The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

CSA Newsletter: Week 26 of 28 - Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Purple Brussels Sprouts on the stalk
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Rosemary
  • Shallots
  • Yellow Potatoes, great for mashing
  • Winter Crisp lettuce, which miraculously survived last week's hail storms!
  • Delicata Winter Squash
  • Parsnips - the prettiest ones we've ever grown! I suppose it's a stretch to call a parsnip "pretty," but if you've been a CSA member in the past then you're familiar with our persistent parsnip struggles. It's the only vegetable I've ever threatened to divorce - year after year of disappointment! But like that ridiculous disfunctional relationship that everyone rolls their eyes at, we stay together and keep trying. So much effort for so little reward. So much heartbreak (and so many broken shovels digging the damn things out of the sucking November mud)! I can barely believe it, but the somehow the trying actually paid off this year. We grew nice parsnips for the first time ever. But here's the embarassing thing: the solution was so easy. Row cover. That's it. Just cover the beds with insect netting - the same stuff we use to protect our carrots from rust fly, and our turnips and radishes from cabbage maggot, and our baby greens from flea beetles - and instead of ugly, blemished, tarnished, hideous-but-still-tasty parsnips we got pretty-pearly-white-tasty parsnips. Amazing. So I guess the moral of the story is, if you're stuck in a disfunctional relationship, try.....row cover? Good luck! Oh, and as for eating your parsnips: if you fall into the parsnip-skeptic category, I always suggest this recipe to woo you over to the parsnipophile side of the aisle. It goes great on the Thanksgiving table: Roasted Winter Squash and Parsnips with Maple Syrup Glaze and Marcona Almonds. Your Delicata squash or Butternuts would be a great sub for the Sunshine kabocha squash, in case you don't have one of those lying around.

Our Heartfelt Thanks

In Spanish, "Thanksgiving" translates to "El Dia de Acción de Gracias" (the day of action of thanks, more or less). I love that translation, because it suggests that giving thanks and expressing gratitude are actions. It's easy for Thanksgiving to be about eating too much, falling into a tryptophan-induce food coma, and collapsing onto the couch to watch the football game. But thinking of this holiday as a day of action inspires me to experience it differently, with a little more intention. 

I want to say a huge thank you to the farm crew - Roberto, Jen, Allen, Donna, Sarah, Bets & Abby - for all their hard work. The Thanksgiving harvest always strikes me as a special culmination of our collective effort all season. The CSA tote is full of long-season crops like Brussels sprouts and parsnips and celery - things that we seeded way back in March, April & May and are only just now harvesting. That represents months of labor: transplanting, weeding, irrigating, covering with row cover, weeding again, until finally it's time to harvest, wash and pack the totes here at the end of November. I'm grateful to work with such a competent, dedicated and fun crew. They make my life better in every way. We laugh a lot.

I'm also infinitely grateful to all of you, our CSA members, farmstand customers and wholesale customers who support the farm week after week, year after year. Many of you send us little notes of thanks each week, expressing your appreciation for the produce and the hard work. Well, it's mutual: thank YOU for choosing to buy from this little local, family farm and keeping us in business. But honestly, you're not just keeping us in business; you're supporting our livelihood, which is about a lot more than a business. Valley Flora is what feeds us - yes, financially and nutritionally - but also spiritually and emotionally. We love this valley, this little reach of bottom land along the creek, and we are so grateful to get to spend our days here coaxing life and beauty out of this deep, loamy soil. Thank you for being the bellies that clamor for the fruits of our labor. We are delighted to oblige all your vegetable cravings :).

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, as diferent as it might be this year. In spite of it all - oh 2020! - there is always something to be grateful for. I hope you find that thing and hold it close tomorrow.

Love,

Zoë

 

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: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 25 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Red Beets
  • Red Cabbage: Big, heavy, and dense. This variety stores for a long time in refrigeration, so don't feel like you need to eat the whole thing in one night. Slice off what you need, put it back into the fridge in a plastic bag, and the next time you need red cabbage just shave off the discolored cut edge to reveal fresh cabbage below. 
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac: It's a balled-up hamster! It's a hairy meteorite! It's celery root! Maybe as foreign as a hunk of hirsute space rock to some of you, but this is a great winter vegetable that doubles as a softball! Imagine you took a stalk of celery, crossed it with parsley for flavor and gave it the heft of a potato: Voila, celeriac! What should you do with it? Soup! Latkes! Puree! Mash! Gratin! Here's a nice little collection of recipes to get you started: https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/15-best-celeriac-recipes-article
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Radicchio: They say that it takes 20 tries for a kid to learn to like a new food. If you're that kid and radicchio is that food, here's your second chance to love it, or even just like it a little bit, or OK, at least not spit it out this time. Remember these secrets to success if you're especially averse to bitter:
    • If using raw in salad:
      • Soak your torn/cut up radicchio in cold water for at least 10 minutes.
      • Pair with things salty and sweet: nuts, aged cheese, fresh or dried fruit, cured meats, zippy dressing.
    • Cook it! It's great in risotto and if you have a pressure cooker or instapot and a bag of arborio rice you can make dinner in about 6 minutes (busy farmer-mom trick #3,427).
  • Hakurei Turnips

Contrary to a decade of CSA tradition, we are giving you a little breather on winter squash this week. I interviewed a few members to ask how big the pile of squash on their counter was right now and it seemed sufficiently large across the interview sample to merit a week off. Next week we'll be back with some jumbo Delicata for your Thanksgiving feast. This week you can play catch up with that spaghetti squash that I know you haven't touched yet. (C'mon, what are you waiting for!? Spaghetti squash pizza crust! Recipes and photos abound here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/top-spaghetti-squash-recipes).

Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule Next Week (PLEASE READ!):

Since the beginning of Valley Flora time, we have observed a beloved, if somewhat masochistic, tradition: the week of Thanksgiving we squish our 6-day work week into three days and we deliver ALL Harvest Baskets to ALL pickup locations the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Why do we inflict this temporary insanity on ourselves? 

  1. So that all of you have your Thanksgiving veggies in time for Thanksgiving, and
  2. So that all of us can take a true break over the Thanksgiving holiday.

That means that if you are a Port Orford or Bandon member, your pickup will be on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25th instead of Saturday, November 28th. There will be no pickup on Saturday, November 28th. Pickup hours will be the same as usual, but on Wednesday instead of Saturday.

For Farm and Coos Bay members, there is no change to the pickup schedule: Wednesday as usual, same time, same place.

Mark your calendars/set a reminder now to avoid any confusion! It should read: "PICK UP VF VEGGIES ON WEDNESDAY, NOV 25th!!!!" And just for safe measure - if you're a Bandon or PO member - maybe another one that says: "NO VF VEGGIE PICKUP ON SATURDAY, NOV 28th!!!!"

