The Valley Flora Beetbox

Valley Flora's newsletter, sharing news from the farm, seasonal updates, and more!

Week 18 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Bunched Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Head Lettuce
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Painted Purple Potatotes
  • Zucchini

On Rotation:

  • Cilantro
  • Zucchini
  • Heirloom Tomatoes

The tug-o-war between summer and fall is palpable. There are moments in a day when I want to make a dash for the swimming hole; a half hour later I'm reaching for another layer and a warm hat. Fingers of refrigerator chill have been slinking up the valley from the coastal fog bank that looms out to the west. Last night rain, this morning sun. A sudden greening of our summer-parched yard. 

It means that our week is choreographed once again to the weather forecast: always the inevitable scurry before the next rain, and lots of time cleaning onions in the greenhouse when it's wet. We cross our fingers for enough dry days to get the winter squash and potato harvest in, and enough rainy days to water in newly-seeded cover crops and to soften up ground that needs to be worked. There is an urgency to all of it, knowing that the dry days might be numbered and our window to get so many things done is shrinking. It's our final big crescendo before the lovely mellowing that November always brings to our farming rhythm. This year, we're feeling the squeeze more than usual because our storage crops - namely onions and winter squash - are coming out of the field about 3 weeks later than usual. That gives us precious little time to shift that ground into cover crop before it's too wet. Fall is always a dance, but thankfully we have a great cast working together to make it all happen.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 17 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Napa Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant 
  • Fennel
  • Red Onions
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Jalapeño Pepper
  • Serrano Peppers
  • Tomatoes

If that picture doesn't look like a batch of ratatouille waiting to happen, then I don't know what does. Usually ratatouille doesn't include fennel bulb, but I stumbled upon this recipe from a UK magazine (they eat a lot more fennel in Europe than we do here in the States) and it looked worthy of sharing: Ratatouille with Fennel. The only bit of produce not in your share this week is the dill, but some of you might have a bit leftover from last week...?

Or, if like me, all you want to eat at this time of year is raw chopped salad, then this is the recipe for you: Yotam Ottolenghi's Spiced Chickpea Chopped Salad. Yotam Ottolenghi has a cookbook called "Jerusalem" - probably the most dog-eared compendium of recipes in my entire kitchen, and it's the book I reach for every week from August through October. You'd think I'd have the recipe memorized by now, but no, I seem to like to pull that book down like an old friend and open it up to the page with the hot pink post-it note that's spattered with olive oil stains. I cheat and use canned garbanzo beans instead of soaking dry chickpeas in order to make it a fast weeknight dinner. I've also been known to add homemade croutons, feta, broiled eggplant - anything you want to bulk it up and make it even more of a meal. You could even shred some of that napa cabbage and add it to the mix. Anything goes. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

I do have a little vegetable deficit to make up for on the heels of a glorious horsepacking trip into the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness last week. Not to say that my friend, Laura, and I went hungry (I dehydrated all kinds of farm veggies and added them to our homemade backpacking dinners each night....plus we're guilty of making the horses carry in 8 carrots, 5 apples, 3 cucumbers, a bag of Jimmy Nardello peppers, 3 peaches and 4 avocadoes for our 5 day drip. But still! I've got some catching up to do this week in the roughage department. Chopped salad, watch out.

Here's a glimpse of what Jack and Lily were "up" to last week. Lots of elevation gain, innumerable high alpine lakes, wild blueberries, a thunderstorm or two, and beautiful meadows. Upon hearing some stories from our Mt. Jefferson trip, my mom referred to them as "renaissance horses." I can't think of a better descriptor: from digging potatoes on Monday to climbing mountain peaks on Friday. 

A big thanks to my crew - and my horses - for helping make our pack trip possible this season! I'm always grateful to be able to sneak away for a long weekend during peak season, and also just as happy to come back to this beautiful reality called home.

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 16 from Valley Flora!

Please note this is NOT our farmstand availability email. This is our weekly CSA newlsetter primarily intended for our subscribed Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly box of produce from the farm from June through December. You cannot order farmstand produce from this email or directly from our website. Rather, farmstand availability emails are sent out on Thursday and Monday mornings to folks who have signed up for Wednesday or Saturday pickup, respectively. To learn more or sign up for a farmstand pickup day, click here.

  • Napa Cabbage - the foundational ingredient in kimchi, but also wonderful shredded into light slaw or salad. At this time of year when we have sweet peppers and apples, I like to make a napa/apple/pepper/carrot slaw with a rice-vinegar vinaigrette.
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Corn
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Onion
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets - Red, Gold and Chioggia
  • Strawberries - we are stunned by the strawberries right now. Abundant, beautiful, better than ever! Normally there wouldn't be strawberries in the Harvest Basket at this point in the season, but they just keep giving! U-pick is going to be FANTASTIC today (Wednesday)!
  • Cucumbers

On Rotation:

  • Eggplant

I can't believe it, but yes, still strawberries! We are a bit baffled by this late season run in the berry patch - we haven't seen anything like this in years! If we get our much-hoped-for rain later this week it might start to slow them down, but right now they are phenomenal. Come upick today, starting at 11 am! And if you want a special order flat, let me know and we'll see if the weather cooperates: name, pickup location, number of flats and phone number.

Peppers Peaking: Now's the time to order up a few bags of red Italian roasters or assorted colored bells. Peppers are available in 5 pound bags for $22. To order, email Bets your name, pickup location, type and quantity of peppers you want, and a phone number. 

Help Support Farmworkers and Immigrants Impacted by the Devastating Wildfires: The wildfires have affected us all, but many of us are lucky enough to still have a home to go to. That's not the case for many immigrant Oregonians who tend to be most impacted by the smoke, have lost everything and don't have a safety net to fall into. In recognition of the devastating effects that wildfires have had on immigrant Oregonians, the Oregon Worker Relief Fund Coalition is pivoting to raise and distribute funds to impacted individuals and families. You can donate to their effort through CAUSA, Oregon's immigrant rights organization.

Strength and safekeeping to everyone in the terrifying path of fire right now, and to all those coping with hazardous air quality. We give thanks for clear air overhead today, temporary as it might be. Come on rain!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 15 from Valley Flora

Please note this is NOT our farmstand availability email. This is our weekly CSA newlsetter primarily intended for our subscribed Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly box of produce from the farm from June through December. You cannot order farmstand produce from this email or directly from our website. Rather, farmstand availability emails are sent out on Thursday and Monday mornings to folks who have signed up for Wednesday or Saturday pickup, respectively. To learn more or sign up for a farmstand pickup day, click here.

  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Head Lettuce
  • Red Onions
  • Hot Peppers - Jalapeño & Serranos (1 red serrano & 1 green serrano)
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

On Rotation:

  • Collard Greens
  • Lacinato Kale
  • Sweet Corn
  • Zucchin

Bulk Sweet Peppers Available by Special Order!

It's that happy time of year when the sweet peppers are coming out of the greenhouse by the bucketload! Now's the time to order up a few bags of red Italian roasters or assorted colored bells. Peppers are available in 5 pound bags for $22. To order, email Bets your name, pickup location, type and quantity of peppers you want, and a phone number. If you can manage to not eat them all raw, you can preserve peppers in a myriad of ways, listed here from easiest to most advanced:

  • Chop and freeze. No blanching necessary. Just cut 'em up and throw 'em in a freezer bag. Adds color and great flavor to soups, stir-fries and other dishes come winter.
  • Roast, peel and freeze. A great addition to soups, quiches, pasta, pizza, sandwiches and more all winter. Here's a quick tutorial on three different ways to roast peppers: https://toriavey.com/how-to/roasted-bell-peppers/
  • Roast, peel and pickle: https://www.freshpreserving.com/blog/pickled-roasted-peppers
    • I make pickled roasted peppers every year but use a brine recipe that doesn't call for much sugar or other spices: For 3.5 pounds of peppers (roated, peeled, cored and seeded), mix 1.75 cups white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar, 1Tbs sugar, 2 Tbs pickling salt, 1 garlic clove chopped. Simmer all together for 10 minutes before pouring over packed peppers in sterilized canning jars. Leave 1/2" headspace, close jars with hot canning lids and rings, and process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

It feels awkward to be talking about fire-roasted peppers on this apocalyptic day, when I woke up to the heavy news of so many Oregon, Washington and California towns and forests burned to the ground. Never has fire threat - and climate change - felt so close to home. Temperatures reached over 100 degrees on the farm yesterday, and we were cloaked in low heavy smoke. There was a fire scare up Floras Creek yesterday morning, attended by a bunch of Coos Forest Patrol trucks zooming up the road first thing. Fortunately it was a false alarm. But numerous friends had to evacuate their homes, from the North Bank of the Coquille to the Santiam to Ashland. Our hearts are big and broken thinking about the devastation that is sweeping through our state, and for our neighbors north and south of our state borders.

Yesterday as we labored through harvest under the suffocating skies, I felt a level of disappointment in our species like never before. This is our only planet, our only home, our only chance to be human, and yet we can't quite seem to turn the ship. We watch while the "house" burns down. What does it take for something as big as climate change to finally hit home for enough people that we reach a critical mass to change behavior, shift policy and foment change, and to do it fast? When you live here on the southcoast where the temperatures are amicable, the cool, damp fog is just off-shore, the forests are green, it's easy to think climate change is something that's happening somewhere else. It's hard to imagine our corner of the world engulfed in flames. But yesterday I could imagine it, and east of Bandon some of it was. 

