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Posted 1/30/2009 10:33am by Christy and Chris Kantlehner.

Hi Folks!

The days are finally lengthening. In fact, our French farmer friend, Jean-Claude, has revealed it is soon to be Chadeleur (officially February 2) - the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox! Whoopeee, I say!  Jean-Claude says celebrate with galettes, crepes, and cidre!

Despite the thick covering of snow on the ground today, sun is shining and wheels are turning in farmers' heads.  

Who thought farmers could be so stationary and nerdy, sitting in front of Excel spreadsheets and five seed catalogs for days on end?  Chris and I geeked out for four days of calculating and deciding on seeds, isolating ourselves in libraries and coffee shops.  I want you all to know that organic seed potatoes triumphed over conventional seed potatoes, despite the fact that they cost four times as much!!!! Good Grief! Higher Conscience wins at White Barn Farm.

To my enormous delight, our crop plan, field maps, and seed order are all finished. This allows us to estimate the quantity of potting soil we will need - so that order is in!  We went in with several other farmers on a bulk order of organic potting soil from Macenroe Compost in New York.  Hurray for cooperation between small farmers!

We also know the amount of greenhouse space we will need - we have picked up the parts of the kit to assemble the latest (hopefully the final) greenhouse at White Barn Farm.  Gretta Anderson of Belmont CSA gave us the opportunity to disassemble and buy a really nice 17'x28' greenhouse with a double layer of plastic (with a layer of blown air between for excellent insulation) and roll-up sides.  We decided to buy enough material to extend the length to 72' so we should have plenty of room to supply seedlings for 3 acres!  Yesterday my dad, the secret wizard behind White Barn Farm, took a road trip to get the parts from Ledgewood Farm in Moultonborough, NH where the farmer makes greenhouses in addition to running his own farm.  

Gretta also generously donated a rainwater collection system - a series of 55 gallon barrels connected by PVC.  She wanted to give them to a farm that has lots of roof area (our barn) and pays for water (our irrigation pond exists only in fantasy).  We need to build our packing/washing area anyway, so we are coming up with a design to mount several barrels up high for collection directly from the barn gutters that will then gravity feed out to a larger collection series in the greenhouse.  We can then pump out of those barrels to water our seedlings.

I have started my publicity tour. Sunday, Chris and I were part of the panel discussion at the first film in a series called The Green Reel. We all gathered at Agudas Achim Church in Attleboro to watch King Corn and talk about industrial farming.  We were able to plug our CSA and Liberty Farm's organic beef and pork.  Last night, I gave a slideshow presentation of my travels to farms in Europe and this past year's adventure starting White Barn Farm for Wrentham's Sohoanno Garden Club at the Fiske Library. I am cracking up a little bit about my publicity tour, but it really does feel good to connect with some new folks and feel some of the groundswell of enthusiasm for truly local, organically-grown vegetables. 

Other upcoming stints include Thursday, February 5: the Green Fair in Franklin and Wednesday, February 11: talk for the Open Space Committee at Fiske. More details are on the "calendar of events" page of the website.

Stay tuned! There are still CSA shares available and there is still time to order beef and pork from Liberty Farm in Vermont.

Thanks for reading!

Christy 

 

 

Posted 12/28/2008 10:42am by Christy and Chris Kantlehner.

Hi Again, Everyone!

It is a gloomy Sunday here in Wrentham. 60 degrees, though. These weather conditions warrant a jog through the Trout Pond Conservation area, which I get to through the woods across the street from the farm.  I hope everyone had happy holidays. I spent a glorious couple of hours in the 80 degree hoophouse on sunny Christmas day, cleaning out the yellow leaves and hauling 5 gallon buckets of rainwater to do the very infrequent watering required to keep all the little greens thriving.  I am very impressed at the survival of the lettuce, the continual harvest of radishes, and the tenderness of the arugula.

December 13th we had a cyclocross race here, hosted by my cousin Thom's bike shop, International Bicycle Centers.  It is really best to read his descriptions and check out the pictures on his blog, http://wellonabigbikeya.blogspot.com/.  Christian and I attempted a farm fundraiser selling farm-based treats: Quesadillas with cheese, prosciutto, and arugula from the hoophouse, another version with curried leeks and kale, another with pesto from the freezer and my oven dried Principe Borghese tomatoes, preserved in olive oil.  I got out some frozen grated zucchini and whipped up some of my mom's zucchini bread recipe, served hot from the toaster. We sold some organic fair trade coffee and shortbread cookies to round out the offerings.  The turnout and positive spirit of the race was awesome.

The snowstorm on the Solstice had Christian and me snowed in at his place in Somerville, working on our crop plan for the 50 member CSA and the Saturday roadside stand . . . which brings me to the whole point of this entry: the temporary roadside stand will continue in 2009! Only it will be more glorious than 2008.  We are planning to offer a wider range of produce and certainly more of it.  We will set up the tent across the street from the farm - in the one open field that remains between Wampum Corner and the center of Wrentham.  Saturday mornings from late May to November, Wrentham-grown produce will be available for all those who feel a CSA share may provide more produce than their household can handle. I am hoping that it becomes a Saturday morning routine for the locals.  We had considered doing a Saturday Farmer's Market in the city, but decided it was more appropriate to our mission to try to build more community support for our farm by making our produce available to the greater community here. (Beyond the dedicated 50 CSA members we hope to have.)