That should do the trick. I hope to be offline as much as possible next Thursday through Sunday and not troubleshooting pickup site SNAFUS, so set that reminder right now and commit to picking up your produce on Wednesday! 

Your Thanksgiving share will most likely include purple Brussels sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Rosemary, Shallots, Parsnips, Potatoes, Delicata Squash, and with any luck a head of lettuce.

Have a great week!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 24 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Brussels Sprouts - on the stalk, alá Dr. Seuss. For easiest and longest storage in your fridge, snap the sprouts off the stalk and store them in a plastic bag. We were excited to harvest them this week on the heels of a couple sweetening frosts at the farm. Freezing temps stoke sugar production in Brussels sprouts - and all its cruciferous cousins (kale, broccoli, collards, cauliflower, etc). The sugar in the plant cells acts as antifreeze, making them winter hardy and extra delicious.
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Onions
  • Black Winter Radishes - Hailing from Germany (variety name: Runder schwarzer; translation: round black; sometimes also called black Spanish radish), this is one tough radish! It's hardy for fall and winter harvests and long storage. The rough black exterior contrasts with bright white flesh that has moderate spice. A fun new trial for us this season, if only slightly macabre in appearance...
  • Butternut Squash - oh glorious soup-making squash, smooth, sweet, delicious, easy to peel, meaty and dense, inspirer-of-so-many-great-adjectives-to-throw-into-a-run-on-sentence!
  • Kohlrabi - Meet Kossack, our biggest, baddest, sweetest, yummiest kohlrabi variety. Peel it, slice it, eat it raw. This is Uma's favorite vegetable (that's my five year-old daughter; she gets exceedingly excited when I bring one of these home from the farm. Kossack has inspired from her all kinds of spontaneous improv dances-of-joy in the kitchen...).
  • Cauliflower

We have arrived squarely in the "Germanic" phase of the season: guttural vegetable names, heavy blunt things you could lob off the castle wall to fend of barbaric intruders, vegetables that will store forever and see you through the potato famine (if need be, although I encourage you to eat them this week, plus we had a good year for spuds so we don't anticpate any famines of that sort this year). 

Thanksgiving CSA Schedule - Mark Your Calendars!

Thanksgiving is two weeks away - time to alert you to our Thanksgiving delivery schedule!

The week of Thanksgiving we will deliver ALL Harvest Baskets to ALL pickup locations on Wednesday, November 25th. We do this for two reasons:

  1. To ensure that everyone has their Thanksgiving veggies before Thanksgiving, and
  2. To give everyone on the farm a Thanksgiving holiday break.

That means that if you are a Port Orford or Bandon member, your pickup will be on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25th instead of Saturday, November 28th. There will be no pickup on Saturday, November 28th. Pickup hours will be the same as usual.

For Farm and Coos Bay members, there is no change to the pickup schedule: Wednesday as usual, same time, same place.

Mark your calendars now to avoid any confusion!

For menu-planning purposes, you can expect to see the following in your Thanksgiving share: Brussels sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Rosemary, Shallots, Parsnips, Potatoes, and Delicata Squash.

Have a great week!

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 23 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Acorn Winter Squash
  • Pink Mini Daikon Radish - a new variety trial this season, and we love them! The thick magenta skin is perfectly edible but also pretty spicy, so if you want to dial down the heat a little then peel them. Beautiful streaked pink flesh inside. 
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Carrots - and now they're itty bitty instead of jumbo-lunker!
  • Head Lettuce - we only have another couple weeks of lettuce left in the field, all of which is at the mercy of a hard freeze, hail or pelting rain at this point. With any luck we'll be able to keep you in salad until Thanksgiving. We're harvesting a limited number of "winter" varieties now, so you'll mostly see our red-leafed winter crisp (pictured above) or little gem from here on out.
  • Yellow Onions
  • Red Potatoes - not the prettiest variety this year, unfortunately, so be prepared to get out your peeler here and there. We were unable to source our standby red variety last spring so had to plant a new variety, which we don't love. I'm ordering my seed 
  • Kale
  • Chicory - As lettuce winds down, the chicories ramp up. Think escarole, radicchio, endive: this family of cold-hardy heading greens are a wonderful winter staple and a great strategy for keeping salad on the table well into the darkest corner of winter. They can be somewhat bitter, but if you are averse to that there are ways to circumvent it. For raw eating, cut your chicory into ribbons and soak it in cold water for 10 minutes to leach out the bitterness. You can also grill, roast and braise chicory, addit to soup, pasta, lasagne and risotto. Cooking all but eliminates any trace of bitterness. The chicory in the your tote this week is a "gateway" variety: a sugarloaf type that is less bitter, more lettucey. Epicurious.com has a good guide to chicories and how to use them, as well as lots of yummy recipes, here: https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/how-to-cook-with-chicories-endive.... A good rule of thumb when you're making a chicory salad is to pair the greens with things sweet, rich and salty: fruit (fresh or dried), candied nuts, hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, bacon/lardons, and a bracing vinaigrette or a creamy rich dressing (think caesar, blue cheese, etc). The combo of bitter/sweet/salty is delicious.

On Rotation

  • Cauliflower

A Love Letter to Chicories

We love things for different reasons, not all the same. Sometimes we love things that are completely perplexing to others. Now and then we learn to love something we never imagined we could have the capacity to love. That's a remarkable feat of growth, testimony to the wonder of the human heart.  

One of the things I love is chicories - something that many of you may not love, may never love - but perhaps if I tell you why I love them it will spark your curiousity, and from there love might be just around the corner. As a farmer whose very being is tied to the magic of seeds, the miracle of gerimation and photosynthesis, the vibrancy of plants and the wax and wane of seasons, this time of year can be accompanied by a tiny trace of grief. It's marked mostly by senescence, things dying, going dormant. All around me the life force of the farm is drawing inward, downward, going quiet. There is no longer the robust energetic noise of seeds sprouting everywhere, new plants popping out of the ground, an endless list of colorful new things to harvest. And sometimes there's a subtle feeling of loss that attends that shift. Also, and without a doubt, I enjoy this time of year immensely because it means we finally get a little break from the madness (picture cozy fire lit in woodstove, soup on stove, reading books with my kids in the evening, hallelujah!).

But also, that tiny trace of grief...

