The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

Winter CSA: Week 3

What's in the Winter Share this Week:

  • Candy Carrots
  • Red Beets
  • Leeks
  • Micro Mix
  • Curly Parsley
  • Winter Greens (baby arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, mustard, kale)
  • Bunched Asian Greens
  • Spaghetti Squash - Like most of you, spaghetti squash is not usually the first winter squash I reach for in my kitchen, but out of the blue I had a spurt of spaghetti squash inspiration a few weeks ago. I cut some squash in half and baked them face down in the oven (I always add a good layer of water to the sheet pan to help steam-cook my squash in the oven and prevent sticking). Meanwhile I made up a pressure-cooker batch of homemade chili from our farm-grown pinto beans that I'd soaked the night before. When the spaghettis were done we ladled chili into the cavity of the squash and ate them as spaghetti-chili boats. The spice of the chili played off the sweet mellowness of the squash, and it saved me the effort of having to bake cornbread. It won approval from the whole gang, age 4 to 46. Highly recommend!
  • Butternut Squash - last of the season.
  • Kohlrabi - still ugly on the outside, still pearly white on the inside. This is it for the season.

On Rotation:

  • Spring Raab and Purple Sprouting Broccoli - Bandon members will see a bag of kale & cabbage raab with some purple sprouting broccoli mixed in this week. Raab is the flowering tips of overwintered Brassicas - the final edible gift from our kale plants that have been in the ground for almost a year. It has wonderful, sweet flavor when steamed or sauteed. We usually drizzle it with olive oil and some ume plum vinegar after it comes out of the steamer. It's also fantastic roasted in the oven at 400 degrees with olive oil and salt until you get some crispy browning. Just keep an eye on it so you don't cross the line into blackened raab. It cooks quickly! FYI, we got a new shipment of biobags last week so the raab is packed into a fully compostable/marine degradable wood fiber cello bag. It's been hard to source them, but we've finally found a supplier who can provide an eco option in the volume we need. We'll be using them for all the bagging we can from here on out.

The Ubiquitous Chickweed

Some of you who garden probably recognize this plant, scientific name Stellaria media. Chickweed. Perhaps the most ubiquitous fall/winter/early spring weed we have on the farm, it thrives in cool, moist weather and forms a low-growing succulent mat of greenery capable of swallowing entire plantings of cilantro, onions, greens, lettuce, chicory, carrots, or any other early or late-sown crop that ends up in its path. We spend our fair share of time battling chickweed in the cooler months of the year. If I were to tally up all the hours our crew member, Allen, spent crawling through our onion planting pulling chickweed last spring, it would probably add up to weeks of his life. (Sorry about that, Allen).

You will most definitely find a few sprigs of it in your baby winter greens this week, and probably your bunch greens, too, despite the countless eye-straining hours we spent trying to sort it out of the mix during harvest, wash and bagging this week. The good news is it's entirely edible. Not only that, it's really, really good for you: super high in vitamins, minerals and protein, and it actually tastes good. So why all the painstaking effort to keep it out of the salad mix? Good question. Chickweed is one of those plants that has always belonged in the "weed" category of our farming minds; something we battle so that other cash crops can thrive instead. But little by little I have begun to wonder if it's time for a paradigm shift. A "weed" is purely a human construct. It's "a plant that is not valued where it is growing, usually of vigorous growth, especially one that tends to choke out or overgrow more desirable plants" (thank you Merriam Webster). What if, instead of fighting the chickweed we embraced it? Harvested it? Washed it? Bagged it? Sold it? 

We'd be rich!

(And you'd be really healthy!)

One of my favorite seed farmers/organic ag gurus is firebrand Frank Morton. He founded Wild Garden Seed in Philomouth and has dedicated his life to developing regionally adapted, open-pollinated, open source, organic varieties for farm and garden. He's also been a champion of the fight to protect Oregon's world-class, specialty seed-producing Willamette Valley from intrusion by GMO canola production (great article on this issue here). Frank once preached a mighty e-sermon to our farmer listserv about all the virtues of chickweed (this was in response to someone's post about "how do you deal with all the f***ing chickweed on your farm in the winter!?!"). Frank hotly contested that chickweed was nature's gift to our farms, covering and nourishing our soils through the winter, providing early spring forage for hungry pollinators and beneficial insects, AND to top it all off, it tastes great and is way more nutritious than kale! We should all be getting down on our knees and thanking the chickweed gods. And oh by the way, you can buy chickweed seed to INTENTIONALLY PLANT ON YOUR FARM from me, Frank, on my website. Amen.

