sheep shearing time on the farm.  But what to do with all that wool? Learn about the time honored tradition of wool felting. We’ll start by learning how to “card” the raw wool into soft fiber for spinning or felting. Afterwards, we’ll try our hand at making felt balls to be used for farm-fun necklaces. Wool, wood beads and decorative string will be provided, but feel free to bring anything special of your own to add to your necklace. Recommended for ages 6-9. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

Mason Jar Terrariums
Monday, April 18 from 2PM-3PM and Friday, April 21 from 10AM-11AM
It may still be too cold for fresh flowers or green grass so bring some green life inside with an easy and adorable mason jar terrarium. We’ll create a miniature natural world with gravel, soil, mosses and plants that can stay on your desk or windowsill. You’ll leave with a mini terrarium of your own, plus the skills to make bigger ones at home. All materials provided. Recommended for ages 7-12. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

Families in the Farm Kitchen: Cheese Making
Thursday, April 20th  10AM-11AM
Cooking together and having fun in the kitchen makes our farm family happy and we want to share that enthusiasm for cooking with you. With the help of our educator we will make a batch of fresh farm cheese while we learn about how our cows turn green grass to creamy, nutritious milk. Afterwords we'll enjoy the sweet fruits of our labor together. This program is designed for families with children ages 5-10. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

April Vacation Bread & Butter Making
Wednesday, April 19 from 10AM-11AM
Cooking together and having fun in the kitchen makes our farm family happy and we want to share that enthusiasm for cooking with you. We will work together to measure ingredients and kneed the dough to make our own homemade rolls. While the bread cooks we’ll turn fresh Jersey milk into delicious butter. Learn about our cows and enjoy the sweet fruits of our labor together. Recommended for ages 5-10 but all are welcome! An adult must attend but there is no additional charge. Pre-registration is required. This program meets in the farm kitchen. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D   Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

Earth Day Cook & Grow
Saturday, April 22nd 10AM-11:30AM
Celebrate our Earth, farming, and delicious food with this fun hands-on planting and cooking experience!  We’ll start in the teaching kitchen and get cooking. Kids will practice basic measuring and knife skills as we work together to whip up a tasty farm frittata with our own eggs. While our creation cooks kids will plant their own mini herb garden to take home. Learn about what plants need to survive and see what were planting in our own kitchen garden. Afterwards we’ll enjoy our snack together! Recommended for ages 6-10 but all are welcome! An adult must attend but there is no additional charge. Pre-registration is required. This program meets in the farm kitchen.  Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Member Children: $12. Nonmember Children: $20.

Meet the Cows

Saturday, April 22nd 3:30PM-4:30PM  
Ever wondered where milk comes from? On this special program designed especially for our young farm friends, we’ll enjoy calf close encounters, a cow story and costume, a tour of the milking barn to see our cows being milked and more! Learn why cows have big ears, how much milk they make and how we turn it into delicious cheese.  For ages 2-7 with an accompanying adult.  Pre-registration is not required.  Ticket price is per child, no additional cost for adults. Member children: $5. Nonmember Children: $10




Friday, March 17, 2017

March News from Appleton Farms

Good morning shareholders,

Our work in the greenhouse has begun which makes our vegetable growing season feel right around the corner.  We can't wait to welcome you all back in a few short months.  The farm is quiet under this rock solid snow cover with only a few cross country skiers braving the icy conditions.  If you feel like getting out for a walk this weekend come visit the 10 sweet little calves who are behind the dairy barn, the newly refreshed creamery viewing room, and the farm store which has plenty of milk, cheese and other goodies.  

We have a busy April full of great new programs for adults and children- try your hand at spoon carving, sign up the kids to spend April vacation week with us at "Farmer For a Week" or join us for our Egg-cellent Easter Adventure!  All the details are below or can be found on our website: www.thetrustees.org

From the CSA: 
Liz Green here, Trustees Vegetable & CSA Manager. I started here in October 2016, after 9 years farming in Eastern Mass (including 2 years at Powisset and Moraine, two of our other Trustees CSAs). I’m the manager & supervisor of all our vegetable farms, state-wide. 

I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve hired Andrew Lawson as new Appleton CSA Manager; he’ll be starting work on Monday, March 20 and will have several weeks to work alongside Ryan Wood before Ryan's last day on March 31. And Leah Jurman starts her 3rd season with us as Assistant CSA Manager - she’s a great asset to the CSA and the farm community and will provide continuity and institutional know-how to Andrew as he joins us. 

