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Week 19: October 5-11

What's In Your Basket?

Pac Choi
Copra Onions
Broccoli
Carrots
Italian Parsley
Hot Peppers
Yellow Finn Potatoes
Liberty & Chehalis Apples
Cherry Tomatoes
Sauce Tomatoes

On Rotation
Corn   
Zucchini & Summer Squash

Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!

Pac Choi
We are boomeranging back towards some of the flavors of springtime as cool weather crops like pac choi and broccoli start to head up in the field. This choi variety is known as “Prize Choi,” an open-pollinated variety (non-hybrid) that comes from my friends Brian and Crystine at Uprising Organics in Bellingham, Washington. Along with running a commercial produce farm, raising a son, and starting the first-ever low-income, food stamp CSA program, they are also growing their own seed business. They are dedicated to being a regional seed company that offers only organic, open-pollinated seeds.

You may encounter a few holes in the leaves of your Prize choi, a telltale mark left by the flea beetles late this summer. We planted these chois in late August, when the flea beetles were still rapaciously roving the farm in search of yummy, tender brassicas to eat – like Abby’s arugula and mustard (which she carefully protects with floating row cover for the salad mix), and yes, these tasty pac chois. With all the other projects on the farm, we didn’t get around to protecting the chois with floating row cover right away. As a result, those tiny beetles had themselves a small feast nibbling on the young outer leaves of the choi, leaving the plants with buckshot holes. We did finally get around to it after a week, so most of the inner leaves went unscathed.

The good news is that the swiss cheese effect of flea beetle mandibles doesn’t keep this pac choi from being one of the juiciest, sweetest varieties I’ve ever tasted. Try this easy, simple Pac Choi and Cabbage Stir-Fry - and help winnow away at that lunker of a red cabbage from a few weeks ago while you're at it!

Store your Prize choi in a closed plastic bag in the fridge.

Broccoli
It’s back, and it’s big! This is prime-time for fall broccoli, so you’ll be seeing it in your totes for a few weeks. If you didn’t try some of the earlier broccoli recipes that were posted on the Recipe Exchange, now’s the time!

Remember, broccoli stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Yellow Finn Potatoes
One of the most beloved taters ever to grow at Valley Flora: the Yellow Finn. Fortunately, they are also one of our best yielding varieties on the farm, so we are amassing quite a stockpile of Yellow Finns in the cooler as we dig more of the cured potato beds each week. Unlike new potatoes, these spuds are cured - meaning they have set their outer skin and do not necessarily need to be refrigerated (there’s no harm in keeping them in the fridge if you have the room – either way works). Great texture, great flavor and great versatility make these a blue ribbon spud.

Apples
Abby is the Queen Orchardess, the master behind all of the grafting, planning and tending of the orchards on the farm. In particular, she’s had a lifelong passion for apples (“apple” was her first word, and at one point she considered becoming a pomologist – essentially, an apple scientist). Her obsession means that there are now over a 100 different apple varieties bending under the weight of their own fruit right now, two of which are in your totes this week. Chehalis is the light green, tender-skinned apple (watch out, it bruises easily!); Liberty is the red apple mottled with green (if you rub these apples they polish up to a Snow White kind of shine). Both are fantastic eating apples.

Store them in the fridge if you’re not going to eat them soon – they’ll stay crisper.

Sauce Tomatoes
Super Marzano is their name – a roma type sauce tomato that my mom grows in the greenhouse every year. The tall, sprawling plants put on a heavy fruit set of long, large, tasty, pointy tomatoes - wonderful for making up a quick fresh tomato sauce, canning, or eating fresh. Like any sauce tomato, the Super Marzanos are meatier than they are juicy. If any of your tomatoes are not scarlet red yet, give them day or two on the counter to redden up.

Like all tomatoes, the flavor and texture of saucers is best if they go unrefrigerated.
 

On the Farm....

This week of clear skies could not have come at a better moment – because this is the week of winter squash harvest. Clipping squash off the vine is something I always look forward to because it’s such a quintessential autumn project, and because winter squash is one of those crops that bides its time, like the tortoise in a vegetable-growing marathon. It is patient in its pursuit of glory – quietly and vibrantly emerging from a drab tangle of dying squash vines when most other crops are spent. The crimson-orange Sunshines. The jade-colored Buttercups and the tawny Butternuts. Carnival-esque Delicatas with their splashes of orange and stripes of green. Somber, slate-grey Hubbards. And the almost-black, hard-as-rock Acorns. We planted six main varieties this year, plus some pie pumpkins, a few giant Cinderella pumpkins, and a smattering of weird Italian varieties that got plugged in last minute.

We typically plant the winter squash at the beginning of June, from seedlings we start in the greenhouse in early May. Winter squash is one of the lowest-maintenance crops on the farm, getting watered just once a week during the summer (via driplines), and requiring one – maybe two – cultivations before the plants vine out and shade the weed competition. By early September, once the fruits have sized up, we shut the water off altogether to encourage the squash plants to die back and the sugars to come up in the fruit. Many farms begin harvesting squash in September – even August in hot places - but our cooler coastal climate means that our squash often aren’t fully mature, and sweet, until October.

Pushing back the harvest window means that every year near the end of September we begin playing a game of Roulette with the weather. In a perfect world, you clip the squash off the vine during a period of dry weather, then leave them windrowed in the field for about a week to cure. When the squash heavens are looking kindly upon you, those curing days will be in the 70s, dry, frost-free at night, and maybe even a little windy. The idea is to allow the cut stem to heal over in order to seal out any funk that might want to travel down the squash stem and cause the fruit to rot later on, and to help harden up the squash skins so they’re more durable in handling. All of this contributes to a better and longer storage life for the squash. When things go well in the curing process, we’re still eating winter squash in March. When they don’t – because of rain or an early hard frost – we start to see rot in the squash by Christmas.

That perfect weather recipe isn’t a sure bet in October, but we’re getting it this week. And next week, you’ll be getting a first taste of the harvest. We’ll probably send out Acorn squash in next week’s basket, which is a variety that can be eaten almost immediately after harvest. Other types – like hubbards and butternuts – tend to get even sweeter in storage, so we’ll be holding those back for later weeks.

Winter squash are for me the truest hallmark of Fall, and the beginning of a shift in how we eat: from heirloom tomatoes and basil to roasted roots and butternut squash soup. Meals to match the waning daylight, the dropping thermometer, and – like clockwork – the desire to curl up cozy by the woodstove and re-activate the Netflix account.

But that’s getting ahead of the game. It’s t-shirt weather out there, and we’ve got squash to clip.

 

Week 18: September 28-October 4

What's In Your Basket?

Seascape Strawberries
King Richard Leeks
Winterbor Kale
Italian Plums
Cherry Tomatoes
Red Slicing Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Nelson Carrots
Sweet Peppers
Zucchini & Summer Squash

On Rotation
Green Beans
Sweet Corn   
 

Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!

Winterbor Kale
Bunched greens like kale and chard are working their way back into your baskets after a long summer break. Fall is a great time for cool-weather loving greens, and I always find that my body craves them as the weather changes and the days grow shorter. Winterbor is a hardy kale that will overwinter, even through hard frosts. In fact, many of the Cole crops (Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, cabbage, etc.) become noticeably sweeter after a frost. Why? Because freezing temperatures stimulate the plants to produce more sugar, which functions like anti-freeze in the plant cells.

In our globalized world where we can go to the supermarket to buy any food, at any time of the year, we have gotten further and further from eating seasonally. That’s part of the reason you may have hated Brussels sprouts as a kid: because you were eating Brussels sprouts that were raised in the warm climes of California, harvested before a frost, shipped up the freeway, and frankly, tasted like stinky socks. But if you wait until late October or November, until after the plants been nipped by frost, you are in for a true treat. We won’t pluck a single Brussels sprout on the farm until the mercury has dipped below 32.

We haven’t seen a frost yet on the farm, and hopefully won’t for another month, but once we do you’ll probably taste the difference in the kale. The Winterbor is good now, but it might well knock your socks off come November.

Store your kale in a plastic bag in the fridge, sealed up.
 
Recipes
Inspired by this week’s chilly, wet weather, we’ve posted a line-up of soups on the recipe exchange:

Kale and White Bean Soup
Corn Chowder with Crab, Bacon and Chanterelles
Late Summer Minestrone

On the Farm....

It’s raining. And although there is another system of high pressure on the horizon come Monday, this week truly, positively, most definitely does not feel like summer anymore. We’ve pulled out the raingear once again, resuming the muddy-booted slog around the fields, slinging mud off carrots, and racing the squalls in a last-ditch effort to get some strawberries picked. I don’t have much hope for the berries at this point – maybe a few more weeks of them if we’re lucky – but the writing seems to be on the wall. The berries are doomed. At least until next May.

And though that news might make you want to savor your berries slowly, we’d suggest eating them quickly this week. We sorted the berries meticulously at harvest, but wet weather invariably shortens their shelf life.

Not that it won’t be somewhat of a relief to reclaim those 10+ hours a week we each spend bent over in the strawberries - and turn our attention to the flavors and to-dos of Fall instead.

At the top of the project list these days is cover cropping on the farm. We are dancing with the weather forecast as we begin seeding field peas, rye, vetch, oats and clover around the farm. The trick is to time it so that things are dry when we seed but soon followed by a good, deep rain (to avoid moving pipe to manually irrigate). We broadcast seed with a “belly-grinder” (a seed spreader that you wear on your chest and turn a crank while walking to disperse seed from the hopper). The seeded field then gets rolled with a heavy cultipacker that is pulled by the horses (which improves soil-to-seed contact and enhances germination). After that, we hope for rain. In a perfect world, I would have gotten a lot of cover crops seeded before this week’s rain, but the pressures of harvest always make it hard to break free and do something other than pick tomatoes in September. Ideally, we’ll get most of the cover crops seeded before October 15th – and cross our fingers for enough precipitation to bring them up with vigor.

Most of the cover crops we’re seeding now are intended to overwinter and then provide green manure in the spring. The areas of the farm that will be cash cropped in 2010 get planted to nitrogen-fixing cover crops like Austrian field peas. In the new orchard, we’re seeding a perennial clover mix that will likely become the permanent orchard floor. And in areas of the farm that will be fallow next season, we are focusing on cover crop mixes like rye and vetch that contribute both nitrogen and organic matter and are great soil builders. Our cover crop seed comes directly from various Oregon farmers, mostly friends of ours in the Willamette Valley.

Cover crops bring life to the farm at a time when most of the cash crops are on the decline. Squash plants are succumbing to powdery mildew, the asparagus ferns are yellowing, and the potatoes vines have died back. But there in the orchard and around the farm - an acre here and a half acre there – comes a green fuzz in October. Thousands and millions of new plants germinating, despite the cold nights and short days, to replenish the farm.
 

Week 17: September 21-27

What's In Your Basket?

Seascape Strawberries
Cherry Tomatoes
Head Lettuce
Red Slicing Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Green Beans
Carrots
Basil
Hot Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Copra Onions
Zucchini & Summer Squash


On Rotation

Melons   
 

Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!

 
The produce in the baskets this week should be familiar and comfortable to most everyone - now that we’ve been in summer’s grip for quite a while. Even with all the colorful bounty coming out of the fields, though, it’s easy to get in a dinner rut from time to time. Which is why I was so excited when our neighbors opened our eyes to this wonderful Roasted Cherry Tomato Pesto recipe this week. A whole new spin on an all-too familiar crop these days!

We’ve also posted a recipe that will use most of your veggies together in one simple, easy, summery recipe: Sourdough Panzanella with Summer Vegetables. This one comes from the Mother Nature Network, an online environmental news source that profiled us this summer in an article entitled “40 farmers under 40”: http://www.mnn.com/food/farms-gardens/stories/40-farmers-under-40

If you need reminders on any of the other produce in the basket this week, scan back through the previous newsletters for storage tips and recipes.

On the Farm....

Contrary to what the hot weather would have us believe, this week marks the official beginning of Fall. On the farm, the equinox is not just a day on the calendar. It is a real threshold.

It means that more than once this week we have found ourselves harvesting by tractor headlights because the daylight was suddenly gone at 7:30 (instead of 10 pm!). It means waking up in the pitch black to head out to the fields on early harvest mornings. It means that the wash water in the barn is getting cold enough to numb our hands when we’re dunking lettuce heads. It means that the winter squash plants are dying back to reveal a winter’s worth of meaty butternuts, acorns, delicates, and pumpkins. It means that we are beginning to haul in storage crops hand over fist: onions, shallots, potatoes. It means that the autumn plantings of kale and chard are coming into their prime; that the Brussels sprouts are chest high; that the cabbages are fat and heavy; that the celeriac and parsnips are putting on girth.

I forget how much I love this time of year, in part because it is a magnificent collision of the two most abundant seasons – summer and fall – when you can eat fresh caprese salad one day and butternut squash soup the next. There are no culinary limits, other than the size of our stomachs.