I think most of us chortled at Frank's sermon that day (gotta love that Frank!) and then promptly hit "delete," cuz after all, what's the second word in chick-weed? Us farmers don't grow weeds, we grow hifalutin, specialty veggie-tables. I bet you money though that, as usual, Frank is ahead of his time. Chickweed will be all over those fancy menus in Portland someday - if it isn't already - maybe under the more elite auspices of "stellaria" at first - and it'll only be a matter of time before the culinary chickweed diaspora spreads down to Curry County. When that day comes and we find ourselves weeding the arugula out of the chickweed bed, I will think of Frank in all his infinite wisdom, vision, genius and foresight as a pioneering ecological seed breeder/farmer and thank him. (And honestly, I kinda hope that day comes sooner than later, cuz man do we have a vigorous patch of chickweed in our winter greenhouses!)

P.S. If you get some chickweed in your greens this week, try it! If you like it, let me know! If you'd like to see more chickweed in your salad in the future, please email me immediately! We could spearhead a reverse diaspora where Coos/Curry county teaches Portland how to eat high on the chickweed hog and yours truly could spend less of her life culling out tiny little delicious tendrils of chickweed in the washtub.

 

Newsletter: 

Winter CSA: Week 2

What's in your Winter CSA share this week:

  • Costarossa Radicchio - the last of the season. I am crying bitter radicchio tears because I have to wait unti next November to make that Tasty n Sons salad again.
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Italian Parsley
  • Celeriac
  • Yellow Potatoes
  • Autumn Frost Winter Squash - a new variety we trialed this year that I'm falling in love with. It's a specialty butternut with extra-long storage superpowers, thanks in part to that natural "frosty" wax layer on the skin (which also makes it look extra pretty while it sits on your counter waiting it's turn to jump in the soup pot). The flavor is stellar. I made the best squash soup of my life out of this variety a couple weeks back. Squash soup is six-year old Uma's favorite dinner, which is good news for mom cuz it's a 10 minute meal in the pressure cooker: chop up a couple leeks and saute them until soft and slightly browned. Peel and cube your winter squash and add it to the leeks. Dump in two cans of coconut milk, a couple cups of water, and a big spoonful of Better than Bouillon chicken stock. Lock the lid in place and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes. Quick-release the pressure and use an immersion blender to puree it smooth. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can do the same thing stovetop at a slightly mellower pace. And if you don't have an immersion blender, you can use an egg beater or transfer the soup in batches into a regular blender to render it silky-smooth. And then, 10 minutes later, you're wearing the "best mom ever" badge, handmade by your six-year-old. It's a great feeling. 
  • Bulk Kale
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Yellow Onion
  • Micro Mix
  • Baby Winter Greens

The bag of winter salad in your share this week marks the almost-end of the Persephone period here at our latitude. Gardeners and farmers talk about the "Persephone days" to refer to that part of the year when there are fewer than 10 hours of daylight. For us, here at 42 degrees N, the Persephone period begins around November 7th and ends around the first of February - aka, "winter." It takes its name from the Greek myth in which Hades, king of the Underworld, falls in love with beautiful maiden Persephone when he sees her picking flowers in a meadow. He kidnaps her in his chariot and carries her off to the dark underworld to be his bride (some say with the blessings of her father Zeus...yeah, the women's movement still had a long way to go back then). Persephone's mother, Demeter - goddess of vegetation and grain - is beside herself and searches the earth for her daughter, to no avail. At that point she withdraws into her temple and causes a great drought - a nice tactic to strongarm Zeus into releasing her daughter. But Hades tricks Persephone and gives her a pomegranate seed to eat, which seals her fate to remain in the underwold forever. Meanwhile up on earth, plants are shriveling and the ground is parched and Demeter is playing her cards well. In the end, a deal gets brokered where Persephone is released but has to return to Hades for three months of the year - winter, or the Persephone period.  

