Kitchen Garden Journal
- Published on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 11:52
- Written by Jarrett
You've heard the phrase "a few eggs short of a dozen"? I think that's what the guy who tried to deliver us a truckload of chickens thought of me when I rejected those 250 birds a few weeks ago. Long story short: We're a little short on eggs for the Spring CSA this week but there's a good reason why.
Normally, our egg laying flock would have been bought as baby chicks; one day olds are actually mailed overnight to us from hatcheries and we raise them from day 2. We have them starting in October, so that by March they become adults and begin laying for our shareholders.
But this year was different for us, as you know, combining our two previous farms into one bigger one. Raising a new flock of hens over the winter was not realistic for us as we needed to hash out the details of our new business before diving in to investments like new flocks of chickens. So we waited, and made arrangements to buy adults in the spring, which are more expensive but freed us from having to raise them from chicks this year.
When the birds showed up a few weeks ago, an older man drove into the farm with 250 teenage (for chickens) aged hens from Pennsylvania in the back of his truck, ready to start laying.
We had spent the previous two weeks building a brand new mobile coop for the birds and directed him to its location out in our field. (Here's Andrew working on the frame of the new coop.)
When we all got out there and readied to unload the birds to the new coop, I noticed for the first time that their beaks were cut. As novice buyers of adult chickens, the thought that they would come debeaked did not occur to Caroline or myself when we placed the order. Debeaking, by the way, is an alarmingly common practice, generally used for factory raised hens. It is used as a measure to prevent the birds from pecking at each other, which can turn into really severe conditions under some circumstances. Here's the Wikipedia article on the practice. It is generally considered inhumane, as it involves cutting and heat-searing the beak at an early age to prevent regrowth.
I said, "I didn't realize they would be debeaked. I'm not sure we can take these birds."
The old man, who surely seemed out of some time warp to us (and I'm sure us to him as well), thought I was joking at first, but then realized I was serious.
"Of course their beaks are clipped. What'd you expect?"
"I guess I didn't consider it. But it doesn't really seem right, I don't think I should take these."
He proceeded to inform me that debeaking was in fact much better because there would be a reduced rate of hen plucking, and even more serious forms of the condition such as cannibalism. I will admit I have raised chickens that are at times alarmingly mean to each other, mostly pecking at other's tails and pulling out their feathers until their little chicken butts are raggedy or even bare. Its not pretty, and not unavoidable either, but is an occasional reality of raising chickens. There was also the fact that we already had a downpayment of $1,600 on these birds that we were far from sure to get back, and that rejecting these would compromise our ability to fulfill egg shares that we had already sold. These things all weighed on my mind.
What was I to do? This old man surely had loads more experience than I (this is only my fifth year raising chickens), but it still didn't feel right. As I weighed the pros and cons, I quickly came to the conclusion that there was a right answer here. We are not raising these hens for ourselves, we are raising them for YOU, our farmshare members. What would our members have us do? I made a call at that time, that we could not take them, because our members expected us to try harder than that. While chickens can sometimes be mean to each other, it seems most likely that they do so in unfavorable conditions. To use mutilation to address the issue is to miss the point.
Rather we should always strive to have really excellent conditions for our animals, and to only support unmutilated sources of them. It was a difficult decision, to send them back at the prospect of not having enough eggs, and the possible loss of our downpayment, but I felt confident it was the right choice.
We ended up finding a new source of 200 non-debeaked (call them beaked?) 17-week olds a couple weeks later. They are now safe and sound in the new coop, are very healthy looking and are quickly learning to forage around and use their new home. (Here are the new little ladies getting settled on their first day.)
So what does this all mean in practical terms? Well, we were expecting chickens earlier, and the new ones have not yet started to lay. Our old flock, which I usually sell to people for backyard pets, are tired and not laying as well these days. Since our new laying flock is delayed, we will likely not be able to keep up with demand for the next few weeks, and eggs in the Spring Treat shares will be a little short. I think this week we'll only come up with enough for 10 eggs per sharemember, instead of a full dozen. The new flock should begin to lay by mid May, at which time we should be fully capable of meeting our egg shares.