But also because this is the time of year that we are quite literally reaping what we sow. All of the set-up is done – the planting and trellising and seeding and tending. Even some of the irrigation and weeding is behind us. What remains on the to-do list is mainly harvest, and it’s harvest with a capital “H.” I love walking into the barn on a big harvest day and seeing all of the food spread out and stacked up: crimson red strawberries next to sunset orange heirlooms beside heaps of rainbow carrots, atop blanched leeks and sweet fennel bulbs and hefty cabbages. The challenge is not what to put into the harvest baskets each week, but what NOT to put in them – so that we don’t overwhelm you with a tidal wave of too much produce.

The great thing is, there is still so much to look forward to: all of the fall flavors that are still to come. I’m guessing most of you have never eaten celeriac (you’re in for a treat), or romanesco cauliflower (at first glance, you’ll think you’re hallucinating), or frost-sweetened lacinato kale (my dear friend in Hawaii has almost forsaken her native island to live in a place where she can get frost-nipped lacinato kale in the winter). Hakurei turnips – those little white orbs that won so many of your hearts this spring – will be back, as will purple kohlrabi, French breakfast radishes, broccoli, escarole, and more.

There’s a good chance, too, that there will be storage crops to see us deep into winter. So for those of you who are worrying about going through Valley Flora Vegetable Withdrawals (VFVW) come December, we will probably be setting up a special order system after the Harvest Basket is over.

It might look something like this: We would send out an email each week - or every other week - listing available produce (for instance, 5 pound bags of bulk carrots, 5 pound bags of potatoes, kale by the bunch, winter squash by the pound, etc.). If you wanted to order, you would reply to the email with your order for the week. We would pack your order into a tote, label it with your name, and make up an invoice for your you. Totes would be available for pick-up at the farm on a specified day each week.

We most likely wouldn't be delivering to the usual pick-up sites in the winter, so if you live far from the farm but would like to get winter produce from us, there may be a way we could help you all get organized so that, for instance, Coos Bay people could coordinate and have one person pick up all of the Coos Bay orders. That said, if there is lots of interest it might merit us firing up Frank, the delivery van, and making the trip.

We’ll be figuring out the details as we get closer to the end of the season, but if you have any input in the meantime don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Happy eating!
 

Week 16: September 14-20

What's In Your Basket?

Caroline Raspberries
Seascape Strawberries
Italian Plums
Sugar Buns Sweet Corn
Fennel
Rainbow Chard
Slicing Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Zucchini & Summer Squash

On Rotation
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Peppers
Melons   
 

Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Italian Plums
If I had to guess, I’d say that the molecular make-up of my body is at least one tenth Italian plum. And not just any Italian plum; I mean these Italian plums. The farm driveway is lined with a half dozen crooked, lichen-covered Italian plum trees that have stood there for decades – pre-dating my birth on Floras Creek, my sister’s birth on Floras Creek, and even my parents’ arrival on Floras Creek in the early 70s. These are wise old trees.

And each year come September, they are prolific bearers of honey-hearted, dusky purple plums. Abby and I were raised on these plums: fresh in September, and dried, canned and frozen the rest of the year. My mom’s dried plums have saved me from the brink of many a blood sugar crash on backpacking adventures, roadtrips, and bleak, late-night strandings where Cheetos and Sprite would have been the only thing to eat at a gas station, were it not for the jar of dried plums in the backseat. When Abby and I were at college on the east coast, Mom would FedEx bags of them to us – along with half gallon tubs of Nancy’s Honey yogurt.

In record-breaking plum years, we have harvested up to 1000 pounds of fruit off of these few trees. This year, the harvest was moderate at about 400 pounds. I missed the picking because I was in D.C. this weekend, but have been in full-on plum gorge mode since my return on Sunday.

We’ve sent you a sampler basket of them this week and my suggestion to you is straight-forward: just eat them (mind the pits). If you want to get a little fancier with them, try this Rustic Plum Cake recipe. And after tasting them, if you decide you want a higher percentage of your molecular make-up to be Italian Plum like us, contact us. We have bulk plums available by the pound for canning, drying, freezing, baking, and plain old munching.

As for storage, leave your plums on the counter. They are soft to the squeeze when ripe. The firm ones will ripen up over a couple of days (faster if you put them in a brown paper bag).

Sugar Buns Sweet Corn
Oh heavenly sweet corn. In our microclimate, sweet corn is an exercise in delayed gratification. While everyone else in the Willamette Valley has been gnawing fresh corn on the cob for the last month (or more), Abby’s corn has been slowly, steadily inching towards maturity. Cooler days and nights near the coast usually mean that her corn is only shin high by the Fourth of July, but it also means that September is a glory month if you are a corn-o-phile. The only downside of our late corn season is that as organic growers we are more susceptible to corn earworm, a gross, juicy larva that likes to nestle into the tip of the corn cob and munch away at the kernels. You may encounter a corn earworm or two this week. If you do, simply cut the tip off the cob. The worms usually only affect the tip.

After years of trialing lots of different varieties, Abby mainly grows Sugar Buns, a sweet, tender yellow corn. She also plants her corn in succession, so there should be more to come in the next couple of weeks.

If you’re not going to eat your corn right away, store it in the fridge in a plastic bag. Remember that once picked, the sugars in sweet corn begin to convert to starch – so eat it soon!

Heirloom Tomatoes
You are not hallucinating. Some of the tomatoes in your share this week are indeed green, purple, orange, striped, or somewhat contorted-looking. We grow a handful of heirloom tomato varieties in the greenhouses, including:

  • Cherokee Purple: A deep, purple-brown variety with green shoulders and sweet, tangy flavor
  • Green Zebra: A greenish-yellow tomato with zebra stripes and tangy flavor
  • Tigerella: A red and orange striped tomato, on the small side, with tangy flavor
  • Brandywine: A big, beefy pink-red variety with greenish shoulders and sweet flavor
  • Striped German: A big tomato with all the color of the sunset marbled into its sweet flesh
  • Persimmon: Bearing a striking resemblance to its namesake, this is the meatiest, sweetest tomato we grow!
  • Valencia: A medium, deep orange tomato that won our blind taste tests last summer.

Heirlooms are a little finicky to grow, maturing later than many tomatoes, yielding less, and straying far from the uniform. It’s why they are more expensive in the store. But fundamentally, heirloom tomatoes are the populists in the Solanum family. What makes an heirloom an heirloom is the fact that they are open-pollinated (as opposed to hybrids) and you can save your own seed from the fruits you grow. The official definition of an “heirloom” also has to do with how many generations it’s been saved for, where it originated, etc., but at core it is a variety that anyone can grow, save seed from, and share with others.

Store your tomatoes on the counter – NOT in the fridge (!). They are great sliced in rounds, fanned out on a plate, and drizzled with olive oil and salt. Take it a step further with some fresh mozzarella and basil for a fresh caprese salad…


On the Farm....

I have shaken off the jetlag, coaxed my bones back into the strawberry-picking crouch, and traded the ironed business attire for the perma-stained farmwear again. It’s good to be home.

There is a lot afoot in Washington, D.C. that gives me hope for sustainable food and agriculture right now. At our meeting with Deputy Secretary Merrigan at the USDA, we learned that as second-in-command, Merrigan’s top mandate is to expand opportunities for local and regional food systems. That could mean more funding for local meat processing facilities, more loans for beginning farmers, and more incentives for communities to invest in endeavors to feed themselves locally - like community kitchens. We also learned that this very week, the USDA is launching a ground-breaking new initiative called “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” in order to campaign for vibrant local and regional food systems. Even the food historian in our group of Fellows could not recall a time when the USDA has ever taken such bold action on behalf of local food. Nor could she remember the last time there was a “People’s Garden” on the lawn of the USDA, which there now is at the Northeast corner of the compound.

This week, the USDA “Know your farmer, know your food” campaign also coincides with the official opening of the brand new White House Farmer’s Market, this Thursday, September 17. Michelle Obama has worked with the city of Washington, D.C. to permit a new farmers market, practically situated at the front door of the White House.

Our tour of the White House Garden, led by Sam Kass, the Obama’s personal chef, was a chance to see the first garden that’s been planted on the White House lawn since Elanor Roosevelt’s 1943 Victory Garden. Sam was generous enough to let us all steal a Sungold cherry tomato off the vine, and took the time to show us the array of produce being grown: cauliflower (from seeds saved by Thomas Jefferson from the Monticello collection), heirloom beans, tomatoes, raspberries, herbs, radishes, lettuce, eggplants, peppers, sweet potatoes and more. After wrestling with extensive red tape, Sam has also managed to establish the first ever “First Compost,” as well as the first ever “First Beehive.” He said the compost is a little limited (one State dinner and the whole box is full!), but the bees (which belong to a White House carpenter) have already pumped out 100 pounds of honey this season. The hive is perched 5 feet up, atop a handmade wooden pedestal (to keep them out of reach of the Obama’s dog), and then strapped down carefully (to keep them from crashing to the ground when Marine One comes in for a chopper landing on the south lawn).

Though the Obamas’ garden is small and the farmers market is but one of the thousands around the country, all of these actions are sending a tremendously powerful message: That eating from your backyard is important. That food should be a cornerstone of the health care debate. That without farmers, there isn’t much for dinner. That we - as a nation, as communities and as individuals - have an amazing opportunity to re-engage with food and eat like it really mattered.

Enjoy your tomatoes this week. The heirlooms were ripe at the White House Garden, so chances are the Obamas are eating Cherokee Purples for dinner, too.
 

Week 15: September 7 - 12

What's In Your Basket?

Caroline Raspberries
King Richard Leeks
Slicing Tomatoes
Desiree Potatoes
Nelson Carrots
Ruby Perfection Red Cabbage
Zucchini & Summer Squash
Head Lettuce

On Rotation
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Peppers
Melons   
 

Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!

 
Red Cabbage
Ruby Perfection is my favorite red cabbage variety, producing good-sized tight heads with the most beautiful, vibrant purple color imaginable. When you cut into one of these orbs, you are in for a visual and tastebud treat: the tight labyrinthine folds of purple on white should be named the 8th wonder of the world, a gold medal winner for edible art.

As you probably know from the cabbage you got earlier this summer, this is a vegetable that holds up well in your fridge in a plastic bag, so don’t be overwhelmed if it seems like a lot of food in one volleyball-sized package!

Desiree Potatoes
I just read that “a diet of potatoes and milk will supply all the nutrients the human body needs.” It reminds me of an adventure I took to Bolivia where I spent time in a homestay on a remote island in Lake Titicaca (Isla Amántani). All that my host family fed me – and all they ate themselves - was potatoes, three meals a day. I had never craved salad and green veggies more than I did there – but I certainly didn’t go hungry!

This red potato variety was one of the stand-outs in last summer’s trials, so we’ve grown it again this year. Some of the potatoes are huge, weighing in at close to 2 pounds! Unfortunately, the list of plant diseases that plague potatoes is about 5 pages long – from blight to harmless scab to hollow heart – so not every one of these organic potatoes is going to be perfect. We sort the potatoes and make an effort to send the ones whose defects might only be skin deep. If you do encounter any cosmetic blemishes on your spuds, remember that most of the time it can be taken care of with a quick swipe of the paring knife.

Many people ask about the green skin you occasionally see on potatoes. Potatoes exposed to bright light develop these green patches. It’s more common in varieties that tend to push upwards out of the potato hills, instead of multiplying laterally (our fingerling potatoes do this, much to our frustration). This green skin contains a toxin called solanine, which in high doses can cause cramps, headache, diarrhea, and fever. But the solution is simple: don't eat the green skin, simply remove it. The solanine is only present in the green skin and any discoloration underneath it - the rest of the potato is completely safe to eat.

Melons
My sister, Abby, is Valley Flora’s intrepid melon grower. Most people wouldn’t attempt to grow melons where we are, a scant 5 miles from the ocean, because melons are heat-loving cucurbits (from the same family as cucumbers, winter squash, summer squash, etc.). They thrive in hot climates (think Hermiston Watermelons, California Honeydews, etc…..). But Abby has figured out how to grow them here by planting greenhouse starts on the leeward side of her corn patch (the ears from which are coming soon to a Harvest Basket near you!). There, they are tucked out of the wind where the heat can settle on the melon vines and ripen bonafide cantaloupes and honeydews. She also selects varieties that are better suited to our climate. Those two factors are adding up to September melons for you this year!

Some of the melons are petite, others fairly large – depending on the variety. They are ripening over time, so if you didn’t get yours melon collection this week, look for them in the coming weeks. There are great recipes out there for melon sorbet, melon soup, and other elaborate concoctions, but right now my favorite way to put these down is in their pure form: cut in half and eaten with a spoon, one juicy bite at a time!