As a farmer, it's significant because most plants require 10 hours of daylight for active growth, so the Persphone period is a time of dormancy (and the greatest mental relaxation for those of us who tend plants). I used to think it meant that things don't grow at all. But that's really not true here in our climate where it doesn't get that cold. Plant growth simply slows down dramatically. Once I realized this, I started playing around with somewhat bizarre planting dates in our unheated field tunnels. The greens you're getting this week were seeded on December 3rd. In the summer, they'd be ready for harvest within three weeks, but through the Persephone period it took 2 months. The good news is that I've been seeding greens in our tunnels every other week since December 3rd, so we have tender baby greens - mizuna! arugula! kale! mustards! tatsoi! - to look forward to all season.

Enjoy your last week of the Persephone period in all it's icy rain glory. The wild plum just broke into brave bloom outside my window, and our first daffodils are showing their heads. Persephone will be climbing up from the Underworld any day now and delivering us into our long, drawn-out, wonderful, Oregon springtime - and the end of mental relaxation for farmers!

Newsletter: 

Winter CSA: Week 1

What's in the First Winter CSA Basket...

  • Winter Carrots - a true labor of love at this time of year, but worth the effort! 
  • Leeks
  • Red Beets - our storage variety, acclaimed for it's high brix (sugar) content even after months in storage
  • Bulk Kale - a mix of our various lacinato types
  • Curly Parsley
  • Storage Kohlrabi - ugly as all get out until you peel it, but crispy-juicy-perfect on the inside
  • Parsnips
  • Costarossa Radicchio - a new winter variety we trialed this year, with great results. Planted way back in August, this plant has weathered ALL the weather we've had since then and still came out of the field looking beautiful! Not overly bitter. Try the radicchio "Caesar" recipe below if you still need convincing.
  • Hakurei Turnips - also on the ugly side, especially the tops, but a welcome fresh addition to January salads
  • Delicata Squash

Winter CSA shares are often a mix of striking beauty and blatant unattractiveness. Exhibit A: bright, lofty bunches of green parsley nestled next to wine-red radicchio juxtaposed with gnarly, discolored storage kohlrabi. It's a lesson in trusting that there's good inside, even when things are looking really ugly. That might be a helpful message for all of us these days as our country roils.

Kicking off the winter season, I wanted to share a couple of of my favorite winter recipes that might come in handy for two of the more controversial vegetables in your tote this week: radicchio and beets. These are deeply flavorful, satisfying winter meals that err almost completely on the side of pure plant - which can be hard to do in the more produce-scarce winter months. I crave these two salads regularly in the winter and trust that it's my body telling me what it needs to get through winter feeling happy.

Carrot and Beet Slaw with Pistachio Butter and Raisins - This is a recipe from Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. I highly recommend owning this cookbook if you like to eat seasonally. It's often my go-to any time of the year, but especially in the winter. McFadden helps you turn things like parsnips, beets and kohlrabi into culinary wonderment.

Radicchio "Caesar" from Tasty n Sons - Apparently people line up on the sidewalk in Portland and wait for two hours to get an order of this salad. If you have some sourdough from Farmstead Bread, it makes the best homemade croutons. We've been making this weekly and can't seem to grow tired of it. 

Have fun with your first installment of January produce, and thanks for being part of our winter season!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 28, la última!

  • Beets
  • Green Cabbage - very long keeping in the fridge (months!)
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Potatoes
  • Pea Shoots
  • Hakurei Turnips - for Wednesday members this week (Saturday members got them last week)
  • Tetsukabuto winter squash - The squash of choice for the apocalypse! This kabocha/butternut cross stores FOREVER. As in, I once ate one that was over a year old and it was still delish. Tetsu has sweet nutty flavor and wide-ranging versatility in the kitchen: roastable, mashable, curry-able, soup-able, stuffable.

A Short Winter's Nap...

Winter is a fleeting thing around here - about two weeks in December, flanked on either side by spring and fall, which go on for months and months. By January the daffodils will already be blooming and by February green things will be growing like mad again. It doesn't add up to much dormancy - or make for much of a mental break from farming. But rather than chafe against our quasi-Mediterranean climate and its botanical repurcussions, I've embraced the opportunity to grow food year round. Hence, the Winter CSA and farmstand. For those of you signed up for our winter CSA season, we'll see you in a month! The farmstand will likely be back in action that same week on January 13th. It turns out I really enjoy winter production, but I'll admit I'm also quite keen on the little break ahead - a chance to dive into extracurricular projects, hunker in with family, and relish winter.