I hope that I made the right choice, and I hope that you all will agree with me. Please let me know if you have any other thoughts you'd like to share.
Thanks everyone and see you soon!
- Published on Saturday, April 21, 2012, 08:54
- Written by Tim Wilcox
Asparagus (Warner Farm)
Shallots or Onions
Yogurt (Sidehill Farm)
- Published on Friday, April 20, 2012, 03:32
- Written by Tim Wilcox
The Kitchen Garden is teaming up with Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst to bring Pork Shares to our CSA members in Boston and Cambridge.
Simple Gifts Farm manages their pigs as part of their ecological soil fertility program. The pigs are fed all-organic grain, and are rotationally grazed. The combination of pasture, organic grain, and outdoor living with plenty of exercise results in a very high-quality meat. The animals are butchered humanely at a USDA-inspected operation. The recipes for their sausage and hot dogs add another layer of delicious to the package.
The Pork Shares consist of a single, 20-lb. box of pork for your freezer, to be delivered along with our Spring Treat share on May 9th. Even if you're not enrolled in the Spring Treat share you can sign up for the Pork Share and pick up in Boston or Cambridge on May 9. (If you live in the Valley go ahead and sign up directly with Simple Gifts Farm for pick-up at their farm in Amherst.)
There are three different combinations of cuts available:
The Sausage Box is 20 lbs for $160 (Mix and Match): -Chorizo, Breakfast Sausage, Hot Italian, and Sweet Italian Sausage.
The Grilling Box is 20 lbs for $180: (approximately 5 lbs of each):
Hot Dogs (All Pork, All Natural), Hot Italian or Sweet Italian Sausage Links, Loin Chops, and Pork Steaks
The Rib Box is 20 lbs for $180 (approximately 10 lbs of each): Regular Ribs (Spareribs), and Country Style Ribs.
You can sign up for the pork share directly, and pay online at
- Published on Thursday, April 05, 2012, 05:14
- Written by Tim Wilcox
Sunday, April 29 6-9pm
Read more and reserve a seat today!
Olives, Cheese, Breads
Dips: Taramosalata, Tzatziki, Skorthalia, Green Garlic Hummus
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Lightly Grilled Asparagus
Magirista or vegetarian Avgolemo Soup
Whole Roasted Lamb with Mint Yogurt
Fiddleheads with Feta
Wheat Berry Salad
Braised Spring Greens
- Published on Saturday, March 24, 2012, 01:26
- Written by Tim Wilcox
Our first Spring Treat share distribution will take place this Wednesday in Boston (3:30-6pm), Cambridge (4:30-6pm) and Hadley (4-6pm). Here's what you'll be getting!
- 1/2 lb salad greens or arugula
- 1/2 lb spinach
- 1 bunch herbs (parsley, thyme or oregano)
- 2 lbs onions
- 4 lbs potatoes (from Atlas Farm)
- 1 head cabbage (from Queen's Greens)
- 1 dozen eggs
- 1 jar of jam made by our friend Devon of Beaumont's Berries
- Published on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 02:33
- Written by Tim Wilcox
We are pleased to announce the marriage of our farm to another. Tim and Caroline, do you take Jarrett Man of Stone Soup Farm to be your lawfully wedded co-farmer? We do!
You heard right. We are teaming up with Jarrett, merging our farms into a single new farm that will be called The Kitchen Garden, LLC. Jarrett has been operating his CSA farm at the New England Small Farm Institute in Belchertown since 2008. A fellow Hampshire alum, Jarrett has also worked at Red Fire Farm and is an all around great guy and amazing farmer.
We are combining our talents and our resources so that we can do more as one medium sized farm than we ever could as two small farms. Kitchen Garden 2.0 is going to be amazing!
At the end of last season, we knew that whatever we would be doing in 2012 would be radically different than ever before. We didn’t know what the New Year would bring, but we knew we had to ditch the status quo. We have surprised even ourselves with the bigness of our new plans.