Our friend at Liberty Farm in Vermont still has shares of organic pork and beef available.  There is a link to the order form on the Organically Raised Meat page. James has lovingly raised three cows and five pigs on organic pasture and local, organic grain for the pigs.  They will be taken to a federally inspected slaughterhouse in January and shares will be distributed at White Barn Farm in February. If you eat meat and have the freezer space, I highly recommend stocking up on this super high-quality stuff.  It is more of an initial outlay to buy large shares of meat, but it is actually much less expensive than buying organic meat of dubious origin from Whole Foods.  There is also a full range of cuts in each order but the price per pound is static - consider the grocery store price per pound on steaks and tenderloins.  I encourage those of you who absolutely cannot visualize your family consuming 50 lbs of beef to find friends or neighbors to split shares.  The meat is truly delicious - so far we have had exceptional pork chops and wonderful brined pork loin on the grill.

Best Wishes to all you farm supporters out there. I will be working on the computer and submitting my application to substitute teach, longing for the days of dirt under the fingernails.  Non-physical labor just doesn't have the same virtuous feeling as good old straight-forward farmwork. Maybe it's my puritan background. Can't wait to get crackin' . . .

 

Take Care and Thanks for Reading!!!

Christy  

  

Posted 11/27/2008 10:26am by Christy and Chris Kantlehner.

Holy Smokes, Folks!

I am writing from my best friend's place in Bozeman, Montana on Thanksgiving morning to celebrate my favorite holiday and announce White Barn Farm's appearance in the Boston Globe. There is a picture of me in my winter rye covered 1/4 acre on the front page of the Globe West section. good grief! a strange mix of pride and embarassment.

i figured i would address a couple of false statements: i did not keep heads of lettuce fresh in buckets (they were in coolers). and I never bundled pea tendrils, although i did cut and bag them. I definitely grew more variety than zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers. It is true that I hauled the harvest to markets twice a week, but only one was in Franklin and the other was in Providence (tue. wickenden st). very minor details. no big whoop, i like to say.

One important detail is that I actually have not yet sold the 50 shares of our harvest that we are offering for 2009.  It is true that we are using the CSA model described in the article, but shares are still available! You can print the sign-up form from our "Join the CSA" page.

Before the hustle and bustle in the kitchen is at full tilt, I will take a moment to give thanks for my friends and family and our fortune here in the U.S., where we have such incredible access to food. I am in Montana now and just came from visiting my brother and his wife and my niece and mom in Arizona. We can really feel lucky in New England to have such abundant water and general green. lots of organic matter to cycle into our life-supporting soil. (imagine the challenges of my friend Shanti in Tucson, growing a tiny garden in alkaline saline soil under a Tamarisk tree with no irrigation but that piped 1000 miles from the Colorado).

I always have had a problem with run-on sentences. sorry!

Thanks!

 

 

 

Posted 11/22/2008 6:21pm by Christy and Chris Kantlehner.

Hello Everyone!

This is Christy Raymond, your local farmer from Wrentham's newest farm, White Barn Farm.  You are probably getting this email if you put your address on the list at the Franklin Farmer's market. Please feel free to pass this along to any other locals you think may be interested and certainly unsubscribe if you are not interested. I have a couple of great announcements - for me and for the whole community, I hope! The one-girl farm is no more. There is going to be a 50 member CSA in Wrentham. White Barn Farm is on the web. We have a source of pork and beef that you can feel good about.

I found a farming partner for 2009! Christian Kantlehner will be joining me to help the farm grow. We met at a farmer training workshop (CRAFT) and kept chatting farming when I went to work with Kathy Huckins at Stearns Farm CSA in Framingham, where Chris has been working for two years.  He became interested in agriculture at Green Mountain College in Vermont and has been in the field since his freshman year.  He has had experience at several other excellent farms in Massachusetts, including Belmont CSA, Vanguarden CSA, and Drumlin Farm.  He is a sufficiently seasoned vegetable grower and ready to start applying his knowledge. He is exactly the sort of character at exactly the point in his career that I was searching for to help me grow the farm.  Our farming ideals fit together perfectly and our growing preferences are perfectly complementary.  He loves growing potatoes, winter squash, and cabbages. I have always specialized in cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil.  Together, we should be able to supply the community with a long season of bounty! We are really excited to work together and obey our highest consciousness with regard to the soil and the whole ecosystem of the farm.  We also like to have a good time and hope to make Wrentham a little more fun. Who doesn't love to feast?

We have a new website: www.whitebarnfarm.org It still needs a litte work, but most of the content is there.  There is a blog, a photo gallery, information about us and our farming practices, and most importantly, information about the CSA we are launching in 2009.