You’ll hear more from Andrew directly after he starts work at the farm, and you’ll see him in the fields and in the share room as we get towards June. Here’s a little about him, in his own words: 
"Spending my childhood on a family dairy farm instilled a passion for farming in me at a young age. Through these roots, I became an ardent supporter of organic food production, which led me through a master’s degree in soil science at Washington State University focusing on organic vegetable cropping systems. In 2010, I turned my focus back to farming and worked on organic vegetable farms in Maine and Western Massachusetts, seeking to cultivate a deeper connection to land and local community. Besides farming, I enjoy being active outdoors, good food, lively music and dancing. I’m thrilled to be part of the farm team and community at Appleton Farms and always welcome your engagement here on the farm." 

On farm, Ryan & Leah have been working hard all winter - between crop planning, equipment maintenance, seed and supply orders, and setting up the new greenhouses, we're ready to bring Andrew on board and jump into greenhouse and field work this spring. And special thanks to Ryan Wood for his four years of leadership at Appleton, especially for bringing the farm through a very tough drought year in 2016. We’re wishing him the best in his next endeavors! 

Upcoming Programs:

Culinary, Skill Building, and Cheese Making Workshops for Adults
                      
From Cultures to Rinds: Cheese Making Fundamentals
Saturday, April 1st 9:30AM-11:30AM
Spend the morning with Appleton’s own cheese maker, Kristian Holbrook for a hands-on cheese making class in our farm kitchen.  You’ll learn all the basics of making soft cheeses, make your own fresh cheese to take home, and get a tour of our dairy operation and creamery. Kristian will cover all the basics of cheese making and teach you exactly how to make delicious fresh cheese at home. Pre-registration required at our website www.thetrustees.org. Members: $60. Nonmembers: $75


Wild about Greens Culinary Workshop
Friday, April 7th  6PM-9PM
Kale, collards, chard, and more……garden greens are so incredibly delicious, nutritious, and versatile. They are also easy to incorporate in your everyday menus. Join us for this hands-on culinary workshop as we learn the ins & outs of these super-healthy farm foods, from cleaning & prepping in the kitchen, to pairing complimentary flavors and proper cooking times for best results. We’ll prepare a fantastic menu with dishes such as Farm Beef & Bean Collard Enchiladas, Curried Kale Salad, Swiss Chard & Saffron Couscous and more….fantastic, approachable recipes for keeping it healthy and ‘green’ all season long! This hands-on workshop includes instruction by professional chef Carolyn Grieco, printed recipe booklet and a full meal. BYOB beer and wine is allowed. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D Trustees Members: $72. Nonmembers:$90.

Spoon Carving Workshop with Spire WoodShop
Saturday, April 8th 9AM-12PM

Learn how to carve a spoon from a fresh cut wood with Alyssa Pitman of Spire WoodShop in Gloucester, MA.  This course is designed for beginners and will cover wood anatomy, axing out a spoon blank from a tree or tree branch, knife holds and techniques, basic sharpening skills, drying and finishing. Each student will walk away with their very own spoon as well as receive sand paper and flaxseed/beeswax oil for finishing.  After class you will also have the option to purchase the knives to take home.  Pre-registration required by registering online at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D Trustees Members: $68. Nonmembers: $85




Inspired by Spring: Vegetarian Culinary Workshop
Saturday, April 22nd 6PM-9PM
Spring has arrived on the farmstead and we’re celebrating the soon-arrival of wonderful seasonal crops we’ve all been waiting for.  This special vegetarian-inspired cooking class will incorporate farm foods & flavors of the season with signature dishes such as Dilly Beer-Battered Asparagus, Garden Spring Rolls with Sweet & Sour Maple Dipping Sauce, and savory Spinach & Farro Risotto, along with a seasonal dessert of course! Hands-on cooking, printed recipes, and professional tips & techniques by chef Carolyn Grieco, will all be included as we create our very own vegetarian Spring menu to share and savor at the end of our workshop!  BYOB beer and wine is allowed. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D Trustees Members: $72. Nonmembers: $90

