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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.