So here are the exceptions to the inevitability of senescence right now: 

  1. cover crops (sprouting and growing like crazy in all the fields, delighting me); 
  2. parsnips and celeriac (not my favorite crops, but yes I'm glad they're out there gearing up to be dug for Thanksgiving); and
  3. chicories

Perhaps the best way to explain my love for chicories is with a photo or two, and save us all a few thousands of words:

The colors! What else is flaming magenta or bridesmaid pink at this time of year, contrasted against the black sky of a pacific storm on the march?

What else withstands hard frost and holds up against the fiercest squall?

What else can you turn into a fantastic, fresh salad in pastel pink and deep purple, at Christmas - or even Valentine's day no less!?

In short: What's not to love?!

There is enormous diversity in the world of chicories, and often quite a bit of phenotypic variability within a given variety. They are beautiful, startling, a gift of winter. You'll see a couple other varieties in your share in the coming weeks and I hope they win you over - if need be, with a little help from bacon.

Here's an icebreaker recipe to get you started down the path to love: Chicory, Bacon and Poached Egg Salad

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 22 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Head Lettuce
  • Sunshine Kabocha Squash OR North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash: This week we're sending Sunshine Kabocha to our Coos Bay and Bandon members; Farm and Port Orford members will get North Georgia Candy Roaster. We had limited yields in both varieties this season and there wasn't enough of either variety to feed everyone. That said, both are great eating with smooth skins that make kitchen prep easier. Sunshine has sweet, orange flesh with flavor tilted towards the tropical. The North Georgia Candy Roaster is an unusual heirloom with fantastic flavor, but most people find more to comment on in the curious looks department. If a giant pink banana and a mutant sweet potato got together, North Georgia Candy Roaster would be their lovechild. Size-wise, we're talking large baby (rest assured we made our best effort to sort out the 15lb+ specimens so as not to scare anyone off from the CSA for good). Both types of squash can be roasted, stuffed, churned into soup or whipped into pie filling. You can also bake or steam them, scrape out the meat and freeze it for later if you're feeling some trepidation about eating 10 lbs of squash in one sitting. Also, both varieties improve in storage, so feel free to add them to your seasonal squash decor until the spirit seizes you to preheat the oven.

On Rotation:

  • Cauliflower

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY THIS WEEK...

Only 6 more days until Election Day, which means if you haven't already voted, do it today! It's too late to be dropping them in the mail, so your best bet is to drop your ballot off at one of the secure ballot dropsite locations in your county.

If you live in Curry County, 24-hour drive-up ballot dropsites are located at:

  • Curry County Courthouse
    E Moore Street
    Parking lot
    Gold Beach, OR 97444
  • Brookings City Hall
    898 Elk Drive
    Brookings, OR 97415
  • Port Orford City Hall
    555 W 20th Street
    Port Orford, OR 97465

If you live in Coos County, ballot dropsites are located in Bandon, Coos Bay, North Bend, Lakeside, Myrtle Point, Coquille, and Powers. Details for each site are listed here: http://www.co.coos.or.us/Portals/0/County%20Clerk/Elections/Elections%20...

If you've already voted and want to check on the status of your ballot, you can do so here: https://sos.oregon.gov/voting/Pages/myvote.aspx?lang=en

It's a quick, easy way to ensure that your ballot has been received.

If you don't have a way to get your ballot to a dropsite before next Tuesday, email us and we'll help make it happen!

In the meantime, thanks for voting with your food dollars and your fork to support VF and the kind of farming that's local, family-scale, solar-and-horse-powered, organic, and full of love. 

Remember to breathe this week.

xoxo

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 21 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Head Lettuce
  • Yellow Onions
  • Violet Queen Turnips
  • Pie Pumpkin - truly meant to be turned into pie, with drier/sweeter flesh bred specifically for pie filling. But also perfectly happy to be seasonal Halloween decor in the meantime until the right baking day comes along.
  • Italian Parsley
  • Beets - Red, Gold and/or Chioggia

On Rotation:

  • Romanesco
  • Broccoli

Notes from the Field

This week is the final major push to get cover crops seeded. The eastern half of the farm is mostly already seeded and germination looks fantastic on the heels of our last rain. This Thursday I'll be seeding the western half of the farm and then hitching the horses to cultipack the seed in. The cultipacker is a heavy set of metal rollers packed closely togther over a 6' span that presses the seed into the ground to create better soil-to-seed contact, which improves germination. It's a piece of equipment I salvaged off an old homestead outside of Powers over a decade ago, and with the help of some friends with welding skills, put it back to use after a half a century of sitting in a blackberry thicket. My fingers are crossed for enough precip on Friday & Saturday to get this next round of cover crops to sprout. Our goal is to have as much of the farm planted to winter cover crops as possible by the end of October, at which point it's too late to coax most things to grow. 

Most of our winter squash are done curing and are tucked into the bulging bays of the barn now. I ate my first Delicata this week and was blown away by how sweet they are this season. 

Our strawberry crowns are scheduled to arrive from the nursery this week, so we'll be plenty busy for the next few weeks getting 9000 new bare-root strawberry plants into the ground. I'm excited to get them planted while we still have some good growing weather left; every day counts right now as the sun dips farther and farther south. The more growth the plants can put on now, the better our yields and fruit quality will be next summer. 

We're harvesting our storage kohlrabi this week. As you can see from the photo below, they err towards the bigger-than-a-baby's-head size. You'll see them in your share in a few weeks. They're the sweetest, juiciest kohlrabi we grow.

Savor these last couple weeks of October. What a month.

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 20 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Sweet Pepper
  • Tomato
  • Delicata Squash - the darling of the winter squash world, and for good reason. Delicatas are superbly good eating - sweet. creamy flesh with a thin, manageable, edible skin. If you are intimidated by winter squash in general, Delicata is a great gateway squash because of its flavor and ease of prep. All you need to do is cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, lay them cut side down on a cookie sheet with a thin layer of water to create some steam, and bake for a half hour (or until soft). Then pull those delectable squash out of the oven, fill the cavities with butter and arm yourself with a spoon so you can dig in. You can also peel them, cut them into smiles and roast with olive oil and salt until lightly browned. They're like winter squash french fries. OR, you can stuff a Delicata with whatever suits your fancy and bake them as stuffed squash boats. Keep in mind that winter squash store on the counter (no need to refrigerate) for weeks to months depending on the variety, which means there's no pressure to use them right away. When it comes to Delicata, though, I find it hard to hold back.
  • Yellow Potatoes
  • Kale
  • Radishes or Turnips - new varieties this week!
  • Red Onions
  • Liberty Apples

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Romanesco

LAST WEEK OF ABBY'S GREENS SALAD SHARES!

