February is a great time to whittle down the farm to-do list as low as we can get it before planting begins again March 1st! This month we have been busy checking off necessary administrative tasks such as completing organic certification paperwork, calculating fertilizer needs for each crop, finalizing our greenhouse and field schedule, finishing the 2018 bookkeeping, and updating our budget for the coming season. We are also continuing the hiring process for our few remaining positions, as well as setting up payroll and other record keeping systems for the year. While there is plenty to keep us busy in the office over the winter, we are also able to make time to get out and be a part of our community! We attend meetings and workshops on both vegetable growing as well as the related topics of open space, regulations, and food safety. Each winter we also give a few talks ourselves - this year Lise spoke to a gardening class at MCI Concord and Melissa is scheduled for a “Conversations with a Farmer” event at the Concord Seed Lending Library March 23rd.
Some of the meetings we attend over the winter are planning sessions with our fellow farmers in the area. Earlier this month we participated in the annual planning meeting for the Eastern Massachusetts CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training). The group schedules biweekly farm tours and workshops for beginning farmers and apprentices, and we’ll be hosting a session on greenhouse management this spring. We have also continued to attend the town Agriculture Committee meetings. We enjoy this gathering of Concord farmers and community members working together on projects such as a Farm Passport program, summer farm tours, and the 2019 Ag Day market. Details on these events to follow in the coming months! The first event of of the 2019 season will be the Ag Committe’s Spring Forum Thursday March 21st, 7pm at Harvey Wheeler. Chefs from local restaurants will be there to talk about how they incorporate produce from local farms in their cooking year-round. Join us for for a discussion of the rewards and challenges of cooking seasonally and take home some new ideas! The farms of Concord have also collectively started a farmsofconcord instagram account to showcase all the exciting (and beautiful!) things happening on the farms around Concord. We also now have a barrettsmillfarm instagram account. Feel free to tag either account or send Melissa your photos this season so we can include them!
While in many ways this has been a typical February on the farm it also included a major milestone: the end of our first 5-year lease on the property! We moved in on March 20th, 2014 with no employees, equipment, or supplies and we now have 5 tractors, 2 greenhouses, a high tunnel, an irrigation well, numerous farm implements and 10 seasonal employees! Earlier this month we signed another 5-year lease on the property, our last before the town will require another Request For Proposal application process for a new lease. As we sign on for the next five years we are encouraged and supported by the sign-ups and membership payments arriving each day. We are still accepting sign-ups for the 2019 season - forms are available on our website, where you can also now sign up with a credit card. If you’re a returning member from this past season and have lost your renewal form, just email Melissa (firstname.lastname@example.org)! The deadline for early sign-up discounts is March 15th.
The 2019 season will be here before we know it - we can’t wait!