If your melons come to you dead-ripe and you’re not ready to eat them, put them in the fridge. Otherwise, melons do fine on the counter where they will continue to ripen.

On the Farm....

As it turns out, I’m not on the farm at all right now; I’m writing this week’s newsletter three thousand miles distant, in Washington, D.C. I bee-lined it to the airport on Tuesday night after harvest and caught the red-eye across the country. I’m here, about five blocks from the White House, wearing my other hat as a national Food & Society Fellow (http://www.foodandsocietyfellows.org). It’s a crazy time to be away from the farm, with the harvest as heavy as it gets and the daylight shrinking, but this is a critical week in D.C. when lawmakers are back on the Hill after the August recess and getting back to work on critical issues like health care, child nutrition, and Farm Bill implementation. Even Michelle Obama is in the fray, having recently proposed the opening of a new farmer’s market in front of the White House.

There are about two dozen of us Fellows from around the country who have all converged here together this week. Each of us brings our own priorities, from farm-to-school, to food safety, to improving food access for low-income communities of color. My own fellowship work over the past two years has centered around beginning farmers – both the need to cultivate a next generation of farmers in this country (where there are now more federal prison inmates than there are farmers) and overcoming the huge obstacles beginning farmers face, including access to: affordable credit, good farmland, vibrant markets, training and education, mentorship, and mainstream cultural support.

While we’re in D.C. we’ll be meeting with various key policy-makers, taking a tour of the White House garden, sitting down with the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, and hosting a reception with lawmakers to present some “fresh new food policy ideas from the Fellows.” It’s going to be an action-packed few days, a world away from my universe of carrots and cabbage.

Let’s just hope I can scrub some of the dirt out of my fingernails today in time for our first soiree inside the Beltway.

 

Week 14: August 31-September 5

What's In Your Basket?

Seascape Strawberries
Bonilla Shallots
Slicing Tomatoes
Green Beans
Nelson Carrots
Red Ace Beets
Thyme & Sage
Zucchini & Summer Squash

On Rotation
Sugar Snap Peas
Cherry Tomatoes
Raspberries
Cucumbers
Peppers   
 

Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Bonilla Shallots - Allium ascalonicum
Shallots are often thought to be another variety of onion, but they are in fact of species of their own. Shallots were first introduced to Europeans during the 12th Century by crusaders who brought them home as prized treasure from the ancient Palestinian city of Ashkelon. Like garlic, shallots grow in clusters with a head composed of multiple “cloves” – albeit jumbo cloves! Their skin color can vary from golden brown to gray to rose red, depending on the variety, and their off-white flesh is usually tinged with green or magenta. Chefs tend to love them for their firm texture and sweet, aromatic, pungent, flavor.  They’re often used in dressings, sautéed or caramelized, or used in any place where you might want the rich flavor of an onion. There are lots of new shallot-inspired recipes posted this week.

The shallots in your share this week are fresh-harvested, not cured. You’ll need to keep them in your fridge. Later in the fall, once we’ve pulled all of the onions and shallots out of the field and hung them in the barn, we’ll be sending out cured shallots which will keep up to 6 months on the countertop.

Thyme & Sage
Abby set about establishing a perennial herb field this spring and the first harvest is upon us! She has packed up a sampler of fresh thyme (thin, wiry stems with tiny leaves) and sage (grey-green, soft lance-shaped leaves) for you this week. Sage tends to be a strong herb commonly paired with meat, but it is also a wonderful companion to white beans, winter squash, and potatoes. Thyme is extremely versatile and appears in a number of the recipes on the Recipe Exchange this week.

Both will store best in the fridge for fresh use, however, you can also dry your herbs and use them later. Simply bundle them with string and hang them to dry. Once crispy-dry, strip the leaves from the stems and crumble them into a glass jar.

Cherry Tomatoes – Solanum lycopersicum
The cherry tomatoes, unlike the rest of the solanums, grow outside in the field. They are just beginning to come on in profusion and we will be sending them your way as the harvest picks up. We’re growing a few different varieties:
Sweet Millions: a classic, sweet red cherry, on the larger side
Sungold: my all-time favorite tomato, period. Yellow-orange with a tropical, unbelievably sweet flavor
Red Grape: aptly named, they are a longer, oval shaped cherry tomato with a thicker wall – like a tiny cousin to a sauce tomato
Peacevine: yet another red variety that we’re trialing, bred by Alan Kapuler of Corvallis, Oregon.
All tomatoes are best stored on the counter, not in the fridge.

On the Farm....

“Strawberries are too delicate to be picked by machine. The perfectly ripe ones even bruise at too heavy a human touch. It hit her then that every strawberry she had ever eaten - every piece of fruit - had been picked by calloused human hands. Every piece of toast with jelly represented someone's knees, someone's aching back and hips, someone with a bandanna on her wrist to wipe away the sweat. Why had no one told her this before?”

                                -Alison Luterman
                                “What They Came For”

In the big scheme of things, it is rare for Americans to know the hands that grew and harvested their food. Most of it is sown, weeded, picked, sorted and packed by farmworkers, many of them immigrant, many of them migrant, and many of them made invisible to the consumer. One of the unique things about getting your food locally, from a nearby farm, is the opportunity to know first-hand the people behind the produce.

Our small farm is eight hands and 8 hooves strong most of the time – Betsy, Abby, Blake and I, plus Barney and Maude. On berry harvest days, our beloved friend and farm member, Cora, lends a hand in the field. And recently, the workforce has swelled with the arrival of a farm angel (aka, a volunteer) named Robin, and a dear farming friend from my Sauvie Island Organics days, Marisa.

Robin volunteers with us twice a week, commuting all the way down from Coos Bay to cheerfully put in three stooped hours in the strawberry field. She is a bright spot in our week, and has become a berry picking pro in short order. She’s also saved us from the ache of 16-hour days by helping us get through the strawberries more quickly as the berry harvest – and all the other harvest - has ramped up again.

Marisa has come all the way from Hilo, Hawaii, where she was born and raised. We worked and lived together for two years in Portland, where we put in our time bunching kale side by side at Sauvie Island Organics. This month she wiggled free of her job in Hilo as an occupational therapist to come help us on the farm. It seems a little sadistic, but her very first day in the strawberry patch this week ended up being a record-breaking harvest that made all of us – even me and Blake whose bodies were broken in and hardened up by the strawberries months ago – a little sore.

Picking strawberries is an exercise in thoroughness, and endurance. Every plant is pushed aside, eyes scanning for perfect red – not white, not pink, not almost-red, not scarred, not mushy; both hands working at once to nimbly roll red berries into the palm of the hand and twist them off with one fluid spin of the wrist; gently placing them in the flat while the eyes are already at work scanning the next plant, pushing aside leaves, sorting As from Bs, tossing culls out of the field, one knee at your chest, the other tucked underneath your butt, creeping down the 220-foot rows. It’s not a job for the impatient, or the inflexible. But it is satisfying to pull flat after flat out of the field, into the shade of the truck, knowing that every berry is headed for some local belly, or freezer, or blender, or shortcake…

We usually emerge a bit crooked, a little stiff, and always berry-stained – and relieved for the few days until we do it all over again.
 

Week 13: August 24-29

What's In Your Basket?

Seascape Strawberries
Copra Onions
Slicing Tomatoes
Green Beans
Nelson Carrots
Hot Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Head lettuce
Fennel
Cucumbers
Basil   
Zucchini & Summer Squash


On Rotation

Sugar Snap Peas
Cherry Tomatoes   
 

Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Copra Onions – Allium cepa
This is the first harvest of our storage onion crop. Copras are a strong-flavored, yellow onion that keeps extremely well in dry storage. That said, the onions you’re getting this week are not yet cured (meaning the tops haven’t died back yet, nor has the skin set) and they need to be stored in the fridge. As of last week we turned the water off in the onion field and they are now on the road to curing – so they’ll end up looking just like the onions you see at the store with golden, papery skins and no tops.
I am kicking myself for not also growing a red onion variety this year (what was I thinking last January!?), so the Copras are the only onion type you’ll be seeing for the remainder of the season. There will be leeks and shallots as well to round out the allium offerings, so we’ll do our best to mix it up and keep it lively in your share. NEXT year, I am dead-set on seeding some additional varieties so we have wider diversity in the onion field. I suppose it's good to not get it perfect every time, because then there's always something to look forward to...


Green Beans –
Phaesolus vulgaris
Another bean medley this week, including:

  • Bush filets: thin and long
  • Pole filet: thin and even longer
  • Romano: flat, wide, Italian

Hot Peppers – Capsicum annuum
There are a couple types of hot peppers floating around in your basket this week:

  • Jalapeño: the big, plump, green one – about a 7 on a heat scale of 1 to 10.
  • Serrano: the slender red or green ones – about a 8.5 on the heat-o-meter.

Most of the kick in a hot pepper is in the seeds, so if you like it hot, chop up the whole pepper, seeds and all. If you have tamer tastebuds, you can de-seed the hot peppers and use only the flesh.

There are tomatoes, onions and peppers in your basket this week, begging to be made into some homemade salsa.
Storage: you can keep your hot peppers on the counter, or in the fridge. They hold up surprisingly well at room temp…

Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare
Big, fat, luscious fennel, and lots of it this week! We loaded you up because your basket contains all of the ingredients to make our FAVORITE fennel dish: Finocchio.

Fennel stores great in the fridge in a plastic bag, so if you can’t get to it for a little while, don’t sweat it.

Cherry Tomatoes – Solanum lycopersicum
The cherry tomatoes, unlike the rest of the solanums, grow outside in the field. They are just beginning to come on in profusion and we will be sending them your way as the harvest picks up. We’re growing a few different varieties:

  • Sweet Millions: a classic, sweet red cherry, on the larger side
  • Sungold: my all-time favorite tomato, period. Yellow-orange with a tropical, unbelievably sweet flavor
  • Red Grape: aptly named, they are a longer, oval shaped cherry tomato with a thicker wall – like a tiny cousin to a sauce tomato
  • Peacevine: yet another red variety that we’re trialing, bred by Alan Kapuler of Corvallis, Oregon.

All tomatoes are best stored on the counter, not in the fridge.

On the Farm....
Musing on peppers….
We are pepper lovers here at Valley Flora, so when August begins to nod towards September, my mom becomes the most popular person on the farm. The entirety of the capsicum harvest is the fruit of her labor. She grows dozens of varieties in the greenhouses and some of the cultivars have attained seasonal family member status: seductive Carmen, the beautiful, lipstick-red bullhorn pepper; goofy Jimmy Nardello, Carmen’s skinny, wiggly, contortionist cousin; serious Joe, the long, hot cayenne; sophisticated Gourmet, the heavy-set, sweet orange bell; and happy Labrador, our favorite sunny, yellow sweet pepper. The peppers stir up a fervor of vegetable trading amongst us: I’ll give you a flat of strawberries for those Carmens. A bag of Abby’s greens for some homemade salsa… For Christmas last year, my mom gave me a whole gallon of red Serrano hot sauce – a gift of gold.

When the capsicums begin to color up is when the best summer feasting really begins: homemade salsa, ratatouille, roasted jalapeños, stuffed peppers, chile rellenos. You name it, my mom makes it. She has grown peppers for a long time in her greenhouses and over the years has zeroed in on her favorite varieties. The sweet peppers are planted in profusion in the spring, but hot peppers hold down their own special corner of the greenhouses as well. They thrive with the added heat the greenhouses provide, even with our close proximity to the coast.

Not that there hasn’t been a learning curve to growing great peppers here. Take hot peppers, for instance. Every year, Mom imports compost to improve the soil in her greenhouses, and after awhile we began to notice that the hot peppers were getting milder and milder. They were losing their kick. She sought out a pepper aficionado and told him about her problem. Well, as it turns out, hot peppers – which hail from hot tropical climates with poor soils – lose their spiciness if grown in rich soils. The stress of growing in poorer soil is part of what imparts piquancy to a pepper. So, the next year Ma planted her peppers in the worst corner of the greenhouse and twoila, the heat was on again!

Hot peppers belong to the same family as sweet peppers, but differ in the amount of capsaicin they contain – the chemical compound that causes the burning sensation in your mouth. Sweet peppers have a zero rating on the Scoville scale (the pepper pungency scale that measures the amount of capsaicin present in a pepper, developed in 1912 by an American chemist). The hottest chilis, such as habaneros, have a Scoville rating of 200,000 or more. Jalapeños come in at around 5,000; Serranos at around 15,000. Law enforcement grade pepper sprays register about 5,000,000.

Most mammals – besides most humans - find the heat in a hot pepper unpleasant, but birds are unaffected by it (which makes me feel a little better about the time I saw someone at the Bandon jetty douse a loaf of white bread in Tabasco and toss it the seagulls as a practical joke….). Biologists assume that the presence of capsaicin in peppers is an evolutionary adaptation to protect the fruit from consumption by mammals while the bright colors attract birds that will spread the seeds.

