Category Archives: Uncategorized

CSA Weeks 5 & 6

Spring Onions, Pea Shoots, Spinach, Green Garlic, Salad Turnips, and Parsnips.

LAST WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Parsnips or Salad Turnips
• Spring Onions
• Rapini 
• Spring Onions
• Green Garlic
• Pea Shoots

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Carrots, Beets, Sugar Snap Peas, Napa Cabbage, Lettuce

We have finally caught up with the weather nightmare that has been spring. We have used up all of the overwintered crops, except onions and pea shoots, and all of the greenhouse crops that were meant to tide us over until the outdoor planted crops were ready.

All the rain this spring has put our planting schedule 5-6 weeks behind when we’ve planted the last two years.

But remember, we haven’t been able to plant anything this spring, until this week. That’s six weeks later than last year. And because nothing was planted outside to begin when the greenhouse crops finish up, there’s nothing to harvest.

I dread telling CSA members this, because you paid ahead for your produce. And we really have done all that we can. But the good news is that it’s temporary. Just this week, we were able to get everything planted up to our current planting schedule, plus a few things, “just in case”.

We start out our season with Spring Onions, leftovers from last year’s onion crop that were missed.

We will have no CSA pickups this week (May 13-16) and no pickups next week (May 20-23). The following week, however, we will have many new and exciting things to start harvesting, and hopefully, we won’t have to stop again until January. We’ve replanted greenhouses, and we have a ton of things planted outside. I’m very hopeful that we can turn this season around.

Jackie may be small, but he’s a brave family man, looking over his harem and finding them tidbits to eat.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We will continue planting, and get things cleaned up for our first farm potluck on May 27. Mark your calendars!

We can’t work up ground for planting when there is water standing in the field. And so we wait.

CSA Weeks 3 & 4

Parsnips, Rapini (Broccoli Raab), Spring Onions, Pea Shoots, Green Garlic, Mixed Cooking Greens, and U-Pick Tulips and Daffodils.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Parsnips
• Mixed Bag of  Kale and Beet Greens
• Rapini 
• Spring Onions
• Green Garlic
• Pea Shoots

• U-Pick Tulips and Daffodils!

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Radishes, Arugula, Cilantro, Spinach

By now it shouldn’t be a surprise that this has been the wettest, coldest spring in our entire farming career. It’s well documented now. We have surpassed our frustration point at not being able to work ground for planting.

Mixed tulips from the U-Pick rows. CSA families only!

Our spring season always starts out a bit slow, with whatever perennial crops have survived through the winter. Everything that we have fed you with, up to this point, was planted last year.

The next crops to harvest (and we did start picking them for market last week) come from the greenhouses. Back in February, we planted radishes, turnips, arugula, spinach, and carrots in all of our hoop houses. They’ve taken much longer than normal to produce a crop, even under cover. It’s been cold. Next week, there will be enough of many of those things to harvest for CSA families as well.

Our Cooking Greens bags are made of frilly kales and beet greens.

But hoop houses are limited to their space, and since we haven’t been able to plant anything outside yet, I’m afraid that we’re going to have a harvest gap. In the past, we’ve been able to transition through these spring harvest stages more-or-less in a seamless way. But it’s been a struggle to get just six items to harvest every week. Next week is looking good, but the following week, I’m not so sure. We’ll have spinach and turnips, and onions and garlic. Is that worth the drive to the farm?

I’m not without hope. Eventually, the weather will turn, and we’ll get more than one day of consecutive dry weather that will allow us to work up seedbeds and plant. There are many steps involved, and much of the farm is still covered by standing water. People like to exaggerate about weather, it’s human nature. But believe me: this is not good.

Rapini, also known as Broccoli Raab, consists of the flower buds and tender leaves of the overwintered turnip plants. They’re juicy and tender, and sweet, with a touch of bitterness.

So I’m warning you now that we may have to skip a week or two of CSA harvest in the weeks to come. However, we have lots of baby plants in the greenhouse, just waiting to planted outside. Because when you can’t plant outside, you get things started inside. In the long run, a little break from harvesting would let us get a lot of planting done, if the weather were on our side.

It may turn out to be a greens and broccoli year. Light on the tomatoes and squash. But we will have food. We just need a few dry days.