A mighty mountain of thanks to all of you for your CSA commitment the past 28 weeks. It's been an anxious year, but once again the CSA and our beloved cadre of loyal local customers - farmstand shoppers! co-ops and stores! restaurants! - kept the farm humming. Back in college while I was studying agroecology as an idealistic 20-year old - penning my honors thesis about the pitfalls of the global economy and making the case for local food systems - one of the arguments was always that local food systems are more resilient in the face of a system shock. Like, for instance, when a global pandemic shuts down institutions like colleges and universities, shutters restaurants, forces people into lockdown, and brings the economy to a grinding halt. Sure enough, industrial-scale ag was sent reeling last spring as it struggled to adapt to the abrupt new COVID-19 landscape. Truckloads of zucchini were getting dumped in farm fields because there was no market; slaughterhouses were shut down due to COVID outbreaks among workers so that you couldn't buy chicken for weeks; small blocks of cheese were sold out everywhere but there was a glut of 10 pound cheddar bricks - because everyone was cooking at home instead of eating at the restaurants that buy in volume.

That "resilient-in-the-face-of-system-shock" theory was exactly that, a theory. But I'd never really seen it tested. Last March we weren't sure what the pandemic would mean for us on Floras Creek, but as it turned out more people sought out Valley Flora than ever before amidst this crisis. Restaurant sales slackened predictably, but sales to stores jumped, our CSA membership was up 25%, and our farmstand fed more folks than ever before. We had to expand our crew to get all the farming done each week. We befriended new customers who had never been to the farm before who no longer wanted to shop for produce at the supermarket. People wrote us notes and sent us emails thanking us for helping to keep them safe and healthy through all this, and for nourishing them in more ways than calories alone. And when all was said and done, you guys ate every last stick of food we could grow! At least this time around, the farm weathered a major system shock with flying colors thanks to all of you. 

I have always loved the diversity we tend on the farm (the season's not even over yet and I'm already thumbing through my seed catalogues and notes, excited for the new varieties I want to trial next year). It's been clear to me for a long time that diversity equals resilience when it comes to crop production. That theory has been proven time and time again on the farm in the past twelve years. But diversity also equals resilience when it comes to market channels. If we had been geared to sell to only restaurants when COVID-19 hit, we might have gone under. But the fact that we had all of you supporting the farm in various ways - as CSA members; as farmstand customers; as cafés and delis and restaraunts; as co-ops and stores and caterers - that allowed us to keep on going and to feed more of our community than ever before. Thank you so much.

So here's to our next trip around the sun. I'm optimistic that we have a lot to look forward to in 2021, if nothing else then more of those hot pink mini daikons we trialed this fall! It's what I love about farming: every year is a new beginning, a new adventure, another chance at doing life well. 

Wishing you all good health and a happy solstice. And as always....Eat your vegetables!

Love,

Zoë

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 27 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Celeriac
  • Yellow Onion
  • Head Lettuce - the final harvest! We've never made it into December with head lettuce before, so I was pretty tickled to pull off one last harvest this week. 
  • Rosalba Radicchio - Third time's a charm? This is the final radicchio variety for the season and it's the bell of the ball! She goes by the name "Rosalba" and is a unique novelty among her chicory cousins because she blushes a bridesmaid pink. I'm taken by her because she likes cold weather - in fact, she requires it to turn pink - and it's always fun to make a salad the color of spring blossoms in December.

The Final Two Weeks!

It's not over yet! We're back to our normal schedule this week and you've got two more tote of veggies coming your way this week and next to cap off our 28-week season. On the heels of a hearty Thanksgiving we like to give you some roughage and bitter greens - kale! radicchio! - to reset your system. Then next week we'll hook you up with one final tote replete with lots of things that store well - beets! green cabbage! shallots! potatoes! kabocha squash! - to help you greet the winter solstice with an ample pantry. On the farm, the to-do list has trimmed itself down considerably so that we're mostly focused on harvest, a few final field projects, and getting the horse palace buttoned up (the big ponies are delighted with their new cozy digs!). It means we get a revel in the mellowing workload and savor some long evenings by the woodstove. I love winter!

See you next week for the last hurrah!

 

Newsletter: 

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 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: 

Week 26: Thanksgiving!