Too bad for these peppers, the capsaicin doesn’t deter us one bit here at the farm. But then again, maybe the peppers have another evolutionary ploy at work: to be so beautiful and tasty that farmers plant them again and again every year and deliver them to Harvest Basket members from Gold Beach to Coos Bay, thus perpetuating their existence here on earth, making us but mere pawns in the great epic of Capsicum evolution…

Well, whatever you believe, one thing’s guaranteed: my mom is going to ensure that there are plenty of peppers in our little corner of the world for the next month or so, and I personally plan to eat as many as I possibly can.

 
 

Week 12: August 17-22

What's In Your Basket?

Seascape Strawberries
King Richard Leeks
Slicing Tomatoes
Green Beans
Carola Potatoes
Sweet Peppers
Head lettuce
Rainbow Carrots   
Zucchini & Summer Squash

   
 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Strawberries

  • I was taken completely by surprise last week when a farm member, in response to my apology about the deluge of broccoli, said “I’m not sick of broccoli. I’m sick of STRAWBERRIES!” In light of the fact that the strawberries are ramping up production again right now for their August/September flush, I thought I should remind everyone that strawberries are extremely easy to put by for winter. If you can’t get through your two pints each week, just cut the green tops off of the leftover berries, toss them whole into a Ziploc, and put them in the freezer. We do this all season, making frozen strawberries the mainstay of our morning smoothies all year long on the farm. You can also thaw them out and use them in fruit salad, desserts, in yogurt, etc.
  • If you’re someone who can’t get enough of the berries, no matter how many pints are in your basket each week, the strawberry U-pick is still going strong (and will be until the rain & cold weather arrive). We also have berries for sale by the flat if you’d rather have us do the stooping.

Leeks

  • Leeks are a member of the Allium family, a milder cousin to onions, shallots and garlic. This particular variety is known as King Richard, a reliable standby that yields early, long-shafted, blanched leeks.
  • If leeks are foreign to you, use the long, blanched stalk anywhere you would use an onion – sautéed or steamed. The greener “leaves” are great for making homemade veggie stock.
  • We’ve included a couple of Vichyssoise recipes (cold French potato soup, great for summer!) on the Recipe Exchange this week. They make good use of the potatoes, leeks, and even the fennel from last week’s share.
  • Leeks are a hardy vegetable. They start their life in the greenhouse in January or February where they grow until they’re pencil thick. We plant them outdoors in early April and then they spend the next 4-6 months sizing up and growing tall. This is our first harvest, but we expect to be pulling leeks from the field through the winter. They tend to only get fatter and tastier as the months roll on. You’ll get to experience the King Richards in the late summer/early fall, and then we’ll start harvesting Tadorna, a more cold-hardy variety that will see us through the dark end of the calendar.
  • Leeks store great in a plastic bag in the fridge. They typically have a shelf life of at least a couple weeks.

Tomatoes
They’re here! All the poetry of a tomato summed up here, gracias a Pablo Neruda:

Ode To Tomatoes
The street
filled with tomatoes,
midday,
summer,
light is
halved
like
a
tomato,
its juice
runs
through the streets.
In December,
unabated,
the tomato
invades
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
takes
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
sinks
into living flesh,
red
viscera
a cool
sun,
profound,
inexhaustible,
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
we
pour
oil,
essential
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
pepper
adds
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
parsley
hoists
its flag,
potatoes
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
knocks
at the door,
it's time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile
star,
displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

Green Beans

  • There are two types of beans in the bag: French filet (the long, skinny ones) and Italian Romano (the broad flat ones). Both are delicious. Don’t cook them too hard – just a light steam or sautée will bring out the flavor, tenderness, and brilliant color of these beans. The romanos are great cut on the diagonal, or left whole. The French filets – long, lean, and lanky - love to be left whole to show off their lovely lines.
  • This week - with beans, tomatoes and potatoes all at once, AND fresh local tuna available at the dock or via THEOCEANHARVEST.COM  – it’s the perfect week to make a Nicoise Salad.
  • Store your beans in the fridge, plastic bag, the usual drill. They won’t keep forever, though, so find a reason to eat them soon!


New Potatoes

  • Another round of spuds, this time a variety called Carola. This is a variety we've never grown before, and though the yields are good, the skin of the potatoes is a little rougher than some of the other varieties we’ve fallen in love with. But the beauty of these potatoes is more than skin deep – they have great flavor and versatility.
  • Enjoy them in the Vichyssoise recipe, or the Nicoise Salad.
  • Best to store them in the fridge bagged up…


Sweet Peppers

  • A couple more sweet peppers coming your way this week as they start to ripen up and turn color in the greenhouse:
    • Jimmy Nardello: The long, red, skinny pepper. Don’t be deceived: this is NOT a hot pepper. It is possibly one of the tastiest little early sweet peppers there is. Eat it like a popsicle, or slice it up on your Nicoise salad for some extra bling.
    • Islander: The purple bell, seen by some of you earlier this month…
    • Bianca: The white/yellow bell, which also made an earlier appearance in some baskets…

On the Farm....
Most people work 9 to 5, but on an August harvest day on the farm, we like to make it 5 to 9. That was the case this week, when at 9:30 pm we finally stacked the last box in the cooler on Tuesday night. I left the house by starlight and came back again by starlight, got to see the sunrise in the field, and watch it set from the barn. Days like that are a haul - long and tiring – but also rich. So much produce passes through our hands, from berries to leeks to tomatoes, that it continues to march behind my eyelids as I'm plummeting off to sleep.
 
The irony in this time of veggie bounty is that we farmers often resort to ridiculous things like quesadillas to see us through a long work day. I would love to claim that we feast daily on all the fruits of our labor, but there are days, embarrassingly, when we're too busy growing it to eat  it! We fantasize about having a resident chef program through the summer - people who would come for a couple weeks to live the good life on the farm, cook with all our produce, and FEED us what we grow - so that during this time of wild abundance we could truly celebrate it at every meal.
 
In reality, a lot of the bounty ends up in canning jars and freezer bags, put by for winter when the pace slackens and there is more time to cook and eat, and yes... sleep.
 

Week 11: August 10-15

What's In Your Basket?

Seascape Strawberries
Head lettuce
Rainbow Chard
Rainbow Carrots   
Cucumbers
Zucchini & Summer Squash
Broccoli
Fennel
Beets

On Rotation:

Raspberries
Little Gem lettuce
   
 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 

Rainbow Carrots
These are not you’re run-of-the-mill bunch carrots this time! Every week that we plant a bed of sweet, crunchy Nelsons or Yayas on the farm, we also seed a line of rainbow carrots. In seed catalogues, you can buy an actual variety called “Rainbow,” but it only includes yellow, white and pale orange carrots. We spice up the Rainbow mix by adding in 6 other varieties that span the color wheel:

  • White Satin: White all the way through
  • Crème de Lite: Pale yellow
  • Atomic Red: Red skin with orange flesh
  • Purple rain: Dark purple skin with a small yellow core
  • Cosmic Purple: Purple skin with an orange core
  • Purple Haze: Reddish-purple skin with and orange or yellow core

Rainbow carrots are a hit with chefs at the various restaurants we sell produce to, as well as at natural food stores like Mothers and Seaweed. This year, we seeded extra for the Harvest Baskets, so you should see them a few times this season. Rainbow carrots are a bit of a delicacy for a couple of reasons:

  • They are finicky and have a much lower rate of germination than your regular orange carrot. This means we have to double seed them every time we plant.
  • The seed is up to twice as expensive as Nelson seed.
  • The different varieties mature at different rates, and assume different shapes – so making uniform bunches is a little tricky! Fat ones, skinny ones, stubby ones, baby ones: we spend a lot of time sorting and bunching in the field.

 
Nevertheless, the unique flavors and the beauty of these carrots are inspiration enough for us to keep planting them. Use them and store them as you would any other carrot, although be forewarned that some of the purple and red varieties will lose their intense color when you cook them.
 
Rainbow Chard
We went whole hog with the rainbow theme this week. My mom always says that everything we do has to be at least 51% art. Between the carrots and the chard, packing out the baskets this week was as much a feast for the eyes as it will be for the belly. Various farm members have been clamoring for more chard, more chard! So here it is. There are some great recipes on the Recipe Exchange that call for chard, so if you haven’t tried them yet now’s your chance.
 
Fennel
At last, the fennel has fattened up! They are big, heavy, tender and succulent now – and one of my favorite crops to harvest. You’ll remember that the full fennel plant has tall ferny fronds fanning out from the bulb. When they’re big like this, we give them a quick chevron cut with the harvest knife and leave all that biomass in the field where it can compost. Fennel is a great comrade to rainbow carrots and beets to make a Rainbow Root Roast, which is part of the reason we sent out all three together this week. If you have any potatoes kicking around, add them in, too!
 
Beets
Some of you are getting bulk beets this week, with no tops. We cleared a bed in order to make way for cover crop and in the process, we topped all the beets and left the greens in the field to feed the soil. Believe it or not, the beets you’re eating this week were seeded all the way back in February during that unusual spell of balmy sunshine we had. They survived a cold spring, and then came on strong in June. We’ve been harvesting from them for the past two months, until now. Beets are one of the best storage crops around, whether in the ground or in your fridge. And, unlike some things, the bigger they get the more tender and sweet they are. Last week I pulled six golden beets out of the field that weighed in at about seven pounds EACH. They were as big as my head, and sweeter than any beet I’ve eaten this season. Nevertheless, it’s a little hard to sell beets that big without scaring someone - so instead I wrapped up a 21 pound, 3-beet bunch as a joke for my friend’s birthday. Sure enough, it scared him. As for the other three, we are sawing away at them here at home. We’ll probably still be at it come Christmas.
 
Broccoli
This is really, truly, honestly the last head of broccoli you’re going to see from us for a few months. I SWEAR! Thanks for putting up with the bumper crop of 2009! Hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Little Gem Lettuce
Little Gem is going out to some pick-up sites this week – a specialty lettuce that is one of our favorites on the farm. Little gem is a diminutive butter-romaine cross that makes for a perfect 1-2 serving lettuce. The leaves are crisp, ruffled, and sweet and hold onto a Caesar salad dressing like none other! Try this family Caesar dressing recipe: Bunny’s Creamy Caesar
Like all of the head lettuce we grow, Little Gem starts its life in a 128-cell tray in the greenhouse where it germinates and grows for 4 weeks. After “hardening off” the seedlings so they’re better acclimated to life in the outdoors, we transplant them into the field. Some lettuces, like romaine, get planted on 6” spacing. Others, like butterheads and summer crisps, get 12” spacing. The Little Gem is special: we plant it 4” apart. It makes for a long day with the trowel, but the result is well worth it. We think these compact, dense heads were aptly named.

Summer Squash
Green zucchini has become a regular staple in your harvest basket, but occasionally you’ll see a few other types of summer squash nestled in there among the goodies. There are a few varieties fruiting right now:

  •     Green: Black Beauty
  •     Yellow: Zephyr
  •     Light Green, Round: Ronde de Nice

On the Farm....
It’s becoming that time of year when I can’t really think of anything to say. What is happening on the farm right now? Everything, lots, all the time: harvest flowers, bunch carrots, pick strawberries, wash it, pack it, weed it, water it, harness the horses, plant the cover crop. It’s always a full week. But it’s that time of year when it all begins to blur; when the days run together punctuated by vivid images of a school-bus yellow sunflower, a purple backlit cabbage leaf, Maude bucking at a horsefly at the far end of the field; when the routine is so deeply carved out there is less of a need for to-do lists and more of a need to simply bend our bodies into compliance with the growing weight of harvest. August and September are zen in that way: don’t think, simply do. It’s an empty fullness. All that winter planning and spring planting has set in motion our summer and fall fate. The vegetables are in charge now, not us. The question is whether we will be able to keep up with them.
 

Week 10: August 3-8

What's In Your Basket?