GOOD NEWS: The hens are laying well now! We’re going to finish out last year’s egg subscriptions for four weeks, and in mid-May, we’ll open up egg subscriptions to all CSA members, based on how many eggs we predict the hens will keep laying. So, if you had an egg subscription last year, pick up your eggs for four weeks.

CSA Week 2

Green Garlic, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Rapini (a.k.a. Broccoli Raab), Pea Shoots, Spring Onions, and tender Mixed Kales.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Purple Sprouting Broccoli
• Mixed Bag of  Kale
Rapini 
• Spring Onions
Green Garlic
• Pea Shoots

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Radishes, Arugula, Cilantro, Turnips

Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Eat it all: stems, leaves, and florets.

The back half of the farm is still flooded, and next door is even wetter.  Basically, we have inherited a duck sanctuary. And there was even a Great Blue Heron feeding the other day, standing stolidly in the new lake.

Tiny Rapini buds with a twisty pea shoot tendril.

Thankfully, we have many greenhouses, and we HAVE planted in all of them. Carrots and beets were planted in February. Turnips and radishes in early March. Arugula and a few rows of potatoes in late March. And we just filled one with pea transplants last week. We’re doing the best that we can in this wet spring. Luckily, we planted a lot of extras last summer and fall, because that’s were everything we’re harvesting is coming from right now.

In our downsizing process, one of our goals was to have more family time. I’m hoping for a “weekend” every few weeks. Time to go camping in the sunny part of the year. And since our farmers market is on Sunday, our weekend will be Wednesday and Thursday. And that change meant switching the beginning and end of the CSA week. Now the CSA begins on Saturday and ends with Tuesday pickup and delivery. I’m adjusting to getting the blog posts done on weekends instead of mid-week, so I apologize for missing the first one!

All the colors of kale.

We know that the CSA allotment seems small now, but remember that there will be more as the weeks progress. Summer will bring a lot of different items, and a lot of choices. Have patience, and happy spring!

EGG UPDATE: We’re happy to report that at long last, the hens are feeling like spring and have begun to increase their egg production. I’ll be in touch with anyone who had an egg subscription last year, which we were unable to complete. They will get first priority on egg shares this year. Once those families have been accommodated, we will open egg subscriptions to other CSA families.

 

Eating the World

Big changes are scary, but they are also exciting. For years, almost decades, we have focused on growing our business. Growing the farm, to make just a little more money. Every winter, we would say, “If we could just get into one more market…” But the reality is that growth is expensive. The bigger we were, the more we wanted to produce, and the more help we needed. And farm labor is expensive, especially in relation to the price people are willing to pay for their food. That realization was ultimately the reason I started thinking about downsizing. Shrinking the farm. Concentrating on what was important. 

My desk is covered in seed catalogs. I've taken care of ordering seeds for the staple crops, but now the fun begins. 10 kinds of Solanum berries, 5 kinds of Andean tubers, purple Napa cabbage, green daikon radish. There are so many things to eat!

My desk is covered in seed catalogs. I’ve taken care of ordering seeds for the staple crops, but now the fun begins. 10 kinds of Solanum berries, 5 kinds of Andean tubers, purple Napa cabbage, green daikon radish. There are so many things to eat!

One of the things I really missed in the scale up was all the variety that I was able to grow in the old days. Growth and efficiency mean eliminating things that don’t sell as well or aren’t as profitable, so we lost a lot of our old diversity and excitement. Now that I’m focusing more on variety, I’ve been exploring some obscure seed catalogs and websites, and I’ve been struck by the realization that although there are 620 families of plants, nearly 99% of our food plants come from just a handful of them.

I’ll focus on the vegetable families for now:

Grasses, Poaceae or Gramineae: This includes grains, like corn, wheat, oats, rice, rye, barley, and millet. Worldwide, rice, wheat, and corn account for half of all the calories eaten by humans, and have done so for centuries. This family also includes sugarcane, lemongrass, and bamboo, eaten as tender shoots.

That said, although grass is edible by humans, the human stomach hasn’t evolved to digest that much cellulose, and our teeth haven’t evolved for that much abrasive chewing. Grass is high in silica, and grazing animals have teeth that are adapted to continually grow and replace worn down surfaces. Bellyaches, gas, and malnutrition would be the result from lots of grass-eating.

