Sunday, January 29, 2012

Creating a Farm

In the fall of 2010 Kevin and I moved our farm from central New Hampshire to Pittsford and last season we jump started the farm operation and built it into the living breathing thing that it is today.  While still running our CSA and farmer's markets in New Hampshire we began commuting back and forth to prep the land for the season ahead and slowly move our belongings to the new farm.  The land needed to be cleared, plowed, manure was spread and cover crops planted to enrich the soil for the year ahead.  We constructed a greenhouse, planted garlic, reorganized and cleaned out a barn that had been vacant for decades.  We built a walk in cooler right by the road, which now serves as a self service farm stand.  In February we welcomed 11 piglets to the farm and 300 baby chicks, who would grow to become our laying hens.  It was beginning to feel like a farm.  We began to plan and map out what the farm would look like, what we would grow and where it would be planted.  Then we went out seeking CSA members, people to grow the food for.

Then spring arrived and everything that had been a plan began to take real form.  Baby chicks arrived (we also raise meat chickens in addition to hens), and more pigs.  Hours and days were spent in the greenhouse. seeding all the tiny plants that would grow into tomatoes. eggplants, lettuce and kale.  The ground thawed out and the air became warmer and we prepped beds and seeded early crops.  We moved the hens and meat chickens out to pasture.  More and more people signed up for the CSA and every day we moved closer to our goals, the amount of people we were comfortable guaranteeing vegetables for the season ahead.  We transplanted, weeded, seeded and raced ahead to keep up with the crops.  

Finally came the day of our first CSA distribution early in the morning we woke up and began harvesting.  Bins full of Lettuce, Pak Choy, Kale, Radishes, Turnips, Scallions and more all made their way to the barn where they were washed and packed.  The distribution area was set up the signs made and the produce ready and washed.  

A few hours later I was standing by the barn looking out on an amazing sight.  In the barn people were talking and greeting each other, standing over bins of produce and picking out their shares.  In the fields there were people of all ages, bending over next to one another, picking sugar snap peas, cutting herbs and chatting.  This moment made it all worth it.  The logical side of my mind knew that this was a result of months of hard work and extreme efforts.  That without that there would be nothing there.  But another part of me saw this moment as magical.  Strangers and old friends had all come together for an hour or so to share in a different way of shopping and eating.  Kevin and I may have done the work, but these people had made it possible.  The farm belongs to everyone who believes in it and believes in a new way of feeding our community.    

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What Does Next Season Have in Store?

Winter has not arrived on the farm in the same vigor that it did last year.  Instead as I write this a freezing rain is falling upon the farm and the chickens are huddled together under their eggmobile in the same way that they do on a rainy day in August.  The weather has been good to us.  Just yesterday it was warm enough to open up the greenhouse and give our precious spinach, growing in there a breath of fresh air.  This fall a high tunnel was constructed on the farm and we are thrilled to be harvesting spinach out of it for our winter CSA.  The month of January is about planing and preparing for the season ahead.  When Kevin and I sit down and talk about the vision we have for our farm we always seem to return to the idea of a whole diet CSA.  We really like the idea of this model.  Kevin spent some time a few years back on Essex Farm in Essex, NY.  There they provide their members with one share option, a whole diet CSA that is picked up on the farm.  Their members receive milk, meat, grain and vegetables.  We often talk about how this is something that we would want to buy, were we not farmers.  This year our farm has moved closer in that direction.  However, we have chosen to put our own spin on things.  There are things that we do not produce (like milk) and things that we do that are not part of other peoples models.  There are so many wonderful farms sprouting up all over the country and we find that we continue to pay attention to what others are doing and try to come up with some ideas of our own in order to constantly improve on our farm model.

Through this process of observation, creative thinking, trail (and yes, sometimes error) we continue to aim to improve our farm and the systems that run it.  Here is a little glimpse of what 2012 will look like at Groundworks Farm.

Summer Vegetable Share

In the upcoming summer of 2012 we are offering 6 different CSA share options because we believe that people like to have choices.  Our Summer Vegetable Share will be much like it was last year with changes made to some of the crops we grow and some of the ways we harvest and pack them, based on your feedback from this year.  We are taking stock of what went well and what we can do better.  We are trying out some new crops based on your requests.  There will be more standard slicing tomatoes and with the new addition of our high tunnel we hope to improve the overall quality of our tomatoes.  I will be attempting to grow celery for the first time and will push to diversify the variety towards the beginning of the season.

Pasture-raised Chicken Share
The Summer Pasture-raised chicken share seemed to work out well in many ways.  If you found it was not enough for your family you may want to try out 2 chicken shares.  We are making a couple changes to try to make the Chicken Share more convienent.  The pick up will be monthly instead of every other week like last year.  This way if you do not have a vegetable share you do not have to come out to the pick up just to get 1 chicken.  The pick up for the Chicken Share on the farm will be monthly as well instead of self serve.

Pasture-Raised and Grass Fed Meat Share
After trying out a Winter Pasture and Grass Fed Meat Share we are excited to offer the meat share again this Summer.  This is a new share and we are absolutely in love with how well it seems to work.  With our very own pasture-raised pork and grass fed beef and lamb from neighbors we are able to put together a convenient way to get some of the best meat around all in one place.  The meat share is free choice meaning that you are free to pick what cuts you want and of what kind of meat.  It’s a great deal and very delicious.  The meat share will also be monthly to make things more convenient.  Hebron Members, please note that the Summer Meat Share will be prepackaged with our choice of cuts.   