  • Seascape Strawberries
  • Head lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini & Summer Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Nelson Carrots
  • Purplette Onions
  • Islander & Bianca sweet peppers
  • Sugar Snap Peas

On Rotation:

  • Raspberries
  • Little Gem lettuce

   
 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 

Sweet Peppers

  • The first of the season! There are many more colors and shapes to come, but these lavender and white bell peppers are the Capsicum frontrunners every year in the greenhouse. We grow at least a dozen different pepper varieties, from hots to sweets to bullhorn types. They tend to come on in a rainbow profusion in September, but a few varieties – like the Islanders and the Bianca – start a little sooner. What many people don’t know about sweet peppers is that almost all of them start their lives green. A yellow, red or orange bell began as a regular old green pepper, but if you leave it on the plant long enough it’ll develop its full color and sweetness. That’s part of the reason colored peppers command a higher price in the produce aisle: they take at least a few more weeks of tending to turn lipstick red.
  • Note that if you cook the lavender peppers, the skin will lose its purple color.
  • Peppers store best in the crisper, ideally in a plastic bag

 
Little Gem Lettuce

  • Little Gem is going out to some pick-up sites this week – a specialty lettuce that is one of our favorites on the farm. Little gem is a diminutive butter-romaine cross that makes for a perfect 1-2 serving lettuce. The leaves are crisp, ruffled, and sweet and hold onto a Caesar salad dressing like none other! Try this family Caesar dressing recipe: Bunny’s Creamy Caesar
  • Like all of the head lettuce we grow, Little Gem starts its life in a 128-cell tray in the greenhouse where it germinates and grows for 4 weeks. After “hardening off” the seedlings so they’re better acclimated to life in the outdoors, we transplant them into the field. Some lettuces, like romaine, get planted on 6” spacing. Others, like butterheads and summer crisps, get 12” spacing. The Little Gem is special: we plant it 4” apart. It makes for a long day with the trowel, but the result is well worth it. We think these compact, dense heads were aptly named.

Sugar Snap Peas

  • More peas! Enjoy them raw, sautéed, steamed, or stir-fried. Great cooked up with baby carrots, drizzled in olive oil, sprinkled with fresh herbs and salt. A simple, quick way to savor the pure flavor of fresh peas!

Summer Squash

  • Green zucchini has become a regular staple in your harvest basket, but occasionally you’ll see a few other types of summer squash nestled in there among the goodies. There are a few varieties fruiting right now:
    •     Green: Black Beauty
    •     Yellow: Zephyr
    •     Light Green, Round: Ronde de Nice
  • Remember, zukes do best in the fridge in a plastic bag.

On the Farm....
The fog has been relentless this week, keeping the farm shrouded in grey. It’s put the brakes on some of the outdoor tomato ripening, slowed down the next wave of raspberries, and notched down the sugar content in the strawberries.

But we would take grey any day over the other options: the 100+ degree heat that is baking the rest of the west; the incessant rains in the Northeast that have brought on a devastating region-wide tomato blight; the drought that is burning up crops in the South.

A little fog seems like a blessing next to all the other extremes peppering the weather forecast these days.

The bright side to our inconvenient monochromatic sky is that it makes for great weather to get a lot of hard, dusty work done. We’ve been discing the ground that we plowed up with the horses last week, in anticipation of the buckwheat cover crop that needs to get seeded ASAP. Even in the cool of Monday, the horses were drenched in sweat as they dragged me and disc around and around, breaking up clods and smoothing out the field that is to become the home of 250 new apple, pear and plum trees this winter. It’s the kind of work that makes you appreciate some cloud cover - and the swimming hole.

And many crops love this weather, especially the fall and winter crops we’re tending: late broccoli, romanesco, Brussels sprouts, chard, kale, pac choi, kohlrabi, celeriac, cabbage…… These are some of the things you’ll be eating come Autumn and right now they are growing like crazy - in some cases putting on visible inches of growth each day.

But wait – there’s a hole in the sky with blue behind it, right now, as I type...it’s getting bigger, the grey is lifting, sun! Must go. We’ve got a few more laps to go on the disc today, and then, yes, maybe a dip at the swimming hole…

Week 9: July 27-August 1

What's In Your Basket?

  •     Seascape Strawberries
  •     Magenta Summer Crisp Lettuce
  •     Red Ursa Kale
  •     Cucumbers
  •     Zucchini
  •     Broccoli
  •     Nelson Carrots
  •     Purplette Onions
  •     Basil


On Rotation:

  • Raspberries

 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Nelson Carrots

  • At long last, the carrots! What an exercise in patience, waiting for the carrots to come on this year! Colder than average spring soil temperatures killed our first handful of plantings, which set back the first carrot harvest by a few weeks. Those that did survive the spring were spotty and stressed – not the prettiest carrots to behold. Now, the later plantings are finally maturing and digging carrots is once again yielding the abundant harvest we’re used to. We hope to send you carrots as often as we can from here on out. You’ll be eating two varieties, mainly: Nelson and Yaya, both of which are an early Nantes type with great crunch, tenderness and exceptional sweetness.
  • I tend to munch my carrots raw most of the time, but they deserve an award for being one of the most versatile veggies there is, spanning the spectrum from sweet to savory. Think about it: Carrot cake. Carrot lemongrass soup. Carrot root roast. I trust you’ll find plenty of things to do with them, but if you find you can’t keep up with the carrots, not to worry: they store great in the fridge in a plastic bag for weeks. Cut the tops off to keep them from going limp, but don’t throw the tops away! As it turns out, you can even eat carrot tops and here’s one recipe to help you do it: Carrot Top Soup.

 
Red Ursa Kale

  • The kale is so giant and pretty right now I’ve been tempted to include it in the flower bouquets! Those of you who aren’t big kale fans might consider putting it in a vase, but before you do, try our favorite standby salad, great for summer or winter: Molly's Famous Kaleslaw. It uses carrots, red cabbage (if you have any left), kale and some other goodies. The inspiration for this recipe came from my beloved friend and former housemate, Molly McHenry, who could whip up a kaleslaw in the blink of any eye, and then make you cry it was so good.
  • Remember, your kale will last best in a bag in the fridge, sealed up to keep it from wilting.
     

 
Purplette Onions

  • These "little purple" onions are wonderful because they are fast maturing and bulb up sooner than other varieties. They also have a delicate, mild flavor and you can eat the tops. That's right - don't toss the greens; use them like green onions. As for the bulbing part of the onion, it can be eaten raw or sauteed up like any regular onion. Last night we cut up a few purplettes into fat rings, dipped them in a beer batter (1 part beer to 1 part flour), and dropped them into a friend’s FryDaddy. Whooooo boy! The best onion rings I’ve ever made myself sick on!
  • Purplettes store well in the fridge in a plastic bag.

Broccoli

  • Just when you thought you couldn’t handle another giant head of broccoli….well, hang in there, here it comes again! Some of the heads are weighing in at 2.5 pounds right now! We're going out with a bang: broccoli season is almost over until Fall, so we hope you can relish these last couple of weeks of it.
  • A Harvest Basket member sent in a wonderful recipe last week for a tantalizing Creamy Broccoli Soup with Almond Romano Pesto (from the fantastic cookbook “Rebar”), which is now posted on the recipe exchange.
  • If you're feeling overwhelmed by what to do with it all, remember that you can freeze it for winter and enjoy the Valley Flora bounty during those cold, dark months on the other side of the calendar. It's easy:

          o Cut your broccoli into florets.
          o Bring a pot of water to boil.
          o Dunk the florets into the boiling water for a minute to blanch.
          o Pull the florets out of the water and dunk into ice water.
          o Put florets on cookie sheets and freeze.
          o Once frozen, put the florets into a freezer ziploc and stash away for winter!

On the Farm....
We are on the cusp of the Summer Solanum Tsunami: cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, roasting peppers. Get ready, because within in a few weeks there will be a whole new plant family beginning to appear in your weekly basket, straight outta my mom’s greenhouses and the fields. Tomatoes are always a marker of “true summertime” for me, though ironically they don’t ripen here until August, once “true summertime” has been in full swing for awhile. The same is true for corn – and if we’re lucky, melons - which don’t usually come on until September for us, being as stone’s throw from the coast.

This season I’m doing some outdoor tomato and pepper trials to see what varieties will ripen in a reasonable amount of time, without the help of a greenhouse. It’s fun to see what’s possible along Floras Creek, having farmed for 3 years near Portland (where it’s 105 degrees this week), and before that in California where the mercury would regularly register in the 100s. It’s possible to grow almost all of the same crops that we did in those hotter climates, but everything takes longer. Tomatoes in September instead of July. Melons in October instead of August. Fortunately, our long glorious Indian Summers usually afford us the time to bring the slower, heat-loving crops to maturity. Last year’s sunshine lasted all the way through November – which meant we were still eating strawberries at Thanksgiving! You might just cross your fingers for a repeat this year if you’re loving the berries, although the spawning salmon didn’t appreciate it the long dry autumn…..

Growing such a diversity of crops is on one hand a livelihood for us as farmers, but I also see it as an experiment in food security. Everyone - even the oil companies themselves - agree that sooner or later there will be no more oil. When that happens, and without energy alternatives, the current industrial food system as we know it will come to a screeching halt. Why? Because the U.S. food supply is dependent on fossil fuel: The average meal travels 1500 miles from farm to plate. For every one calorie of food produced by agribusiness, it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce it. Growing, harvesting, processing and shipping food sucks up about 20% of all the oil burned in America.

Given all those facts, it’s comforting to know that if and when those global supply chains freeze up, we all live in a place where it is possible to grow just about everything (save for the pineapples and avocadoes). Valley Flora produce travels no more than 40 miles to reach our most distant eaters. And with a little help from Barney and Maude, our solar horsepower, there can still be tomatoes year round – fresh in August, out of the mason jar in February. That's not to say that this kind of farm is going to be immune from the decline of cheap fossil fuel, but we might be a little better positioned to help feed the neighborhood than wheat growers in Argentina, lamb producers in New Zealand, and even lettuce growers in California.

If you are interested in learning more about the Locavore movement (the idea of eating only within 100 miles of where you live), there’s some good reading out there:

Plenty: One man, one woman, and a raucous year of eating locally by Alisa Smith & J.B. Mackinnon
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A year of food life by Barbara Kingsolver
 
Online, the locavore hub: http://www.locavores.com/
 
Also online, an interesting new report by the Post Carbon Institute about transitioning our food away from fossil fuel dependence (you are part of the solution this summer!): http://www.postcarbon.org/food

Week 8: July 20-25

 What's In Your Basket?

  • Seascape Strawberries
  • Divina Green Butterhead Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Purplette Onions
  • Yellow Finn New Potatoes
  • Beets

On Rotation:

  • Raspberries

 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Sugar Snap Peas

  • Jump up and down - the peas are here! Nothing beats a sugar snap fresh off the vine! You got 'em this week - a few weeks later than planned due to the fact that the first seeding was rooted out by birds back in April. Fortunately our summers are temperate enough that we can get away with growing peas in July and August, when most other places have seen their pea season come and go.
  • I won't even pretend to assume that the peas are going to make it home from your pick-up site, but in case they do, they store best in the fridge in a plastic bag. They'll hold for at least a week, but are tastiest eaten soon.
  • Here's a recipe, compliments of epicurious.com, that will help you use your beets and peas together this week (you can sub spinach for the arugula, or use last week's arugula if you still have some): Roasted Beet and Sugar Snap Pea Salad: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Beet-and-Sugar-Snap...

  
Purplette Onions

  • These "little purple" onions are wonderful because they are fast maturing and bulb up sooner than other varieties. They also have a delicate, mild flavor and you can eat the tops. That's right - don't toss the greens; use them like green onions. As for the bulbing part of the onion, it can be eaten raw or sauteed up like any regular onion. If you're into miniature things, maybe take a stab at purplette onion rings.....
  • Purplettes store well in the fridge in a plastic bag. They'll hold even longer if you cut the tops off.

 
Beets

  • Oh, the luscious red heart of a beet! If you've ever read Tom Robbins Jitterbug Perfume, you know the magical powers of beets.
  • First thing's first with beets: don't throw away the tops! Beet greens are a sister to Swiss chard (they are, in fact, almost the same plant except beets are bred to develop a fat storage root, whereas chard is bred to produce leaves). Beet greens can be enjoyed a million ways, just like chard, kale, or any other cooking green. In fact, here's a great recipe - again thanks to chef and cookbook author, Deborah Madison - that uses both your beet greens and your beets in a risotto...Beet Risotto with Greens.
  • You can also do up your beets raw: grate them into a salad,
  • Like other roots, the root of the beet will last the longest in the fridge if you cut the greens off and store them separately in plastic bag. If you don't get around to eating your beets right away, never fear: they'll hold up for weeks in the fridge.

 
New Potatoes - Yellow Finn

  • Another round of spuds in your basket this week: this time, Yellow Finn - one of our favorite all-around potatoes. You can do anything to Yellow Finns: boil 'em, steam 'em, bake 'em, roast 'em, fry 'em - whatever suits your palette.
  • Store your taters in the fridge, ideally in a plastic bag. The skin hasn't cured on these potatoes, so they need to stay cool to stay perky.

 
 
Broccoli

  • The broccoli has hit its stride! We planted 5 successions of broccoli this spring, so you will be seeing it in your share for at least a few more weeks, through July. If you're feeling overwhelmed by what to do with it all, remember that you can freeze it for winter and enjoy the Valley Flora bounty during those cold, dark months on the other side of the calendar. It's easy:
    • Cut your broccoli into florets.
    • Bring a pot of water to boil.
    • Dunk the florets into the boiling water for a minute to blanch.
    • Pull the florets out of the water and dunk into ice water.
    • Put florets on cookie sheets and freeze.
    • Once frozen, put the florets into a freezer ziploc and stash away for winter!
  • Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.
  • If you're not in the mood to squirrel away your broccoli for later, here's an unusual recipe that will use up all of this week's broccoli: Braised Broccoli with Olives.