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • Wednesday Pick-up Reminder!
  • New Produce (and a Recipe) for Thanksgiving: Parsnips & Sunshine squash

 

In your share this week:

  • Shallots – 1.5 pounds
  • Brussels sprouts – 1 stalk
  • Carrots – 1.5 pounds
  • Celeriac – 2 heads
  • Kale – 12 ounces
  • Mixed herbs – thyme, rosemary, sage
  • Parsnips – 3 pounds
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes – 5 pounds
  • Sunshine winter squash - 1

 

WEDNESDAY PICK UP REMINDER!

This week we are delivering ALL Harvest Baskets, Eggs & Bread on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27th

  • There will be NO DELIVERY to PORT ORFORD on Friday, November 29th.
  • There will be NO DELIVERY to BANDON on Saturday, November 30th.

 

These are the specific times for pickup at each location on Wednesday, November 27th:

  • Valley Flora: unchanged – 9 am to 5 pm
  • Coos Bay:  unchanged – 12 pm to 3 pm
  • Bandon: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 12 noon (no end time)
  • Port Orford: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 10 am (all day)

 

New Produce for Thanksgiving

Parsnips: Parsnips are yet another of those emotionally-charged vegetables, loved by some and loathed by others. They have a potent, powerful flavor that is not to everyone’s liking, which is why I’ve included one miraculous recipe in this week’s newsletter – a recipe that might just cause the most staunch skeptic to cross over to the parsnip-liking side. If there is one new dish you add to your Thanksgiving menu this year, let it be this one:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/roasted-winter-squash-and-parsnip...

 

I’m speaking from personal experience. I’ve never been wildly in love with parsnips, but I appreciate them for the fact that they’re a sturdy food that offers some diversity to our late-fall and deep-winter diet. They are willing to grow in our climate and they’ll store for months, so they have a few merits. I’d call my relationship to them something like “respectful tolerance.”

 

But exactly one year ago today, I vowed passionately, out loud, that I was divorcing parsnips for good. Never again would I plant them. It was over between us.

 

It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 2012, and a fury of a storm was blowing through. Roberto was in Portland for the birth of his second son, and I was hustling to try to get all 100+ CSA totes packed in one day with the volunteer help of my sister and Farm Angel Tom. Near the end of the pack-out, we ran out of parsnips. It was pitch-black-dark outside and the rain was driving sideways, but I had no choice but to venture back out into the field and wrestle some more parsnips out of the ground.

 

If you’ve ever dug parsnips before you know that “wrestle” is no exaggeration. It’s the best verb in the dictionary for this particular job. Parsnips send down a long taproot, deeply anchoring themselves into the ground. There is no digging spade in the world that can fully loosen a parsnip (we have broken two trying), so you have to do your fair share of grunting and tugging on each root to haul it out of the ground. The parsnips tend to break in the process, or get scuffed by the spade, and somehow we’re always digging them in a driving rain, slathered in mud, by the weak glow of pickup headlights. To top it off, our parsnips get an ugly orange rust on the skin, and the biggest ones inevitably split and get spongey. All in all, it’s a defeating harvest – especially after tending the crop for six full months (we seed them in May each year).

 

So went the script that night: mud, rain, headlights, ugly roots. After a half hour in the mud – and already twelve hours and thousands of pounds of produce into my harvest day- I had enough bins filled and I loaded up the pickup. I stripped my muddy rain bibs down around my ankles, slid behind the wheel, and turned the key. The pickup wouldn’t start.

 

I was a ½ mile from the barn and the only way home was on foot, dragging the loaded harvest cart behind me. Part way there, I saw headlights creeping along the road, searching for me through the storm. When Tom pulled up, I was on the verge of crying, or laughing. Both.

 

“You OK?” Tom asked.

“Never again, Tom. I will never grow parsnips again! I am divorcing parsnips!”

 

Two days later my family sat down to a big Thanksgiving dinner, at a table laden entirely with food we had grown. One of the dishes I made was the maple-glazed squash and parsnips. It probably seems odd that I’d try that recipe, given the beating I’d had two days prior. Maybe subconsciously I was giving my relationship with parsnips one last chance. Or maybe it was just the butter and maple syrup that caught my eye. Either way, that dish was the best thing on the table that night. Parsnips redeemed.