Cheese Making Intensives with Cheese Maker Kristian Holbrook
Thursday April 6th or Thursday, April 27th 11AM-4PM
Spend the afternoon alongside Kristian and observe his process of turning 200 gallons of our Jersey milk into our rich and creamy farmstead cheese.  You’ll join Kristian in the Creamery at 11am just after the milk has been pasteurized and begin your in-depth, instructional cheese making day.  A comprehensive learning experience will follow, covering everything from rennet and rinds to brines and molds.  You’ll watch the process from coagulation to hooping with opportunities to ask questions at every step.  Lunch and cheese tasting included.  This class is for those considering cheese making as a career, serious hobby cheese makers looking to further their learning, or anyone looking for a distinctive experience and fascinating view into the world of cheese.  Before you leave, you will stop at our farm store and pack your own cheese box full of your favorite Appleton cheeses.  Sessions limited to 5 participants.  Significant periods of standing required. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Members: $200. Nonmembers: $250. 



For Children and Families:

Egg-cellent Easter Adventure at Appleton Farms
Saturday, April 15th  10AM-12PM

Say goodbye to the cold and celebrate the arrival of warmer weather here on the Farm! While we often associate eggs with the Easter Bunny, in many cultures eggs symbolize new life and are tied with the coming of spring. At this event, we celebrate spring, new life on the farm, and the bounty of fresh eggs produced by our hens. Go on the “Egg-cellent” Quest around the farm and learn about the journey from egg to chicken, collecting Easter eggs at each station to complete the Quest! Enjoy homemade refreshments and face painting in our Carriage Barn, visit with our chicks, bunnies and calves, try your hand at “candling eggs” and play games in the stone paddock! Quest begins at 10am.  Please plan to arrive between 10AM and 11:15AM and bring a basket of your own to collect the Quest eggs. Recommended for ages 8 and under.  Pre-registration required: http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D Trustees Member families: $24. Nonmember Families: $30


April Vacation Week!

Appleton’s Farmer for a Week:
Tuesday, April 18th - Friday April 21st 
Come celebrate the plants, animals, and people emerging from the winter on the farm. In a small group, camp-like setting we’ll enjoy outdoor activities, gardening, exploration, and of course, try out some new recipes in the kitchen! We’ll learn some farmer yoga, help out with the farm chores, hike across the property in search of signs of the season, get our hands dirty in the soil, and find out how everyone at Appleton is preparing for the springtime! Program runs Tuesday-Friday.  Preregistration is required.  http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D Ages 5-8: 9am-12pm, Ages 8-10: 1-4pm. Trustees Members: $140. Nonmembers: $175.

Farm Felting
Monday, April 17 |  10AM-11AM
Warmer spring weather means its sheep shearing time on the farm.  But what to do with all that wool? Learn about the time honored tradition of wool felting. We’ll start by learning how to “card” the raw wool into soft fiber for spinning or felting. Afterwards, we’ll try our hand at making felt balls to be used for farm-fun necklaces. Wool, wood beads and decorative string will be provided, but feel free to bring anything special of your own to add to your necklace. Recommended for ages 6-9. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20
Mason Jar Terrariums
Monday, April 18 from 2PM-3PM and Friday, April 21 from 10AM-11AM
It may still be too cold for fresh flowers or green grass so bring some green life inside with an easy and adorable mason jar terrarium. We’ll create a miniature natural world with gravel, soil, mosses and plants that can stay on your desk or windowsill. You’ll leave with a mini terrarium of your own, plus the skills to make bigger ones at home. All materials provided. Recommended for ages 7-12. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

April Vacation Bread & Butter Making
Wednesday, April 19 from 10AM-11AM
Cooking together and having fun in the kitchen makes our farm family happy and we want to share that enthusiasm for cooking with you. We will work together to measure ingredients and kneed the dough to make our own homemade rolls. While the bread cooks we’ll turn fresh Jersey milk into delicious butter. Learn about our cows and enjoy the sweet fruits of our labor together. Recommended for ages 5-10 but all are welcome! An adult must attend but there is no additional charge. Pre-registration is required. This program meets in the farm kitchen. Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D   Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

Earth Day Cook & Grow
Saturday, April 22nd 10AM-11:30AM
Celebrate our Earth, farming, and delicious food with this fun hands-on planting and cooking experience!  We’ll start in the teaching kitchen and get cooking. Kids will practice basic measuring and knife skills as we work together to whip up a tasty farm frittata with our own eggs. While our creation cooks kids will plant their own mini herb garden to take home. Learn about what plants need to survive and see what were planting in our own kitchen garden. Afterwards we’ll enjoy our snack together! Recommended for ages 6-10 but all are welcome! An adult must attend but there is no additional charge. Pre-registration is required. This program meets in the farm kitchen.  Registration at http://bit.ly/2mPcD3D  Trustees Member Children: $12. Nonmember Children: $20.