On the Farm....
Langlois is making hay while the sun shines this month. Hundreds and hundreds of acres of hayfields have been mowed in the last couple of weeks and the tractors are busy with their rakes and tetters and balers. We hauled in our winter's load of hay this week - 200+ bales for Barney and Maude - bought from our good friend, Joe Pestana, who raises grassfed beef and chicken. Joe has been working his tail off to put up feed for his steers, and to keep up with all the demand for his fantastic pastured chickens. Joe is one of a handful of young producers in our area who is putting sustainable protein on the table for the local community. You can find out about local chicken, beef, fish and lamb at our Local Protein link: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/local-protein.
 
The horses have been hard at work this week plowing up ground for our new orchard, which will be fully planted by winter of 2010. We're turning sod this week, then we'll disc and harrow it, and seed it to buckwheat. The buckwheat will grow till September, at which point we'll turn it in and get ready for a winter of digging holes for new fruit trees! Barney and Maude have been great pulling the plow - Barney puts himself right in the furrow where he's supposed to be and then they pull, pull, pull together. Hearts of gold, those horses.
 

Week 7: July 13-18

 What's In Your Basket?

  • Seascape Strawberries
  • Flashy Trout's Back Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Italian Parsley
  • Red Cabbage
  • Baby Fennel

On Rotation:

  • Raspberries

 
Coming Soon!

  • Onions
  • More Carrots & Beets

 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Red Cabbage

  • The variety of cabbage in your basket this week is called "Red Express" - and aptly named crucifer considering it matured about 3 weeks earlier than planned. All the better for us, now that summer slaw season can officially begin!
  • We're growing a handful of different cabbage varieties on the farm this season, including reds, greends and savoy types. You'll see them occasionally from now until November.
  • Cabbage is an easy keeper and while last for months in your fridge. If you only use a little at a time, put the remainder of the head in a plastic bag each time and keep in the crisper. The cut edge will oxidize and brown, but next time you go to eat some, simply shave off the thin outer layer to reveal perfect cabbage beneath.
  • Of, if you want to enjoy your cabbage whole-hog, here are a few recipes that use red cabbage as well as fennel and parsely, which are also in your share this week:
    • Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Fennel: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sweet-and-Sour-Red-Cabbage-...
    • Cabbage, Fresh Fennel and Carrot Salad: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cabbage-Fresh-Fennel-and-Carrot-Slaw-109679
    • Italian Coleslaw with Fennel and Capers: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Italian-Coleslaw-with-Fennel-and-Capers-106830

  
Baby Fennel

  • Fennel is a little-known and little-appreciated vegetable here in the states, but is widely popular in European and Indian cuisine. Fennel is one of my top 3 favorite summer veggies, which partly explains my mission to convert as many of you into fennel fans as possible!
  • The fennel in your basket this week is baby, but as the summer goes on you'll also get fat, luscious, full size bulbs. These petite ones are a special, early summer treat, and we've sent the whole plant with fronds and all so you can not only see what they look like, but enjoy both the bulb and the fronds. The fronds can be used like any fresh herb, chopped into salad, atop fish, etc....
  • Fennel has a long, rich history. The Greek word for fennel is "marathon," and so the story goes, the famous Battle of Marathon was fought on a field dotted with the revered fennel plant. Pheidippides, the famous first "marathon" runner who delivered the news of the Persian invasion to Sparta, carried a fennel stalk. Greek myths also hold that knowledge was delivered to man by the gods at Olympus in a fennel stalk filled with coal. The ancient Romans chewed fennel believing it would control obesity, and the Puritans nibbled on fennel seeds as an appetite suppressant during periods of religious fasting to keep themselves from growing hungry.  In Medieal times, fennel was hung from rafters to bring good luck and stuffed into keyholes to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. It was though to cure snakebites, toothaches, earaches, colic, and to keep flies away when tied to horses' harness.
  • This week you can either tie your fennel to the ceiling for good luck, OR you can savor it in some of these recipes:

 
Italian Parsley

  • There are two kinds of parsley out there: curly and Italian, or flat-leaf. The Italian parsley that's in your share this week was planted this spring, but will most likely over-winter. It's a hardy little plant, and one that produces a wonderful, versatile herb!
  • Parsley stores best in the fridge in a plastic bag, or put the stems in a glass of water and keep in the fridge or on the counter. It will keep up to a week that way.

 
Cucumbers

  • We are growing a few different varieties of cucumbers on the farm: English (the long, skinny kind you usually see shrink-wrapped in plastic at the store), slicing (your typical cucumber), and pickling (small cukes that we grow to stock the pantry with). You'll be getting English and slicing cukes throughout the season.
  • Cukes store best in the fridge, in a plastic bag. They don't stay perky forever, though, so try to eat them up within a week.

 
 
Broccoli

  • The broccoli has hit its stride! We planted 5 successions of broccoli this spring, so you will be seeing it in your share for at least a few more weeks, through July. If you're feeling overwhelmed by what to do with it all, remember that you can freeze it for winter and enjoy the Valley Flora bounty during those cold, dark months on the other side of the calendar. It's easy:
    • Cut your broccoli into florets.
    • Bring a pot of water to boil.
    • Dunk the florets into the boiling water for a minute to blanch.
    • Pull the florets out of the water and dunk into ice water.
    • Put florets on cookie sheets and freeze.
    • Once frozen, put the florets into a freezer ziploc and stash away for winter!
  • Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.
  • If you're not in the mood to squirrel away your broccoli for later, here's an unusual recipe that will use up all of this week's broccoli: Braised Broccoli with Olives.

 
Arugula

  • This week's share includes enough arugula to make yourself a batch of arugula pesto. If you don't want to run those beautiful leaves through the blender, add it to a salad or use it as a bed of greens under fish.
  • OR, try the unusual combination of arugula and strawberries in this recipe from www.epicurious.com (a great online compilation of Gourmet and Bon Appetit recipes): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Strawberry-and-Arugula-Sala...
  • OR, go to Epicurious.com and enter "arugula fennel" in the search window for a long list of great recipes that will help you combine the unusual ingredients in your share this week.....

 
Raspberries

  • We are just beginning to harvest the june-bearing raspberries, a variety called Cascade Dawn. We will be distributing them on rotation to each pick-up site over the next couple of weeks. We also grow an ever-bearing variety called Caroline that will be coming on later in the summer, so hopefully raspberries will make frequent appearances in your baskets this season.
  • What's the difference between a june-bearing and an ever-bearing raspberry? June-bearers are what they call "floricane" varieties, meaing they fruit on second year wood. Ever-bearers are called "primocanes" and they fruit on first year wood. What this means is that the june-bearers produce new canes every year, which we carefully select and tie up onto the trellis. Those canes overwinter and the following June begin to produce masses of fruit. Their season is short, however - less than 4 weeks. The fruit you're eating this week was produced by canes that shot up last spring, in 2008. Ever-bearers on the other hand, produce fruit on this year's canes. They are growing fast right now, and will probably start producing sometime in July. The benefit of ever-bearers is that you can mow them down each fall instead of trellising them, which makes maintenance a lot easier - but you also have to wait longer to get your first raspberry! We grow both kinds in order to extend our raspberry season to its utmost!
  • Raspberries are fragile, poor-keepers. Best to eat them within a couple of days, or if you're the delayed gratification type - freeze them for winter! Whipped cream is always a good comrade to raspberries.

 

On the Farm....

It's been a glorious week on the farm: my best friend from Portland arrived to spend the month of July with us on the farm, I turned 30, and the flowers started blooming! We are starting to dig potatoes, harvest onions, and bring in some heavy yields of cabbage and beets. The carrots are still creeping along - slower than we'd like - but good things are worth waiting for. What we aren't eating now will be more than made up for by the harvests to come!
 
Enjoy the new veggies in your basket this week, and get ready for your first onions next week!
 

Week 6: July 6-11

 What's In Your Basket?

  • Tillamook and/or Seascape Strawberries
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Braising Mix
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Baby Carrots (Nelson and Rainbow)
  • Kohlrabi

On Rotation:

  • Raspberries

 
Coming Soon!

  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Fennel

 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Baby Carrots

  • At last, the carrots are here! They are a few weeks later than we'd hoped, due to the fact that the cold, wet weather of April stymied our first few plantings. Now that they're starting to size up, you should expect to see carrots in your basket on a regular basis for the rest of the season.
  • We grow a few different varieties of carrots: Nelson and Yaya, which are sweet, early Nantes varieties with great crunch and tenderness. We also grow Rainbow carrots, which true to their name, come in a dazzling array of colors: white, red, purple, yellow, orange. They are not as sweet as the Nelsons or Yayas, but beautiful to behold and tasty nonetheless.
  • Bunched carrots will store best if you cut the tops off and put the roots in a plastic bag. Like other root crops, the tops transpire and suck all of the moisture out of the root in the refrigerator, leaving you with sad, limp carrots. We know a number of people who put the tops to use as pet food: there are a handful of local dogs, lizards, iguanas, birds and goats who eat Valley Flora carrot tops every week.....

  
Cucumbers

  • We are growing a few different varieties of cucumbers on the farm: English (the long, skinny kind you usually see shrink-wrapped in plastic at the store), slicing (your typical cucumber), and pickling (small cukes that we grow to stock the pantry with). You'll be getting English and slicing cukes throughout the season.
  • Cukes store best in the fridge, in a plastic bag. They don't stay perky forever, though, so try to eat them up within a week.

 
 
Broccoli

  • The broccoli has hit its stride! We planted 5 successions of broccoli this spring, so you will be seeing it in your share for at least a few more weeks, through July. If you're feeling overwhelmed by what to do with it all, remember that you can freeze it for winter and enjoy the Valley Flora bounty during those cold, dark months on the other side of the calendar. It's easy:
    • Cut your broccoli into florets.
    • Bring a pot of water to boil.
    • Dunk the florets into the boiling water for a minute to blanch.
    • Pull the florets out of the water and dunk into ice water.
    • Put florets on cookie sheets and freeze.
    • Once frozen, put the florets into a freezer ziploc and stash away for winter!
  • Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.
  • If you're not in the mood to squirrel away your broccoli for later, here's an unusual recipe that will use up all of this week's broccoli: Braised Broccoli with Olives.

 
Zucchini

  • Zukes store for about a week in a plastic bag in the fridge. Wonderful sauteed with a little butter, thyme, salt and pepper.

 
Braising Mix

  • This is a colorful combo of baby kale, mustard, tatsoi and other asian greens. If you like it spicy, you can just eat your braising mix raw like a salad. Otherwise, it's great stir-fried, sauteed or steamed. At home we often just steam them, then douse them with good olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a dash of either ume plum vinegar or cider vinegar. Yum!
  • Store in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.

 
Kohlrabi

  • There isn't a more alien-looking vegetable to be found on the farm than kohlrabi! This white-fleshed variety is called "winner." We'll be growing a purple-skinned variety in the fall as well. If you've never seen, touched or eaten kohlrabi, you're in for a treat! It is one of those under-appreciated veggies that deserves some more kudos for its crunchy, juicy yumminess.
  • Kohlrabi is a sturdy vegetable, but will hold up best in your fridge in a plastic bag.
  • My mom says her favorite way to eat kohlrabi is straight up: peeled, sliced and munched! Here's a recipe for you if you want to jazz it up a little more: Kohlrabi and Apple Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette.

Raspberries

  • We are just beginning to harvest the june-bearing raspberries, a variety called Cascade Dawn. We will be distributing them on rotation to each pick-up site over the next couple of weeks. We also grow an ever-bearing variety called Caroline that will be coming on later in the summer, so hopefully raspberries will make frequent appearances in your baskets this season.
  • What's the difference between a june-bearing and an ever-bearing raspberry? June-bearers are what they call "floricane" varieties, meaing they fruit on second year wood. Ever-bearers are called "primocanes" and they fruit on first year wood. What this means is that the june-bearers produce new canes every year, which we carefully select and tie up onto the trellis. Those canes overwinter and the following June begin to produce masses of fruit. Their season is short, however - less than 4 weeks. The fruit you're eating this week was produced by canes that shot up last spring, in 2008. Ever-bearers on the other hand, produce fruit on this year's canes. They are growing fast right now, and will probably start producing sometime in July. The benefit of ever-bearers is that you can mow them down each fall instead of trellising them, which makes maintenance a lot easier - but you also have to wait longer to get your first raspberry! We grow both kinds in order to extend our raspberry season to its utmost!
  • Raspberries are fragile, poor-keepers. Best to eat them within a couple of days. Whipped cream is always a good comrade to raspberries.