Legumes, Fabaceae: This family includes, peas, beans, soybeans, garbanzos, lentils, peanuts, carob, mesquite, and tamarind, as well as clover, alfalfa, and licorice. They are very high in protein, and when eaten with a grain, they work together to form all the amino acids necessary as a complete protein food. Most, if not all, primitive cultures figured this out and made some combination their staple diet. Think of rice and beans, corn and beans, barley and peas, soybeans and rice. You get the idea. I was surprised to discover that even the desert southwest had(s) legumes as part of their diet: Tepary Beans and Mesquite Beans.

The bean family also includes Locust trees, from which we get locust bean gum, an emulsifier and ice-cream enhancer. 

Sunflowers, Asteraceae or Compositae: This group includes lettuce, chicory—endive, escarole, and radicchio, artichokes, jerusalem artichokes, salsify, and chamomile.

Nightshades, Solanaceae: While there are toxic members of this family (most likely the reason for the Europeans temporary refusal to eat tomatoes brought back from the Americas by explorers), there are many edible family members. This family includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, ground cherries, and potatoes (not including sweet potatoes).

While most edible nightshades tend to be from warmer climates, we do host a few wild members of this family, including Hairy Nightshade, Black Nightshade, and the dreaded Deadly Nightshade, used as both a poison and a heart medicine in ancient times.

Squashes and Melons, Cucurbitaceae: It’s interesting to note that squashes are New World plants, and melons and cucumbers are old world plants. The New World (American) members of the family are all the hard squashes—delicata, butternut, pumpkins, and some gourds. Squashes also include zucchini and pattypans, which are eaten in their immature stage. If left to mature on the plant they become a hard-shelled squash similar to a pumpkin, though not as tasty. The Old World (European and Asian) members include cucumbers, melons, luffa, bitter melon, and the adorable Cucamelon.

Crucifers, Brassicaceae: This is a huge, varied, highly nutritious family! It also has two large main groups which fall into European and Asian eating patterns. The Asian group, Brassica rapa, includes napa cabbage, bok choy, turnips, radishes, mustard greens, mustard seed, canola, and arugula—it’s a huge family. The European group, Brassica oleracea, includes round cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, rutabagas, kale, collard greens. Horseradish, Alyssum, and countless others are in other subgroups of the Brassica family. You can recognize them by their simple, cross-shaped flowers, which is where the family gets the name “Crucifer”.

Crucifers are perfectly suited to our climate, preferring relatively even temperatures, not too much heat, and plenty of moisture. As a result, we host a number of weeds that are brassicas, including Shepherd’s Purse, Pennycress, and Watercress. 

Onions, Amaryllidaceae: This is a small, but pungent family, which includes onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives. We have no wild members of this family here, but ramps are a wild leek common to the east coast of north america. Also in this family are tulips, which are edible— the Dutch survived on tulip bulbs through a famine in the 1700s.

Carrot and Parsley, Apiaceae: Another huge and varied family of aromatic plants! This one claims carrots, celery, parsnips, fennel, parsley, cilantro/coriander, dill, cumin, caraway, chervil, lovage, angelica, and anise. It’s a family quite at home in the northwest, so we have weedy members here, like Queen Anne’s lace, and poison hemlock.

Goosefoots (Beets), Chenopodiaceae: This family includes beets, chard, and spinach. Recently amaranth and quinoa were added to this family as well. These guys love it here, and our most abundant weeds are redroot pigweed (amaranth) and lambsquarter (quinoa). Both are edible and high in protein, not bad while eaten young, and the seeds are just as edible as their famous cousins.

There are other plant families, from which we get just one or two foods. Rhubarb, sorrel, and buckwheat come from the Buckwheat, Polygonaceae, family. Basil, mint, rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, thyme, and lavender come from the Mint, Mentha, family. Sweet potatoes come from the Morning Glory, Convolvulaceae, family. Asparagus is in it’s own family, Asparagaceae. Okra is in the Mallow, Malvaceae family, with hollyhocks, hibiscus, and the Caribbean favorite, Sorelle.

There are also obscure families from which diverse ethnic groups obtain food. Prickly Pear Cactus paddles (Nopales). Specialized tubers from the Andes, like Oca, Yacon, and Mashua, and even some Dahlias.

