Party At Woodstone!

Yesterday we had a party for all who have worked on our house and barn for the last two years..quite a crew.

We had Christie Leigh Bellany come sing and had Redbones cater with ribs,chicken,beef,cole slaw,mac and cheese,baked beans. Bill had a slide show of about 500 pictures from the very beginning until now. I think about 100 people came and went-we had a perfect 70 degree day for it,which was amazing for the end of October in Massachusetts.

Bill spoke about how wonderful the architects Jen Hart and Jen Lyford from Hart Associates have been to work with,and also the landscape architect, Lili Morss. Without Dave Jenkinson of Jenkinson Homes we would not be proceeding so well-he is amazing at organizing it all. Andre LeBlanc gets major credit for taking on the barn project in the winter last year and doing such a great job.

5 weeks to go on the house, barn is finished!

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“Too Perfect To Pass Up”!

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CONCORD — Harvesting asparagus is back-breaking work. “There’s a lot of up and down, moving down the row,” says Lise Holdorf of Barrett’s Mill Farm as she and business partner Melissa Maxwell and assistant grower Rachel Klepner stoop to cut the green spears about an inch or two above the ground. Their white buckets fill with asparagus still warm from their soil cradle. They’ll repeat this early morning routine every day through mid-June until the field is picked clean.

Holdorf, 35, and Maxwell, 33, have operated Barrett’s Mill Farm for a year. Holdorf was raised here, Maxwell in Connecticut. They have a five-year lease from the Town of Concord and live in the farmhouse on the land. In order to make the finances work, they’re in the fields six long days a week and do occasional odd jobs on Sundays.

Asparagus is a perennial crop that Barrett’s Mill — and the town — is well known for. “This farm, in particular, has sandy, well-drained soil that is great for asparagus and strawberries,” says Maxwell. Local restaurant 80 Thoreau makes good use of the flavorful spears on its menus. Co-owner and general manager Ian Calhoun, who lives down the road from the farm, stops by a few mornings each week to buy asparagus for the restaurant. “It’s exciting to see a couple of younger farmers take over stewardship of the land,” he says.

“The beginning of June is when [the farm] takes off,” says Maxwell. Strawberries ripen, along with radishes, salad greens, sugar snaps, beets, and herbs. The farm’s Community Supported Agriculture starts on June 9. For the 20-week season, members can fill up a tote bag with harvested vegetables and also venture into the pick-your-own fields to rustle up some strawberries and additional veggies. The farm’s Barrett’s Bucks program, says Holdorf, “is a smaller commitment and you don’t have to come every week.” (Bucks cost $275 for an equivalent farm store credit; a CSA share is $660.)

The farm became available after former owner Patrick McGrath died in 2012. The town bought the century-old farmstead and in December 2013 requested proposals from farmers who wanted to lease the property. Included are approximately 12 tillable acres, a residence, greenhouse, farm stand, and barn. The women’s business plan was chosen by the town and in March 2014, the two moved in, Holdorf with her husband, Matt Conroy, a high school teacher, and baby daughter Cyra.

Holdorf was happy to return to the town where she grew up. “It was too perfect to pass up,” she says. Maxwell had been looking for a farm for a number of years. “It’s unique in this area to find something that could support two people, she says. The women had worked together for a half-dozen years at Appleton Farms in Ipswich.

With a full year under their belts, the duo is expanding the planted fields from 4 to 6 acres. “We started small,” says Holdorf, adding that they benefited from lots of helping hands. “The neighbors and farming community in town all supported us,” says Maxwell. In addition to the 50 or so vegetables and herbs they grew last season, this year they’ll be harvesting strawberries, garlic (scapes will be available mid-June, the bulbs in the fall), cipollini onions, red onions, and a mini broccoli variety called Happy Rich.

As women farmers, Holdorf and Maxwell are in good company. According to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, female farmers represent 32 percent of all principal operators in the state. That’s more than double the 14 percent of women principal operators nationwide, according to 2012 data. The disparity is due mostly to the abundance of small farms in the Bay State — there are over 7,700 farms, many of which are just a few acres in size — as compared to mega operations in other regions.

The Barrett’s Mill lease costs the women $1,400 per month, which includes the farm land, buildings, and residence. The duo invested their own money in used tractors and implements as well as tools and supplies to build tables for a greenhouse and farm stand. Before they moved in, the Concord Housing Foundation had raised funds for renovations to the farmhouse and to convert it into a two-family home to accommodate two farmers. “It’s in excellent condition and a good place for a family to live,” says Holdorf.

The farmers made a small profit in the first year. “We did a careful budget over the winter,” says Holdorf, which allowed them to hire one full-time grower and four part-time field and farm stand workers for spring and summer. “This year we’re hoping for long-term sustainable income for us,” she says.

In Concord, both Macone Farm and First Root Farm are owned by women. Susan Macone, 64, has run what was her family farm since the early 1980s. “We do everything the old-fashioned way,” she says, growing award-winning tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, green beans, and other vegetables. She sells her produce at the neighboring Brigham Farm Stand.

First Root owner Laura Sackton, 29, grew up in nearby Lexington and currently manages 4-plus acres with Cheryl Nunes. They grow about 40 different vegetables, most of which are sold to 225 CSA members. Sackton, who cofounded the farm in 2009, says, “A lot of young people who didn’t grow up on farms are being drawn to farming.” For her, the satisfaction comes with “being outside and the hands-on, always changing work.” The young farmer speaks highly of Concord as a place to set down roots. “It has a supportive agricultural community and people are excited to buy local food.”