 
On the Farm....
With the flurry of May and June starting to ease, I had a chance to get Maude and Barney back in harness this week. We spent all of Monday working up the fallow half of the farm: discing, harrowing, seeding a buckwheat cover crop, and then cultipacking (rolling) in the seed. Early July is when we tend to plant cover crops like buckwheat, in order to provide soil cover and erosion control through the summer, to add organic matter to the soil, and to provide habitat and food for beneficial insects on the farm.
 
Buckwheat is an especially amazing cover crop. It's the same buckwheat the you make pancakes with, but we don't grow it for seed to make flour with. Instead, we grow it for the leafy biomass it produces in short order over the summer.  It matures in about two months, going from seed to a 3 foot high, succulent, leafy lime green plant. It provides great weed control by shading out any other competitors. It's drought-tolerant; we water it once at the time of seeding and then it grows vigorously with no water for the rest of the summer. It draws up phosporous from the soil and makes it plant availalbe. AND, to top it all off, it sets beautiful, fragrant white flowers that provide wonderful food for beneficial insects like bees. It frost kills, so we only get to grow it in the summertime - which gives buckwheat a very special niche on the farm.
 
And here's my confession: I actually love growing cover crops more than cash crops. Yes, it's true. I do relish growing those carrots and beets for you, but the satisfaction of growing a good stand of buckwheat - and knowing I'm doing right by the soil - is hard to beat.
 
We'll be plowing up the fallow half of the new orchard with the horses this month and planting buckwheat there as well. By September, the fallow ares of the farm should be a sea of luscious green, humming with pollinators. The canvas is ever-changing on the farm, and for us it's a heap of fun to paint by the acre....

Week 5: June 29-July 4

 What's In Your Basket?

  • Tillamook and/or Seascape Strawberries
  • Black Seeded Simpson Greenleaf Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers (English or Slicing)
  • Broccoli
  • Red, White & Blue New Potatoes (red = Red Norland, white/yellow = Carola, blue = Purple Majesty)
  • Red Ursa Kale

On Rotation:

  • Raspberries

 
Coming Soon!

  • Carrots
  • Fennel

 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
New Potatoes

  • So what is a "new" potato, anyway? Basically, new potatoes are dug when the potato plant is still vibrant and flowering, before the plants have died back and the skins have cured on the tubers. By harvesting them early, the potatoes in your basket this week are especially tender and sweet, and far less starchy than your typical storage potato. They are also a little smaller than regular potatoes because we dig them early, before they are fully mature. You definitely do not need to peel this little guys!
  • Given that their skin hasn't "cured" yet, new potatoes do not store the same way that regular potatoes do: you need to keep them in the fridge, ideally in a plastic bag in order to keep them from drying out.
  • Enjoy your red, white and blue new potatoes on the 4th of July this weekend. Here's a great, easy recipe to enjoy your new potatoes in their purest form: New Potatoes with Basil.

  
Cucumbers

  • We are growing a few different varieties of cucumbers on the farm: English (the long, skinny kind you usually see shrink-wrapped in plastic at the store), slicing (your typical cucumber), and pickling (small cukes that we grow to stock the pantry with). You'll be getting English and slicing cukes throughout the season.
  • Cukes store best in the fridge, in a plastic bag. They don't stay perky forever, though, so try to eat them up within a week.

 
 
Broccoli

  • The broccoli has hit its stride! We are having a ball cutting these huge, heavy heads - sweet and tender as broccoli could be!
  • Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.

 
Red Ursa Kale

  • Great sauteed, stir-fried, or eaten raw, this hearty green keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 
Raspberries

  • We are just beginning to harvest the june-bearing raspberries, a variety called Cascade Dawn. We will be distributing them on rotation to each pick-up site over the next couple of weeks. We also grow an ever-bearing variety called Caroline that will be coming on later in the summer, so hopefully raspberries will make frequent appearances in your baskets this season.
  • What's the difference between a june-bearing and an ever-bearing raspberry? June-bearers are what they call "floricane" varieties, meaing they fruit on second year wood. Ever-bearers are called "primocanes" and they fruit on first year wood. What this means is that the june-bearers produce new canes every year, which we carefully select and tie up onto the trellis. Those canes overwinter and the following June begin to produce masses of fruit. Their season is short, however - less than 4 weeks. The fruit you're eating this week was produced by canes that shot up last spring, in 2008. Ever-bearers on the other hand, produce fruit on this year's canes. They are growing fast right now, and will probably start producing sometime in July. The benefit of ever-bearers is that you can mow them down each fall instead of trellising them, which makes maintenance a lot easier - but you also have to wait longer to get your first raspberry! We grow both kinds in order to extend our raspberryt season to its utmost!
  • Raspberries are fragile, poor-keepers. Best to eat them within a couple of days. Whipped cream is always a good comrade to raspberries.

 
On the Farm....
It feels like we are officially turning the corner into summer. The "real" food is starting to come on: heavy stuff like potatoes, carrots, fennel, beets, cucumbers.....And many of the frantic spring projects are behind us: irrigation is set-up, the farm roads are mowed, the berries are mulched, the cooler is (almost) built. Now we get to settle in to the good old routine of harvest, weeding, watering - and enjoying the abundance on the farm. The days are still long, the work is still plenty, but there's a good pace to it. At least until tomato season hits....
 
Given that all of you are participating so closely in our own little local food economy, I thought you might be interested in an Independence Day-inspired movement afoot right now called Food Independence Day: http://foodindependence.tumblr.com/
 
A good friend of mine in Maine has spearheaded this national campaign, which is calling on Americans to declare our food independence by sourcing the ingredients for our holiday meals as locally, sustainably and deliciously as possible - and to ask our elected officials to do the same. Check out the website for more details.

Happy Food Independence Day to everyone. You can eat those patriotic potatoes with pride, knowing you're playing a vital role in creating a vibrant local food system here on the Southcoast. Thanks for your support.

Week 4: June 22-27

 What's In Your Basket?

  • Tillamook Strawberries
  • Red Cross Butterhead Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Kohlrabi

On Rotation:

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Beets

 
Coming Soon!

  • New potatoes

 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Kohlrabi

  • There isn't a more alien-looking vegetable to be found on the farm than kohlrabi! This white-fleshed variety is called "winner." We'll be growing a purple-skinned variety in the fall as well. If you've never seen, touched or eaten kohlrabi, you're in for a treat! It is one of those under-appreciated veggies that deserves some more kudos for its crunchy, juicy yumminess.
  • Kohlrabi is a tough vegetable, but will hold up best in your fridge in a plastic bag.
  • My mom says her favorite way to eat kohlrabi is straight up: peeled, sliced and munched! Here's a recipe for you if you want to jazz it up a little more: Kohlrabi and Apple Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette.

  
Beets
 

  • Oh, the luscious red heart of a beet! We are so excited to have beets back in our life again after a few months without them since last fall! If you've ever read Tom Robbins Jitterbug Perfume, you know the magical powers of beets.
  • First thing's first with beets: don't throw away the tops! Beet greens are a sister to Swiss chard (they are, in fact, almost the same plant except beets are bred to develop a fat storage root, whereas chard is bred to produce leaves). Beet greens can be enjoyed a million ways, just like chard, kale, or any other cooking green. In fact, here's a great recipe - again thanks to chef and cookbook author, Deborah Madison - that uses both your beet greens and your beets in a risotto...Beet Risotto with Greens.
  • Like other roots, the root of the beet will last the longest in the fridge if you cut the greens off and store them separately in plastic bag. If you don't get around to eating your beets right away, never fear: they'll hold up for weeks in the fridge.

 
Zucchini

  • Zukes store for about a week in a plastic bag in the fridge. Wonderful sauteed with a little butter, thyme, salt and pepper.

 
 
Broccoli

  • Like the zucchini, the broccoli is just getting going so we'll be distributing it to different pick-up sites on rotation these first few weeks. The heads are small right now, but will size up as the days warm up.
  • Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.

 
 
Rainbow Chard

  • Another trusty spring green that will be with us from now on throughout the season. We are growing a mix of rainbow chard and rhubard chard, which lends those stems their technicolor palette.
  • Treat it like you would kale or any other green, but don't toss those stems! Chop them up and toss them into your meal - the make great accents and are

 
On the Farm....
The summer solstice has indeed brought us SUMMER! We woke up on Monday to the first sunny morning we've had in weeks, and are farming in flip flops, tank tops and wide-brimmed hats all of a sudden! The sun and heat is welcome, but makes harvest a little more of a frantic race as we hustle to get the produce out of the field before it gets cooking. For this reason - and many others - we are abundantly grateful that our walk-in cooler arrived yesterday, after a month-long wait! Since the harvest basket season began, we've been borrowing cooler space from a friend in Langlois, which has been a great back-up plan - but has added extra logistics to our already-hectic harvest days.
 
If you had asked me at any point in the past month about the impending arrival of our much-needed cooler, I would have told you it couldn't arrive a moment too soon. Well, last night when the semi truck pulled up at the farm at 9 pm (we were still in the barn washing produce and printing invoices), I realized that the cooler had just arrived 12 hours too soon. The truck had been scheduled to arrive at 8 am Wednesday morning. But the driver, who was antsy to get home to Portland after too many days on the road, decided to come early. His name was Vlad, from Moldovia, and he barely spoke English. He was headed for the proverbial barn, and despite the fact that it was almost dark and we had all just put in a 16 hour day on the farm, he wanted the cooler out of his truck.
 
My Russian has gotten pretty rusty since the 2-week summer language course I took when I was 13, so we resorted to charades last night as we tried to figure out how three skinny farmgirls were going to unload 3000 pounds worth of walk-in. Our crew of help wasn't supposed to show up till 8 am the next morning when we'd been scheduled to unload. We were all hungry. Tired. Ready to be done for the day.
 
We made two phone calls, and within 10 minutes, 8 strapping guys were standing there at the truck. It was one of those small-town, sweet little community things. Three of our friends had been sitting down to dinner when we called. They dropped their forks and came in a heartbeat. Another friend was home with his kids. And two more had put in long days at their own ranch and were showered, headed for bed. And suddenly they were all there, at the ready, to help.
 
We had the cooler off the truck in 10 minutes. We gave Vlad a few pints of strawberries, some lettuce, and waved him on down the road to Portland. The rest of us headed for bed.
 
This morning, there is a dazzling jigsaw puzzle of cooler pieces to assemble stacked in the barn. If any of you are walk-in experts, let us know. This little cooler adventure is only half finished......
 
Happy summer to all. Enjoy the grub.
 

 

Week 3: June 15-20

June 15-20
 
What's In Your Basket?

  • Tillamook Strawberries
  • Emerald Oakleaf Lettuce
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Green Globe Artichokes
  • Braising Mix
  • Zucchini
  • Basil

On Rotation:

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Broccoli
  • Rapini
  • Beets

 
Coming Soon!

  • Kohlrabi

 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!

 
Hakurei Turnips

  • Most people don't associate the word "turnip" with the adjectives "sweet and buttery," but Hakureis make the cut. They are our favorite turnip of all time, and lucky for all of us, they are a vigorous spring crop. These turnips are best eaten raw to savor their texture and flavor, but they also sautee up well with a little olive oil, salt and their own greens.
  • Don't toss those tops! They make great stir-fry greens. Give them a wash, chop them up, and cook them!
  • If you want your turnips to last longer in the fridge, cut the tops off and store the roots in a ziploc in the crisper.

 

Braising Mix

  • This is a colorful combo of baby kale, mustard and other asian greens. If you like it spicy, you can just eat your braising mix raw like a salad. Otherwise, they are great stir-fried, sauteed or steamed. At home we often just steam them, then douse them with good olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a dash of either ume plum vinegar or cider vinegar. Yum!
  • Store in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.

 
 
Artichokes

  • We are choke addicts here at Valley Flora. We usually prepare them the simple old-fashioned way in a steamer basket. It usually takes 30-45 minutes in a regular steamer basket with plenty of water, depending on size, or 8-14 minutes in a pressure cooker. The bigger the choke, the longer it takes. Check for done-ness by plucking an outside leaf. The chokes are ready when a leaf plucks off easily. Dig in and eat your - its - heart out.
  • Check out our easy ailoi recipe and turn your artichokes into a great vehicle for mayo, balsamic and capers.

 
  
Zucchini

  • Zukes store for about a week in a plastic bag in the fridge. Wonderful sauteed with a little butter, thyme, salt and pepper.

 
 
Broccoli

  • Like the zucchini, the broccoli is just getting going so we'll be distributing it to different pick-up sites on rotation these first few weeks. The heads are small right now, but will size up as the days warm up.
  • Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.

