Saturday, March 26, 2016

SPRING 2016 NEWSLETTER to friends near and far


Laura Timmerman & Robin Creamer
910 Greenfield Rd.
Leyden, MA 01337

March 25, 2016
Hello Friends!

Once a year we like to send an email to lots of friends and family, near and far, farm members, farm friends, and colleagues.  This is one way of letting people know what we and our little farm are up to, and to invite people who live nearby to become farm members.  Somehow 2015 went by without this annual email so there is even more to report than usual!

A note from Laura: "The main thing for me is how much Sweet Morning Farm has become a shared project, especially in the last two years.  In 2007, I had the idea of trying to sell some vegetables to a few willing friends.  (Thank you, dear guinea pigs!)  That year I discovered that I loved growing food for others and the following year started our CSA.  Since then the farm has steadily grown and it has been a lovely journey.  Over time, Robin has become more and more involved in the farm so that now it is a truly a shared enterprise, as well as a shared life.  It is an unexpected blessing to be able to share this love of growing things with Robin."

As our little farm grows in size, knowhow and variety, one of the deepest pleasures is connecting with people who also enjoy and value good, nutritious food.  People who recognize the specialness of really fresh, locally-grown food.  Eating locally-grown food strengthens our community while filling our bellies with goodness.  

We hope this email finds you all well!  We are well, and have enjoyed a mild winter with a good balance between farm work, socializing, and some much needed rest.  Every year we continue to grow, and we are very excited for some projects we have planned for this year including construction of a new high tunnel and expansion of our growing space.  While we slowly grow in a physical sense, we are also learning about and trying better methods of growing produce, which helps us to increase production in the limited space of our tiny farm.  This continual learning and improvement is part of what makes farming fun for us.  It is always exciting to grow quality crops, and we feel that we get better at that every year.  In 2016 we plan to focus on producing some favorites like cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, and summer squash earlier in the season, as well as having more variety and reliable favorites throughout the main farm share season.  

Another area where we continue to expand is our tiny orchard!  Tree planting season is just around the corner, and we plan to put in about 20 new trees of all sorts in early April.  While most of our trees are still too young to bear,   We are very excited about what we have growing, and fruit is something we plan to include more and more often in the shares in years to come.  We like to try new varieties of vegetables and fruit for fun.  For example, this year we are putting in some Olallie berry plants and paw paws.  Most of the apples we grow are heirloom types; they are just so appealing. 

Speaking of expanding, we are hoping to sell more FARM SHARES this year, and now is the time to sign up!  We are again offering two sizes of shares.  People have been signing up and there are only 8 shares left!  Please call or email if you'd like to sign up or want more information.

A short description of the Farm Shares:
20 - 22 weeks, starting June 2 or earlier
Pick Up Thursday afternoons at the farm in Leyden
$400 - Big Share
$135 - Mini Share
All shares include flowers and PYO garden

SIGNING BONUS - Pay in full by April 1 for a free dozen eggs!  (Bonus period extended from March 20 due to the lateness of this email)


New farm members & friends!
Shiitake mushrooms! - Last year we were very excited to pick our first crop of log-grown shiitake mushrooms!  This is a new enterprise for us and we are still learning the ropes, but we expect to harvest more this year and to gradually increase production over the next few years.  In fact, some new spawn arrived in the mail just the other day so we will be inoculating some more logs soon!  
Going to the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market
Being interviewed by CISA for a farm profile
Being interviewed for an article in Edible Pioneer Valley magazine (2014) 
Finding new places to bring our ducks and chickens for quality processing
Connecting with other farmers more and more
Going to the New England Vegetable and Berry Growers’ conference in December 2015
No Late Blight on our 2015 tomatoes!  - a reminder of what the tomato season should be like every year
Learning new techniques to help us grow healthy food, more efficiently and with fewer weeds
Applying for a grant to build another high tunnel and getting it!
Learning a lot about maple sugaring
Hosting a Farm Picnic for our farm members and friends
Raising some turkeys
Starting to wholesale a few things, mostly eggs and microgreens, so far
Putting most of the farm into a Conservation Restriction, protecting the land from development forever  (2014)
Getting a kitty! (2014)



Building our new high tunnel and using it to grow more winter crops
Trying out some new varieties of chickens, especially Whiting’s True Blue
Planting some paw paw and mulberry and dwarf cherry trees
Developing a farm business plan/long range plan
Growing some oyster mushrooms
Clearing more space for vegetables and fruit
Doing our very best to grow really fantastic food to share!

