In the share this week:
- Redleaf Lettuce: Big mondo heads out of our high tunnels! This was a winter trial that turned out better than planned!
- Sunflower Shoots: Our micro/shoot yields shot through the roof this round of production, so you're getting a full HALF pound of sunflower shoots this week instead of the intended 1/4#. They're great on salads, in sandwiches, in smoothies, or by the handful straight out of the bag.
- Mixed Greens
- Yukina Savoy Tatsoi: This is a glossy, dark green pac choi with spoon-shaped leaves that might almost fool you into thinking it's spinach....
- Pink Radishes
The first artichokes of the season! Many of you have heard the story of these artichokes - that they've been propagated in our family for over 50 years - and I am so excited to share them with you this week. The original plant came out of a friend's yard in Bandon in the early 70's, which my Mom grew and divided in her garden throughout my entire childhood. Many a spring dinner centered wholly around these artichokes when I was a kid (and the requisite butter/mayo that must attend them). I took plants to Portland when I lived there in my 20s and grew them in my own garden. When I returned in 2008, I divided my garden plants and brought home 40 starts that I planted into the first Valley Flora field. Simultaneously I started a few hundred Green Globe chokes from seed. It was obvious after the first year of production that our family artichoke outstripped the Green Globes in every way: hardier, more productive, more beautiful, more delicious, and nearly choke-free (not very much hair around the heart, especially in the small baby chokes). Harvesting these artichokes this week made me feel so lucky to live on this planet, surrounded by swooping swallows and apple blossoms amidst a canvas of electric spring green everywhere! I'm thinking that when the time comes to "retire," I'll revert to 100% horse powered artichoke production and keep it simple: me, my trusty steeds, some simple antique farm equipment, and a patch of thistles. Sounds like heaven.
I also spent some of my artichoke-harvest-time trying to tame the gnawing egg of anxiety I'm feeling about drought and climate change. I find that my daily sense of well-being is inextricably linked to the 10-day weather forecast. When I see an inch of precip on the horizon, I am awash in good feelings that all is well on planet Earth. But when the inch turns into a half, into a quarter, into a tenth, and then vanishes altogether - with nothing but more sun in the forecast - I feel despair. All this sun has been amazing for getting the season off to a great start, but I am desperate for it to rain (running irrigation at this time of year is downright wrong). This is not the Oregon of my memory, of my childhood. This is California, creeping north. This is the creek getting lower. Is this the beginning of the end of farming on Floras Creek (no water = no farm)?
I found myself thinking about what we can do: so far we have invested in solar so that almost the entire farm runs on the sun; we rely on horses instead of tractors for some of our fieldwork; we don't drive very much; we re-use our harvest and delivery bins for years and years; we bought a used Sprinter van that gets 25 mpg to curb our fuel consumption on the delivery route (wish it was electric, plugged into our solar panels!); we get on an airplane maybe once a year and buy carbon offsets when we do; we eat a plant-based diet for the most part, with local meat only making an occasional appearance; we buy bulk; we wash and reuse and eventually recycle our plastic bags; we vote.
All of these things are built into our daily behaviors, but I wonder what more we could do, shy of quitting the farm and throwing ourselves headlong into climate activism. It seems unlikely that many of us are going to quit everything and go on the stump with Gretta Thunberg, so probably we should ask ourselves every single day: what can I do today to make the planet less hot? I do love a nice hot shower at the end of the day. Maybe I should try to make it shorter. I do drive my pickup back and forth around the farm; maybe I could rig a bike trailer that could haul my seeds and tools instead. I do donate to climate change efforts; maybe I should give more. And then the tiny little things combined with the big gigantic things (like the Paris climate agreement) - maybe it adds up to a future where my little Uma, who, at 6 years old, proclaims she wants to be a "watermelon picker" when she grows up, will be able to do just that? (Watermelons do require quite a bit of, er, water.)
In the meantime, I'd better get a prescription of anti-depressants because the Thursday rain forecast just got downgraded (again) from 0.15" to 0.09."
Big sigh. Don't let me ruin your week, but maybe it'll motivate you to ask the same question every day: What can I do today to make the planet less hot?