Field Day 2012

Thank you to everyone who stopped by for our Field Day last Saturday! We had a fantastic time and hope you all did too. A very special thank you to two of our helpers: Sarah Davis and Frank Rondeau — we wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!

We took a few pictures. Click on the first photo to make it larger and then be able to navigate through. Enjoy.

Happy Birthday, Springdell! Join us for our Field Day, Tomorrow, May 5, 2012

Happy Birthday to Springdell!

On May 1, 81 years ago, our great-grandparents, James and Marea Theodoros, purchased this farm. Then, it was an abandoned dairy with an apple orchard that had supplied much of the harvest to Veryfine.

The Great Depression was very hard on James and Marea. At one point, the farm was even up for sale, but they rode it out, even though they struggled along the way.

Four generations later, the farm still stays tied to its deep roots of family farming. Although equipment has gotten bigger; the farm more diversified (our great-grandparents would never have believed we are raising beef cattle); greenhouses scatter the back forty; and our retail business is much more than just selling a few things, much still remains the same. Strawberries are still what many folks know us for, we are still picking rocks out of the back fields, we still raise sheep like we have since day one, we still concentrate on sustainable production practices that are good for the land, and some of the very first tractors bought when switching from horses and mules are still used.

Everyday we make a decision here; whether it be on land, construction, or seeds we order, we always think about the family members that paved the way for this farm to get where it is today. Here’s to another 81 years of growing!

To help us celebrate, come join us at the farm tomorrow, Saturday, May 5, 2012, for our Field Day! We’ll have all sorts of fun for the whole family including farmer led tours, meet and greets, giving some snacks to the animals, and kid-centered activities like free face painting, a coloring contest, planting some items to take home, and much more! We invite everyone to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on our beautiful new backyard. Our backyard has a beautiful field view that is open to the public. We’ve also decided to send some people home with little gift cards to the stand for showing us some love. Details will be revealed here on Saturday.

The weather looks like it will hold, and Miss Patty Pig says, “We’re going whole hog, and having a party!” We hope to see you there!

Farewell, Farmer Joe

The farm lost one of its most beloved members late last night: Farmer Joe, the Joe Man, has passed away.

I know this will break the hearts of many kids who frequent the farm stand. I already know their visits will not be the same. For the entire 15 years of his life, he would wake up and go for his morning walk where ever he chose to go. Then, he’d come down to the stand to spend the entire day no matter what the weather. If the sun was just right, he would sit himself down right in the sunshine requiring all the stand shoppers to walk over him as they picked out their produce. If he heard kids, he would get up and go hang out with them while their family members shopped or picked up their shares. He was certainly a dog with a lot of personality and a lot of fans. RIP Farmer Joe.

One of our farm friends, Alice Lenhart, wrote a lovely blog post two summers ago about Farmer Joe, celebrating his spirit and one-in-a-million personality. It’s a great read on this sad day. You can check it out on her blog, On the Verge, here: http://alice-ontheverge.blogspot.com/2010/06/farmer-joe.html.

Call to Action

Many of you have already heard about the situation going on with the Haverhill Board of Health (BOH), but the next meeting is coming soon and your local farmers need your support now more than ever. The BOH is proposing to adopt regulations that were enacted by another town relative to a large pig farm with more than 500 animals. The problem is that there are no pig farmers in Haverhill who keep anywhere near this many animals. There are currently eight diversified family farms in Haverhill who keep pigs. None keep more than a couple dozen adult animals at any given time. If passed, the regulations that Haverhill is considering would put farmers out of business.

This all follows the Haverhill BOH proposal to ban pigs. This was in response to neighbors and a housing developer who protested a farmer who was proposing to put pastured pigs on a local farm. There have not been any problems with pigs on farms in Haverhill. A huge outcry from the farm community and supporters of local agriculture (Thank You!) seems to have derailed the ban – but these proposed regulations would have the same effect.

The MA Farm Bureau has proposed a set of regulations to the BOH that is a tiered approach. It separates pig farms into three categories – small, medium and large – based on how many pigs are kept. It proposes scale appropriate regulations for each category to control for odor and other issues. The proposal also allows the BOH to take action if problems arise.

We support reasonable regulations and the Farm Bureau proposal and will be letting the BOH know that we do. If you support local agriculture, there are two ways you can help:

First, write the BOH and let them know that you support regulations that are appropriate to small farms and that you support the Farm Bureau Proposal. You can send comments to bdufresne@cityofhaverhill.com. The deadline for comment is noon on February 21.

Second, and this is important, you can attend the BOH meeting at 7 pm, in Haverhill Town Hall on March 13. Springdell will be there and we need to continue to show the BOH how many farmers and consumers support local agriculture!

Thanks for all your support!

Crock Pot Apple Butter

– Quarter and core  (do not peel) enough apples to fill a 6 Quart Crock Pot.  (I usually use at least two (2) of the 1/2 Peck bags, but it depends on the size of the apples and the variety.)

– Add 1 – 3 Cups of Sugar (this really depends on your taste and what type of Apples that you are using, but 2 Cups is usually enough for us. (I also use Organic Sugar but you can use White Refined Sugar instead.)

– Add 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Cloves

– Add 3 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

– Cook everything on Low for 12 hours without opening the Crock Pot cover, so put everything into your Crock Pot and go to bed. Your house will smell so good in the morning!

– When you get up in the morning (or after 12 hours), open up your Crock Pot and stir everything well. Cook on High for 2 hours.

– Pour everything into your Blender and blend on “Stir” until smooth.

– Pour the smooth product into air-tight containers (like small and clean Ball Jars or freezer containers) and label and freeze them. You can thaw the container in your refrigerator, but once open, you should eat it within  two weeks.