I’m looking forward to exploring ALL of these vegetable families this year.

November, 2016 Mystery Box

Winter surprises are the best. When you’re expecting squash, potatoes, and kale, it’s extra exciting to find out about new, seasonal foodstuffs! These are the delicious contents of our first Winter Mystery Box. 

November, 2016 Mystery Box Contents
• Winter Bloomsdale Spinach
• “Honey Nut” Winter Squash
• Watermelon Radishes
• Purple Sprouting Broccoli or Orange Cauliflower
• Purple Salad Mustard
• Parsnips
• Kalettes, a.k.a. Kale Sprouts
• “Adirondack Blue” Potatoes
• Fresh Horseradish Root
• Mixed Heirloom Dry Beans
• Calico Popcorn
• Medieval Fruit Medley (Medlars and Quince)

Sweet, dense, curly leaves of Bloomsdale Winter Spinach. Those pink stems are the sweetest part!

Sweet, dense, curly leaves of Bloomsdale Winter Spinach. Those pink stems are the sweetest part!

This super-sweet, super-rich, personal-sized butternut squash is called

This super-sweet, super-rich, personal-sized butternut squash is called “Honey Nut”.

Inside this winter-hardy Watermelon Radish there's a surprise...the inside is bright pink! They're a bit more dense and spicy than a spring radish, but they are delicious in a soup or pickle.

Inside this winter-hardy Watermelon Radish there’s a surprise…the inside is bright pink! They’re a bit more dense and spicy than a spring radish, but they are delicious in a soup or pickle.

Cauliflower comes in many colors, including green, purple, and orange! The orange is a bit more delicate than the others, and it's higher in beta carotene.

Cauliflower comes in many colors, including green, purple, and orange! The orange is a bit more delicate than the others, and it’s higher in beta carotene.

Spicy Scarlet Salad Mustard is similar to arugula, but with a kick. Enjoy it as a garnish, to spice up a sandwich, or straight.

Spicy Scarlet Salad Mustard is similar to arugula, but with a kick. Enjoy it as a garnish, to spice up a sandwich, or straight.

Parsnips are a very slow-growing relative of carrots and celery, and after a good freeze or two in the ground, they are sweet and delicious roasted, fried, or mashed.

Parsnips are a very slow-growing relative of carrots and celery, and after a good freeze or two in the ground, they are sweet and delicious roasted, fried, or mashed.

A natural cross between Brussels sprouts and red kale, Kalettes grow up a tall stalk like Brussels sprouts, but they form rosettes of leaves instead of tiny cabbages.

A natural cross between Brussels sprouts and red kale, Kalettes grow up a tall stalk like Brussels sprouts, but they form rosettes of leaves instead of tiny cabbages.

These purple tubers are a highly-nutritious potato! Adirondack Blue are purple all through, and stay purple after they're cooked.

These purple tubers are a highly-nutritious potato! Adirondack Blue are purple all through, and stay purple after they’re cooked.

Horseradish is the zesty relative of mustard greens. Grated and mixed with a little vinegar and salt, it's a great accompaniment to meats and other vegetables.

Horseradish is the zesty relative of mustard greens. Grated and mixed with a little vinegar and salt, it’s a great accompaniment to meats and other vegetables.

There are hundreds of heirloom dried bean varieties, having been cultivated for generations in their native America. This year we grew Cannelloni, Jacob's Cattle, Calypso, and True Red Cranberry.

There are hundreds of heirloom dried bean varieties, having been cultivated for generations in their native America. This year we grew Cannelloni, Jacob’s Cattle, Calypso, and True Red Cranberry.

Miniature Calico Popcorn grows on a cob, just like sweet corn. Put the whole cob in the microwave to pop, or rub off the kernels and pop in a pan. Beautiful AND tasty!

Miniature Calico Popcorn grows on a cob, just like sweet corn. Put the whole cob in the microwave to pop, or rub off the kernels and pop in a pan. Beautiful AND tasty!

And, for dessert…

Quinces are related to apples and pears and have been grown since medieval times, but they aren't eaten fresh. Cook them for a rosy, delicious sauce or dessert.