Monday, March 6, 2017

Moving forward

Greetings CSA members,

Although I announced my pending resignation a few weeks ago, I have been given special dispensation to return to CSA correspondence duty for one very special message. I am thrilled to announce that Appleton CSA will be reducing its membership from 650 to 550 for the 2017 growing season and will no longer be utilizing the acreage at Moraine farm for Appleton’s CSA program. This decision required months of consideration and approval at the highest levels of the Trustees. We will be fallowing fields at Moraine (seeding cover crops to build soil nutrients, prevent weeds and prevent erosion) while Ag Program staff plan for the future of that farm, separate from Appleton. 

Although on its face the move back to 550 might appear to be a return to the way things were run in 2014, this is actually a much more significant decision. Since its inception in 2002, Appleton has been growing steadily.  The Appleton CSA became a model both within the Trustees and within the larger community of what a CSA could be and the impact that it could have.   Moving back to 550 members marks a turning point for us: a shift from expansion to consolidation.      

I once asked my first farming mentor “When will you be done growing the business?” My assumption was that reaching a state of stasis would lead to stability within the business. He responded that “If you aren’t growing then you’re shrinking.”  At the time I took his answer at face value although I found the implications disappointing. Acquiring more land to work, engaging more customers and generating more revenue are  ways to grow larger but, as a farm, we can choose instead to grow stronger. We can focus on strengthening our relationships with our customer and business partners. We can build up our infrastructure. We can focus on improving our land and our growing practices. This is, I believe, the direction that Appleton is moving in with the decision to consolidate at 550 CSA members.
I wanted to make this announcement many times over the last several months to illustrate a frequent point in my blog posts over that time period: that the CSA is responsive and responsible to its membership and that it is moving in the right direction. But as I said, it took months to come to this decision and required a chain of conversation through several levels of management.

Everything in farming takes time, attention, and care. Obviously it also takes seeds, water, healthy soil biomes, etc., etc., but those things tend to have less metaphorical significance within the purpose of this message. Appleton Farms CSA is now receiving the attention and care it needs. Given a little time we will grow stronger and more resilient. We are on track to flourish.

Friday, February 3, 2017

February Newsletter from Appleton Farms


Good morning CSA Shareholders,

We are getting back to our monthly winter posts now that we are all feeling the farm rhythms ticking toward springtime.  Around the farm, we are saying hellos and goodbyes to new staff, preparing for maple sugaring season, registering kids for our summer farm camp, and spending lots of time in the farm kitchen.

We hope that you received our many emails about CSA sign ups- if you haven't done so, you need to register now by calling Susan in the farm office at 978.356.5728. We are taking names from our wait list at this point, so don't miss your opportunity to enjoy a weekly share of farm veggies this summer.

We wish the snow would return so our friends at North Shore Nordic could get back out on the trails with their groomer.  The one day we had a good amount of snow, we saw lots of smiling, red-cheeked skiers crossing through the farm. If you've ever wanted to ski through the Great Pasture, it is now possible! Check our their trail network here to plan your next adventure when the snow begins to fly.

We have welcomed Jeff and Sarah Casel to the farm from upstate New York where they spent their years dairy and vegetable farming.  Jeff is our new Dairy and Livestock Manager and Sarah has been helping out in our farm store- they both work and live on the farm so you're bound to run into them soon. We have also said a pseudo-farewell to our CSA Manager Ryan who will be moving on when we hire a new CSA Manager but lucky for all of us, he is sticking around to help train his replacement.  Our dear Kate Lanou, Dairy Technician of three years is moving to western Massachusetts.  You may have met Kate when visiting the cows. She always took the time to educate families visiting the dairy barn and her friendly, warm demeanor will be missed.  To add support, Jacob Quiring, once a volunteer, is now full time on the dairy team. Jacob grew up on a dairy farm and brings a thoughtful approach and deep base of knowledge to the farm. We are looking for new team members to join as CSA manager, CSA apprentices, livestock technician, and Appleton Farm Camp counselors. If you know great folks who want to spend time on the farm, send them on over to us.  