This is the twentieth and final week of Salad Shares for the season. The salad season is 8 weeks shorter than the Harvest Basket season because outdoor greens production becomes more and more iffy as we head into the shorter, stormier days of fall. A huge thanks and tip of the hat to Abby for her tireless dedication to putting out a beautiful product week afte week, year after year, decade after decade. Even though Salad Shares are ending, you will still be able to find Abby's Greens for awhile longer at the Port Orford Community Co-Op, the Langlois Market, Mother's Natural Grocery and Coos Head Food Co-op.

Enjoy this week's very autumnal collection of produce: pommes and pommes de terre together in one tote :)

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 19 from Valley Flora!

  • Carrots
  • Eggplant - probably the last of the season
  • Celery - first of the season! Celery is not our strongest suit - never as juicy and mild and peanut-butter-ready as the store-bought stuff - but it's packed with flavor for soups and sautees. Celery take an inordinant amout of water to grow - more than twice as much as any other crop on the farm - and even so it doesn't always get as big and succulent as I'd like. 
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Onion
  • Sweet Pepper
  • Tomatoes - on the wane as the light fades
  • Hot Peppers
  • Spaghetti Squash - We're kicking off our fall winter squash season with a spaghetti squash variety that's new to us this year: Small Wonder. Aptly named because one row yielded 3 times more spaghetti squash than we've ever harvested from that amount of space. AND, they're cute little things - not quite as intimidating as some of the clunkers we've given out before. Spaghetti squash really is spaghetti-like inside: long strings of sweet yellow flesh that hold up as a fantastic noodle substitute. In the food world they've recently garnered some newfound prestige as a gluten-free marvel in the kitchen. From this point on you'll get a different winter squash in your share each week. If you don't already have a go-to way of cooking winter squash, here's a great collection of recipes from savory to sweet to use as inspiration: https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/acorn-delicata-kabocha-spaghetti-.... Included is a yummy recipe for turkey chili atop spaghetti squash for this week. Always be careful when cutting into winter squash. They're hard-shelled and round, which makes it all-too easy to send a knife through your hand instead of the squash. A couple tips: 
    • If you're cutting a raw squash in half, use a sharp-tipped, heavy-bladed chef's knife. Drive the tip of the knife into the squash first and work it around the waist of the squash so that it can't slip and maul you.
    • If you have the time to pre-bake your whole squash just enough to soften it up, that makes cutting into them a lot easier and safer. You can also pop a squah into the microwave for a few minutes to pre-soften. Be sure to poke a few holes in it first so it doesn't explode.

On Rotation:

  • Romanesco Cauliflower
  • Broccoli

October: It's All About Winter Cover Crops

This week our to-do list is almost entirely organized around one priority: getting as much of our fields seeded to winter cover crops as possible before the rain this weekend. Cover cropping is the most important thing we do on the farm all year: planting seeds whose sole purpose is to protect and nourish our soil through the winter and early spring. We usually grow a mix of cereal rye or tritcale, oats, red clover, field peas and/or vetch. Which cover crops get seeded where is largely dictated by what cash crops will follow the next season in our extensive rotation, but the goal is always to grow a diversified mix that will add lots of organic matter and contribute some nitrogen when it gets mowed down and incorporated into the fields next spring. It's work I love because it's all about giving back to our soil after it's offered up so much all summer, and it's work I get to do primarily with the horses. With well-timed rains, we'll start to see a tranformation from brown to fuzzy green as millions of seeds germinate in our bare ground and reach for the sky. By next spring, many of these cover crops will be as tall as me, rife with beneficial insects finding nectar in the flowering blossoms of clover, vetch and peas and helping them survive the nectar-lean months of early spring. And I promise you, when the time comes to mow them down in March and April, I will be loathe to do it because they are so beautiful, humming with the life of small things that make the world go 'round.

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 18 from Valley Flora!

  • Carrots - big ones (read more below for the backstory)
  • Fennel - another chance to learn to love fennel! So good sliced thinly in salad!
  • Lettuce
  • Red Onions
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Purple Napa Cabbage - a new trial variety this year, and so pretty!
  • Cilantro
  • Eggplant

Big COVID Carrots

Those of you who have been Valley Flora CSA members before might be wondering why the carrots are so monstrously huge this summer. You're used to slender little carrots from VF, not one-pound lunkers! Well, as it turns out - like so many things these days - there is a COVID backstory to our jumbo carrots. 

Our farm season starts in January with intensive crop planning that culminates in a big seed order. We purchase our seeds from a variety of companies like High Mowing Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Osborne Seeds, Uprising Seeds, Adaptive Seeds, Wild Garden Seeds, and more. We typically grow two different organic varieties of carrots: Napoli for late Fall/Winter production and Yaya for summer. Each variety does well in its respective season, staying sweet, tender and petite through the challenges of each season (Napoli excels in cold, wet weather and Yaya performs in the heat of summer).

When I placed our seed order in February, Yaya was backordered everywhere but was supposed to ship out by mid-March. That wasn't a problem, since we don't start seeding Yaya until April for our summer harvests. But then COVID hit and every home gardener on planet Earth starting buying up seeds in a panic-stricken frenzy. All the seed companies' websites crashed from too much traffic, and before you knew it many varieties that we rely on at the farm were out of stock. Shipping times for orders already in the queue were delayed by weeks as seed companies suddenly had to deal with new COVID protocols in their shipping warehouses. Our Yaya carrots got ensared in the COVID crosshairs and we didn't get our seed until May, two months late. 

Fortunately we did have Napoli seed on hand, which we had to substitute for the Yaya. Every two weeks when it was time to seed another carrot bed this spring I would cross my fingers for a package of seed at the post office, but alas, it was Napoli that went into the ground over and over again. It means that you've been eating Napolis all season, and only in the last week have we finally gotten to our first bed of Yayas for bunching (now that it's Fall :)....). I personally don't think the Napolis are as good tasting as the Yayas in the summer - not as sweet or tender - but to their credit they are very crack resistant, which means we've grown some huge carrots this season without having them split down the side. 

I've missed the Yayas but it's a great reminder that there really is an ideal moment for each and every thing on the farm. All the variety trials we do each year are worth the effort. The detailed, exhaustive crop planning I undertake each winter is for a reason and is worth the time. It also makes me grateful for all the breeders out there who are working to develop and maintain these seed lines that are a cornerstone of the farm's success. Here's to Yaya and Napoli and the countless other varieties that fill our plates each week.

 

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 17 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 - lots this week! Consider making a batch of baba ganoush! It freezes well for later.
  • Leeks 
  • Lettuce
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Kale

On Rotation:

  • Sweet Corn - Heads up, this is our final harvest of corn and predictably there is corn ear worm in some of the ears. Corn ear worm is the larva of the moth Helicoverpa zea. We always have them in our latest plantings of corn. Even though they are gross to behold when you peel back your corn husks (your chickens will love that big fat caterpillar!), the problem is easy to solve: whack the tip off the ear of corn, give it a rinse, and your'e good to go. You can do this! 