Quinces are related to apples and pears and have been grown since medieval times, but they aren’t eaten fresh. Cook them for a rosy, delicious sauce or dessert.

This ancient fruit was once very popular, and can be seen in Medieval manuscripts. Medlars are related to apples and roses, and when allowed to soften, or

This ancient fruit was once very popular, and can be seen in Medieval manuscripts. Medlars are related to apples and roses, and when allowed to soften, or “blet”, the flavor and texture are like applesauce mixed with dates.

In 2017, we will be offering 16 seasonal Mystery Boxes. Order individually, or subscribe for the whole season!

Click here to order yours: Mystery Box Order Form

Click here to go back to the Mystery Box page.

Solstice and a New Year.


Last Week of Winter 2016

Last week we delivered/distributed that last of our 2016 vegetables. There’s not much left aside from some squashes and short stalks of brussels sprouts. Potatoes, many of which will be seed for next year’s crop. We used it all up.

Teo has left for Mexico. We are alone for the winter. The holidays are over. We sent our glowing Solstice lanterns into the air to say goodbye to a trying 2016. And now we welcome the hope and possibility of a new year. 2017 will be fresh and exciting, and smaller.

Downsizing means recalculating everything. How much do I really need to plant? How much do we need? How much seed will it take, and how much space? I’m reinvesting in hand tools, because a smaller scale doesn’t need as much mechanized equipment.

After January, I’ll start looking for helpers. Fresh, enthusiastic help. Two to three people who are as excited about these changes as I am.

But now, it’s cleaning-up season. Cleaning up the desk and doing bookkeeping. Cleaning up the greenhouses to get ready to plant early crops in just a few weeks.   Cleaning up outside and getting ready to plant the earliest crops as soon as the ground is dry.

Change is scary. But mostly change is exciting and full of possibilities!

 

Winter Week 4: Thanksgiving

A perfect double rainbow over our valley. In November.

A perfect double rainbow over our valley. In November.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• “Russet Burbank” Potatoes
• “Buttercup” Squash or Pie Pumpkins
• Broccoli
• Baby Daikon Radishes with Greens
• Parsnips
Brussels Sprouts or Kale
• Fennel or Kohlrabi or Leeks or Radicchio
• Onions

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Parsley Root, Kale Sprouts

November has been a rocky month for our country. And for our people. Never have I been made so aware that I live in a bubble. Partly a bubble of our northwest culture, and largely a bubble of my own making: I have created a life that I always wanted, sometimes for better or worse, in a place that I love.

But that means I can change it as needed. While it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by the negative, as a person who has farmed for almost 20 years, I’ve learned how to rise above and get back to work. Something isn’t going the way I want? Wallow for a bit, be sad and/or angry, and then get in there and fix it. Work harder on making it what you DO want it to be. Don’t quit. Don’t give up.

And there is my mantra for this winter, and 2017. With my words comes my gratitude to all of the families who have been with our farm, supporting every change, every challenge for all these years. Relationships are about growing and changing together. All relationships: marriages; customers and businesses; children and parents; nations and citizens.

When I realized that our farm and family were not sustainable unto each other, I had choices to make, and those are not easy choices. But I am so thankful to be able to make them. I have the freedom to homeschool my kids, in order to spend more time together. I have the freedom to own a business, to follow my dreams. And I have the freedom to change its structure, to grow…or to downsize. And that, Dear Farm Supporters, is why I am so, so very grateful for YOU. Your dedication to our farm allows me the strength and confidence to downsize our farm. I have your support and confidence behind me, as I concentrate more on being near my family in our busiest season. As I endeavor to get back to the passion that drove me into farming and growing amazing food. And as I get older and move more into the mentoring phase of my profession. As I downsize my farm, I make room to mentor other, younger farmers: physical and emotional space.

In this most difficult, and least likely of my lifetime of Novembers, I am full of Thanksgiving for you.

I wish you the warmest of holidays this winter, beginning with the season of giving thanks.

Shelley

Kay (and her mom) did a fantastic job taking care of the U-Pick garden this year. Next year we're hoping to add more herbs AND the beans and cherry tomatoes.

Kay (and her mom) did a fantastic job taking care of the U-Pick garden this year. Next year we’re hoping to add more herbs AND the beans and cherry tomatoes.