Our kitchen has been active all winter with our series of Appleton Cooks! workshops and weekly cooking skills classes with Acord Food Pantry clients and Cooking Matters. Coming up you'll find From the Farm Kettle: Stews, with Chef Carolyn from Carolyn's Farm Kitchen, From Cultures to Rinds: Cheese Making Fundamentals with Kristian Holbrook and Happy Hour in the Sugar Shack with sweet and savory maple treats from the earth oven and local beverage pairings.  We want to publicly thank the new set of Appleton Cooks! volunteers who have been lending a hand at classes all winter. You are the best! Thank you.





February vacation is right around the corner for the kids, so if you're planning a stay-cation, make sure to stop by for Bread & Butter Making, Cheese Making for Kids, and Farm Felting.  We also have a new Vacation Week at Appleton Farms with morning drop-off programs for 5-7 year olds and afternoon drop-off sessions for 8-10 year olds where we'll we’ll explore the forest, field, and barnyard in search of animal tracks and signs; see how our cows, sheep, and rabbits are coping with the weather; build snowy farm animals; and try out some new winter recipes in the kitchen.




From the CSA: Hi everyone! I'm Leah, your Assistant CSA Manager.  Like an Instagram takeover, I’ll be taking over the CSA blog for awhile.  Now is the time of catalog perusal. Freshly printed, they arrive on our desks ready and full of new and replacement varieties, and old favorites. And from there vegetable day dreams give way to more substantive number crunching. It’s The time of year when what you are hoping for gets distilled into spreadsheets and plan books. Many different factors go into variety choices: its previous performance, days to maturity, cultural needs, disease resistance, yield, and very importantly taste and texture, all must be considered and balanced before selection. Then we wait patiently for their arrival, so we can check and double check and organize and store them safely until they are needed.

It’s not just supply orders that are important right now. The methodology of the season has its groundwork laid in winter. How each crop is grown and when, reflection on the previous season and what we can do differently to improve. Planning for a potentially repeat of this last summer’s weather, we are shoring up our irrigation infrastructure and action plans. Currently the well is getting inspected for needed repairs, and we hoping to have maximum flow and pressure to optimize the use of our current equipment. We are also outside of our material needs, searching for the right group of people to join the CSA team, building a cohesive and strong crew. With greenhouse work around the corner, beginning with seeding onions and leeks and shallots, there is plenty of work to do, and not only do we want to do it well, we want to have a team that compliments and learns from each other.

Still a lot to come, and looking forward to it -  Leah

Volunteer Opportunities:
Maple Sugaring at Appleton Farms
Date Range: Mid February – End of March 2017
Days of the Week: Monday – Saturday 9AM-2PM (minimum 3 hr commitment)
Have you ever made maple syrup and want to share your knowledge? Want to learn about the process and get some hands on experience? We are looking for a few dedicated volunteers to join us during the maple sugaring season at Appleton Farms! Tasks include helping to collect sap from the buckets and collection tanks and undergoing training to help us boil sap in the evaporator. We are currently looking for individuals who can fill both positions.
Sugaring is entirely based on the weather and sap flow so the days we boil can be irregular. However, we hope to collect and boil on Mon-Sat. between 9AM-2PM. For Boiling we are looking for volunteers who can commit to at least 2 days a week for at least 3 hours a day. For collecting we are looking for people who can commit to 2 days a week from 1PM – 3PM. Volunteers can request specific days of the week and will only be asked to work on those days if the conditions are right and the sap is flowing.

Interested volunteers should be at least 18 years of age (although adults are welcome to bring responsible children along), able to lift up to 30 pounds and capable of being outside in cold weather. We will be hosting two training days for interested volunteers, which you must attend in order to receive the proper training. Training sessions are Wednesday, February 8th from 2-3:30pm or Saturday, February 11th from 10-11:30am.  Please contact Marc Mahan for more information or to sign up at mmahan@thetrustees.org .