Pasture-raised Egg Share
Last spring we introduced laying hens to our farm system and moved them around throughout the summer to fresh pasture where they ate grass and bugs and ran around.  The quality and taste of these eggs is truly amazing, even in the wintertime when there is less for them to forage.  So this summer we are including an option for a Egg Share.  Did you get tired of having to email us every week to make sure you could reserve your eggs?  Now you don’t have to.  Reserve them ahead of time with the Pasture-raised Egg Share.

Vermont Farmstead Cheese Share
This past fall we were introduced to Jeremy Russo who makes Southwind Farmstead Cheese in Pawlet, VT.  We tried some of his cheese and thought it was amazingly good.  However, he only makes a small amount and there are not many places to buy it right now.  He is not the only nearby farm with an outstanding cheese with limited availability and so the idea of a cheese share emerged.  We will bring together all of these fabulous cheeses and pack them up for you for an outstanding treat once a month. 

Groundworks Farm Whole Farm Share
Our Whole Farm Share combines all of these shares together for a truly local diet and a great deal!

We are so excited about all these shares and about the opportunity to share them with you.  We are grateful to have a strong membership base, allowing us to be a CSA and nothing else.  This allows us to pass on the bounty of the season to you, our members.  It means that there is less food wasted coming off our farm because we do not rely on unreliable farmers markets as our outlet for selling our produce.  When there is excess food we have places for it to go, it feeds the pigs, chickens and compost piles which feed the land and rejuvenate it so we can continue to grow high quality produce. 

Now is a great time to make sure that you can be a part of the farm for the season ahead.  Sign up for our 2012 Summer Shares and pay in full by April 1st and you will receive a 5% discount. 

2012 CSA Pick Up Locations and Times:

Pittsford, VT (Rutland Area) Tuesdays from 3-6pm on the Farm
Middlebury, VT- Tuesdays from 4-6pm at the Bridge School
Cambridge, MA- Sundays from 12:30-3pm at the Harvest Coop in Cambridge
Hebron, NH- Sundays from 12-3pm at the Coppertoppe Inn and Retreat Center

If you are interested in signing up or have any questions about the farm feel free to contact us:
Groundworks Farm, P.O. Box 437, Pittsford, VT 05763 - - 802-310-4951

You can also stay in touch with the farm by following us:

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Farm Shares Available NOW!

We are now offering shares for the 2012 Summer season!

For more information Check out our recently updated website:

6 Summer Farm Share Options:
1)Vegetable Share: You CANNOT beat this deal on produce at ANY grocery store.  This is sustainably-grown local produce for half what you would pay for conventional at the store!  See monthly produce availability chart on the next page.  Each week members are greeted with bins of freshly harvested produce to choose from (usually 12-20 different varieties).* The Share averages 1 bushel of produce each week and feeds a household of 3-5, or 1-2 avid veggie eaters. We grow everything on our farm.

*Note: Hebron pickup only has pre-boxed shares, 1 bushel per week.

2)Pastured Chicken Share: 2 of our Pasture-raised Chickens--dressed, whole and frozen--at each monthly pickup.  Chickens are approximately 4.5 lbs each. Total of 12 Chickens.

3)Pasture-raised and Grass-fed Meat Share: Average of 14lbs/month.**  Feeds a household of 3-5, or 1-2 meat lovers.  Free choice*** each month of…
Pork (our own) - Breakfast Sausage, Italian Sausage, Pork
   Chops, Roasts, Natural Bacon, and other tasty items.
Beef (Fox Brothers Farm) - Ground Beef, Steaks, Roasts,
   and other delicious items.
Lamb (Meadowview Farm) - Chops, Roasts, shanks,
   sausage, and other scrumptious items.

**All meat is frozen and either vacuum packed or wrapped in butcher paper.
***Hebron Pickup has pre-boxed Meat Shares, our choice.

4)Pasture-raised Egg Farm Share: 1 dozen of our delicious, fresh, deeply-orange-yolked, heart-healthy eggs/week.

5)VT Farmstead Cheese Share: Cheese from Southwind Farm, Twig Farm, Does Leap Farm, and Blue Ledge Farm.  Approx. 1 lb of amazing raw milk cheese per month—at least two different varieties per pickup, our choice.  The best cheese Vermont has to offer.

6)Whole Farm Share:  Sign up for all four options, for a truly local diet, and great bargain.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Groundworks Farm is Hiring!

Groundworks Farm in Pittsford, VT (15 minutes north of Rutland, VT) is seeking a highly motivated, experienced, efficient, and self-starting member to join the farm team.  We are a young couple running a year-round farm, growing 10 acres of vegetables, pastured chicken, pastured eggs, and pastured pork for our expanding Summer and Winter CSA membership.  

This position starts April 2nd 2012 and ends November 20th 2012.  40-50 plus hours, 5 days per week. One week vacation.

Responsibilities of this position include: 
All aspects of year-round organic vegetable production and distribution, including winter storage, growing winter greens, and winter preservation.  All aspects of care, management, and butchering of poultry, and care and management of pigs.  Management of our on-farm and delivered CSA distributions. 

The successful candidate will be timely, very efficient, able to self-motivate while working alone, comfortable driving a pickup truck, tractor and delivery van, able to lift 50lbs, willing to work 50-plus hour weeks at peak season, have a car, be generally handy, and have at least 1 season of vegetable-growing experience.

This is a fast-paced work environment and there is room for the right person to take on lots of responsibility.   Pay will be commensurate with experience, starting at $800/month.  Vegetable Share, Eggs, Chicken Share, and Pork/Beef Share included.  Nice RV trailer with kitchen, bathroom, available for housing if desired.

There are ample opportunities to attend NOFA VT Summer Workshops, as well as the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link New Farmer Workshop Series during the season.

Please email resume along with cover letter and three references to