Food and agriculture are major drivers of climate change and I applaud all of you for making the choice to eat locally and to eat lots of veggies (that are grown mostly with solar power, thanks to the 12 kW PV system on the roof of our barn). Twenty years ago my concern about the environment and climate change was one of the motivating factors that led me into organic, regenerative farming: I wanted to do something that was positive for the planet and good for my community. It's great that something delicious can make a difference, but at this point it's going to take more than a local salad to double down on atmospheric carbon. Yes, pile your plates high with plants grown close to home and start your car as little as possible, but also elect leaders who take the climate crisis seriously. And most importantly, hold on to stubborn, purposeful optimism. Because we won't turn the ship unless we believe we can, and will.

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 14 from Valley Flora!

Please note this is NOT our farmstand availability email. This is our weekly CSA newlsetter primarily intended for our subscribed Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly box of produce from the farm from June through December. You cannot order farmstand produce from this email or directly from our website. Rather, farmstand availability emails are sent out on Thursday and Monday mornings to folks who have signed up for Wednesday or Saturday pickup, respectively. To learn more or sign up for a farmstand pickup day, click here.

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Red Onion
  • Sweet Peppers - all the peppers in your share are sweet Italian types this week; no hot peppers....:)
  • Red Potatoes - the first dig of the season. I have a love-hate relationship with potatoes. I love growing them (it's something we do almost entirely with horses, from planting, to cultivating, to harvest, so therefore I wish we could grow 20 acres of potatoes!). But I hate all the sorting. When you grow potatoes, especially organically, there are a LOT of impefect ones - cracks, holes, scurf, funny knobs, insect damage, greening here and there. So many ugly little tubers that are pefectly fine on the inside but don't meet my produce beauty standards on the outside. I realize that I am perpetuating the supermodel myth of beauty, and that we all know it's what's on the inside that counts, but it's hard to liberate myself from my own vegetable pageant standards. It means we dump bin-fulls of the ugliest spuds, we donate a lot to the foodbank, and finally we try to skim the cream for you. That said, even some of the not-so-pretty ones get by us in the hustle of wash and pack. If that's the case with some of your potatoes this week, I am going to try to not apologize right now and instead encourage you to get out your veg peeler. If any of your spuds have a green spot, it's safe to cut or peel away that spot and still eat the potato. You wouldn't want to eat 5 lbs of greened potatoes in a sitting, but if you're cutting off a spot here and there you'll be fine (greening indicates the presence of solanine, a natural but toxic compound that develops in potatoes when exposed to the sun). You'll see potatoes in your share every few weeks now for the rest of the season. Which, by the way, is halfway over! This is week 14 of 28!
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Parsley

On Rotation:

  • Melon - We surprised our Bandon and Port Orford members last Saturday with a melon (and in fact, stumped one member who emailed me to say: "There's something in my share I don't recognize...it's round, dense, tan, and looks like a melon..."). Her hunch was right, this is "Sarah's Choice," a delicious cantaloupe-type melon that Abby grows for us. Supremely sweet and aromatic, we look forward to these all year!
  • Corn
  • Lettuce

Strawberries Still Peaking!

I can't believe I get to say this, but the strawberries are still pumping! What an amazing, quasi-miraculous late season we're having. Usually by now they're slowing down and We the Farmers are glad for it. But yesterday's harvest might just have been the best of the year. When the fruit is that beautiful and abundant it's hard to resent all the crawling on your knees ("oh please sir, can't I pick another row?). That being the case, I'm putting out the call (probably the last time) for special order flats. If you want some, give a holler via email with your name, pickup location, number of flats you want, and your phone number. Flats are $45 apiece delivered to your pickup site.

OR, come u-pick! The u-pick crowd has thinned out because no one thinks of September as strawberry season, but here at Valley Flora it's better than ever! Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11am to 2:30pm.

 

Pickling Cukes on the Horizon

Our late planting of pickling cukes has just begun to produce. I dont know what kind of yield to expect, but if you're interested in pickling, email me your name, pickup location, quantity (in 10# increments), and your phone number. If we have plenty we'll be offering 10 pound bulk bags for $30. They are a small, European-style gherkin, great for pickles or fresh eating.

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 13 from Valley Flora!

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Serrano & Jalapeño Peppers
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Corn

On Rotation:

  • Green Beans
  • Head Lettuce

All of this bounty at our fingertips all day long, and then there's this....

The Dirty Secrets of Organic Farmers (a new segment in your weekly CSA newsletter!)

Last week, my mom was deep into her 12th hour of a 14 hour workday, buried in tomatoes, her brain on the fritz from not eating all day, and she dug this gourmet gem of a lunch out of the freezer (left by a houseguest at least a year prior, nicely freezer-burned around the edges...). I walked into the barn at 7 pm for the final stretch of packout and had to take the picture.

Whatever you might imagine about organic farmers sitting around a big lunch table leisurely eating beautiful family-style meals bursting with seasonal produce, yeah, you can pretty much scrub that from your mental imagery. It's leftovers from the night before when you're lucky enough to have cooked plenty of extra quinoa, or it's quick quesadillas and some salad, or in this case, when things get really dark, it's freezer-burned pre-fab pizza that not even the dogs will try to steal off the table. 

We have often mused about the irony that attends this time of year, when we're buried in beautiful produce but don't have any time to cook with it (much less eat it): wouldn't it be great if some chef or inspired cook wanted to take a sabbatical, come camp out at the farm for a summer and make the crew a meal once a day with whatever was ripe in the field? Or in the very least, if we could just get a taco truck to pull up to the barn around 2 pm each day.....Meals on Wheels for farmers!

Ah well, in the meantime, we'll get by with the sweet pepper eaten at a trot in the farmroad while hustling to get the cilantro harvested before the heat of the day presses in. That, and of course, quesadillas.

Split Screen - What our CSA members are doing with their produce:

Bravo!!!!!!

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 12 from Valley Flora!

  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Red Cabbage
  • Sweet Corn!!!!! - Corn season kicks off this week! We have five successive plantings in the field, so expect to see sweet corn in your share pretty often for the next month+! I don't think you'll have too much trouble eating this much corn fresh in a week (or a day) - steamed, grilled, raw! - but if it's too much for you I suggest freezing it. You can either cut it off the cob and freeze it raw, or blanch it for a minute in boiling water and then cut if off and freeze it. I like to spread the cut corn out on cookie sheets and freeze it, then put it into freezer bags (so it's not a solid frozen block when you go to use it in the winter). 
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro

On Rotation:

  • Eggplant
  • Green Beans
  • Lettuce - Not everyone will get a head of lettuce this week. As the days shorten dramatically in August, our lettuce slows down and we usually have to hit pause for a week or two in order for our successive plantings to catch up. Once it resumes we should have weekly lettuce for you again well into November.

 

Onion Harvest!

This week we completed the harvest of our 2020 onion crop, a process that involves pulling them out of the ground, loading them into the trailer, hauling them to the greenhouse, and finally laying them out on our propagation tables to dry and cure. It was a beautiful year for onions! They got a great start this spring thanks to weekly rainfall in May and early June and ideal growing temps. Every square inch of greenhouse space that isn't dedicated to seedlings and starts is covered in onions now. Once the onion tops are crispy-dry, we'll start cleaning them: snipping off the tops and roots, sorting them by size into bins, and stowing them in our dry storage room. It's the first crop that begins to fill our fall/winter treasure chest of storage crops: onions, winter squash, potatoes. Look for some new varieties of onions in your Havest Basket soon: Cipollinis, yellow onions and red onions coming your way!

Have a great week! Thanks for eating VF produce!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 11 from Valley Flora!

In This Week's Harvest Basket:

  • Romano Green Beans - flat and wide and tender and deeeeeeelicious! Give them a light steam or sautee for maximal enjoyment (don't overcook!).
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli - monster heads!!!! And probably the last of the summer harvest, so enjoy. Until fall, Señor Broccoli! (Although this week's heads are so big you might still be gnawing away at yours come September...)

On Rotation:

  • Eggpant

Pickling Cucumber Update, Plus Beans, Plus Strawberries...

I've been getting lots of inquiries about pickling cukes this summer. We had a banner year in 2019, so it goes without saying that we would have a complete crop failure this summer. There are none to offer at the moment, HOWEVER, we replanted and with slightly better luck should have an abundance starting in September. I know that's probably later than many of you usually make pickles but if you're willing to wait we should have lots in about a month. That gives you plenty of time to round up your dill seed and pickling salt and crocks and canning jars. 

Green Beans are pumping and are available by special order in 10# bags at our wholesale price of $50. 'Tis the time for dilly beans, canned beans, frozen beans, or just eating a heap of beans. To order, email us your name, pickup location, the number of 10# bags you want and a phone number.

Strawberries are so lovely and abundant right now it's hard to stop picking on Tuesday and Friday! We're almost caught up with our special order list, so if you'd like to order some by the flat we can probably take care of you this month. Flats are $45 each. Email us your name, pickup location, the number of flats you'd like and a phone number.