We have decided to use the Community Supported Agriculture model as the core of our marketing for next season.  Basically, we are offering 50 shares of our harvest to 50 dedicated supporters who have paid in advance to allow us to purchase the seeds and supplies we need to produce their weekly veggie share.  The whole concept and the details are listed on the website under the "White Barn Farm CSA" menu. You can sign up for the CSA by printing out the form from the "Join Our CSA" page and mailing it with your deposit or full payment. Memberships will be filled on a first-come first-served basis so sign up early to get your preferred pick-up day.  I want to make sure to offer memberships first to those of you who have so loyally supported me in my first year.  A Boston Globe reporter interviewed me in early November for an article to be released anytime now, so I am not sure how fast 50 shares will sell out.

If you eat meat and are ready to feel good about where it comes from and how the animals are treated, we have a good solution for you.  Our "sister farm," Liberty Farm, in Vermont is offering shares of their organically raised pork and beef.  If you are interested, open this link to find more information and an order form: Liberty Farm Meat Order Form.

I hope this letter finds you in a spirit of celebration as our national gratitude festival approaches.  I certainly have never felt more thankful, nor more hopeful in my whole life! 

With hope for a more sustainable local food system in our little zone of southeast Massachusetts, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Christy Raymond, Farmer at White Barn Farm

if the website still leaves questions unanswered feel free to contact me by personal email christyraymond@wildmail.com or phone 774-210-0359

Posted 11/16/2008 5:38pm by Christy and Chris Kantlehner.

     Goodbye "one-girl farm sprouting this year" - that was the caption on my makeshift easel/sign at my farmer's market booth this year.  I feel safe in saying the 2008 growing season is pretty much through.  There are my experimental fall crops thriving in the fields (escarole and white beans fans, take note) and the trial greens in the hoophouse doing surprisingly well, but certainly the intense pace and energy of summer is long gone. Anyone tracking my progress through my blogspot blog knows that i have not made one entry since May. Well - quite a few things have come to pass since then.  At the height of the season, I certainly teetered on the brink of sleep-deprivation driven insanity, but I feel that somehow I was able to meet most of the goals I set for this season and learn more than I could ever imagine I even needed to know.

     All in all, i gained some confidence in my ability to grow crops, and especially to make a crop plan, execute it, and keep successions coming.  I definitely was able to gain experience with all marketing styles.  I had some magic combination of farmer's markets (one local, one city), temporary roadside stand across the street from the farm, wholesale to Whole Foods in Bellingham, restaurant accounts in Providence, and a little pre-packed box for five dedicated supporters each week.  I worked pretty hard to sell what I produced on this mini quarter-acre farm or "farmette" as I like to tease.  Very little went to waste - the shelves have lots of jars of pickles and tomato puree and the freezer is packed with pesto and greens.  One very important side project was plowing the back field and seeding three acres to a cover crop of sorghum-sudan grass, for building soil organic matter. 

     The first crop for 2009 has been planted in the back field - garlic! Fittingly, my new farming partner joined me to put the seeds of the future into the promising dark earth here in the heart of suburbia.  Christian Kantlehner has been farming in the area for several years, most intensely for the past two years at Stearns Farm CSA in Framingham.  I met him at an eastern Mass CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) in mid-October when suddenly I realized that having lost my waitressing job and the days getting cold and short - i could squeeze in a moment for self-enrichment.  With the job description clearly written at home, i happened into a young farmer who fit it precisely. Essentially running the farm by myself (although absolutely not to minimize the enormous boost i got from my volunteers who worked a morning each week for veggies), I found it hard to be alone so much, although I loved the work and actually found great difficulty tearing myself away to visit my favorite place, the beach.  I was able to weather one year, but the idea of farming alone forever was a little discouraging.  Perhaps more importantly, in order to grow the farm towards sustainability, it would be physically impossible to do alone.  I decided to try to find someone who was a seasoned vegetable grower working at a well-established farm, who was ready to develop their own production methods and really begin farming on their own.  As I am not a great, experienced farmer I did not feel I could offer a mentorship in exchange for labor - I needed that special person who was ready to farm, who is a scholar of sustainable agriculture and anxious to apply their knowledge.  Christian's energy and enthusiasm have recharged my spirit and made the planning process for 2009 resound with hope and excitement for the future.  Our farming philosophies are absolutely congruous - we both feel strongly that putting poisons on food is bizarre, and that building amazing life-giving soil is the heart of an organic farm.  We chat farming techniques and choices constantly and reference our collections of books, journals, and especially the experienced growers in the lively farming community here in New England.

We have decided to use the Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, model as the core of our marketing for 2009.  We will offer 50 shares of the harvest, to be sold before the season begins and provided to shareholders once a week from early June to late October.  We have been working on this website, making lots of farm visits, and trying to hammer out the details of our production methods for next year.  Hurray for my newly refreshed optimism for the future of White Barn Farm!