 Program volunteers needed for Sugar Shack Saturdays: 
Saturdays March 4th, 11th, and 18th from 9:30am-12pm and/or 1pm-3:30pm
At these Sugar Shack Saturday events, we welcome 30-40 people at each session to see how we turn sap into sweet syrup. We start by getting creative with some maple themed crafts in the Appleton Old House or Carriage Barn then get outside and explore our very own sugar shack. We end back inside with a farm snack, including Appleton Farms cheese, apple slices, and homemade maple ice cream while we read a story about maple sugaring! Volunteers help with registration, parking, setting up food, and cleaning up.  These are fun, busy, and educational events with lots of smiling rosy-cheeked children and their parents.
To help with any of the programs above, email: Caroline Rouillard at crouillard@thetrustees.org

And last but not least...farm camp registration is now open! Register here


Monday, January 23, 2017

Like a long overdue Christmas card, I am finally updating the blog in mid January.  So much has been going on in the months since the finally post of the CSA season.   Each week I delayed writing, my list of updates grew longer and more onerous to tackle.  Rather than trying to cover everything all at once and exhausting both myself and my intended readers with a wall of text, I am going to try and easy back into the monthly blogging habit.  I’ll keep this fairly short and focus only on especially important or relevant updates.
First I need to announce that after acting as a manager at the CSA for the last four years, I have decided to pass the torch.  I have loved my time working at Appleton but feel ready to move onto a new adventure.   I am going to stick around for the next several months while a new CSA manager can be found and trained and I have offered my help beyond this point in a more limited capacity as a consultant, machine operator, chief weed puller and bug squishier, or in whatever way I can be most useful.  Our goal is to make this transition as smooth as possible.  The Appleton CSA has seen many managers come and go so I have no doubt it will only improve with some fresh blood.
Speaking of fresh blood and smooth transitions, I will begin turning responsibility for the blog over to assistant CSA manager Leah Jurman.  Most of you should be familiar with Leah from her past two seasons at Appleton and I have every confidence that she will be able to accomplish here what I never could: keeping these posts short and sweet.  Leah will also be available as the contact person in all CSA matters in the interim as we seek a new CSA manager.
In other major farm news, construction has finished on our second greenhouse and it looks amazing!  With more than double our greenhouse growing space for next season we should be able to overcome one of our major production bottleneck with plenty of room left over.  We are considering different ways to utilize the new space such as growing for a spring plant sale or growing vegetable transplants for other farms.    
We are moving forward with repairs to our irrigation pump which should return Appleton’s water supply to full capacity.  Reduced pump efficacy is very likely the cause of our water issues but if it turns out that we have a secondary problem, these repairs should also help to pinpoint what and where the problem is.   Even with this rainy winter we have only just move from “Extreme Drought” to “Severe Drought” so setting up effective irrigation systems  continues to be a top priority and a challenge we want to be ready for next season.
Finally, I can’t pass up the opportunity to remind everyone again that the window for a guaranteed CSA renewal has closed!  We are beginning the process of offering CSA shares to our waitlist.  If you are still interested in renewing your share, please do so now to reserve your spot.  If you are having trouble finding the link to our online renewal page, please check your spam folder first.  If you need any additional assistance, please call Susan Lewis in the farm office at 978.356.5728

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Appleton CSA Final Week of 2016 (Hiatus Week- 21)

Good morning shareholders,

For some the CSA season has now come to a close. 
For those of you who opted to take the voluntary hiatus, welcome to the final week of the CSA. Can't remember if you signed up for the hiatus week? Email appletonfarms@thetrustees.org to ask Susan or Ashley.

I'm pleased to be able to say that we will have a more extensive share this week than we would have been able to provide to all of you way back in the first week of August.  At the time it was a bit of a gamble but it paid off.  The structure of the CSA may be a little bit different this week.  Certain items that had been limited with the intention of making sure everyone had an equal chance at an equal share may have those limits relaxed.  Our game plan is and has been to distribute as much food as possible and our hope is that our cooler and all of our storage crops will be completely gone after our very last share room customer this week.  

Although there were certainly low times and high times we hope that your farewells to this season are fond ones and we hope to see you back in the spring.  Remember to renew your CSA membership online and give us a call or shoot us a message if you have any problems or concerns about renewal.  Be sure to check your email for a season wrap up in the coming weeks and to stay abreast of any updates from the CSA.  Stop by the farm to see us this winter for some farm programming fun or just stop by to say hi and grab a warm drink at the Farm Store.

The share:

Carrots
Potatoes
Turnips
Garlic
Scallions
Radishes
Beets
Cabbage
Kale/Collards
Greens
Broccoli
Kohlrabi 


As a reminder, we have come up with an alternative to the Appleton Thanksgiving share with the Three River FarmersAlliance share.  If you haven’t all ready grabbed a flyer from the desk in the share room, make sure to check it out!  You can sign up by filling out the form at the bottom of the flyer then either handing it in to Ashley or by writing “Appleton” on your form and mailing it to the address listed.  Don’t forget to include your payment along with your form.  Checks can be made out to Three River Farmers Alliance.   You can pick up your Thanksgiving share on Monday November 21st between the hours of 1pm and 3pm in the Appleton CSA barn.