 

This year I’m happy to report that for the first time ever, we dug parsnips in the sunshine, and there were plenty to see us all the way through our big, 110-tote pack-out today. Sure, they were still ugly and rust-streaked and amputated, but that’s what veggie peelers are for. Nobody’s perfect. Relationships take work. A little butter and maple syrup never hurts either.

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

 

Sunshine squash: Tropical, sweet, intensely flavorful – sunshine squash is our all-time favorite kabocha-type winter squash. It’s a great Thanksgivingsquash because it’s festive and versatile. It plays a star role in the parsnip recipe above, or if you’re vegetarian it’s a great squash to stuff and bake like a turkey. It peels relatively easily, and it stores for a long time on the counter. Also makes great soup!

 

Farmstand Open 3 More Weeks!

The farmstand is still open and well-stocked with all kinds of produce (even a few late tomatoes, still!).

We will be open every Wednesday through December 11th from 10 am to 2 pm (including the Wednesday before Thanksgiving):

  • Wednesday, November 27th 10-2
  • Wednesday, December 4th, 10-2
  • Wednesday, December 11th, 10-2

Come stock up!

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following next week:

  • Leeks
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Escarole
  • Kohlrabi
  • Turnips
  • Delicata 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: 

Week 25: November 18th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • Our Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule - Mark your Calendars!
  • Winter Farmstand Going Strong
  • The VF Crystal Ball: What to expect in your Thanksgiving Share

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Pac choi
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Hakurei turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Delicata winter squash

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

Nothing this week….

 

Our Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule - Mark your Calendars!

 

WE WILL DELIVER ALL HARVEST BASKETS ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27th

 

There will be NO DELIVERY to PORT ORFORD on Friday, November 29th.

There will be NO DELIVERY to BANDON on Saturday, November 30th.

 

We do this for two reasons:

  • To ensure that everyone gets their food in time for Thanksgiving
  • To give ourselves a brief holiday from harvest and delivery during Thanksgiving celebrations.

 

These are the specific times for pickup at each location on Wednesday, November 27th:

  • Valley Flora: unchanged – 9 am to 5 pm
  • Coos Bay:  unchanged – 12 pm to 3 pm
  • Bandon: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 12 noon (no end time)
  • Port Orford: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 10 am (all day)

 

If you will be out of town for the holiday and won’t be able to pick up your Thanksgiving tote, we are happy to hold it for you in our walk-in cooler until you return. To make special arrangements with us, please email us

  • Your name
  • Your pickup location
  • ALL of the items you usually pick up each week (i.e. Harvest Basket, eggs, bread, etc.)
  • The date you plan to pick up your Harvest Basket at the farm.

I’ll reply to your email with detailed pick up instructions from our walk-in cooler at the farm.

We need to hear from you by this Friday, November 22nd if you need special arrangements.

 

Winter Farmstand Going Strong

The farmstand is still open and well-stocked with all kinds of produce (even a few late tomatoes!). So far the weather has cooperated beautifully each week on our farmstand days. Miraculous.

 

We will continue to be open every Wednesday through December 11th from 10 am to 2 pm (including the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), so come stock up!

  • Wednesday, November 27th 10-2
  • Wednesday, December 4th, 10-2
  • Wednesday, December 11th, 10-2

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What will most likely be in your THANKSGIVING SHARE…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following (hopefully it will all fit!):

  • Shallots – 1.5 pounds
  • Brussels sprouts – 1 stalk (2 halves)
  • Carrots – 1 to 2 pounds
  • Celeriac – 1 to 2 heads
  • Kale – 1 bunch
  • Mixed herbs – thyme, rosemary, sage
  • Parships – 3 pounds
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes – 5 pounds
  • Sunshine winter squash - 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 24: November 11th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Gold Shallots, Celeriac, Romanesco, Winter Sweet Squash
  • Our Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule (PLEASE READ!)

 

In your share this week:

  • Gold Shallots
  • Broccoli
  • Romanesco Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Head Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Winter Sweet Squash

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

Nothing this week….

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Gold Shallots:Shallots always find their way into your tote late in the season, primarily because they are our best-storing allium, outlasting onions by months. A long-time CSA member told me this week that she had just used up her final shallots from last season, more than a year old. They are a great storage crop to have in our quiver, helping to round out late-season harvest baskets and keeping our kitchens stocked well into the new year.