Happy Fall!

Quite fittingly, Fall is off to a stormy start today. You have potatoes and leeks in your basket so you can make soup and get cozy. It'll be a fleeting taste of autumn though - temps are supposed to spike back into the eighties next week. But at least until Friday you can pull out your plaid flannel, stack some wood, and watch the rain come down. Kinda like a pratice round for the next season to come. On the farm it means we might finally get the rest of our onions cleaned (we've been waiting for a rainy day) and make some more progress on the new horse shed. We've taken advantage of every possible sunny moment in the last week to get winter squash and potatoes out of the field, but those things will get put on hold while it's wet. It's turning out to be a great season for our storage crops - onions, potatoes and squash - which bodes well for the fall and winter to come. The only issue is figuring out where to put them all in the barn!

Strawberry U-Pick is Closed this Week

We are hitting pause on u-pick due to the weather. The patch will be closed this week on Wednesday 9/23 and Saturday 9/26. We'll reassess next week with the return of sunny weather to see if we can eek out a few more u-pick days before the season is over for good.

Have a lovely week, savor the rain.

The new Palacio de Caballo (Horse Palace): Not done quite in time for this week's rain, but soon enough!

Newsletter: 

CSA Week 2 from Valley Flora - June 10th!

Good morning all!

I meant to take a photo of this week's produce during packout yesterday, but was buried in strawberry sorting until late evening! Take a pic when you unpack your veggies in your kitchen this week and email it to me!

This week in your Harvest Basket!

  • Bunch Carrots - I've been especially excited to have carrots for you in June. It's been a farmer goal of mine for many years to have a year-round supply of fresh carrots on the farm, without a lapse in any month. This is the year I finally pulled it off and I'm been pretty tickled. To do it takes a combination of planting the right winter varieties, having a spring crop in the greenhouses, and getting an early February seeding established for outdoor May/June production. The weather cooperated, the seeds all germinated, and we've had sweet, freshly-dug carrots all year. Whether we'll ever be able to pull it off again is up to the weather gods...
  • Purple Radishes
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Tokyo Bekana Pac Choi - the lime green ruffly head with white ribs, great in stiry fry.
  • Artichokes - there's a story behind them, read up below!
  • Sunflower Shoots - my favorite micro shoots: tender, nutty, great on salads or atop a main course. I also put them in my smoothies.
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Fresh Red Onions - an overwintered variety called Desert Sunrise. This was an experimental planting that did pretty well - our first real success with overwintering onions, after a few years of trying different varieties and watching them all bolt in the spring :(. These were seeded last September and planted in October, tended for 8 months in the field, and finally harvested this week. Labor of love, and probably not at all profitable(!) but great to have big onions so early!

The Story Behind the Valley Flora Artichoke

In the early 70s my parents landed in Bandon, a little bit by accident, and the place got ahold of them. They stuck around, they made friends, they owned a little restaurant on Beach Loop for awhile, they fell in love with the southcoast. Eventually they traded the restaurant for the farm and settled in on Floras Creek, Abby and I were born, the years unfolded. Early on my mom, Bets, got some artichoke plant divisions from a friend who lived on Short Street in Bandon, near the old Coast Guard building on the waterfront. She heeled the plants into her garden where they thrived and fed us many an artichoke every spring throughout my entire childhood.

When I fledged and eventually landed in Portland with my own place, she gave me some divisions for my garden. They took off and yielded there until 2008 when I packed up my life and moved back to Langlois to start up Valley Flora with my mom and sister. One of the things I stuffed into the 26' U-Haul, next to my wheelbarrow and houseplants and blender, was a bucket full of artichoke divisions that I unearthed from the garden at the last minute.

Home on the farm, I opened up new ground for an artichoke patch in the field and planted one of the five rows with the plants I'd brought down from Portland. The other four rows got planted with Green Globe plants I'd started from seed. Within the first year it was obvious that our family chokes eclipsed the Green Globes in every way: hardiness, productivity, flavor, beauty, and best of all, they barely have a hairy choke inside. In fact we always tell folks that you can eat the small chokes "bottom up" once you get a few layers of outer leaves out of the way (with a little help of some melted lemon butter or aioli). It wasn't too long before I had torn out all the Green Globes, divided the mother row of chokes once more, and replanted them to fill out the rest of the patch. We've been harvesting and selling chokes from these five rows for the past decade and they've garnered a little local notoriety. B&B Farm Suppy orders artichoke plants from us to sell to their eager gardening customers every spring, and the artichokes themselves have a loyal following.

Fast forward to 2020 and I recently found myself telling this story to someone who had eaten our artichokes for the first time and was inspired to write to me about it. She had lived most of her life in Monterey, CA, near the artichoke capitol of the world, and had struggled to find a decent artichoke ever since she moved away - until this spring when she tucked into a VF choke that she bought at our farmstand. "Yours are da bomb!" she wrote. "...incredible!" 

I told her the story of these chokes, and while doing so it dawned on me that it's been almost 50 years since those artichokes ended up in my mom's garden. They've now fed three generations of our family - and lots of our beloved customers as well - which makes them a bonafide heirloom at this point. We still have no idea what variety they really are, which only makes the story better. This year we gave them a new lease on life and transplanted divisions into a whole new corner of the field with more space. Five rows has turned into nine, and because they're young first-year plants they're yielding a little later in the spring than usual. Normally the season is over by now - peaking in April - but we're getting a small June flush in the new field that we're glad to share with you this week.

If you've never cooked an artichoke before, the easiest way is to steam them (stovetop or pressure cooker) until tender-soft (25-25 minutes stovetop, longer for big chokes, and around 8 minutes in the pressure cooker) and the outer leaves pluck out easily. Then melt some butter or whip up an aioli (we like a little mayo with lots of lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh thyme) and dip away! I don't bother trimming the spines off the leaves: too much work, and you can navigate the spines easily enough if you're careful.

https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cook_and_eat_an_artichoke/

For the more adventurous, there are lots of other things you can do with artichokes: artichoke dip, roasted artichokes, braised artichokes, and more. Have fun. Oh, and a quick sidenote: artichokes do NOT pair well with the tannins in red wine, so if you want to have a glass while you enjoy your chokes, stick to white or rosé. :)

Have a great week!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

Our CSA Season Kicks Off this Week!

Hello CSA Members!

Your first CSA delivery is coming to your pickup site this week!

Whether you're getting a Harvest Basket, a Salad Share, or both, thanks for jumping on board with us for the 2020 season! To our new members, an extra special welcome!

