Regular readers are well aware of my adoration for Stone Soup Farm, the source of my wonderful CSA farm share for the last two years. The farm has kept us well fed with the most gorgeous vegetables (and eggs, this year!), continually reminding me of the value of eating local and supporting area farms. Stone Soup is owned and run by Jarrett Man, who only graduated from college a few years ago (with a bioengineering degree!) but has managed, despite weird weather and the myriad complications of running a small business, to organize a good-sized crew and grow an incredible range of crops.
Last summer we kept talking about driving out to Belchertown, Mass., (about 80 miles west of our house), but we never managed to make the trip. This year we were lucky enough to go twice, once in early August and once last weekend. I’d like to share a bunch of my photos of the farm from both trips. Jarrett always teases me for being weeks behind on my blog posts about he weekly share distributions, so hopefully this will placate him.
The barn holds offices, a kitchen, and the farm stand.
(I have always loved barns!)
Neat and tidy greenhouse:
Some of my favorite vegetables, growing happily in the fields…
…and in the background, the poor, blighted tomato plants (agh):
Then I found the chickens. They have a lovely roaming coop, which is rolled to a new piece of field every week. The chickens peck up whatever is left in the field and fertilize the patch (adding nitrogen to the soil), then roll on over to a new area. There are three breeds, though I can’t remember the names. Jarrett told me next year there will be three new breeds, including the Araucana (Easter Egg) chickens Martha Stewart made famous for their pastel eggs!
I love chickens; I find them hilarious and charming to watch and I would have stayed for hours if the guys (Tom and Ben were with me) had let me.
Some of the ladies head my way while the proud rooster looks on:
Tail-feathers fluttering in indecision:
Each evening all the chickens march into their house to be safely closed in for the night.
I must say, watching the chickens was a delight. They were nibbling clover, wandering around a large fenced enclosure, strolling in and out of their cozy rolling house… Very happy birds in a very happy place.
Jarrett sent out an email inviting CSA members to share in the work of the farm, in addition to the bounty. There were 1000 pounds of onions (plus shallots and 5000 bulbs of garlic, though we didn’t get to those) that needed to be trimmed and cleaned before being handed out in the weekly shares. All those alliums were curing on the floor of the greenhouse, and we drove out for a “Smelly Potluck” to help get them all prepped.
Ben gets down and dirty:
More helpers, including Jarrett’s dad, on the left. (His mom sent along a big pot of soup!):
Freshly harvested onions are laid out to cure, pulling all the juices from the stems into the bulb:
Once they are ready to be used, the stems get trimmed off:
The loose outer layers of skin (often dirty) are rubbed off, leaving a clean, tidy onion:
We did our best but there was still quite a long way to go when we headed in for dinner around 6 (you can’t see the stacks of crates that had already been moved out of the greenhouse!):
Jarrett took us on a tour of the varied “root cellars” and storage spots around the barn–including a room downstairs and a refrigerated stand-alone unit. It was fun to see all the deliciousness we will get in the winter shares, and we also got to grab some squash and spare shallots to bring home.
We gathered at a picnic bench by the barn to enjoy the last of the sunlight and eat a potluck while watching the barn cat torment the visiting dog.
My back ached the next day. I am a soft-handed urban wimp!