A reminder to everyone to check labels carefully on special orders and on salad shares before you take them home. There have been some mix-ups in the past few weeks that could have been easily prevented by taking a few seconds to double check labels. Thanks for your help!

Enjoy the August abundance!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 10 from Valley Flora!

Week 10!

  • Onions
  • Fennel - at last! Our first planting intended for the CSA baskets in June succumbed to some weird foliar disease, so the fennel has been a long time coming this season. I'm a huge fan of fennel - which I know not to be true of every human on the planet - but it's one of my top ten favorite veggies. It has a mild anise flavor, wonderful cooked down or sliced thinly and eaten raw. The fat, juicy bulb is the main part of the plant we eat, but you can also use the ferny tops as an herb. This week you have all the farm ingredients you need to make finocchioa wonderful summer dish built around fennel, tomatoes, onions and basil. It stands alone, or you can eat it atop pasta, fish, polenta and more. We have a pretty broad collection of fennel recipes on our website if you want to branch out further.
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli/Broccolini
  • Eggplant - Just starting to yield in the field! 
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Green Beans

Beautiful Flowers and Handsome Roosters!

Zinnias, dahlias, statice, strawflowers, sunflowers, black-eyed susans and more! The flowers are in full bloom on the farm and open for u-pick on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting at 11 am while the strawberry u-pick is open. If you come to u-pick, you might even get to enjoy the company of our oh-so-social resident farm rooster, Robinson (aka Ricky Bobby). He's really more like a dog than a chicken: he follows at your heels, comes when called and likes to share your lunch. He showed up out of the blue at the farm in June and has stuck around, making himself comfy in our equipment shed. I hate to admit just how fond I've become of a rooster, but really, what's not to love about a chicken that likes to ride in the car, socialize over lunch, and look handsome in the moments in between...

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 9 from Valley Flora!

Please note to all our customers who are receiving this newsletter: this is NOT the list of available farmstand produce for the week. This weekly BeetBox newsletter is primarily aimed at our CSA Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly pre-paid tote of produce for our 28-week CSA season. There has been some confusion among folks who are trying to order farmstand produce from this email. Our weekly farmstand availability emails get sent out separately to everyone who has signed up for a farmstand drive-thru pickup day on our website. All that info - in case you want to source farmstand produce - is here. Thank you!

In the Harvest Basket this Week:

  • Broccoli
  • Chard
  • Carrots - Your carrots will likely be coming loose by the pound from now on. At a certain point in the season bunching gets slow and difficult because the carrot tops get weak. We dig fresh poundage for you every week and leave the tops in the field to feed the soil microbiota.
  • Cucumbers
  • Italian Parsley
  • Head Lettuce
  • Red Long of Tropea Torpedo Onions - a specialty onion from Italy that doesn't cure or store well, but is wonderful fresh! If you had a handful more of them you could set them up as bowling pins....:)
  • Strawberries - they're back!
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes - It's on in the tomatoes! Bets, mi madre, is the tomato farmer (she also grows your zukes, cukes, parsley, basil and peppers) and she is now officially neck deep in her busiest, heaviest season. By the way, a sidenote about my mom: she is a badass! She's in the second half of her seventh decade of life and she's still farming full bore, lugging heavy buckets of stunner produce out of the field all week. Thanks, Ma, for adding some bling to the CSA share this week!

On Rotation:

  • Cauliflower
  • Heirloom Tomatoes

Strawberry Update: Best Week Yet!

It's shaping up to be our best week of strawberries so far this season, with lots more on the way in the coming weeks. We're seeing an incredible flush of flowers and new fruit, which bodes well for abundant u-pick in August. We opened up more beds on the u-pick side of the patch this week, and anticipate being able to give even more over to u-pick soon. I wholeheartedly recommend making time to fill your freezer in the next few weeks while the picking is at its peak! The patch opens at 11 am, Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you're coming a long distance with high hopes of bringing home a big haul of berries, aim to arrive when we open.

 

The horses have been throwing their weight around in the field every week, doing their part to keep our crops well-cultivated and weed-free. We worked Jack single this week to get into some tight crops that are just about to close in - Brussels sprouts pictured here, as well as asparagus, artichokes, leeks, kale, chard, and more. Jack is a Belgian/Morgan crossbred, and hands-down the best horse I've ever had. He works beautifully in harness and is also just as willing to saddle up and hit the trail. He's a handsome devil, all heart, with a sense of humor to boot.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 8 CSA Newsletter!

In the Harvest Basket this Week:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Lettuce
  • Red Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli or Broccolini

On Rotation:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cauliflower

Flower U-Pick Opens this Week!

The flowers are coming into full bloom on the farm: dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias, statice, strawflowers and more! The public is welcome to u-pick on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the same hours we're open for strawberry u-pick (11 am until 3 pm, or until the strawberry patch is picked out). We have clippers available, but encourage you to bring your own buckets to keep your flowers fresh on the trip home. Check in with Sarah at the strawberry u-pick for clippers and to get directions to the flower patch.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 7 CSA from Valley Flora!

In the Harvest Basket this Week:

  • Dazzling Blue Lacinato Kale
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions - big, juicy and sweet!
  • Zucchini
  • Kohlrabi - the last of it until late fall...
  • Cilantro
  • English Cucumbers

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Cauliflower - purple or neon green

Strawberries on Pause this Week

Qué lástima (what a pity), our strawberries are having a minor hiccup right now. We're in the midst of an episode of Type III bronzing in some of our Seascapes: some of the fruit is rough, leathery and seedy, which renders it unmarketable. Type III bronzing is thought to occur after fruit exposure to environmental stress in the form of high heat (over 85 degrees), extreme solar radiation, and low humidity. We're seeing it in our youngest plants primarily, where the leafy canopy is not fully developed yet. It happens every year to some extent, but is particularly bad this week. I'm guessing the culprit was the week of hot weather we had in mid-June. It takes strawberries 4 to 6 weeks to transform from blossom to fruit, so the fruit that was just forming in mid-June is maturing into ugly seedy berries right now. Bummer. It means no strawberries in the share this week, but fingers crossed for a return to beautiful harvests in the coming weeks.

There isn't a lot of research on bronzing, and actually some controversy over whether it is caused by environmental factors or a pest called thrips. I have a call and an email in to the UC organic strawberry expert in Santa Cruz in hopes of shedding some more light on the issue. We did make an interesting observation yesterday during harvest, which was that the June-bearers, which have a huge leafy, protective canopy, show no sign of bronzing, and our most mature Seascapes have very little bronzing. However, the side of the strawberry patch that was planted latest last fall has the worst of it. It suggests that the timing of planting in the fall could make all the difference. We typically start planting our new strawberry crowns in November and finish up by mid-December. If getting them in the ground in November can prevent bronzing episodes the following summer, it argues for dedicating more labor to planting strawberries as early as possible in November. 

The good news is that the strawberry u-pick, which includes our June-bearing varieties and our most mature Seascapes, is mostly unscathed. So if you're desperate for some berries this week, venture out and experience strawberry harvest first-hand. The beds are somewhat limited right now, so plan to get there at 11 am if you have your heart set on filling a bunch of buckets.

Here's a quote I have always appreciated, as someone who has crawled countless miles picking strawberries in this lifetime:

Strawberries are too delicate to be picked by machine. The perfectly ripe ones bruise at even 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 about this before.  -- Alison Luterman, What We Came For

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 6 CSA from Valley Flora!

In the CSA Harvest Basket this Week!

  • Chard
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Purplette Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Hakurei Turnips

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Mini Cucumbers

Want More Food?!

If you're getting through your Harvest Basket each week and still wanting for more, remember there are a couple ways to source more produce directly from the farm:

  1. Strawberry U-Pick! Open every Wednesday and Saturday starting at 11 am at the farm. The berries are sweet and red now that our summer weather has arrived. Keep in mind we have some new u-pick systems in place this season due to COVID-19, so be sure to read up about the u-pick before you come.
  2. The Farmstand Drive-ThruDue to COVID, this spring we pivoted to a new pre-order, online farmstand system with drive-thru pick-up at our barn. We're using a customer-friendly online platform called Cropolis designed for small farms selling to local markets. There is no open-air, drop-in shopping this season. Instead you sign up for a farmstand drive-thru day - Wednesday and/or Saturday - on our website. Once you do that, you'll automatically start receiving our weekly farmstand availability emails and be able to place an order for drive-thru pickup. In addition to our produce, hot sauce and jam, you can also purchase Aguirre Farms local organic eggs, Farmstead Bread and Langlois Creamery sheep milk through our new system.

And, if it's too far for you to come to the farm, you can also find our produce at the Port Orford Community Co-op, the Langlois Market, Mother's Natural Grocery and Coos Head Food Co-op each week.

Thanks for eating locally!

Newsletter: 

Week 5 from Valley Flora!