I'm Zoë, the one you'll hear from each week via this farm newsletter/blog, which will normally go out on Wednesday mornings. I send it out preemptively - on Monday - the first week of the season, to ensure that everyone is awake and knows that their VF veggies are coming for the first time, either this Wednesday or this Saturday, depending on your pickup location

This newsletter will also always be accessible (and look prettier) from our website. Like any email, you have the choice to opt out and unsubscribe, but PLEASE DON'T! This is the main way we'll communicate with you this season and keep you updated about delivery schedules, pickup reminders, what's in your share and other important info throughout the season!

If you haven't already read up on all of the very important info about your pickup site, please do it now! Our pickup sites are unstaffed, so we rely on all of you (and anyone who might pick up for you - spouses, friends, family) to learn the drill and do your part to make the system work. I beseach you (and will continue to beseach you) to READ all the signage at your site and know the pickup protocol posted on our website. Thanks!

And now for the fun stuff - what's in the Harvest Basket! If you're a veteran member, you know that the Harvest Basket changes weekly, depending on what's in season on the farm. Also, there are times when certain crops are "on rotation," which means one pickup site might receive it this week and another will receive it next week (it's how we make sure everyone gets their fair share of crops with limited production). Each week I'll try to give you a complete list of what's in your share, but some weeks there might be a surprise in your tote that's unlisted, or you might not get something that is on the list because we guessed wrong and got skunked in the field (yes, nature really does bat last). Nevertheless, we work hard to make sure it all evens out in the end and that your share is diverse and delicious throughout the season. Also, although we say that the share averages around $30 in value each week, that also fluctuates with the season. You might get shares that are under $30 in value at the beginning of the season and shares that are worth far more than $30 at the peak. 

If you're a new member, more than likely you are going to find yourself face to face with some vegetables you've never seen or eaten before. According to our long-time members, that's part of the fun. Many of them have learned to love things they thought they hated, eagerly anticipate veggies they'd never heard of before, and become prosyletizers for produce they didn't know was worth preaching about. And of course there are those who still detest beets and fennel, despite my best efforts to convert them for a decade. That's OK, too. The CSA will never make everyone 100% delighted, 100% of the time, but it will hopefully feed you well, help you learn a few new tricks in your kitchen, and now and then provide you with something you can gift to your neighbor (the one who DOES love beets and fennel)!

Sometimes I will offer up a recipe that I love for a particular thing, but not always. The internet is an amazing source of recipes these days, searchable by individual ingredient, so I mostly leave the menu-planning fun to you and your search engine. That's usually how I cook dinner: come home with a bucket of broccolini, type broccolini into the search bar, and see what new inspiration jumps out at me from the myriad recipe sites that are out there. I love epicurious.com. We also have a not-too-shabby collection of recipes archived on our website that you are welcome to access and add to, searchable by ingredient, called the Recipe Wizard. You can access it directly from the top menu on our website.

This season is starting off in the most unusual way ever for us. We suffered a significant setback this spring when our early Brassicas - the kale, collards, broccoli, broccolini, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips- were attacked by symphylans, a soil-dwelling arthropod (looks like a tiny white centipede) that feeds on root hairs. The symphylans stunted all of our early plantings, adding up to almost complete crop failure. We replanted, but it put our essential early season crops behind a month or two, which has been no small source of anxiety for me as a farmer, knowing we had to fill 125 CSA totes this week - totes that are usually full of kale, broccolini, kohlrabi, turnips and other cool-season Brassicas.

Fortunately, my unforeseen saving grace was a one-week window of good weather in February when I was able to plant peas, carrots and beets a month early, all of which are now ready for harvest a month sooner than usual. On top of that, we grew some overwintered onions which have done great (you'll see those soon in your share, maybe next week). And we put in some early experimental plantings of zucchini and cucumbers in our greenhouses, which are yielding. So, the bottom line is that the the June shares might look more like typical July shares, and then in July you'll see some of our typical June staples, a month late! It always works out in the end, somehow....

This week your Harvest Basket is shaping up to look like this (still subject to change as we harvest this week):

  • Bunch Carrots
  • Pac Choi: a little holey due to flea beetle chomping, which is extreme this Spring - maybe due to our mild winter
  • Head Lettuce
  • Cilantro
  • Zucchini
  • Pea Shoots: tender micro shoots, great as garnish on a salad, or as a salad, or eaten plain by the fist-fulll :)
  • Baby Arugula 
  • A SunOrange Cherry Tomato plant: We don't grow cherry tomatoes, but we give you a plant - our all-time favorite variety - to grow in your own garden, planter pot, or 5 gallon bucket! They're like candy. Plant it deep, feed it a balanced organic fertilizer, keep it warm and protected from the wind, and give it something to cimb up. You should have little sugar-bomb tangy cherry tomatoes by late August, if not sooner.

And maybe included, possibly on rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Asparagus
  • Strawberries
  • Artichokes
  • Sugar Snap Peas

Alrighty then! I'm off to jump on the harvest crew and help get your produce ready. Set yourself a reminder to pick up your food this week, right day, right time, right place! Read the signage! Don't forget to wear your mask at your pickup, for the sake of everyone! Questions, send me an email and I'll do my best to get back to you ASAP (but don't be surprised if it takes a couple days).

Thanks again for being an essential part of our farm!

Zoë

p.s. this is how Uma (age 5) and Jules (age 3) say you should eat your pea shoots this week:

 

Newsletter: 

New Farmstand Hours for May!

For the month of May, the farmstand will be open on Thursdays from 9 am to 4 pm. We will not be open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but the Thursday offerings will be more abundant and diverse.
 
It is self-serve, honor system. Please bring small bills or a check since no change is available.

 

Asparagus, artichokes, beets, carrots, Abby's Greens, kale, and other goodies may be available each week.

 

We anticipate that we'll open the farmstand for regular summer hours and service on Wednesday, June 4th. Starting June 4th, summer hours will be Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 to 3 pm.

 

Please respect the honor system, and come enjoy this beautiful spring season on the farm!

 

 

Newsletter: 

Mark Your Calendar! Farm Tour and Potluck May 17th!

Remember to mark your calendar for our Spring Farm Tour and Potluck on Saturday, May 17th - rain or shine!

  • 11 am - Tour of the fields, greenhouses and barns (and you'll meet Maude, my giant draft horse!)
  • 1 pm - Potluck in the field (in the barn in case of rain)

We'll provide dishes and utensils for the potluck.

 

Please RSVP by May 12th. Bring friends and family - all are welcome!

