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Leaf by Leaf

Chris Kantlehner

As I pick spinach on the first of February, snowflakes fall, wind cuts through the south easthern Mass mini tundra farmland. My fingers a bit frosted, my mind wanders. I'm not protected by my own high tunnel. I'm not even picking spinach that I planted, seeded, watered. I'm not at my own farm. Yet I feel the deep connection. This hearty spinach has a story. It's a story of the interconnectedness commitment of my local farming friends. It starts with you, our customers demanding winter greens to enjoy this season.

“Shoot!, my tunnels are tired”, they have been working so hard this winter. Let's give them a break this week. So I get on the horn. “Britney, got any spinach?” She replies “yeah have at it, about 1 to 1 ½ beds, clear cut, all yours.”

And so the story begins...hold on tight I'm about ready to weave a web of spinach picking and connection.

Kevin and Britney Overshiner of Upswing Farm were leasing land from an Original OG farmer back before it was cool. Tim Garbowski of Grateful Farm, in Franklin Ma, has been a steward for his bit of suburban farm land for quite some time now. Growing his market garden through organic practices and community.

This season Upswing Farm was able to lease farmland on the site of Grateful Farm, continuing their dedication to our local food system. The spinach that I had the pleasure of picking was seeded, planted, watered, weeded by the Upswing Farm crew. It’s so big, hearty and luscious thank you!!

Finally after relentlessly grinding out food production for their community in the Ashland, MA area they have bounced around from land to land (including a small stint here at White Barn Farm), moving, lugging, traveling up and down good ole 495. That work paid off, after all of the long hours they have secured land for themselves in Pepperell, MA. Yes!!!!! HUGE congratulations from all of us, wishing only the best!!!

Because of this it opened up a window for me to pick that spinach, they were in between markets and moving. We here at White Barn Farm benefit immensely. The story continues though with a new tenant of that Franklin farmland. Ali Coakley, an employee at Upswing Farm has started Night Owl Farm, on the land of Grateful Farm. Keeping the farming tradition alive and vibrant hopefully for seasons to come. We wish you good luck, happy farming!!

Heading down 495 back to our farmstead I couldn't help but think of another chapter in the tale of the spinach. After washing, spinning, then storing in the cooler. The next day Laura Peters, wash station stalwart and all around White Barn badass will be weighing and bagging spinach into .4/lbs bags kindly wrapping it with a green bow for the winter CSA boxes and Online Market. Laura and Mike Moran will be getting Common Acre Farm back up and going for this 2021 season. We will have all of their deliciously power packed microgreens for sale After a bit of hiatus, Mike was able to work here at White Barn Farm, meet his partner Laura and revitalize Common Acre Farm. Soon to become a community staple in the Mansfield area for seasons to come. The help and dedication they have provided for us will only benefit them in this new future endeavor. “GOOD LUCK, MY FRIENDS!!!!”

By this time some of you will be already devouring your spinach and some will be eagerly waiting for your ability to enjoy this goodness. For a vegetable that can be identified synonymously with a cartoon sailor, this wonderful green will give you power and energy but there is always more to the story. Enjoy this story of progress, dedication, commitment, growth and love while your eating the hearty winter SPINACH!!!

Remember folks even during these periods of life that we can sometimes feel disconnected from one another, a humble green like spinach can bring us all together. Enjoy your greens!!!

If you're interested in supporting and or reading more about all of the farms listed in this story here are links to their websites. Please like, share, tell your friends. Spread the good word. KEEP US ALL GROWING!!

Grateful Farm- thank your Tim for working so hard for so many years, your land will be taken care of.

Upswing Farm- So happy for you both

Night Owl Farm -good luck

Common Acre Farm- you guys rock!!! Wishing you the best!!

WHITE BARN FARM- get that spinach!!!

Online ordering, CSA shares, FARMSTAND cards, all available!

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