In your Harvest Basket this week:

  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mini cukes
  • Beets - some members will get sweet red beets, others will get Chioggia beets (pink skin with a pink and white bulls-eye interior)

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Zucchini
  • Arugula
  • Mizuna - mizuna is a mild, light green, serrated Asian green - wonderful as a salad or alongside a slab of fish

A few quick notes about storing your produce and keeping it perky for as long as possible:

  1. Any leafy vegetable, like lettuce, herbs, bunch greens and baby greens, do best in the fridge in a sealed up plastic bag. They like it between 34 and 40 degrees with high humidity. Broccoli, broccolini and cauliflower are the same way. Best used in the first week.
  2. Root veggies like carrots and beets, and dense veggies like kohlrabi, store the longest if you take the tops off and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. They'll keep for months without tops, but won't taste as good 3 weeks from now as they do today. 
  3. Zucchini and cukes prefer life at around 50 degrees with some humidity, but who has their fridge set to 50?! Nobody, I hope! They'll go soft on the counter, so your best bet is to put them in the fridge in a plastic bag but use them within the week before they get slimy.
  4. Strawberries will last on your counter for a day or two, and will continue ripening as they sit there. However, you can get a lot more life out of them if you keep them in a tupperware in your fridge. Not that anyone is actually making it home with a full pint of strawberries....If you are, you probably don't have kids in the backseat :)

Farm Updates

  • NEW laminated checksheets are going out to all pickup locations this week! Please mark yourself off each week with the dry erase pen!
  • BULK BASIL by SPECIAL ORDER! Primo tops, no stem, $18/pound. Pesto-lovers rejoice! To order, email Bets your:
    • Name
    • Pickup location
    • How many pounds you want
    • Daytime phone number

Farming Improv

I have one regret about college and it's that I didn't take an improv class. At the time I had my schedule packed with other classes: fiction writing workshops, sustainable development in Latin America, ecological forest management, biology, econ, statistics...

The thing I've heard over and over from friends who did enroll in improv is that it was the most valuable class they took. My friend the labor organizer, my friend the OSU farm advisor, they swear that improv has served them in life more than any other course. Darn, I guess I really blew it in undergrad.

But good news, my Stanford alumni magazine came in the mail last month and had a whole spread about the "8 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Improv: How to apply just-go-with-it wisdom to your career, realtionships and well-being." The funny thing is, some of the guiding principles of improv have been guiding the management of the farm without me realizing they had anything to do with improv. Even better news: I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for the college credits!

  1. Pay Attention: Yup, keen observation is by far the most important skill for keeping a highly diversified farm like ours humming, and for averting occasional disaster. Everyday I'm paying attention to every detail, with eyes, ears and nose cocked to all the sensory information the farm is throwing at us - why is that row of cauliflower an imperceptibly lighter shade of green - is there fertility stress? Why is the pump cycling so often - do we have a leak somewhere in the mainline? How big are the newly budding broccoli crowns and what's the weather forecast and should we pick them today or will they hold until Friday?
  2. Don't Go it Alone: It's all about working together - one giant spontaneous choreography each day to get all the work done between dawn and dusk on the farm. We're all leaning on each other to pull off a successful season, and the energy of every single person on our crew is essential.
  3. Trust that the Scene Will Evolve: Things are in constant flux on the farm, so extremely seasonal is our model of production. It helps to remember that one setback - like symphylans in the spring Brassicas - will give way to some other success, like beautiful June carrots. We are never stuck in one failure for too long, the failures teach us how to be better farmers, and in the end the diversity of the farm carries us through. 
  4. Stay Positive: It's easy to think it's the end of the world, but it never is. The glass-half-full mindset is the place where we proactively solve problems on the farm. The pressure tank exploded? OK, I guess that means it's time to replace it, build a better pumphouse, and plumb the system smarter than we did the first time.
  5. Accept the Offer: Saying "yes" to whatever is going on at the farm lubricates the wheels of creative innovation. COVID-19 means we can't run our farmstand? OK, Coronavirus, we'll turn it into a drive-thru!
  6. The Journey is the Thing: "what makes improvisers so good at creating something out of nothing isn't as much about what they do as it is about how they do it..." We farm because we love this place, we love working together as a family, we love to eat well, and we believe in organic, regenerative agriculture and it's ability to transform communities - from the living community in our gut microbiome all the way up to how humanity interacts with this planet. Yeah, it's about growing carrots, but it's also about a whole lot more.

My advice to you this week: say yes to beets! Accept the offer (even if you are sure you don't like beets), stay positive (they really might taste good!), don't go it alone (share them with friends), trust that the scene will evolve (i.e. you won't get beets next week!), and know that the journey is the thing (you tried them and confirmed for yourself that you really still do not like beets so you decided to carve them into stamps for your kids and you made really cool vegetable art).

A+!!!

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 4 from Valley Flora!

Happy official summer! It arrived with a bang this week, with temps in the mid-eighties at the farm the past couple of days - dreamy weather for all the eggplant and squash and corn and beans and tomatoes and melons; a little less dreamy for all the sweaty farmers. Grateful to have legs that can march me down to the creek and throw me into the drink late-afternoon!

In your share this week:

  • Red Ursa Kale - at last! Our new plantings of kale and chard are hitting full stride now, which means we can finally leave the bitter taste of spring symphylans crop failure behind us. Red Ursa is an heirloom variety that I love for it's beautiful colors and tender leaves, and it's a great variety to use for kale chips. One of our farmstand customers is a kale chip fiend and she shared her recipe, below, with me. If you don't have a food dehydrator, you can also make kale chips in your oven on low heat: https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-kale-chips/
  • Bunch Carrots
  • Mini Cucumbers - a little sampler of our favorite early mini-cuke. Not enough to make a dish, but enough to get you excited about cucumber season to come!
  • Abby's Spinach
  • Basil
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Radishes
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Fava Beans - the big, fat green pods in your tote are fresh favas. This is one of the not-so-common things we grow for you and the season is fleeting. You'll likely only see favas this week and maybe next week. They're a delightful fresh bean but they take a little effort to prepare, which is why I consider them a "weekend" food - one of those things that I'll cook when I have the luxury of a little more time. Ideally it's also one of those things you dig into with a bunch of friends - sit around and shell favas and talk story - but that might not be in the cards this COVID season. So....maybe shell favas while visiting friends on Zoom...? That's how I got 40 pounds of artichoke hearts preserved earlier this spring, in the Zoom company of college buddies around the country. If you're new to favas here's how to prepare them: https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/how-to-prepare-fava-beans-gallery

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Snap Peas

 

Cory's Kale Chips

2 bunches kale

Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup tahini 
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or 3/4 if you're a salt fiend like me)

Remove all main stalks from the kale and cut leaves into large pieces. Wash and dry the pieces in a salad spinner so they're fully dry. Make sure they're fully dry.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together.

If you don't have a mixing bowl big enough for all the kale pieces, use a stock pot to toss them with the dressing until all the pieces are evenly coated. This process takes several minutes, using both hands.

Lay out the coated leaves on the food dehydrator trays and set to 135 degrees. For really crispy kale chips, eave them in for 18-24 hours, but best to check on them after 8 hours and play it by ear from there. 

 

The 2020 Valley Flora Crew!

It's high time you met the team that's growing, packing and delivering your food this season! Pictured left to right:

Sarah Snow and Allen Williams joined us this season after 7 years farming in Idaho and Hawaii. Sarah has the hardest job on the farm: keeping track of all four of our kids during the week, along with helping with harvest and running the U-Pick. Allen is a core part of of our harvest and field crew and is in charge of Saturday deliveries. He is also regularly called upon to reach for anything stored up in the stratosphere. We feel so lucky to have these two in our midst!

Bets, Cleo, Zoë, Abby, Jules, Pippin, Uma & Roberto in a not-so-social-distanced clump in the middle. Yes, that's Cleo stuffing her face with homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie. The kids got really into baking during "homeschool" this past spring, which is paying sweet dividends on Fridays now - they've been baking Friday treat for the whole crew. In this picture, taken last Friday, we were celebrating Roberto's birthday! Roberto has been part of Valley Flora since 2010, and what beautiful decade it's been! Roberto has thrown himself into the farm heart and soul and helped make Valley Flora what it is today. 

Jen Faraci on the far right, sporting the latest Valley Flora washline fashion (you wouldn't believe how that neon orange brings out the green in her eyes!). Jen joined us this spring and wears multiple essential hats at the farm: greenhouse manager, field and harvest crew, Wednesday deliveries. She says she's wanted to work for Valley Flora for years so she could get a free VF baseball hat. Mission accomplished. Might have to get some new merch made so we can bribe her to stay forever.

Not pictured is Donna Smith, who is running the farmstand drive-thru this season. Hats off to Donna for taking on a brand new, logistically complicated system and making it run smoothly - with a smile! A round of applause!

This little farm wouldn't chug along without this team working together. And speaking of teams, there are a two more members of the crew who pull a lot of weight around here:

Enjoy the food, have a great week!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

CSA Week 3 from Valley Flora!

In your share this week!