 

Things to bring:

  • Sturdy walking shoes (rubber boots if it's wet)
  • Raincoat or umbrella
  • Water bottle
  • Camera
  • Potluck dish

 

We don't get many opportunities to meet our farm members in person throughout the season so we'd love a chance to put faces to names, and to give you a glimpse of where and how your produce is grown.

 

We hope to see you at the farm on May 17th!

RSVP

Directions to the farm.

Newsletter: 

Week 28: December 9th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • The Last Week – Brrrrr!
  • A Mighty THANK YOU!
  • Please Share your Feedback with Us!
  • 2014 CSA Sign-ups
  • The Year in Review

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Kale
  • Shallots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes – Red, Yellow Finn and/or Fingerling
  • Carrots
  • Sunshine squash

 

On Rotation:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Romanesco cauliflower

 

The Last Week - Brrrrr!

This is it: your last installment from Valley Flora for the season. This week’s basket is a true testament to the possibility for local, wintertime eating. We’re halfway through December in the midst of a deep cold snap, but there’s no lack of food in your totes. We filled them with almost twenty pounds of veggies – most of it fresh-harvested from the field (all but the squash, shallots and potatoes, which have been in storage).

 

That said, the field is looking pretty bare. We’ve picked and dug and pulled and cut just about every stick of food out there (save for a good stash of parsnips). A week of hard cold has also brought an end to certain crops that might have persisted longer were it not for the 18 degree nights.

 

The cold has presented a few problems to this last harvest that you may notice. Each day we’ve had to wait for the field (and the veggies) to thaw before we can harvest. On Monday, that didn’t happen until late afternoon so the thaw window was very short. As it turns out, some of the Brussels sprouts – which were thawed when we picked them – re-froze in the harvest bins in transit to the cooler (which feels balmy at 38 degrees compared to the outside world). During packout yesterday, we discovered that some of the sprouts at the bottom of the bins (cold air sinks) were more like sweet Brussels sprouts popsicles. Hopefully they will hold up, but I encourage you to eat them immediately before they turn to mush.

 

Also, the kale was hard to rehydrate (it wilts in extreme cold), so some of it is not as perky as you are used to (but again, very sweet).

 

And finally, our last bed of romanesco, which some of you will receive this week, seems to have survived the cold but may have some frost damage. Hopefully the flavor will make up for any other quality shortcomings!

 

A Mighty Thank You!

Were it not for all of you making the choice to eat locally, our little farm could not exist. As many times as we have been on the receiving end of the gratitude, I want to return the sentiment a hundred-fold. Because of you and your commitment to Valley Flora, we are able to do what we love on the land that we treasure. There are three generations on the farm now, from Bets down to Cleo and Pippin, plus the invaluable help of Roberto, Roxy, Aro, Jake, Tom, and John. It’s a small and humble operation, but it fills our lives with purpose, meaning, and deep satisfaction. We love growing this food, and even more knowing that it’s directly feeding the local community. We wouldn’t be able to do it without you.

 

From all of us at the farm, a heartfelt THANK YOU for being part of it!

 

Please Share your Feedback with Us!

We're not putting out a formal survey to our members this year, but we would still love to hear from you if you have feedback of any kind about your CSA experience - positive or negative. Just send us an email with your thoughts. We are in the midst of planning for next season so this is the perfect window to share your input with us!

 

2014 CSA Sign-ups

This season is not even over yet and we are already knee-deep in planning for 2014: making next year’s field maps, teasing out the crop plan, and ordering seeds. (Believe it or not, we’ll be sowing next year’s onions, leeks and shallots in the greenhouse in less than 6 weeks)

 

Many of you have been asking about signing up for next season. We plan to do priority sign-ups in January. Anyone who was a member of the CSA this season – that being anyone who got a Harvest Basket, eggs, bread, salad share, and/or tamales this year - will be included in the priority sign-up process in January. If you are included in the priority sign-up process, you will be guaranteed a Harvest Basket if you want one. (Our Harvest Baskets are limited and always sell out so we give priority to returning members each year. There is usually no limit on eggs, bread, salad, or tamales).

 

We will send out a direct email to our entire 2013 membership in early January with specific sign-up instructions for 2014. Please be sure that we have your correct email address so you don’t miss out on your sign-up invitation.

 

Then, starting in March, we’ll move on to our waiting list and sign up wait-listed individuals until the Harvest Baskets are sold out.

 

The Year in Review

The chart below is a crop-by-crop recap of the season summarizing what we projected we would put in your Harvest Basket and what we actually put in it.

 

The thing I love about this chart is that every discrepancy in the projected versus actual quantities tells a story. For instance: we had a beautiful, warm spring this year, which made for a great crop of onions. It also meant that perennial crops like artichokes came on early – so early that they were almost over by the time the CSA started in June (hence the smaller share of artichokes). Major shortfalls in strawberries, celery and basil this year were due to disease pressure that wiped out all or portions of those crops. It was a warmer, more humid summer than we normally get, which created ideal conditions for diseases like Septoria and downy mildew. All told, the total value of food we put in your Harvest Basket this season was equal to $776.44, based on our farmstand pricing. You paid $765 for that food.

 

Whether it’s pests or weather or any number of other factors, your CSA share is largely defined by the forces of Mother Nature – and our varying ability to work with and around her. It's a constant dance.

CROP

PROJECTED

ACTUAL

DIFF.

NOTES

Scallions

1 bu

1 bu

 

 

Leeks

8 ct

11 ct

+3 ct

 

Purplette Onions

4.5 lbs

7 lbs

+2.5 lbs

Great onion year

Red Onions

6 ct

10 ct

+4 ct

“ “

Walla Wallas

4 ct

6 ct

+6 ct

“ “

Yellow Onion

8 ct

9 ct

+1 ct

“ “

Shallots

3.5 lb

3.5 lb

 

 

Artichokes

2 lb

1 lb

-1 lb

Early spring; artichokes were ending before CSA season began

Asparagus

1 lb

1 lb

 

 

Beans

0.5 lb

0.5 lb

 

 

Beets

12 lb

10.5 lb

-1.5 lb

Mice ate last bed of beets

Broccoli

16.5 lb

20 lb

+3.5 lb

Good spring crop

Brussels sprouts

3 stalks

2 to 3 stalks

 

 

Cabbage

6 heads

6 heads

 

 

Carrots

20 lbs

21 lbs

+1 lb

 

Cauliflower

2 heads

1 head

-1 head

Lost a planting due to cabbage maggot

Romanesco

1 head

1-2 heads

 

 

Celeriac

3 ct

3 ct

 

 

Celery

14 stalks

0

-14 stalks

Total crop failure due to Septoria disease pressure

Corn

18 ears

20 ears

+2 ears

 

