Sustainable Steps: We’re now in winter mode

1. ’Tis the season to give thanks

A farmer I know was recently telling me that he has started changing his way of thinking about his customers. He now views them as patrons. His idea is that the relationship he has with his patrons is based on more than an economic relationship. I think it is a wonderful way of thinking about this. We need much more connection with where our food comes from and who is doing the hard work of raising it. Patrons at Sunnyfield Farm are much more involved with knowing the trials and tribulations that are encountered in bringing good food into our farm store. They also know the joy when we achieve our goals. Even though I do appreciate the many patrons who visit and buy all year round, I would like to say a special thanks to all and say that though we are often running around crazily we so appreciate all who come out of their way and make that extra effort to support local farms. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

2. Thanks again

Sunnyfield Farm is a grass-based operation. Our cows and sheep eat only grass and hay in the winter, so we need access to lots of grass. Many landowners in Peterborough, Greenfield and Hancock host our animals and graciously share their grass. While it is a mutually beneficial relationship, our animals mow and leave behind fertilizer, and we are able to get them all fed often the landowners share in the care and certainly help when our beasts escape. I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of you who allow us the use of your land and join in the support of local agriculture. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

3. We’re in winter mode

Here on the farm we are pretty much in our winter mode. The animals are all in their winter area. We did manage to extend our grazing this year until Dec. 1, which is a major help when we are trying to conserve our hay. Farmers in New England face a much more daunting task in the quest to raise food. With 6 months (sometimes) of warm weather to work with, we rush around like chickens with our,well you know. There’s just six months to grow and/or raise the crops, harvest and market it to achieve a payday. While here at Sunnyfield Farm we do continue year round with our meat and milk, many farms have little or no products for the winter months. It is extremely helpful for farms to have start-up money for the next year. So if you are casting about for a gift idea for that someone special, consider a CSA share or gift certificates at your favorite farm.

Ruth Holmes is one of the principal farmers at Sunnyfield Farm, a nonprofit community farm in Peterborough.

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