  • Strawberries
  • Kohlrabi - a green one and a purple one. If you're new to kohlrabi, it's the bulbous thing with the up-do of leaves. Cut the tops off and then peel the bulb with a sharp knife or good veggie peeler. It's juicy and crunchy inside, a little bit like jicama. I prefer it raw, but you can also add it to stir fries and other dishes. My five year old goes nuts for it cut up into veggie sticks. Douse it with chili and lime if you like it ala Mexicana!
  • Head lettuce
  • Bunch carrots
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Hakurei Turnips - the white roots that look like big radishes. These are a Japanese salad turnip, and pretty much the only turnip I grow because they're so dang good. Munch them like apples, or slice up on your salad. Buttery and tender. If you want an even more refined flavor, peel them.
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow onion

On Rotation:

  • Red mustards greens, bunched - lacey maroon leaves, eat raw or cooked - has a little kick!
  • Tatsoi, bunched - dark green spoon-shaped leaves, eat raw or cooked.
  • Braising mix, bagged - a mix of Abby's baby kale and mustard greens
  • Spinach, bagged - Abby's succulent baby spinach

The Color of Food

Tucked up Floras Creek it's easy to feel far removed from the headlines, from COVID hotspots and urban riots. It's easy to feel like race is not a pressing topic in our quiet, rural (mostly white) community. But this week I found myself really giving that more thought. I recently got my stimulus check in the mail and wanted to donate it to an organization doing good work on racial justice, ideally somewhere close to home. But what I realized is that there aren't any organizations that I know of to give that money to right here in Curry County. Is that because race is "not an issue," or rather is it because race has been such an issue - for so long - that we haven't even gotten to the point of addressing race constructively in our little corner of Oregon? 

I learned for the first time this year about Oregon's Exclusion Law of 1844: a law that banned Black people from living in Oregon. Another black exclusion law was enacted in 1849 that made it illegal for Blacks to to enter or reside in Oregon territory. It meant that when Oregon became a state in 1859 it was the ony state in the Union with a black exclusion law on the books, which was expanded to prohibit Black people from owning property and making contracts. These laws remained in place until 1926. Even though the same racist sentiment pervaded all of the U.S., Oregon was the only place bold enough to write it down. That wasn't part of my Oregon history class in high school.

My mom has an old letter written by a Civil War veteran who moved here in 1885, Samuel T. Malehorn. He settled on Floras Creek and started a fruit farm and nursery on the land where Valley Flora now sits. In 1896 he sent a letter to a friend and fellow war vet, encouraging him to move to the area:

"It is all timber, light and heavy, rolling land, well watered, productive, all of it adaptive to good fruit. I am 4 miles from the beach, which is about right, 15 miles north of Port Orford. There are still good choices for homesteaders near me...Deeded lands can be bought from $5 to $40 per acre now. 40 acres is enough for a family to live on. You can build your houses with one cedar tree by hand. Fish and game everywhere. There is no poisonous reptiles or insects, you can lay out under a tree anywhere safely. It is blessed and glorious country, the best in the U.S."

I've always loved that letter - such an affirmation of this place where we live and farm - but this week I realized another significance of that letter. Samuel Malehorn was a white man, inviting a fellow white comrade of the 29th Regiment to come to Oregon. He could live here - and so could his white friend - because they were white. They had access to cheap homesteads - and therefore land and the means of production - where Black people didn't. Oregon's historic racist exclusion laws set us on a course that put property ownership - and power - into the hands of white folks only. 

This history is no doubt part of the reason that your farmers here at Valley Flora are white, not black - why my family "owns" this land, not a Native American family or an African American family or a Chinese family or Latino family. We are standing on and supported by the very big, broad shoulders of institutionalized, systemic racism.

That's uncomfortable. And it's high time to be uncomfortable, since most of us probably don't have a clue what it's like to be really uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable, as in not able to breathe because a cop is kneeling on your neck because your skin is not white.

It's hard to know what to proactively do with this heavy realization, especially in June when most of my bandwidth is occupied with beating back the weeds, harvesting peas, and planting seeds left and right. But this morning I did something that felt really good. At the recommendation of a friend who has worked on racial justice issues for decades, I donated my $1200 stimulus check to the Movement for Black Lives Fund, a coalition that's made up of over 150 organizations that are working to coordinate actions, messages and campaigns for the Black Lives Matter Movement nationwide, and to funnel resources to frontline organizing efforts where they're needed most: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/movement-4-black-lives-1

Martin Luther Kind, Jr. said, "Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see." It's time to see what's behind the shadow.

Newsletter: 

Week 16 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Beets
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes

On Rotation:

  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Chard
  • Head Lettuce
  • Sweet Corn

Weather Whiplash

Wellllllll, I didn't go horsepacking last week after all....we had to cancel due to extreme fire danger, smoke and heat in the mountains (99 degrees at the farm last Friday while we were harvesting, oof!). BUT, we are making a second attempt this week, leaving in a few hours. The only thing is, the weather has done a flip-flop and as of this morning I found myself stuffing my saddlebags with extra long underwear, down booties, mittens - and jettisoning the bathing suit and shorts. The forecast has taken a 50 degree swing in the direction of polar, and for the first time since last spring the NOAA forecast is making mention of snow level in the Cascades (6100' to be exact, which might make for a nippy horse trippy). The only conundrum, should I bring the bathing suit after all, in case we want to do this.....?

Meanwhile here at sea level, all of you will be enjoying an absolute rainbow plethora of September havest abundance! It's one of those weeks when the CSA totes buckle under all that heft if we stack them too high. Live it up, eat like kings and queens, and I'll catch up with ya'll next week! Hi-yo, Silver, away!

 

Newsletter: 

Week 15 CSA from Valley Flora!

Hi everyone!

The CSA newsletter is going out a couple days early this week because I'm sneaking off the farm for a horsepacking trip in the Jefferson Wilderness. I'll be gone Wednesday 9/7 through next Monday 9/12, but never fear - you are in fabulous farming hands! The food will be delivered as usual thanks to the all-star crew that keeps this place humming.

This week's share will likely include:

  • Bunch Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Leeks - our first harvest of the season!
  • Hot Peppers
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

On Rotation:

  • Sweet corn
  • Eggplant
  • Dill
  • Cilantro

Many of our returning CSA members will remember that I took my draft horses, Jack and Lily, on a maiden ultralight horsepacking voyage last summer with my dear friend, Laura (who also uses draft horses to grow food for lots of CSA members in the Willamette Valley). We did an epic trip in the Trinity Alps last July and had so much fun that we finagled a second trip in September 2021, exploring Indian Heaven Wilderness near Mt. Adams. It's a mandatory tradition now, so this week we're heading up to Mt. Jefferson to ride into some new terrain astride the big ponies. The wild blueberries are likely to be ripe, the mosquitoes should be gone, and the forecast is for clear skies. With any luck it'll be as magical as last year's adventures...

The farm crew will be checking email in my absence if you need to communicate, and hopefully when you get the next newsletter on Wednesday, September 14th, it'll be full of new pics from Mt. Jefferson.

Happy Labor Day!

Newsletter: 

Week 14 CSA from Valley Flora

  • Bunch Carrots - hooray, they're back!
  • Cucumbers
  • Curly Parsley
  • Head Lettuce
  • Red Onion
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes (yes, plural - it appears our request effigies are working!)
  • Sweet Corn 

On Rotation:

  • Eggplant

Field Notes, Food Notes

The sweet corn is starting to come in heavy as we shift into our main plantings of "Allure," a big-eared bicolor that reliably sets two fat ears per plant. We use a special vinyl harvest backpack for picking corn: imagine a giant, semi-rigid, square bag with backpack straps, me snapping ripe ears of corn from the rows right and left, then tossing them over my shoulder into the open maw of the backpack. I can fit about 60 ears of Allure into the bag before gravity threatens to pin me and my 80 pound cargo to the ground, at which point I trek the load out of the field to the flatbed, count twenty ears into each bin, and dive back into the cornfield for the next load. Ladybugs are omnipresent during this process, feasting happily on the aphids that like to congregate on the outer husks of the corn. I try to shake the mariquitas off and leave them in the field where they can continue their good work as beneficial predators, but some always find their way into the totes. If that's the case with your corn this week, release your ladybugs into some outdoor greenery so they can find their next meal.

The return of our orange Nantes carrots brightened up the CSA share this week, and it also made the day for Juno, Millie, Peach and Gracie. This is testament to the power of a dog's nose: all of them were up at the house, a couple hundred yards away and out of sight from the barn. Roberto started washing carrots - the first big batch of sweet orange Nantes he's washed since June - and within five minutes all of the farm dogs were lurking about the wash table, begging. They spent the rest of their afternoon at the barn eating culls. Turns out the canines missed them as much as we have.

Enjoy your orange candy carrots this week and the rainbow eating of late summer! Happy Labor Day!

Newsletter: 

Week 13 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Sweet Corn
  • Red Dragon Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • A Tomato
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Head Lettuce

On Rotation

  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Peppers

One Single Tomato: A Request Effigy

When I was a kid my step-dad had a dog named Marlene. She was part Basset Hound, part Electrolux: a big spotted tube of a dog with 3" legs, the most velvety-soft Basset ears, and beautiful black eyeliner around her doleful eyes. She loved to lie behind the woodstove, stretched out like a queen on her tuffet, until her speckled coat was too hot to touch. She also considered herself a lap dog, even though she weighed close to 70 pounds with a body as big and dense as a huge Lab. But despite all her domestic habits - some of them stupendously manipulative - she had a penchant for roaming. John, my step-dad, spent a large percentage of his years with Marlene searching for her, waiting for her, hoping for her return from her various forays. He was a runner in those days and would take Marlene out to Floras Lake to put in miles on the trails towards Blacklock. Inevitably her long snout would get onto a game trail and, despite her stubby legs, she'd disappear in a flash - usually for hours. The routine that followed went like this: John would finish his run, get back to the car, and then sit there in the day-use parking lot waiting for her until she returned, often around dark. He's a patient guy.

