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White Barn Farm Time!

Posted 2/7/2019 3:49pm by Christy and Chris Kantlehner.

    Well here we are! February 7th, closer to spring than to winter. February 2nd was Groundhog Day and the pagan holiday Imbolc, which marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Monday was the New Moon, Tuesday marked the start of the Chinese Year of the Pig, and Wednesday was Wrentham Elementary's 100th day of school! Today is Thursday, the day I will finally get back in touch with all of the fabulous people in the White Barn Farm community!

 This year's family vacation picture. Read the email I sent to the current CSA list a few weeks ago for more of that story and a couple more pictures.

This winter has had a different rhythm than last year, without our Friday online order pick-ups and all the updating, emailing, packing, and setting up that was involved. We would have happily continued with it, but our winter storage crops were not substantial enough to warrant winter-long sales this season. In its absence Chris and I have each taken up a little bit of part-time work - Chris ski patrolling at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury (excellent for kids and beginners!!) and I substitute teaching at Wrentham elementary from time to time.  We have also been trying to by-golly nail down this business model so that we are not always stressed about money!! Our dear friend and farming hero, Brittany Overshiner, has been helping us assess and create all of our business planning spreadsheets. It's like having a marriage counselor for our business. Our once-a-week, two-hour meetings with her have been astoundingly productive, generating a clear list of tasks for Chris and I to complete before the next meeting. 

    Speaking of the Overshiners, their farm, Upswing Farm, will be at the Ashland Middle School for a special Winter Farmer's Market this Saturday, February 9th, from 9am to 1pm. We finally have a mid-winter flush of spinach to harvest and it will be going to Upswing's winter CSA and this market. Our shallots and garlic have been going with Common Acre Farm (Mike's Micros) to New Bedford, Cambridge, and Somerville markets. Even our little yellow onions have been traveling to Pawtucket with Zeigler Market Garden every other Saturday. 

    Back at White Barn, the high tunnels and greenhouse have been buzzing with activity this week. The weather was positively lovely on Tuesday - sunny and 65!! In our small tunnel we seeded carrots in between rows of spinach and one bed each of radishes and Hakurei salad turnips. The early spring roots experiment is on! In our large high tunnel, I cleared the remnants of our lettuce mix to make way for Red Russian Kale, Arugula, and Mustard Mix. Four beds of spinach are holding strong in there. Not bad considering the drastic polar vortex events our region has been experiencing. Our pet olive tree and a host of perennial herbs are still thriving in the minimally heated portion of our propagation greenhouse. My battle with the mice and voles goes on and on.  Must protect the plants!! 

    Now let me get to the most important part of this email! It is time to send in your money! If you do the Farmstand CSA card, you can get a 10% bonus if paid before April 1st! $200 minimum. We can now accept payment online; discount the processing fee if you mail a check instead.  We have added a next level "Ultimate Farmstand Shopper" option - load your card with $1000 by March 1st and we will add a 15% bonus! Insert amazed faced emoji here!

   Sign-ups are going on for the Weekly CSA Shares, too! You can sign up for Spring, Summer, Fall, or all three! If you sign up for all three and pay by March 1st, we will send you a $20 WBF gift card (or add 20 bucks to your existing card). Click Here for all the pricing, dates and details. You can now pay for your Weekly CSA Share online, too! Same discount (ignore the processing fee) if you mail a check. SIGN UP NOW!

Community Supported Agriculture is our financing plan! Not only does your upfront payment allow us to buy the supplies we need to sprout the farm each spring, your commitment to taking home a share of what is fresh each week provides a consistent outlet for the very perishable products that we grow here at the farm! Designing a well-rounded weekly share guides our crop plan and even lets us know how many seeds we should buy. And we need to buy our seeds!!

Our CSA distribution has evolved over the years to accommodate the variable tastes of consumers, the desire we all have to not waste food, and the farmers' precious time.  Since we operate a farmstand anyway, we have CSA members take their shares right off the farmstand shelves, according to a chalkboard list provided by the farmers. Oftentimes there will be a choice between two or three varieties of greens or you can take a certain poundage (made up in whatever proportions you like) of cucumbers and zucchini or peppers and eggplant, etc. You always get to select which particular vegetables go in your basket - chosen according to your preference (maybe you want the love carrots, eggplant with the silly nose, or the patty pans that look like goggles) or what they will specifically be used for (small potatoes for boiling whole or large potatoes for oven fries for example). We aim for a share value hovering around $20/week, down from the $28/week shares we offered starting in 2009.  We find this smaller share to be a completely manageable amount of produce for most families to enjoy in one week.

That's it! As always, we hope this is the best season yet! Such a hopeful time of year!!! I am really enjoying the planning process this year and nerding out to youtube webinars of the Bionutrient Food Association Conference while I'm driving around, folding laundry, doing the exercise machine at the Y, etc. I heart learning!!

Thank you all for your crucial support! We could not do this without you!

Looking forward to the next occasion we have to throw a farmstand!

Christy, Chris, Graham, and the WBF team

P.S. This just in! Wine&Design continues . . . Laurene Hulbig is hosting a Terrarium workshop in White Barn Farm's greenhouse on Saturday, February 23rd, 1pm - 3pm. Check out the Facebook event for a full description or just sign up now!