Nate, Jen & Noah are spending this winter warm & cozy but can’t wait for spring! Read on for their winter antics & upcoming greenhouse seeding…
Crimson and Clover CSA is selling shares for the 2014 season. Shares are limited and likely to sell out, so please put your deposit down soon for a season of fresh and local veggies, fruit and flowers. Find the sign-up form here.
What a winter we’re having so far! It has been so snowy (and cold!) it is hard to believe that spring could be just around the corner. One of our favorite things about being at the farm after a snowstorm is looking at all the animal tracks in the snow. We have seen so many deer, squirrel, bird, raccoon, and fox tracks this winter it really makes it clear to us how much we share the farm with more than just the folks we grow food with and for!
The 2014 season will be our fourth year at Crimson & Clover Farm. Every season our enthusiasm for and love of this work seems to build. No two seasons are the same: the weather is always different, we work with a bunch of new and awesome employees, and we get to experiment with growing new types and varieties of vegetables each season. Every season is fresh and unfolds with its own story, challenges and successes. We already can’t wait for the one to come!
We are looking forward to getting started in the greenhouse in 3 weeks. 3 WEEKS! A foot of snow on the ground and we are getting ready to sow onion seeds in the greenhouse. Working in the greenhouse provides us with an opportunity to get an early start on spring. The warm air and rich humidity of the greenhouse contrast with the cold dry air of the wintery outdoors. So much fun!
Otherwise the winter is a relatively quiet time of year for us. The farm is tucked away under a blanket of snow and other than the occasional plowing or shoveling most of our work has moved inside for the winter. We do sometimes take walks through the fields and woods on the farm, but for the most part we are tucked away cozily at home working on seed orders, hiring next season’s crew, and doing many of the small projects that we don’t have time for during the growing season. We are still working every day, but the pace is much slower than the summer which we are grateful for as it helps balance the sometimes marathon pace of harvest season. This season we have been especially grateful for the slower winter as we’ve had a lot of time to hang out with 9-month old Noah, who is crawling up a storm, standing up on his own and is just generally a joy to be around. While we are all looking forward to the spring, this year we have all enjoyed the slower winter so much.
We also spend time in the winter reflecting on the past season and planning the ways to improve what we do, how we run the farm, and what we offer our shareholders. Looking back on this past season we feel it was a great success. We grew vegetables for 333 CSA members! We have been increasing our membership a little bit each season – next year we’re planning to grow for 360 shareholders – and the community’s response to the farm has been amazingly positive so far. We work hard to listen to our shareholder’s feedback and in a large part our winter planning is guided by what we have heard from folks through the season and in our yearly surveys. Music in the CSA barn, take-what-you’ll-use kale, and flowers in the pick-your-own garden (returning this year!) have all come directly from shareholder’s ideas and feedback. We are continually so grateful to be growing food for such an engaged and caring group of people.
We do still have CSA shares available for next season. If you are interested in joining the farm for the 2014 season all you need to do is print out this form and send it in along with a deposit or full payment. Regardless, we’d love to see you at the farm this coming season!
Happy sledding or snowshoeing or shoveling or hot chocolate drinking or whatever you are doing this snowy weekend & stay warm out there!
Nate, Jen & Noah
Three great growing seasons at Crimson & Clover Farm
Expanding production from 8 acres in 2011 to 15 acres this past season, and offering more CSA shares to the local community (330 shares in 2013) Crimson & Clover also took on the management of Grow Food Northampton’s 50-acre Main Field. Part of this management involves collaboration with Slow Tractor Farm, which is grew barley, wheat, corn and oats on 18 acres of the Main Field. With the remaining acreage Crimson & Clover worked on building the soil this year with cover crops and put 10 acres into pasture.
Leasing the Main Field will allow Crimson & Clover to expand and diversify its production in the coming years. Eventually it hopes to offer a Winter CSA and raise more animals on the farm. With more land, our farmers will be able to meet their goals for growth while maintaining their commitment to sustainable agriculture, including critical field rest and crop rotation.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience Crimson & Clover’s CSA this season, enrollment for 2014 shares will soon be available. All their vegetables and fruit are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers! Fresh, local, delicious!
And plan ahead if you need help paying for a share: Join the UMASS Five College Credit Union and qualify for a zero-interest farm share loan.
Crimson & Clover’s Story
In the fall of 2010, after a three-month application process, and with the assistance of an expert evaluation panel, Grow Food Northampton selected a western Massachusetts farming couple, Nate Frigard and Jen Smith, to be our anchor CSA farmers for the Northampton Community Farm.
Nate and Jen have a combined 20 years of farming experience, were trained at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California Santa Cruz, and have been growing, managing and teaching farming in Massachusetts including Waltham Fields Community Farm, Waltham, MA, and the Farm School in Orange, MA. In 2010, Nate managed the CSA operation at the Farm School while Jen worked as a Land Conservation Associate with Mt. Grace Land Conservation Trust.
In February 2011, after signing a 99-year lease with Grow Food Northampton to lease the 39-acre former “Bean Farm”, Jen and Nate launched Crimson & Clover Farm. In a few short months, they sold 200 shares and, in June 2011, began distributing their first shares to local households. In addition to vegetables, plans include growing flowers for customers and bees. Plants that attract native pollinators will gradually replace invasive species along the perimeter of the property. A couple of beehives are already on the farm but Jen has plans for many more.
“We daydream of summer farm camps and flocks of chickens, river ecology walks, gardening workshops, a shared community room with space for local artwork and CSA shares available and affordable for everyone in our community. It will happen, step by step, through our work and through the help of many others.”