One winter day, though, she didn't return. It got dark, he waited awhile longer and still no dog. A storm was blowing in and John was reluctant to leave her at large, but he also knew she'd survived multi-day hound dog benders before and had started her life as a street dog. She was savvy and resilient. He finally gave up and made his retreat, windshield wipers sloshing furiously. This was before the new footbridge was built spanning the outlet to Floras Lake and overnight it rained so hard that the lake flooded and the makeshift crossing to the beach and trails washed out. John went back at daybreak and spent another day waiting for her in the parking lot, unable to cross the torrent - to no avail. The rain kept coming and the waters kept rising. He came home despondent, at which point my very proactive, type A mother - feeling exasperated about his passivity - asked him: "Aren't you going to DO something to find your dog?!" Then she went back to adding a new wing onto the house, or somesuch incredibly productive endeavor. (Uh, do you sense an interesting dynamic here?).

Meanwhile, John shuffled around the house and rounded up a bunch of old toilet paper rolls. When my mom came back into the house hours later John was playing guitar and there was a papier mache effigy of Marlene sitting on the tuffet behind the wood stove.

She considered it a moment, then said, "Ya und?"

"It's a request effigy," said John. "I want her to come back so I made that." 

At which point my mom couldn't hold it back: she burst out laughing. And she also got on the phone (this is the days before the internet, before Facebook, before everyone knows your dog is lost before you do). She called around locally and picked up a few leads, which eventually led them to a trailer in Port Orford a few days later. John knocked on the front door and when it opened, low and behold there was Marlene. She glanced at him, then went right back to gnawing on the pork chop that her new family had cooked for her. Ever the operator.

This week's one, single tomato is a request effigy: put it on your counter so it can finish ripening, while saying out loud: "I want more of these." 

It worked for John.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 12 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Head Lettuce (good luck fitting some of those heads into a normal plastic bag - you might have to find a garbage bag instead....:)
  • Walla Walla Sweets
  • Fingerling Potatoes - dense, nutty, excellent roasted. Fingerlings are starchier than other potato varieties, so they are well suited to high heat in the oven, rather than steaming or boiling.
  • Strawberries 
  • Zucchini
  • Rainbow Chard

On Rotation:

  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Corn - with any luck, it's looking like we'll have our first harvest on Friday for our Saturday members! Wednesday members will see it next week!

Pop Quiz:

Tiny strawberry or giant beet?

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 11 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Kale - Red Ursa or Green Curly
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions!
  • Serrano Hot Pepper
  • Zucchini
  • Red Beets
  • Fennel

On Rotation

  • Broccoli - winding down for the summer, more to come in the fall
  • Eggplant - winding up for the season, very slowly

At Last! Flower U-Pick is Open and Summer Solanums are on the Horizon...Someday!

I've decided we need a theme song for this season, so no better pick than Jesse Lawrence's "Better Late then Never." If, like me, you dig soul. 

Across the board, our crops are lagging about three weeks behind normal, including our flowers. We were finally able to open up the flower patch to u-pick last Saturday now that the zinnias, sunflowers, rudbeckia, yarrow, strawflowers and nigella are in full bloom. We lost some of our dahlias to rot this very wet spring (wah!), and many of the plants are delayed, but little by little they are rebounding and we're starting to see more color in the beloved dahlia bed. We also have some trial dianthus in the ground this year - old-timey, divinely-scented riffs on carnations in beautiful shades of peach, cream, burgundy, and pink. It's been fun to watch the first blooms slowly crack open their tight, grey-green buds and fill the air with their unbelievable, heady perfume. I anticipate they'll be in peak bloom the next couple of weeks. If you come to pick flowers on a Wednesday or Saturday, swing in at the strawberry u-pick shack to get a pair of clippers and a PVC tube. We sell flowers by the tube: a small tube is $3.50, a large tube is $9. It's always a good idea to bring a bucket to carry your flowers home in so they don't wilt in transit. Also, please be mindful in the flower patch and don't push through the plants to cross to a different row; it snaps the branches off, tips the plants over, breaks stems, and does damage to the flowers. Take it slow and go around, or look for a gap to cross through. Also please don't cross the white rope fence; we have variety trials underway on the far side of our sunflowers and don't want folks trampling through them. Thanks!

We finally saw our first eggplant harvest this week - a shy offering, given that we would normally be putting eggplant in all the CSA totes by now (along with tomatoes and early peppers). Ironically, in this day and age of scorching heat domes, our coastal weather tends to shift in the opposite direction: greyer, cooler, more days socked in under the marine layer. That, combined with the slow, cold start to the season has put off our heat-loving Solanaceous crops like eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. The peppers and tomatoes look fantastic and are loaded with unripe fruit, so it might be one of those years where it's all about tomatoes in September instead of August and the avalanche of peppers in October instead of September. Hopefully! Sweet corn, also late, is tasseling so I think we'll have our first pick within the next two weeks. We plant five successions of corn so that we can keep it coming from August through September. Make sure you stock up on butter, cuz the corn rolling is about to begin!

And because all we really do on the farm is horse around, another shot from my favorite perch on the stradderow cultivator: Jack and Lily cultivating the new fall Brassica field, with the intrepid crew in the background tackling our weekly transplanting (look at that form!! - hinged at the hips, strong straight backs, wide-legged power stance, we're talking ATHLETES, not just farmers, people!). Lots of fall and winter cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and romanesco going into the ground right now - setting the stage for late season bounty!

 

Newsletter: 

Week 10 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Collard Greens
  • Basil
  • Head Lettuce
  • New Potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Sunflower Shoots
  • Purplette Onions

Basil is Still Cranking!

If you haven't stocked your freezer with pesto for wintertime, there's still time! CSA members are invited to place a special order for delivery to your pickup site. To Order:

Email your name, phone number, CSA site and desired quantity to: betsharrison@gmail.com

Available in 1 pound bags, no limit. $22/lb

Land Use, Affordable Housing and the Farm

One of the things that makes Oregon so special is our land-use planning system, which celebrates its 50th birthday next year. It's arguably the most forward-thinking land use system in the country, with strict laws designed to protect farm and forest lands, to prevent sprawl by establishing urban growth boundaries, and to create a process for smart, controlled growth. It was born into law in 1973 through Senate Bill 100, out of concern that Oregon was quickly heading in the direction of our neighbor to the south, California, which was undergoing rapid transformation as urban and suburban sprawl wiped out farmland and changed the landscape forever. Senate Bill 100 is why to this day Oregon still looks different. 

I took it for granted during my childhood, but when I fledged and began living in other places - Massachusetts, Minneapolis, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Salinas Valley - and traveling to lots of U.S. states (Illinois, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, Montana, Alaska, North Carolina, Virginia, Utah, and more!), I began to notice how heartbreakingly different those landscapes were compared to Oregon. Cities and towns spilled outward onto farmland in the form of messy, ugly sprawl. Tracts of beautiful ranchland were chopped up into 5 acre hobby farms (Montana's stunning Flathead Valley being one of the more painful landscapes for me to spend time in). Outside of Chicago, some of the world's richest soil was buried under miles of subdivisions, never to be farmed again. Each time I came home to Oregon it became more and more clear to me how unique our state was, how beautiful it was, and how grateful I was for good land use planning. Sidenote: If you want to learn more about the history and evolution of Oregon's pioneering land use approach, OPB is doing a series leading up to the 50th annivesary of Senate Bill 100. The first two installments are available to listen to, or read: 

https://www.opb.org/article/2022/07/15/oregon-land-use-laws-willamette-valley-farms-urban-development-commercial-farmers-crops/

https://www.ijpr.org/politics-government/2022-07-23/inside-the-fight-between-oregon-leaders-to-create-a-revolutionary-growth-management-system

Protecting working landscapes is not just about aesthetics, though. Keeping farmland intact and contiguous helps keep farming viable. If you break it up, the long term effect is the slow erosion of entire farming communities: as farms disappear, so do the businesses that farmers rely on like mechanics, feed stores, tractor supply stores, and more. Our zoning helps keep our greater farming ecosystem alive and well.

But as Oregon continues to grow, our land use laws face increasing pressure. The more people that move here - and LOTS of people are moving here (retirees, climate refugees, work-from-home Wi-Fiers) - the more housing we need. I've never seen so much new construction here in all of my four+ decades. But even with all those nail guns rat-a-tat-tatting, framing up new walls, putting on new roofs, there's a big shortage of affordable housing in Curry County. Rents and home prices continue to climb, outstripping what working class families can afford. It's become the biggest challenge for the farm: how to recruit new hires when they won't be able to afford to live here. Such a problem, in fact, that we are losing an employee because of it, and were turned down by numerous qualified candidates last winter when we were recruiting. It's a problem that plagues a lot of the other backbone businesses in the area as well - restaurants, grocery stores, service jobs of all kinds. 

