Farming Matters – FEB 15, 2021


A Great Big Family of Health Nuts!

This is my first Farming Matter’s blog of 2021.  I apologize for being absent so long but … COVID.  We’ve done OK this past year and are proud of how well Yellow Stonehouse Farm dealt with the pandemic – implementing distancing and sanitation protocols, adding washing stations and then, silver lining, getting to know all the many new CSA members who joined our farm.  It’s been challenging but rewarding and an unexpected joy to welcome so many new families and children as they discover the delights of Yellow Stonehouse Farm. 

Rather than rehash the past, let’s explore the thing that’s obliterated all other issues for me:  Health. Humanity spent an entire year as a planet focusing on it.  We’ve all learned that health is at the core of it all.  We all need to be healthy; we want our loved ones to be healthy, families & friends included and we are willing to do what has to be done to keep ourselves healthy!  Plus – we’ve learned that a lot of us are willing to sacrifice, inconvenience ourselves, consider others, try new things and collaborate to be healthy.  We’ve become a great big human family of health nuts!

This is great news – for me the organic farmer and the budding herbalist, the healthy chef and owner of a vibrant and growing organic farm, and also the environmentalist, citizen, and aspiring humanitarian.

My experience has been most of us don’t think about our health until it’s threatened or we find ourselves unhealthy.  And for many of us, the unhealthy habits we are practicing, often for convenience alone – don’t have an immediate impact, so we ignore it.  This is unfortunate, because negative health impacts are cumulative and create the real life experience of the boiling frog – we persevere in unhealthy behavior in an increasingly toxic environment until it boils over and we die from it.  This is the cause of so many of our lifestyle diseases – diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease worsened by environmental stressors such as air & water pollution, plastics, toxic chemicals, industrial and processed food.  The cumulative effects push many of us into poor health, but so gradually that until we hit a crisis, we find them easy to ignore.

But during COVID, we experienced a health crisis that didn’t make most of us sick (though the numbers infected are atrocious), yet many of us made immediate and wise decisions proactively to change our lives to protect our health.  We interrupted our lives, WOW – amazing – before we were sick to stay HEALTHY.  Let’s do it some more!!!

Let’s make positive life-style changes that keep us healthy but will also address some of the dangerous health threats that are harder to see.  Lets:

  1. Eat more vegetables and grains to balance our diet and help maintain our weight and blood sugar.  Join a CSA, become a vegetarian or eat a meatless meal once or twice a week, avoid processed food, additives and industrially produced animal products.
  2. Go a step further and eliminate the pesticides and herbicides that impact the quality of the food we eat and kill off pollinators and other beneficial insects, soil microbes, wild plants, birds and amphibians.  Eat organically, reduce plastic use, recycle, don’t use herbicides or pesticides at home.
  3. Exercise – walk, hike, play a sport, garden, do yoga, whatever gets you moving.
  4. Work with, advocate and convince Industry that toxic, cancer causing, endocrine interrupting chemicals are bad for all of us and that it’s better to reduce profits than sacrifice health.
  5. Reduce our carbon footprint – support local farms, drive less, reduce petroleum consumption, install solar, walk more.  Recycle, reduce plastic use, support a carbon tax,
  6. Protect our water – clean water is becoming more precious and scarce.  Rather than ignore the long-term damage we are causing by careless regulation, excessive extraction, inefficient usage – often for short term financial gain – let’s treat it like the scare resource it is.  Maintain open space, parks and forests, irrigate using drip, water at night, don’t buy water in plastic bottles, lobby your local government to keep your town green and preserve the environment.
  7. Protect our air – so many industries and careless developers allow pollutants that seep into the air, increasing greenhouse gases, and exacerbate the warming of the planet.  Support climate change mitigation, maintain forests and farmland, reduce impervious surfaces that increase the concentration of pollutants in run-off.

The idealistic environmentalist is writing this now, but the pragmatist in me has seen what we can do if we understand threats to our health.  The entire world, the planet, needs to be healthy if humanity is to be healthy.  Let’s all work together to make it so.

Thanksgiving Thoughts & Thanks

Farming Matters Blog                                                               November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving thoughts & thanks from the farm

John and I just finished distributing this year’s Thanksgiving Feast.  It’s such fun to hand out tons of produce and watch a member’s face light up she sees her favorite squash or root vegetable in the bins.  This year we were very fortunate to be able to provide 18 different items – everything from acorn squash, apples, yellow & boiling onions (gotta love those creamed onions), HUGE butternut squash, Brussel’s sprouts, carrots, cranberries, garlic, horseradish, parsnips, shallots, sweet potatoes and turnips!