We both feel enormously lucky and grateful be able to farm.  It’s a pleasure every day.  The work feels good.  It’s challenging physically and mentally, and so satisfying.  We live in a beautiful part of an amazing planet.  We are nurtured by the beauty and awesomeness of the natural world.  
Thank you for being part of our journey, for encouraging and supporting us on the way.  Just sharing our news with you and knowing you are “out there” is a big help.  If you are interested in taking part in the farm in other ways, you are welcome.  

Robin and Laura
Sweet Morning Farm
910 Greenfield Rd
Leyden, MA 01337

PS  If you would like to receive more frequent emails about our farm activities, just let us know.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Reflecting, dreaming, thinking, planning

The late fall is often a time for people to look back over the year and think about goals and plan for the future.  That is certainly true here at Sweet Morning Farm.  Robin and I love our work.  In fact, it doesn't actually feel like work; we just want to do it and do it and do it.  That is an incredible blessing, to find work one truly loves.

We strive to learn and improve our farming all the time and this is a season of the year to review our successes and weaknesses, to research solutions and increase our knowledge, to plan delicious and varied farm shares for next year, to strategize about how best to grow that good food and how to make it possible to "work" at home as much as possible.  We also let our gardeners' minds wander and dream a bit.  What new plants and methods do we want to try out in 2016?  New crops and tools and practices are a fun part of our garden each year.

We've already ordered chicks to refresh the laying flock and look forward to a wide range of colors to share next fall.  We've chosen about 8 new fruit trees, mostly heirloom apples, and placed our orders.  *We've learned the hard way to reserve what we want early on to be sure we get the varieties we want to plant.

One of our next projects is to plan what we want to be in the farm shares each week, and from there to make sure our planting plan will help meet our harvest goals, allowing plenty of time and space for the vegetables to grow for the shares.  And then make sure we have all the seeds and supplies we need to plant the crops.  All this needs to be done lickedy-split.  (See the note above about ordering early!)  Early planting of seedlings starts in January, so that's only 1 month away and we are already planting microgreens and sunflower shoots on a weekly basis.  And did I mention that we are still putting away fences and row cover and general stuff, quick before the snow flies?  So it is still pretty busy around here but it's a different kind of busy than summertime.

Planning is fun because although very practical, it is in part based on dreaming.  It's like a bulb underground in winter, or an apple bud waiting for spring.  Hope, faith, optimism, longing.  These things feed our souls in wintertime.

"Before the seed there comes the thought of the bloom."
E. B. White

Sunday, June 28, 2015

POULTRY! - June 2015

7 ducklings and their mama

1 drake

17 ducklings and their 2 mamas (24 ducklings total)

58 young chickens, mostly pullets

4 turkey poults

~ 60 hens

Not pictured: 1 white duck and 2 roosters

Monday, May 18, 2015

Our drake was lonely...

So we found him a friend.

The drake and a duck checking out the duck in the mirror.

All of our female ducks are setting on eggs and rarely get off their nests.  (Ducklings hatching in a few weeks!)  As soon as the last one started to set, the drake changed his behavior.  He started flying over the fence so he could go hang out with the chickens, either outside or inside the coop.  Rob noticed that he was going in the coop to stare at the wall, the one with a mirror.  So now the mirror has been moved to the duck yard.  The drake spends most of the day keeping company with his handsome, but flat, friend.  First thing each morning, he heads over to say hello.  It's funny and interesting and sort of sweet.  Problem solved.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


One of the ongoing challenges for me and Rob, and I think for many farmers, is record keeping.  What's planted, where and how, what's harvested, yields, income, time spent on various farm activities, etc.  Oh, and then there would be analyzing that data and thinking about the future.


Well we do the best we can.  I keep trying various methods of tracking information so we can learn from what we do each year.  A lot of the challenge is just being persistent and consistent.  And then there is the contrast between entering data in a spreadsheet on the computer and grubbing around in the dirt outside.  If there were a way to just think out in the field and have those notes to oneself automatically be entered into whatever documents one uses for record keeping, that would be awesome.  Most of the time my hands are full, covered in dirt, wet, or all three.  Note-making takes a back seat.