Concord also has a vivid history. Directly across the road from Barrett’s Mill Farm sits the old, brown and weathered Colonel James Barrett House, part of the Minute Man National Historical Park. The colonel (and his home) played a key role in the first battle — and first victory — of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. After Paul Revere warned of the British Redcoats’ advance, the story goes that Barrett’s sons buried the Colonial militia’s weapons and munitions in the fields around the house to hide them from the British.

While the land is old, the Barrett’s Mill farmers are new and as dedicated as their forebears. With every planting (and plowing and weeding and harvest), they’re hoping the soil will be fruitful for at least another 100 years.

BARRETT’S MILL FARM

449 Barrett’s Mill Road, Concord, 978-254-5609, www.barrettsmillfarm.com

in Boston Globe,Wednesday June 3, 2015 by Lisa Zwern

Have Yourself A Messy Little Christmas!

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 This is from my nephew who has three children aged 12-8 years old. I just thought I should share it after yesterday’s blog about Christmas Creativity! It gave me a real chuckle:
“You should tour our house – the theme is “Childhood Christmas Mess.”  I particularly enjoy the way the rumpled clothes and towels on the floor make the shape of a Christmas tree.  The stairsare decorated with last week’s homework, a tie, and a shirt top. Down in the basement we have vestiges of last week’s movie night.  Perhaps I can pick up the left-over popcorn and make a nice string for the tree.The dishes in the sink remind me of the tinkling of Christmas bells as I scrub 3-day-old dinner off them and they clang together.Ahh, we could rival anyone’s house with a little imagination.”

Fluffernutters in Massachusetts

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This was always a staple in our diet when we came to Cape Cod in the summers from Washington DC so it brings back fond memories. I just always told my kids that there was no Fluff in DC when we returned home!

BOSTON, April 24 (UPI) — Fans of peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff may want to start looking for housing options in Massachusetts.

A bill that would make the fluffernutter the official state sandwich in Massachusetts was approved at a vote earlier this week during a session of the House of Representatives. According to the bill, “the fluffernutter shall be the sandwich or sandwich emblem of the commonwealth.”

Marshmallow Fluff was invented almost a hundred years ago in Somerville, Mass., and the sandwich — a combination of peanut butter and fluff on bread — is a popular snack in New England.

The main ingredient in the fluffernutter, the fluff, is still produced at a manufacturing plant in Lynn.

The House has to vote on the bill again before it can move on to the Senate.

Not everyone hopes it passes.

“Why the state Legislature feels the need to designate a sandwich is itself questionable. There’s plenty of other pressing business,” said a MassLive editorial. “And if it does, why not choose a sandwich that says Bay State with every bite: Why not choose the mayonnaise-less lobster roll?”

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Ben Elliott of Salt Box Farm

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What could be better than having a renowned chef (Number 9 Park in Boston)  inherit his grandfather’s farm and move to Concord?? With Saltbox Farm, Chef Ben Elliott, a professionally trained chef and–more recently–farmer, realized he had an opportunity to offer the surrounding communities unique culinary experiences that focus on local ingredients, seasonal cooking, and the preservation of culinary traditions.  Through catering, cooking classes, and a CSA, Saltbox Farm serves as a resource for locally grown food and culinary education for home cooks and enthusiasts.

Ben and his staff transformed our yard into quite a spot and the food was fantastic.They easily fed 80 of us under the tent-using my outdoor garage for their work space. Very fun night!

 

The Black Dog

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“On New Years Day 1971, the doors to the Black Dog Tavern opened. Everyone said the chowder was just right, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.”

The Black Dog is a restaurant and tavern in Vineyard Haven on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. The restaurant was founded in 1971, and became well known for its souvenir T-shirts, featuring its logo of the eponymous black dog. They subsequently expanded to sell other products with the same logo.
The Black Dog T-shirts became well known during the 1990s as photographs of celebrities wearing the shirts began appearing in national publications.I also remember they changed the color of the t’shirt every year so that kids had to have the “new color” every summer-very smart marketing! A photograph of then-President Bill Clinton jogging while wearing one was distributed by national wire services. Black Dog merchandise became part of the Lewinsky scandal, as items from the store were purchased by Bill Clinton and given to Monica Lewinsky.
Marketing at The Black Dog was effective. During the early 1990s, the merchandise was only sold at the Martha’s Vineyard location. Only a limited number of people were allowed in the store at one time, so lines formed down the wooden fenced ramp that ran from the front door. While waiting in line, visitors were given catalogs to browse. Nowadays, the merchandise is also available at “mainland” Cape Cod and Newport “Black Dog” stores as well as online.
In 2000, The Black Dog released a cook book called The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook.The New England Multihull Association and The Black Dog host a 22-mile yachting race from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown and back called the Black Dog Dash.
The Black Dog currently has many locations on Martha’s Vineyard and one on the island of Nantucket, as well as in the mainland Massachusetts towns of Falmouth, Mashpee, Provincetown, Newburyport, and Chatham. Outside of Massachusetts they have stores in Newport, RI, Portland, ME, Mystic, CT, and Annapolis, MD.