We also sold Thanksgiving feast baskets to a few new farm friends – who seemed very happy with their basket’s variety & amount of vegetables as well as the special touches like YSF’s special Thanksgiving book of twelve recipes, YSF’s custom poultry seasoning, and the heirloom Howe’s cranberries.

Here’s a picture of the basket we gave out.


We have a lot to be thankful for at the Yellow Stonehouse farm: 

  • We are thankful to farm beautiful, fertile land blessed with abundant water. We are thankful we could successfully sow & reap an abundance of vegetables this summer despite the drought.
  • We are thankful that John’s family were such great stewards of the farm. They made sure the farm continued as an agricultural enterprise and not developed, a practice we are privileged to continue today.
  • We are thankful for the children who come to the farm – it is a delight to positively impact the next generation. We love the adorable antics of babies & children, which is surely helping to keep us young.
  • We are thankful to have settled full-time on the farm – where we are engaged & productive; continuously learning new things while giving back to our community – all things that give meaning to our lives.
  • We are thankful to have so many wonderful members of the farm, who share their pleasure in the farm with us and make our work so rewarding. Your membership is what makes this all work.

Happy Thanksgiving to all from your organic farm & CSA – Yellow Stonehouse Farm and your farmers – John & Connie

Dressing up as a farmer

Dressing up as a farmer for Halloween

Today is Halloween – amazing what a big event it’s become. thanksgiving-costume-picture

It’s a great excuse to dress up as your favorite character – whether it’s a super hero or future vocation. I expect we’ll see a few of each tonight – superman, wonder woman, fireman, ballerina, various celebrities and sports figures. And it’s not just the kids who get into dressing up – as I can attest to after attending a costume party last weekend and dressing up as a 1920’s flapper – great fun!

What I don’t expect to see is a child dressed up as a farmer – much to my sorrow. I don’t know many kids today who want to be a farmer when they grow up – or parents who chose farming as a career for their children. This is a problem for us all – especially in New England where we are losing our family farms at an alarming rate. If the farms disappear and there aren’t any new, young farmers who want to get into the business – who is going to grow our food in the future?

One of the major barriers to entering farming, is the cost of acquiring the farm. Very low commodity prices also make it hard to earn a decent living to support a family on farms less than 1000 acres. Not to mention the physical hard work farming requires – not attractive to many nowadays – though our physical health might benefit. A more recent problem is the industrialization of farming dependent on expensive chemicals and GMO seed that lock farmers into methods of farming susceptible to plant diseases and invasive insects. Changing weather patterns make our lovely temperate New England climate dryer and hotter – increasing the risk and cost of farming even more, and pushing more farmers out of business.

A positive farming trend is the growth of CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) which connects community members and local farms. Community members buy shares in their local farm for a set price and then enjoy the bounty of the farm for a season: The Summer Share from June to October and/or the Winter Share from November to February. CSA’s work by providing the farmer with a reasonable & reliable income source and the ability to plan how much to grow based on the number of members, and in turn provides shareholders with reasonably priced, delicious, abundant, fresh, and in our case, certified organic produce. Yellow Stonehouse Farm is Hamden County’s only USDA Certified organic CSA and has a growing membership in Westfield and the surrounding area in the Pioneer Valley.

An organic CSA is our way to keep Yellow Stonehouse Farm an agricultural property so we don’t have to cash it in for commercial development. We also are more resistant to drought, pests, and diseases and importantly, we aren’t afraid of poisoning ourselves, the local flora and fauna, or our shareholders with pesticides and harmful chemicals. Kids picking cherry tomatoes can sample them off the vine in the field without worry!

There are other less tangible benefits of CSAs. First, many of our shareholders have children and we are exposing those children to the farm, our joy in sustainable farming, and the glories of nature. Maybe we can inspire a child or two to consider farming as a future career. Second, we are working hard to establish the farm as a self-sustaining business. Capable of earning enough income to support a farm family – so that someday, we can sell the farm to a new farm family and make sure the farm stays a farm.

In the meantime, maybe one of our trick-or-treaters will come dressed up as a farmer.

If you’d like to get your own Winter CSA Share so you can enjoy our certified organic produce, we have a few remaining winter shares available. Check out our website at Call us at 413-562-2164 or email us at