Renewals for the 2017 Appleton Farms CSA are now open for current CSA members.  Primary shareholders received an email containing a link for signups on Tuesday, October 18th.  If your primary shareholder has not received this email please contact Susan, our CSA Coordinator, at appletonfarmsCSA@thetrustees.org or 978.356.5728 ext.  4110. 

Upcoming Programs:
Sweet as Pie Culinary Workshop  | Saturday, November 19th - Two sessions- 10AM and 3PM
Its pie time and we have you covered for the Thanksgiving holiday. Join us in the farm kitchen as we learn all the basics for making delicious country-style pies including techniques on tender homemade pie crust, rolling & assembly, and proper baking.…..all while keeping it fun, simple, and stress-free. Workshop includes hands-on preparation of 3 different pies and each participant will take home one unbaked 9” deep dish pie (apple variety) to pop in the freezer and bake fresh for the holiday table! Warm pie will be enjoyed with coffee and tea at the end of the workshop. (recipes may include Rustic Caramel Apple Pie and Pear & Ginger Pie) BYOB or wine.



Farming in the First Period with PeterCook  | Sunday, November 20th 4PM
Farming, together with fishing, was the lifeblood of the first settlers. They brought English seeds, animals and farming methods to the new colony, but had to adapt them to the environment. Peter Cook will compare English agriculture (plantings in long straight lines produced by plows) with the mound agriculture of Native Americans produced by hoes. He will illustrate the farm animals brought over, mainly cattle and pigs, and how they were kept, used and shared among the colonists. He will illustrate the different crops, the enclosures and fences. The agriculture of the First Period was distinctive then and is fascinating now.
Presented by the Ipswich Historical Commission with The Trustees as part of the annual Thanksgiving celebration, "Ipswich is First…Period."

Peter Cook is a nationally recognized expert on colonial agriculture. During his long career, Peter has served as chief curator of Plimoth Plantation, administrative director of Historic New England, and chief curator of the Bennington Museum. At Plimoth he established a program to breed early species of livestock. Today, Peter is a professor in the graduate program at Lesley University.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Appleton CSA Week 20 (October 24-28th)

Good morning shareholders,

We have lots to tell you about the share, field updates, and renewals so we will keep the farm news brief this week.  This Sunday, we'd love to see you at our final Down on the Farm: Fall Concert with Rust Never Sleeps.  There will be a pumpkin contest, trick or treating for kids, food trucks, beer and wine, and of course, great music.  The fun begins at 4pm and all the info can be found right here.

We are thrilled to announce that Liz Green has joined the Trustees Agriculture Team, stepping into the statewide Vegetable & CSA Program Manager role.  Liz has been farming since 2008, and has worked on a variety of vegetable farms in Eastern Massachusetts, including our own Powisset and Moraine Farms. She was most recently the Farm Manager at Three Sisters Farm in Ipswich, which she helped launch from scratch. Liz brings her deep knowledge about farming as well as a strong connection to the North Shore community.  She will be working with Ryan and all of our CSA Managers across the state to support the farms, farmers, and the CSA programs.  Liz will have her office at Appleton so you'll be sure to see her in the share room throughout the season.

The Share:
Kale/Collards
Chard
Beets
Turnips
Potatoes
Greens
Carrots
Radishes
Cabbage
Garlic

Field Updates:
As we mentioned in our mid week update, share renewals are now live for the 2017 CSA season.  If you are a primary shareholder you should have received an email with a link to our signup page at this point.  Please contact Susan in the office at 978.356.5728 ext. 4110 if you haven’t received the email yet or if you have any questions about the renewal process.  Although we are coming to the end of an extremely challenging season, we have done everything possible to build momentum in the share room over the last several weeks and I expect that next week, our final week of share for those who weren’t able to take the summer hiatus, will be one of our very best.  There is no denying that part of becoming a CSA member is assuming some share of the risk that comes with farming.  Over the years we have seen bumper crops and crop failures but this is the first season that we have seen crop failures on such a level.    Now that we are aware of how dicey things can get, it would be difficult not to perceive our shared risk more acutely than ever before.  I would not try to downplay this risk in order to convince our shareholders to sign on for another season, rather I would like focus on the steps we took to shield our members from the worst of the drought and how hard we worked to turn a tough situation around and end on a high note.  I can’t promise that next season will be perfect but I can promise that we will work just as hard and give everything we have to make next year as great as it possibly can be. Food for thought as you consider renewing.