In July the Curry County Planning Commission voted unanimously to make some significant changes to county zoning, ostensibly to address the lack of affordable housing in our area. The changes would allow for ADUs and higher density use in certain areas. Although I generally tend to think that thoughtful urban infill is a good development approach (far better than breaking up farmland and working landscapes with 5 acre ranchettes), there hasn't been much community input in this process and there are problems with the changes. One of the biggest issues is that these new zoning laws would allow any new additional housing to be used for short term/vacation rentals. That most definitely does NOT solve our housing crisis in Curry County. For this community to thrive in a meaningful way - supported solidly by the people who change your oil, bag your groceries, make your sandwich, pump your gas, and - I daresay - grow your food, we need affordable housing for the folks who are trying to live and work here, not just more AirBnb's.

The Curry County Commissioners will vote on these new zoning changes at their August 17th meeting. If you want to learn more, you can review the proposed changes by reviewing the docket from the July 21st Planning Commission meeting here: https://www.co.curry.or.us/government/planning_commision/index.php#revize_document_center_rz2436

You can read comments submitted by concerned citizens here: 

https://cms6.revize.com/revize/currycountyor/document_center/planning%20commision/2022%20Meetings/July%2021,%202022/ZOA-2022.1%20Comments%20-%20July%2021-2022%20PC%20Meeting.pdf
 
And you can also check out the 100 Friends of Port Orford blog for more background info: 

https://100friendsofportorford.org/
 

And you can always write a good old-fashioned letter to our county commissioners to voice your concerns!

Zoning is the most fundamental thing that affects the character and livability of this place we love so much. Over the past 50 years, Oregon's land use system has only survived because people have continued to fight for it. After all - no good thing ever came easy.

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 9 CSA from Valley Flora

  • Broccoli
  • Red Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Head Lettuce
  • Purplette Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini

Bulk Basil Available by Special Order!

Pesto Lovers! The Basil is abundant and you are invited to place a special order for delivery to your CSA pickup site! To Order:

Email your name, phone number, CSA site and desired quantity to: betsharrison@gmail.com

Available in 1 pound bags, no limit. $22/lb

Yum!

Carrots and Climate Change

It pains me to announce that starting this week VF carrots will be on pause for the next month. Normally those sweet, crunchy delights are a weekly staple in our CSA, from mid-June until the bitter end in December. But this spring we lost four consecutive carrot seedings to heavy rains and voracious slugs throughout April, May and early June. It was a major blow, since carrots are one of our most important and iconic crops on the farm. We've rationed our only bed for CSA and farmstand this past month and disappointed our wholesale customers mightily. But as of this week, we officially harvested the last of that planting and our next beds probably won't be ready until late August.

Fortunately our carrot beds have been germinating spectacularly since mid-June as conditions have become more hospitable to those tiny, slow-growing seeds (less mud, fewer slugs), but it takes about 60-80 days to get a carrot from seed to harvest. Hence, for the next few weeks carrots will be notably absent in your tote (nothing like having to buy a bag of old supermarket carrots to boost your appreciation of the fresh-dug, homegrown ones!).

In all the years I've been growing food, I've never experienced a carrot crop failure like this one. The weather this past spring was unlike anything I've farmed through over the past 20 years and posed some extreme challenges for us and for farmers around the state. When all was said and done, we had a lot to be grateful for on Floras Creek compared to many farmers in the Willamette Valley. We were able to find little windows of opportunity to get plants and seeds into the ground, but conditions were far from perfect. Meanwhile, a good friend of mine who runs a CSA near Salem was unable to plant ANYTHING until June, putting her 2 months behind and forcing her to cancel a few weeks of her CSA in June. As the weather gets more extreme - scary dry last year starting in April, crazy wet this year starting in April - she's wondering if it's time to throw in the towel and be done with the stressful rollercoaster. Farming has never been easy, but climate change is making it all the more tenuous and unpredictable.

Our carrots are the climate change casualty du jour at Valley Flora. It's disappointing at the kitchen table level, but indicative of something much, much more serious and heartbreaking at the global level. Is it possible that those carrots - or the absence of them - might be one of many sparks to help us tip towards solving our climate crisis?

Newsletter: 

Week 8 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Beets - red or chioggia, depending on location. Don't forget that beet greens are 100% edible and tasty, too. Like chard!
  • Carrots
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Basil

Eating Summer, Planting for Winter

While the summer food begins to ramp up in your Harvest Basket (cukes! zukes! basil! beets!), our field activities - apart from harvest - are actually primarily focused on fall and winter crops right now. For the past month+ we've been doing weekly greenhouse seedings of all kinds of cool-weather varieties: Brassicas like broccoli, romanesco, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi, plus chicories, overwintering onions and more. Two weeks ago we began transplanting out the first wave of starts into our "Fall Brassica" field, and we have another month ahead of us of sizable weekly plantings. Our big planting push is usually done by mid-August, with some smaller plantings peppered into the schedule until October. This sets the stage for all of our fall and winter production, the food that will see us through until next spring in combination with storage crops like potatoes, onions and squash. 

And speaking of storage crops, they're looking good! The potato field is verdant and almost done flowering, with the first new potatoes sizing up underground. You should see the first potatoes in your share sometime in early August. After a slow start through chilly June, our squash field has finally taken off - a tangle of vines and flowers that are underseeded with red clover this year. We're experimenting with early establishhment of a red clover cover crop in the understory so that our fall cover crop is already in place, ready to grow wild once the squash vines die back in September. And while we don't expect it to be a bumper onion year like last year, the beds are looking fine and you should see your first bunch of Purplette onions in your share next week, followed by Italian torpedo onions and Walla Walla Sweets! 

Because of the weather, our outdoor crops are at least a couple weeks behind this season, from dahlias to peas to onions to zucchini. I suppose the upshot of late-blooming is that we get to feel that eager anticipation of so many good things still to come for an extra couple weeks. In my intuitive body - the one that judges season by the temperature of the creek and the color of the hills and the amount of water still trickling through that one culvert on the curves a mile up Floras Creek Road -  it feels more like late June than the third week of July, and our current crop mix confirms that. Maybe I'll just throw my calendar out for good, cuz what really marks time more than that day you eat your first homegrown tomato of the summer? (For me, a single sungold cherry tomato savored on July 14th, a lovely birthday present.)

Have a good week, eat your beets!

 

Newsletter: 

Week 7 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Carrots
  • Fennel
  • Head Lettuce
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Strawberries
  • Cilantro

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Red Ursa Kale
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini

Fennel!!!

One of my favorite vegetables is finally here this week! Like many things on the farm this season, this first harvest is a few weeks later than usual due to our chilly spring weather. For those of you who have never eaten fennel, here's a little context: in all these years of running the CSA, fennel seems to be one of those black and white vegetables, where people either love it or decide to hate it. I like to say "decide to hate it" because there is a study they did with kids that shows it can take 20 tries for someone to learn to like a new food. We saw that happen with our 11-year old, who hated mushrooms. I'm not one to cater to picky eating habits in the kitchen, so after enough bowls of mushroom-studded risotto and sauteed chanterelles, one day she suddenly realized she loved mushrooms. Which could happen to you if you're in the anti-fennel camp!

Here's a mouth-watering collection of recipes to lend some inspiration. It's pretty meat-heavy, so if you're not a carnivore this set of vegetarian recipe ideas might be more up your alley.

I hope loving fennel is easy for you. We grow successions of it, so you'll see it again a few times this season - hopefully enough that you can learn to love it if you don't already.

Newsletter: 

Week 6 from Valley Flora!

  • Cone Cabbage - the sweetest, most tender variety we grow
  • Broccoli
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Purple and Orange Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Head Lettuce - some of them VERY large (don't be frightened, Coos Bay members!)
  • Strawberries

On Rotation:

  • Basil
  • Cilantro

Early July is, and always has been, one of my favorite fleeting moments on the farm. In a wet year like this, it's the straddle point between spring and summer - when all the world is still lush and green and growing, but also blooming and starting to set fruit. We're still in that moment of pregnant anticipation: tying up tomato plants (which double in height every week), thinning orchard fruit, and hilling potatoes in full bloom (it's more flower field than spud patch right now!). It's like the week before your birthday, which is so much more fun than the day after your birthday. Right now the entire farm is scented by an insane profusion of kiwi blossoms, the songbirds are talking non-stop from dawn to dusk (who needs podcasts at this time of year!?), and you can sense the imminent avalanche of zucchini presaged by countless neon blossoms in the summer squash patch. 

Spring-sown cover crops are head high - so tall and tangled that I can only advance the tractor at a creep as I flail mow, returning all that biomass back to the soil. The oats, flowering vetch, and red clover that I seeded in this field a few months ago are now served up as a feast for all the soil microorganisms below ground, which are the tiny, microscopic engines of our enterprise.