 
 
Rapini

  • Rapini is a wonderful spring and fall treat. It's essentially a flower bud from any kind of brassica plant (cabbage, kale, pac choi, etc.), cut right before it bursts into bloom. Rapini is often sweet, nutty with a little spice to it.
  • Great eaten raw, sauteed or steamed.
  • Stores for a long time in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 
 
Rainbow Chard

  • Another trusty spring green that will be with us from now on throughout the season. We are growing a mix of rainbow chard and rhubard chard, which lends those stems their technicolor palette.
  • Treat it like you would kale or any other green, but don't toss those stems! Chop them up and toss them into your meal - the make great accents and are

 

On the Farm....
When you get your chard this week or next, you're probably going to wonder WHAT'S UP WITH ALL THOSE HOLES IN THE LEAVES!?
As it turns out, there's another animal in the world that loves chard as much as we do - and that's the western spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata). They look just like a ladybug beetle, but are yellow/lime green with black spots instead of red with black spots. True to their name, cucumber beetles love to feed on cucurbit plants (cucumbers, summer squash, melons, winter squash, etc.), but they have voracious appetites and will munch almost anything in the spring: dahlias, beans, zinnias, lettuce, and yes, chard. 
 
Cucumber beetles tend to do their worst damage to crops in the spring when the temeratures are low and the plants are growing slowly. In some cases, the beetles will skeletonize new transplants entirely and kill them. Fortunately the chard didn't take that bad of a hit this spring, but it did sustain some cosmetic damage from the beetles - hence the holes in the chard leaves. I suppose the name "Swiss Chard" is apt this week, in the spirit of it's distant cousin "Swiss cheese."
 
Now that we have stripped the bullet-riddled leaves, it's likely that our chard plants will grow out of the cuke beetle damage and put on some new, less tattered leaves in the coming weeks. Our philosophy is to co-exist; there's usually enough to go around for the people and the cuke beetles alike.
 
Despite all the damage they do, it's hard not to appreciate the tenacity of these little insects. I read up on their life cycle last year when my first lettuce and dahlia plantings were getting decimated by cucumber beetles. I learned that the adults tend to overwinter in Southern California. In the spring, they take wing and FLY all the way up to the Northwest, traveling as much as 500 miles/day. For an insect that's half the size of your littlest fingernail, that deserves some respect! They land on farms all over the west coast - ours included. They start munching on anything they can find, lay their eggs at the base of plants, and then die. The next generation hatches in the late summer, feeds on the farm, and then usually takes off for Southern California as winter approaches. Our climate is mild enough that some of them overwinter here, giving them a head start on those baby chard plants in early April!
 
So enjoy that chard, holes and all, and don't forget to visit the
Recipe Exchange
to check out the new recipes this week, and to share your own recipes with other folks.
 
 



 

Week 1

June 1-6, 2009
 
What's In Your Basket?

  • Tillamook and/or Seascape Strawberries
  • Sylvesta Green Butterhead Lettuce
  • Crunchy Royale Radishes
  • Green Globe Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Genovese Basil
  • Black Summer Pac Choi

 
Coming Soon!

  • Hakurei turnips
  • Kale & Chard
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spinach

 
We're thrilled to be able to include some of our favorite tastes of summer in the very first Harvest Basket of the season - among them, basil and strawberries. June will be a month to savor these early treats, as well as some of Spring's signature crops: kale, chard, spinach, and the sweet, buttery hakurei turnip (coming soon!).
 
Also remember that these early Harvest Baskets will be leaner than those that come later in the season. We strive for an average value of $25 of produce each week, which means that as the season progresses the baskets will get heavier (literally!) with summer's bounty. Enjoy the first harvest!
 
And finally, we recommend that you wash your produce before eating it. Technically, we only "field-rinse" the produce, so it is not legally considered to be "washed."
 
 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Radishes

  • Some people love the spicy bite of a spring radish, but if you want a less sassy mouthful, peel your radishes. All of the heat is in that red skin; the meat of the radish is tender, juicy and sweet!
  • Also, radish tops are great in stir-fy (they belong to the same family as mustard greens). Don't toss 'em - chop them up with your Pac Choi and sautee with a little rice vinegar, tamari or any other seasonings!
  • If you want your radishes to last longer in the fridge, cut the tops off and store the roots in a ziploc in the crisper.

 
Artichokes

  • We are choke addicts here at Valley Flora. We usually prepare them the simple old-fashioned way in a steamer basket. It usually takes 30-45 minutes in a regular steamer basket with plenty of water, depending on size, or 8-14 minutes in a pressure cooker. The bigger the choke, the longer it takes. Check for done-ness by plucking an outside leaf. The chokes are ready when a leaf plucks off easily. Dig in and eat your - its - heart out.
  • Check out our easy ailoi recipe and turn your artichokes into a great vehicle for mayo, balsamic and capers.

 
Arugula

 
Pac Choi

  • Great sauteed, stir-fried, or eaten raw, this succulent green keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 
Strawberries

  • In the unlikely event that any of your berries are still left by the time you get home, folks say that their berries store best in an airtight container in the fridge with a damp paper towl lining the bottom.
  • Whipped cream anyone?

 

 

On the Farm....
Now that the soil temperatures have warmed up and the nights are hovering near 50 degrees, we are putting lots of summer and fall crops in the ground this week: pepper plants galore, as well as an entire block of winter squash (for your eating pleasure come October...). We are also prepping fallow ground for some summer cover crop plantings of buckwheat and sudan grass. In the greenhouse, we're already seeding fall crops like chard, kale and cabbage, which will be planted in early July. Farming is one of those things where you are living 6 months in the future and every day in the moment - all at once....

 

As for the present moment, don't forget to visit the
Recipe Exchange
to check out the new recipes this week, and to share your own recipes with other farmsters.

 

Aprovecho!
 

 

Week 2

June 8-13, 2009

 
What's In Your Basket?

  • Tillamook and/or Seascape Strawberries
  • Jericho Green Romaine Lettuce
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Green Globe Artichokes
  • Spinach
  • Red Ursa Kale

On Rotation:

  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli

 
Coming Soon!

  • Chard
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets

 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Hakurei Turnips

  • Most people don't associate the word "turnip" with the adjectives "sweet and buttery," but Hakureis make the cut. They are our favorite turnip of all time, and lucky for all of us, they are a vigorous spring crop. This turnips are best eaten raw to savor their texture and flavor, but they also sautee up well with a little olive oil, salt and their own greens.
  • Don't toss those tops! They make great stir-fry greens. Give them a wash, chop them up, and cook them!
  • If you want your turnips to last longer in the fridge, cut the tops off and store the roots in a ziploc in the crisper.

 
Spinach

  • Baby spinach!!! Check out the recipe exchange for some great salad ideas....

 
Kale

  • Great sauteed, stir-fried, or eaten raw, this hearty green keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

  
Zucchini

  • The zukes are starting to come on - slowly but surely. Right now, the harvest is such that we'll be divvying up the harvest amongst each of the pick-up sites on rotation - so that everyone will get the same quantity of zucchini, but you may not receive it every week.
  • Zukes store for about a week in a plastic bag in the fridge. Wonderufl sauteed with a little butter, thyme, salt and pepper.

Broccoli

  • Like the zucchini, the broccoli is just getting going so we'll be distributing it to different pick-up sites on rotation these first few weeks. The heads are small right now, but will size up as the days warm up.
  • Stores best in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.

 

On the Farm....
We planted our last succession of potatoes this week - with the help of Barney & Maude, who pulled the walking plow to open up the furrows to plant into. Abby drove the plow while I drove the horses. Our first furrow was pretty drunken, but the second and third started to look like the real thing:
almost
straight as an arrow. If we had high speed internet, I'd post some photos of it - but for now we'll leave it to your imaginations.
 
 
 
Meanwhile, the first planting of potatoes from March is starting to flower, which means that our first new potatoes are just a few weeks away.
 
 
 
We also planted out seventy new grape vines this week, including both wine and table grapes, as well as a bunch of kiwi vines. We'll be harvesting fruit from them starting next year....
 
 
 
Don't forget to visit the
Recipe Exchange
to check out the new recipes this week, and to share your own recipes with other farmsters.
 
 


The Beet Box: What's Rockin' at Valley Flora

We put out the "Beet Box" newsletter each week during the Harvest Basket season. It'll help you:

  • Find out what's in your Harvest Basket each week.
  • Find cooking, eating and storage tips for your produce.
  • Get a glimpse into what's happening on the farm.

 Click on any of the Beet Box links below to read current or archived newsletters, organized by week.

Week 19: October 7

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce of the Week: Escarole Produce Smugglers and Roadkill Tomatoes: A Delivery Escapade   In your share this week: Yellow Onions Radishes Carrots Yellow Finn Potatoes Escarole Sweet Peppers Tomatoes Rainbow chard   On Rotation This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week. Broccoli   NEW...
    Oct 9 2013 - 3:04pm

Week 18: September 30

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce: Priscilla Apples Is it November?   In your share this week: Red Onions Beets Baby Carrots Parsley Head Lettuce Sweet Peppers Tomatoes Apples   On Rotation This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week. Broccoli   NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK Priscilla Apples: They may look like a boring Red...
    Oct 2 2013 - 9:42am

Week 17: September 23

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce: Yellow Storage Onions Corn Earworm, Beware! Bumper Red Potato Crop! Sweet Peppers are Peaking! Order by the Bag!   In your share this week: Yellow Storage Onions Baby Carrots White Sweet Corn Cilantro Head Lettuce Hot Peppers Sweet Peppers Tomatoes Red Potatoes   NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK Yellow Storage Onions: If these onions could talk, the...
    Sep 25 2013 - 11:01am

Week 16: September 16th

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce: Winterbor Kale & Italian Plums Big Bummer in the Cherry Tomatoes: A Haiku Carrots on Pause Sweet Peppers by the Bag! Garlic is Going Fast! Order now if you want some….   In your share this week: Red Onions Winterbor Kale Head Lettuce Sweet Peppers Strawberries Zucchini Tomatoes – Red & Heirloom Italian Plums   NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK...
    Sep 18 2013 - 10:09am

Week 15: September 9

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce: Napa Cabbage & Fingerling Potatoes September Strawberries Fennel Pesto Shifting into Fall Sweet Peppers by the Bag! Calapooia Garlic by the Bag or the Braid!   In your share this week: Walla Walla Sweet Onions Napa Cabbage Carrots Fennel Dill Head Lettuce Sweet Peppers Hot Peppers Fingerling Potatoes Strawberries Zucchini Tomatoes – Red &...
    Sep 11 2013 - 10:45am

Week 14: September 2nd

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce: Red Storage Onions! Chehalis Apples! Halfway! Sweet Peppers by the Bag! Calapooia Garlic by the Bag or the Braid!   In your share this week: Red Storage Onions Cylindra Beets Carrots Chehalis Apples Sweet Corn Sweet Peppers Strawberries Zucchini Tomatoes – Red & Heirloom   On Rotation: This means that some pickup sites will receive it this...
    Sep 4 2013 - 11:20am

Week 13: August 26th

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce: Cured Walla Wallas! Lacinato Kale! Hot Peppers! Sweet Peppers! Make your own Pico de Gallo Bulk Peppers By the Bag   In your share this week: Walla Walla Sweet Onions Broccoli Carrots Lacinato Kale Cilantro Hot Peppers Sweet Peppers Strawberries Zucchini Tomatoes – Red & Heirloom   On Rotation: This means that some pickup sites will receive...
    Aug 28 2013 - 2:29pm

Week 12: August 19th

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce: Sweet Corn! Parsley! Yellow Finn Potatoes! The Not So Sweet News About Sweet Corn   In your share this week: Onions Broccoli Carrots Sweet Corn Zucchini Tomatoes – Red & Heirloom Parsley Lettuce Yellow Finn Potatoes   On Rotation: This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week. Cucumbers...
    Aug 21 2013 - 2:31pm

Week 11: August 12th

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Produce of the Week: Shiro Plums! Torpedo Onions! Public Service Announcement: This Week’s Cabbages Tamales Shares this Week   In your share this week: Cabbage – red or green Red Long of Tropea torpedo onions Carrots Zucchini Strawberries Tomatoes – Red & Heirloom Broccoli Dill Shiro Plums   On Rotation: This means that some pickup sites will receive...
    Aug 14 2013 - 1:03pm

Week 10: August 5th

  • In This Week’s Beet Box: New Veggies of the Week: Walla Walla Sweet Onions! Tomatoes! Cucumbers! Summer Thunderstorms & Truckloads of Onions Strawberries Available by the Flat Farmstand Cornucopia   In your share this week: Head Lettuce Walla Walla Sweet Onions Carrots Zucchini Strawberries Tomatoes – Red & Heirloom   On Rotation: This means that some pickup sites will...
    Aug 7 2013 - 10:23pm