In the fields we are chipping away at all the usual fall tasks: collecting various pieces of equipment and tools that have become dispersed around the fields, rounding up irrigation parts and frost clothe, removing drip tape and taking down trellising.  We are still very busy with the harvest and each week provides fewer and fewer daylight hours to work with but little by little the farm is being prepared for its winter slumber.  This week we began planting the garlic, a task I love dearly and have written about at length in years past.  It has been so warm that I’m a little nervous the garlic might put on too much top growth before winter sets in but this would only be a minor set back.  

Construction on a new greenhouse began today.  This is a project that has conceptually been in the works for at least 3 years but only became a reality in the last couple of months.  The new 30x60ft structure has been desperately needed to solve some work flow and space issues that have handicapped our greenhouse seeding efforts (especially in the early spring).  The most obvious benefit to the CSA that I can think to mention is that we will be able to seed, and therefore transplant and eventually harvest, our tomatoes much earlier than in the past few years.  I will probably write about this project at much greater length in the future but for now let me offer a deep and heartfelt thank you to Gerry Bouvier, the project manager, for bringing our greenhouse dreams to waking life.

As promised in last week’s blog post, we have come up with an alternative to the Appleton Thanksgiving share with the Three River FarmersAlliance share.  If you haven’t all ready grabbed a flyer from the desk in the share room, make sure to check it out!  You can sign up by filling out the form at the bottom of the flyer then either handing it in to Ashley or by writing “Appleton” on your form and mailing it to the address listed.  Don’t forget to include your payment along with your form.  Checks can be made out to Three River Farmers Alliance.   You can pick up your Thanksgiving share on Monday November 21st between the hours of 1pm and 3pm in the Appleton CSA barn.

Upcoming Programs:
Thanksgiving on the Farm Culinary Workshop  | Sunday, November 13th 4PM

Jazz up your traditional holiday table with updated classics and helpful tips for keeping this special holiday simple & stress-free.  We’ll talk turkey, covering tips on safe handling, roasting, stuffing, and carving while preparing a full menu including homemade stuffing and dishes such as Mushroom & Sourdough Stuffing, Apple-Roasted Vegetables with Pancetta & Thyme, Farm Potato & Celery Root Gratin and Spiced Pumpkin Trifle…..all sure to be a big hit with family and friends.  Our workshop ends with our very own Thanksgiving celebration in the farmhouse dining room.  Hands-on cooking, experienced chef instruction, & printed recipes included. BYOB or wine. Members: $72. Nonmembers: $90


Sweet as Pie Culinary Workshop  | Saturday, November 19th - Two sessions- 10AM and 3PM
Its pie time and we have you covered for the Thanksgiving holiday. Join us in the farm kitchen as we learn all the basics for making delicious country-style pies including techniques on tender homemade pie crust, rolling & assembly, and proper baking.…..all while keeping it fun, simple, and stress-free. Workshop includes hands-on preparation of 3 different pies and each participant will take home one unbaked 9” deep dish pie (apple variety) to pop in the freezer and bake fresh for the holiday table! Warm pie will be enjoyed with coffee and tea at the end of the workshop. (recipes may include Rustic Caramel Apple Pie and Pear & Ginger Pie) BYOB or wine.

Farming, together with fishing, was the lifeblood of the first settlers. They brought English seeds, animals and farming methods to the new colony, but had to adapt them to the environment. Peter Cook will compare English agriculture (plantings in long straight lines produced by plows) with the mound agriculture of Native Americans produced by hoes. He will illustrate the farm animals brought over, mainly cattle and pigs, and how they were kept, used and shared among the colonists. He will illustrate the different crops, the enclosures and fences. The agriculture of the First Period was distinctive then and is fascinating now.
Presented by the Ipswich Historical Commission with The Trustees as part of the annual Thanksgiving celebration, "Ipswich is First…Period."

Peter Cook is a nationally recognized expert on colonial agriculture. During his long career, Peter has served as chief curator of Plimoth Plantation, administrative director of Historic New England, and chief curator of the Bennington Museum. At Plimoth he established a program to breed early species of livestock. Today, Peter is a professor in the graduate program at Lesley University.