They are to thank for the rich soil organic matter that is underwriting the historic strawberry crop we're experiencing this year. Yesterday while we picked for CSA and our other accounts, we were pulling upwards of 9 flats from every row (3 to 4 is considered a good yield)! The plants are so loaded they look more like broody hens sitting on clutches of shiny, red eggs. If you want to special order strawberries by the flat, I am starting to put names on my list. I can't promise when we'll have them for you, but will contact folks as they become available. Email us your name, pickup location, phone number (ideally a number I can text), and the quantity of flats you'd like. Flats are comprised of 12 dry pints and are $50 each, delivered to your CSA pickup site. In the meantime, you can order them through our farmstand by the pint or full flat.

The cover crops we sow also provide important habitat for all kinds of other creatures on the farm, this one being my all-time favorite...

We've seen an amazing number of baby tree frogs all over the farm this year, spread out across cover-cropped fields as well as fields sown to cash crops. Every time I encounter one it's sheer delight and I stop everything t0 move them out of harm's way. And I'll admit, I talk to them. I like to tell them how glad I am that they're here. They tend to burrow into the head lettuce, which is my realm on Tuesday and Friday harvest mornings, so there's been a lot of me out in the field talking to the romaine this past month. There's a slim chance that one could hide deep in a head of lettuce, get crated and trucked to the barn, run through the wash tub, packed into a CSA tote, and end up in your kitchen - in which case please treat it well or return it to us! Frogs are extremely sensitive to their environment and many species have been driven to the brink of extinction by human impact: toxic chemicals in their waterways, habitat destruction, pollution from all sides. The fact that the farm seems to be serving as a little safe haven for them makes me deeply happy.

And speaking of lettuce, some of the varieties are truly enormous this week. I harvested the largest heads of greenleaf ever to come out of the field yesterday. This has been ideal lettuce growing weather the past couple weeks, so hopefully you can make it an ideal salad-eating week in your home.

Have a great week!

Newsletter: 

Week 5 of the Valley Flora CSA

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Portuguese Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Strawberries

On Rotation:

  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini

Those Aren't Collards! It's Portuguese Kale!

The GIANT elephant-ear sized bunch of greens in your share this week is a new-to-us kale variety. It goes by many names: Portuguese kale, Tronchuda Beira, Bragganza Cabbage, or sea kale. I've been curious about this unusual variety for awhile and thought it might be a good late-summer substitute for collard greens, which always fizzle out for us after their initial flush. It's the basis of the unofficial national dish of Portugal, Caldo Verde, a simple soup that is served all over the country. It can also be prepared any way you would use kale or collards, plus the thick white stem can be peeled and eaten raw - similar to broccoli stalks. This variety has been around for a long time but isn't something you'd ever find in a grocery store nowadays. 

The growth on these huge plants has been incredible this spring, outpacing any of our other kale varieties in the field. As they've matured they've started to resemble loose heads of cabbage, which - according to our friend Maurice Fuld of 1918 gardening fame (above) - is another way you can harvest them (log the whole plant instead of bunching leaves). But contrary to what Maurice says, ours are not going to be a valuable winter crop because we noticed yesterday that they are already starting to bolt. It's possible that the long days of solstice have triggered the plants, which would argue for sowing it with our late season kales instead (planted in mid-July for fall/winter production instead of late March for spring/summer production). The problem with that is that the seed catalogues don't describe it as very winter hardy, so alas, this might be a once-and-never-again variety that graces the fields of Valley Flora. We opt for kale varieties that will produce for a full season - and into the winter - in order to maximize the production we get from a single bed. Suffice to say, you should make the most of this one-night-stand with handsome Tronchuda and whip up some Caldo Verde this week.

Even if Portuguese Kale ends up in the "failed" column, experiments and variety trials like this are the spice of life on the farm. We're ever-curious about vegetable varieties and are passionte about trying new things. Many of these experiments end like this one, but every now and then we stumble upon a new variety that becomes a beloved mainstay of our crop plan. "Glow" peppers, "Traviata" eggplant, ALL of the lettuce varieties we grow, our sweet corn, every individual component in Abby's Greens, Bets's tomatoes, our winter squash line-up, our potato varieties, all the different onions we grow - each and every one of these crops is being grown on the farm because it was a winner in one of our on-farm trials over the past 14 years. We are selecting for many different important attributes: we want varieties that grow vigorously and are relatively trouble-free (resistant to pests and diseases) in our temperate marine climate; that have excellent flavor; that are beautiful; that yield well; that ripen in time in our cooler growing season; that are efficient to harvest; that add diversity to our existing produce line-up; and in the case of potatoes, winter squash and onions, that store well into winter.

The energy that we have put into trials on the farm means that we have fine-tuned our crop plan to be highly specific to our location on earth: our microclimate, our soil, our growing season. That's an invaluable thing when you're trying to make the most of all the effort that goes into farming.

Enjoy this once-ever flirtation with Portuguese kale this week, and savor those "Mokum" carrots and "Seascape" strawberries, which we promise to keep growing until we're dead. :)

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 4 of the Valley Flora CSA!

  • Broccolini
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Kohlrabi (Green for Wednesday pickups, Purple for Saturday)
  • Hakurei Turnips

On Rotation:

  • Braising Mix
  • Baby Arugula
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini

Strawberry U-Pick Opens Today! 

It's opening day in the u-pick! We've never seen it quite like this before: loads of red fruit, happy vigorous plants, and the picking is easy. Over half of the strawberry patch is set aside for the public this morning - far more beds than we usually start the season with. All to say, come get some berries! We'll be open from 11:30 to 2:30, or until the patch gets picked out - whichever comes first - every Wednesday and Saturday through September. Be sure to bring boxes/bowls to take your berries home in. We have buckets to pick into, or you can pick directly into your own containers - just be sure to stop at the strawberry shack on your way out to get a tare weight on your containers or to grab buckets from Sarah and Mitchell, our u-pick managers. For more info about the upick, go to our website. Have fun!

Fields of Green (and Red)

It seems that summer truly arrived with the solstice! The kids swam in the creek yesterday, and the rest of us actually broke a sweat in the field! We finally started irrigating this week - almost three months later than last year (which was a dreadful, scary year for water) - and I'm pretty sure if any of us stood still for long enough (never going to happen) we'd see the plants doubling in size before our eyes. The days are long, the soil moisture is perfect, and the sun is shining. It's a good feeling after a cold, wet spring and a halting start to the season.

The potato patch is definitely on an exponential growth curve right now and it's all that the horses and I can do to keep up with the cultivating and hilling.

Abby is swimming in a rainbow sea of salad greens, milking every last ounce out of these long days (and even borrowing a few hours at night) to get those beautiful bagged baby greens into your Harvest Basket each week, plus all the Salad Shares. Some folks will see arugula in their share this week; others a lively braising mix of mustards and baby kales.

And just about every crop is bouncing ahead right now, at last: our first sugar snap peas came off the vine on Monday, the onion field is looking juicy, and the broccolini is yielding like never before. We've been carefully nursing our more sensitive crops along through this cool, wet weather - cucumbers, melons, winter squash - and it's a relief to know they're getting the heat and sun they need now. 

Have a great first week of SUMMER!

Newsletter: 

Week 3 of the Valley Flora CSA!

  • Collard Greens - a wonderful, toothsome green famous in Southern cuisine. Great steamed or sauteed (no need to cook for hours, like a lot of traditional recipes call for - a light steam is all it takes!)
  • Purple Kohlrabi - peel, cut into sticks and enjoy with your favorite dip!
  • Bunch Carrots
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Cilantro

On Rotation:

  • Arugula
  • Mizuna
  • Radishes
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini

A few new signature spring crops are making their way into the Harvest Basket this week: kohlrabi, bunch carrots, and broccoli/broccolini! Our field of spring Brassicas (kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, etc) has loved this cool, wet spring - hence the collard greens the size of elephant ears! We were thrilled to get our first harvest of true heading broccoli this week, which marks the beginning of our summer broccoli season. Broccoli is one of the crops that we grow successionally, meaning we plant a new bed every week for the first couple months of spring to ensure a steady supply for the first half of summer. We grow many other crops successionally, namely head lettuce (which we plant every week from late March until October), cilantro, carrots, beets, sweet corn and fennel. This is in contrast to storage crops that we plant all at once for a single mass harvest, like onions, winter squash and potatoes.

Unlike the Brassica field, the strawberry patch did not love the two inches of rain that fell over the weekend. We would have had a record-breaking harvest of huge berries yesterday were it not for all the rotten fruit that ended up in the compost. We did our very best to toss out any "seconds" while we picked and sorted flats yesterday, but the warm, wet weekend caused a lot of insidious rot. If you encounter a hidden rot spot under the green cap, please forgive! The strawberry sorting was arduous yesterday and some might have snuck past us. We're looking forward to more sun and happier strawberries!

With less rain in the forecast, we plan to open our Strawberry U-Pick next Wednesday, June 22nd! The u-pick will open at 11:30 am and will be open until 2:30, or until the patch is picked out, whichever happens first. Our experience in years' past is that the patch gets picked out quickly during the first part of our season (some days in under an hour, depending on the crowd). That means if you are traveling a distance to get to us, you want to arrive when we open. Our apologies that we can't guarantee a specific range of open hours. The crowds mellow out by August, if you're looking for a more leisurely experience and want to pick a large quantity of berries. All of the details about the u-pick are here.

Enjoy the new rainbow of colors in your Harvest Basket this week!

Newsletter: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - The Valley Flora Beetbox