Submitted by CSA shareholder Kathleen.

Holiday Gift Ideas From Your Farmers

Still need some holiday gifts or ideas? We’ve got ’em! How about some of our very own honey? Or some of our friend Ben’s maple syrup from New Hampshire? We also have handmade chocolate syrup, pepper jelly, and other goodies at the stand. How about a Spring Flower Share? For $100.00, your special someone will get our own home-grown flowers every week. How’s that for a gift that lasts for a long time? And if you can’t decide, we also have gift cards.

We’ve been reading some good books, and they would make great gifts as well. We’re pretty sure you’ve heard of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by now. Pollan’s “manifesto” for eating wisely goes like this: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”  Food Rules is his very simple guide of how to eat for good health, which, by the way,just happens to also be healthier for the planet. There’s a new edition out which is illustrated by the talented Maira Kalman. It’s beautiful and whimsical. Many of us, though we already have the earlier edition, are adding this new one to our collections.

We’re also reading a new book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World, by one of our heroes, Joel Salatin, the farmer who owns and runs Polyface Farm in Virginia. If you saw the film, Food, Inc., you’ll remember Joel from that. In this book, one of many he has written, he discusses how removed we are from the land and how that and our current way of life is not sustainable. He has some strong, and, for some, controversial, opinions, but the book is an interesting read.

Finally, a favorite of so many of us: David Mas Masumoto’s Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land. Masumoto is an organic peach farmer in the Central Valley of California, and this is the story of his family and their farm. It is beautifully written. The word most often attached to this memoir is “lyrical.”

Don’t forget that we have two wonderful local bookstores close by: Willow Books in Acton and The Concord Bookshop in Concord.

We’re open tomorrow, Saturday, December 17, from 9 to 4, or by appointment. Call us at 978-486-3865, or email Jamie at jamie@springdellfarms.com.

Happy, happy holidays to you!

“I don’t need Local Farmers; I have Market Basket”

At the Board of Health meeting in Haverhill, MA, where the matter up for discussion was whether to ban piggeries in that town, I glanced around. Farmers were everywhere. There were kids from the ages of 8 (these are your future farmers, folks) all the way up to a well known cattle vet in his 90’s, who reminds me a lot of my Uncle Tasso. We all were there with our “I love Pigs” stickers complete with a picture of Springdell’s very own Patty Pig. The Massachusetts Farm Bureau made them up, and it was great to look around and see all the men and women in support of “piggeries” wear them.

Let me start off by saying this: I hate the word “piggery.” It is so misleading. It reminds me of an industrialized hog facility. And, technically, an operation like the one our friend, Chris, has in Haverhill, the small operation that has seemingly caused all the ruckus, falls under it. Yuck. It just sounds bad. I like pig farm.

For the first time in a while, it seemed that the farmers outnumbered the non-farmers. I looked around hoping that there were some consumers in the room. We all needed to stick together on this. A way of life is on the line, our food supply, our health. If pigs were banned, what would be next? Cows? Horses?

I took a seat front and center, right in front of a group of women that I had assumed were a group of farm supporters. I sat next to a young vegetable grower and right behind several Haverhill farmers. Good spot! I just sat there hoping that farmers and consumers would speak up.

The meeting was called to order, and, within minutes, one of the folks behind me stood up urging the BOH to ban “piggeries.” It was affecting her property value. She happened to live in a newer housing development, you know, one of those ones that developers build up around farms, expecting the farmer to hit the high road once completed. Several other folks spoke.

People for Pigs.

First to speak for the farmers was the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation president. He is a vegetable grower in Essex County. He is one of the many folks who have been a great influence on me. The Massachusetts Farm Bureau is the Voice of Agriculture. It is a grass roots organization made up of 6,000 family farmers and farm supporters here in the Commonwealth. Most of the people in the room last night were Farm Bureau members, all there to support a fellow farmer. While he was speaking, a woman behind me said to her friend, “I don’t need local farmers; I have Market Basket.” I was shocked! But I sat there chuckling to myself as the president happens to ship many of his vegetable to Market Basket.

After he spoke, it was like a domino effect. Farmers stood up, worried about losing their lifestyle; consumers stood up, worried about their food supply; kids stood up, worried about their future in agriculture. Folks mentioned how pigs are important to our ecosystem, sustainable agriculture, and our meat supply. We tried educating on how they are clean animals; we tried educatiing on what they do for the environment. We all stuck together.

There is another meeting scheduled for sometime in January, but, in the meantime, Chris, the farmer who sits in the middle of the new development was told to remove his pigs from his property. Until sometime in January, this farm family’s lifestyle, their income, and their passion are all on hold.

On the ride home, I thought to myself what it would be like to be in Chris’ shoes. What if my community ganged up against us? What would we do? Would we stand tall and fight back, or would we close the doors and walk away? Littleton is a unique town. We have plenty of farms to sustain us. We support the community, and the community supports us back. It is one of the many things that keep us going when it is bitter cold out and we are chipping ice out of buckets for our animals; when it is super hot out and we are picking beans; when we are moving snow around so folks can get in just to pick up a dozen eggs.

To all the consumers who shop here, support us, belong to our CSA, thank you for supporting your farmers. Thanks for working with us, and not against us. I can speak for every farmer I know when I say that! Every day that we work this land, whether it be decisions made in the office, the greenhouse, the barn, in a pasture, in the Farm Stand, in the field, on our tractor, or in the John Deere dealership, we do keep you, your family, the environment, our land, our animals, and our family in mind, making sure we deliver you a healthy, sustainable, tasty, food supply.

Jamie and the entire Springdell Farm Community

Our Own Patty Pig