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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 .

 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

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