Actually, this post is about PLANTING.  I think it might be fun to record what gets planted here on the blog so anyone reading this can see what's happening.  My plan is to write down what gets planted and add to it as the season goes along.  CSA members can look forward to harvesting and eating these goodies.

You may click here: Sweet Morning Farm on Pinterest, to see pictures of many of these veggies and flowers.

2015 Outdoor planting:
(numbers are approximate, names are varieties, list does not include hoophouse planting)

As of April 30 we have already planted, either by seeding or transplanting:

1000 LEEKS, mostly Tadorna and Bandit with trials of Striker and Chinook
350 feet of SPINACH, Tyee
175 feet of CARROTS - Nelson, Mokum
600 SWEET ONIONS - Walla Walla, Yellow Spanish, Candy, Red Candy
350 feet of LEAF LETTUCE - Black Seeded Simpson, Red Rumple, Red Tinged Winter, Tango, Red Salad Bowl, Green Salad Bowl, Flame,
48 HEAD LETTUCES - Mayan Jaguar, Buttercrunch, Speckled Amish, Kinemontpas
BROCCOLI - Packman
ASIAN ONIONS - Shimonita
RADISHES - D'Avignon, White Icicle, Pink Beauty, Red Head, Giant Butter
100 feet PEAS - Green Arrow, Alderman, Mr. Big
125 feet of BEETS - Yellow Touchstone, Red Ace, Early Wonder Tall Top
1200 STORAGE ONIONS - Copra, Red River, Rosso di Milano, Dakota Tears

It's spring planting season, more to come soon!

May 2:
32 feet SNAP PEAS - Cascadia
40 poles POLE BEANS - Northeaster, Golden Gate, Rattlesnake, Kentucky Wonder Wax, Kentucky Blue
20 feet CILANTRO - Santo
May 3:
20 PARSLEY plants - Giant Italian, Curly (variety?)
12 Valley Girl TOMATOES (on black plastic, in a tunnel)

May 7:
150 feet of KALE & COLLARDS - Red Russian, Winterbor, Winter Red, White Russian, Tuscano, Rainbow Tuscano, Vates collards
200 feet of CHARD - Bright Lights and three kinds from Seeds from Italy seed company.  It's hard to know what the varieties are called, the seed packets are mostly in Italian.
2 HOT PEPPERS in the hoophouse attached to the chicken coop - an experiment
12 SQUASH PLANTS - Golden Arrow and Jack Pot.  This is another experiment, some really large plants grown with black plastic mulch and a clear plastic tunnel.  We are hoping for squash in June.

May 9:
(In the Pick-Your-Own Garden)
25 feet SUNFLOWERS - Valentine and mixed
10 feet CILANTRO - Santo
5 feet NASTURTIUMS - Kaleidoscope
21 CHERRY TOMATOES - Super Snow White, Chocolate Pear, Black Cherry, Chadwick, Gardener's Delight, Lemon Drop, Esterina, Sun Gold, Sweetie
(In the coop hoophouse)
18 SUPER HOT PEPPERS - King Naga, Orange 7-Pot, Bhut Orange Copenhagen, Trinadad Scorpian, Scotch Bonnet, Habanero Big Sun, Hanoi Cayenne, Pimento Lisa
9 EGGPLANT - Listada, Ping Tung, Diamond, Orient Express
3 CUCUMBERS - Socrates

Cherry tomatoes, yum.

Monday, April 20, 2015

SIGNS OF SPRING (as of April 20)

Peepers and wood frogs calling
Planting onions
Three dozen eggs in one day
Crocuses and snowdrops
Pussy willows
Planting peas
Mama hen setting on her eggs
40 eggs in one day
Everything changing every day
Phoebes returning to their nests
Looking for (and finding) seeds sprouting and perennials growing.
Short blog posts
So busy we don't know what to do next!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Low tunnel in the field, ready to be planted with early broccoli

Pussy willows

The snow melted!

Duck eggs!  The ducks will be nesting soon.

French sorrel, growing in the hoophouse
Planting sweet onions
Strolling of the Heifers CSA & Farm Showcase

Head lettuce seedlings