Cucumbers

No projection

3 ct

 

 

Escarole/Radicchio

2 heads

2 heads

 

 

Fennel

6 bulbs

8 bulbs

 

 

Arugula

1 lb

1.5 lb

+0.5 lb

Sunny fall weather = late bonus greens

Braising Mix

0.5 lb

1 lb

 

“ “

Chard

5 bu

5 bu

 

 

Kale

7 bu

9 bu

+2 bu

 

Mizuna

None

0.5 lb

+0.5 lb

“ ”

Pac Choi

7 heads

6 heads

-1 head

 

Spinach

2 lbs

2 lbs

 

 

Collards

None

2 bu

+2 bu

 

Perennial Herbs

6 bu

7 bu

+1 bu

 

Cilantro

3 bu

3 bu

 

 

Dill

3 bu

3 bu

 

 

Basil

5 oz

1 oz

-4 oz

Crop failure in greenhouse

Parsely

4 bu

3 bu

-1 bu

 

Kohlrabi

5 ct

4 ct

-1 ct

 

Lettuce

33 heads

26 heads

-7 hds

Crop losses due to downy mildew pressure all summer (weather-related)

Parsnips

6 lbs

6 lbs

 

 

Peas

3 lbs

2.5 lbs

-0.5 lbs

 

Hot Peppers

10 ct

9 ct

-1 ct

 

Sweet Peppers

20 ct

23 ct

+3 ct

 

Potatoes

28 lb

38 lbs

+10 lbs

Bumper crop

Radishes

5 bu

6 bu

+1 bu

 

Rhubarb

½ lb

1 lb

+0.5 lb

 

Strawberries

24 pt

15 pt

-9 pt

Crop failure in July

Summer Squash

16 ct

24 ct

+8 ct

 

Apples

No projection

2 lbs

+2 lbs

Great orchard fruit year!

Plums

No projection

2.5 lbs

+2.5 lb

“ “

Turnips

6 bu

6 bu

 

 

Tomato plant

1

2

 

 

Cherry tomatoes

5 pts

2 pt

-3 pt

Late blight wiped out crop after Labor Day rain

Heirloom tomatoes

3 lbs

3 lbs

 

 

Red tomatoes

13 lbs

13.5 lbs

+0.5 lb

 

Acorn squash

2

3

+1

 

Butternut squash

2

2

 

 

Delicata squash

8

12

+4

 

Sunshine squash

2

2

 

 

Spaghetti squash

1

1

 

 

Winter sweet

1

1

 

 

Pie pumpkin

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 27: December 2

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce: Monster Kohlrabi & Scarlet Queen Turnips
  • Tamales This Week!
  • Stuff Some Stockings with Cranky Baby Hot Sauce!
  • Last Two Weeks!
  • 2014 CSA Sign-ups

 

In your share this week:

  • Delicata Winter Squash
  • Green Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Scarlet Queen Turnips

 

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Radicchio
  • Chard

 

New Produce

Monster Kohlrabi: You’ve gotten kohlrabi from us before this season, but never any that were as big as a baby’s head. This is our late-season storage variety, and in my opinion, the best-tasting kohlrabi there is. Just like the other varieties, you need to peel the tough outer skin. What you’ll find inside is a tender, sweet, crunchy treat that is something akin to jicama crossed with broccoli stem. This is my favorite kohlrabi for raw-eating, plain or with dip. But you can also cook it up - steamed, sautéed, stir-fried or roasted.

 

This variety is intended for storage, so it’ll be fine in your fridge if you don’t get to it for a month or two. Our household stash keeps all winter long in the cooler, no problemo.

 

Scarlet Queen Turnips: It’s hard to resist growing a hot-pink vegetable, especially for this time of year when the palette of farm color has been diminished to mostly greens and browns. They’re a relatively mild turnip (like radishes, all the kick is in the skin). They should keep for weeks in the fridge.

 

Tamales This Week

Tamales shares go out this week. If you are a tamale member, look for your final tamale share in the blue cooler at your pickup site this week.

 

Stuff Some Stockings with Cranky Baby Hot Sauce!

A few years back, Bets endeavored to make the perfect hot sauce and she succeeded. Handcrafted with homegrown serrano peppers that are vine-ripened to a sassy red in the greenhouses, Cranky Baby strikes the perfect balance between hot, sweet and tangy. Think Tabasco, only 100 times better…

 

(Even if you don't like spicy stuff, it's worth investing for the label alone. That's our very own Pippin in the highchair, with a little help from PhotoShop...)

This year’s vintage is now available to our CSA members by the case (12-five ounce bottles per case for $48). It’s shippable if you want to mail it out, and you can fly with it if you’re traveling for the holidays. If you only want a bottle or two, it’s also available at our farmstand ($5/bottle) this week and next week.

 

To order your case, please email us your:

  • Name
  • Pickup Location
  • Quantity of cases you would like

We’ll deliver to your pickup site.

(Cranky Baby is approved for farm-direct sale by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.)

 

Last Two Weeks!

We’re winding down. The cold snap that's moving in this week is adding some definitive punctuation to the end of the season. You’ll receive your final Harvest Basket/eggs/bread NEXT week, the week of December 9th. Final pick-up dates are as follows:

  • Valley Flora: Wednesday, December 11
  • Coos Bay: Wednesday, December 11
  • Port Orford: Friday, December 13
  • Bandon: Saturday, December 14

 

2014 CSA Sign-ups

This season is not even over yet and we are already knee-deep in planning for 2014: making next year’s field maps, teasing out the crop plan, and ordering seeds. (Believe it or not, we’ll be sowing next year’s onions, leeks and shallots in the greenhouse in less than 6 weeks.)

 

Many of you have been asking about signing up for next season. The plan is to do priority sign-ups in January. Anyone who was a member of the CSA this season – that being anyone who got a Harvest Basket, eggs, bread, salad share, and/or tamales this year - will be included in the priority sign-up process in January. If you are included in the priority sign-up process, you will be guaranteed a Harvest Basket if you want one. (Our Harvest Baskets are limited and always sell out so we give priority to returning members each year. There is usually no limit on eggs, bread, salad, or tamales).

 

We will send out a direct email to our entire 2013 membership in early January with specific sign-up instructions for 2014. Please be sure that we have your correct email address so you don’t miss out on your sign-up invitation.

 

Then, starting in March, we’ll move on to our waiting list and sign up wait-listed individuals until the Harvest Baskets are sold out.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball

No promises, but your LAST TOTE of 2013 might include some of the following next week:

  • Leeks
  • Brussels sprouts or Romanesco
  • Kale or chard
  • Shallots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Sunshine squash

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

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