We have secured a lease for 14 additional acres of gorgeous Sunderland farmland just across the brook at the back of our field, bringing our total acreage to over 20. This new land will allow us to grow our vegetables more efficiently as well as more sustainably. We’ll be growing a lot more of the things we love and still have plenty of space to try new things. In addition, The Kitchen Garden will become a truly 4-season farm with year-round product and CSA share offerings.
This new chapter for the farm isn’t born solely out of a desire to make everything Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger. As farm owners, we see this as an opportunity to refine our job descriptions to reflect our best strengths and interests. The breadth of what is normally expected of a “farmer” can be overwhelming. By working together, we’ll be able to do the jobs that we’re most skilled at, and do them in a more focused and effective way.
So, here’s a preview of what’s new and different for 2012 and beyond:
Changes to our CSA program including on-farm pickup in Hadley complete with pick-your-own, drop sites in Boston, and a new farmers market option called Market Share!
More veggies, more food: we are working to develop some prepared food items for sale at our farmers markets, and looking forward to hosting a series of Kitchen Table food events!
We're adding 250 hens to Jarrett's pastured laying flock, so we'll have eggs for sale!
Later in the season we’ll be offering Winter CSA Shares and a full line of winter greens and stored root crops for our market customers, chefs and stores!
So, from Tim, Caroline and Jarrett, we are excited to be growing for you in 2012!
- Published on Monday, January 30, 2012, 08:26
- Written by Tim Wilcox
Big changes are happening at our farm this year, and that means we’re switching up what we’re doing in the way of CSA shares. We won’t be offering the boxed shares anymore. Instead, we’re teaming up with our new business partner Jarrett Man of Stone Soup Farm to create a CSA program that has some exciting new and improved options:
On-farm pickup at our beautiful new Hadley location featuring more choice and pick-your-own!
A new Market Share program that provides members discounts at our 4 farmers’ market stands across the Valley!
Kitchen Garden CSA shares are now available in the Boston area!
We are excited about the new CSA program and think that it will create a richer, more convenient and flexible experience for our members, and we hope that it works better for you! We are also pleased to announce that we’re adding egg shares, fruit shares, winter and spring shares. The vegetables on offer will be the same great Kitchen Garden produce you’re used to, but with lots of new things to try, too.
Here’s some more information about the options for 2012:
On-Farm Pickup will take place at Jarrett’s barn at 81 Rocky Hill Rd in Hadley on Saturdays from 9am-1pm. Share contents will be mix-and-match so that you can take more of the vegetables you like best. There will also be a pick-your-own-patch with flowers, herbs, beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, and other goodies. The Hadley farm is centrally located, 5 minutes from Amherst or 10 minutes from Northampton. Choose a Full Share for $550 or a Small Share for $325. The main share season runs from June-October. The Fruit Share will only be available for on-farm pickup in Hadley and to our Boston area shareholders.
The Market Share is a new program that we are launching this year. Members can choose to join at the Small Share or Full Share levels. $325 gets you a gift card for $350 worth of veggies from our farmers market stand. $550 gets you a gift card for $600. Market Share is the most user-friendly, flexible way to join a CSA in the Pioneer Valley. Come to any of our 4 weekly farmers’ market locations (Springfield Tuesday, Amherst Wednesday, or Northampton and Greenfield Saturday) and pick out whatever you want. If you miss a week or go away on vacation, you miss nothing. You can spend $5 one week and $40 the next if you like, it’s up to you.
Valley people, tell your Boston area friends that we are coming to their town! The Kitchen Garden is continuing Stone Soup Farm’s Boston area Wednesday CSA distribution sites at the Democracy Center in Cambridge and the Non-Profit Center in Boston. We are also looking to secure a third location so stay tuned for news on that front. Like on-farm pickup, these sites will have a farmers’ market-like display where members can choose what they like best. We are very excited to be in Boston!
Options and add-ons for shareholders include the Fruit Share, Egg Share (1/2 dozen eggs per week from our own hens!), Spring Treat Share (March-May), and Winter Share (November-February). For the full rundown and all the details including the enrollment form, please visit the CSA page of our website.