Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Afternoon on Hutchins Farm

Curly Red Russian Kale

By Kyle Foley

Hutchins Farm is a family-owned and –operated organic produce farm less than 30 miles west of Boston in Concord, MA. Two brothers, Gordon and John Bemis, have been running the farm since 1973, and are now joined in the farm’s operations by Gordon’s daughter, Liza, and John’s son and daughter-in-law, Taylor and Andrea. When a Slow Food group drove out to visit the farm recently, we were given a tour by the farm manager, Brian Cramer, and Liza Bemis (also a Friedman student!) joined us, too. Hutchins grows a wide variety of certified organic vegetables, as well as a handful of fruit crops. They are particularly known for their greens (lettuce, kale, chard, arugula, escarole, collards, etc), but (full disclosure: I also work for the farm once a week, but no bias, I swear!) everything they grow is delicious. Currently, it’s apple season on the farm, and root crop season, and more greens as the weather cools. Apples (as well as some other crops that Hutchins grows, like sweet corn) are particularly tricky to grow organically in New England because of pest pressure and the humid climate here (which is ripe for fungus). Because of this (not to mention because of how crunchy and tasty they are), Hutchins apples are in high demand.

Hoeing the lettuce planting
Brian showed us around several of the fields, talking as we went about the different challenges and benefits of growing organically. We learned a lot about the incredible variety of bugs that like to make their homes in the fields of different crops, and were able to see up close some potato bugs and Mexican bean beetles, in addition to the beneficial insects that roam the fields. Weeding takes up a good portion of the farm crew’s time and energy, and we saw a handful of crew members at work hoeing a fresh lettuce planting. Brian also showed us some fallow fields planted in cover crops, and talked about the importance of good soil quality as a key component to the farm’s success. And on our way back to the farmstand, we were able to get a good look at some tractors and cool farm implements that make the work of planting, weeding, irrigating, and harvesting easier.

Farmstand produce
Walking through the fields was a perfect way to spend part of a beautiful fall afternoon, and I don’t think any of us left without picking up some vegetables (and apples) to bring home!

If you’re interested in purchasing Hutchins Farm produce, you can find them at the Central Square farmers’ market in Cambridge on Monday afternoons, the Belmont farmers’ market on Thursday afternoons, and the Union Square farmers’ market in Somerville on Saturday mornings. And if you get the chance, head out to Concord to visit the farmstand at 754 Monument Street!

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