 

They also tend to feature prominently in holiday recipes, so you’ll see them again the week of Thanksgiving and the final week of harvest baskets (the week of December 9th). If you have a Thanksgiving recipe that calls for lots of shallots, you can expect another 1 ½ pounds at Thanksgiving and they are also available in bulk at our farmstand, at the Port Orford Community Coop, and at Coos Head Food Store.

 

Shallots are more closely related to garlic than they are to onions, but I use them interchangeably with onions. Vinaigrette recipes often call for minced raw shallot, and you’ll see plenty of recipes calling for crispy fried shallots and caramelized shallots. Our website has an eclectic array of recipes that call for shallots, if you want some inspiration: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/shallots

 

If you are of a mind to squirrel them away, they’ll keep the longest in a cool, dry, dark place.

 

Celeriac: Introducing another of the gnarly fall foods, celeriac is also known as celery root. Don’t be intimidated by its gruff exterior; inside is a smooth, creamy-white, celery-flavored root that’s a great addition to mashed potatoes, soups, salads, roasted veggies, stuffing, pilaf, etc. It offers all the flavor of celery stalks, with the integrity of a potato (it’s fine to eat raw, as well). We love it at Thanksgiving in stuffing, and to give an extra twist to our mashed potatoes (just peel, cube, boil with the spuds, and mash).

 

Celeriac stores like a champ – a long, long time in your fridge – but I encourage you to experiment with this first specimen so that you can include the next round of celeriac in your Thanksgiving meal with confidence (more coming the week of November 25th).

 

Romanesco Cauliflower: To be eaten, not just gawked at! Romanesco is beautiful to behold with its lime green spiraled minarets (an infinitely-repeating fractal!), but it’s also a huge treat to eat. It has the texture of cauliflower but an even better, nuttier taste and texture. Wonderful roasted with Brussels sprouts, or lightly steamed. It makes a splash on a platter of veggies and dip.

 

Romanesco keeps for at least a week in the fridge in a plastic bag. Enjoy!

 

Winter Sweet Squash: This is a new variety for us this year. It’s a Kabocha type, with flaky, sweet, dry flesh (great for soups, pies, stuffing, ravioli filling, or plain eating with butter).

 

Our Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule

Mark your calendars! For the week of Thanksgiving:

 

WE WILL DELIVER ALL HARVEST BASKETS ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27th.

There will be no Friday delivery to Port Orford on 11/29 and no Saturday delivery to Bandon on 11/30.

 

We do this for two reasons:

  • To ensure that everyone gets their food in time for Thanksgiving
  • To give ourselves a brief holiday from harvest and delivery during Thanksgiving celebrations.

 

These are the specific times for pickup at each location on Wednesday, November 27th:

Valley Flora: unchanged – 9 am to 5 pm

Coos Bay:  unchanged – 12 pm to 3 pm

Bandon: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 12 noon (no end time)

Port Orford: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 10 am (all day)

 

If you will be out of town for the holiday and won’t be able to pick up your Thanksgiving tote, we are happy to hold it for you in our walk-in cooler until you return. To make special arrangements with us, please email us

  • Your name
  • Your pickup location
  • The date you plan to pick up your Harvest Basket at the farm.

I’ll reply to your email with pick-up instructions. We must hear from you by Friday, November 22ndif you need special arrangements.

 

In case your menu planning is already underway, your Thanksgiving tote will likely include the following:

  • 1.5 lb Shallots
  • 1 stalk Brussels sprouts
  • 1-2 poundsCarrots
  • 1-2 Celeriac
  • 1 bunch Kale
  • 1 bunch Mixed herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano)?
  • 3 lbs Parships
  • 5 lbs Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • 1 Sunshine Winter Squash

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Leeks
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Pac Choi
  • Lettuce
  • Kohlrabi
  • Potatoes
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Delicata Winter Squash
  • Parsley?

 

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 23: November 4th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Brussels sprouts, Delicata squash, Reine des Glaces lettuce
  • Reminiscent of Spring: Pac choi, Hakurei turnips & mizuna
  • Tamales This Week!
  • Waiting on the Broccoli: Racing Persephone

 

In your share this week:

  • Yellow onions
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Pac choi
  • Reine des Glaces lettuce
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Hakurei turnips
  • Mizuna
  • Green peppers
  • Delicata winter squash

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Romanesco cauliflower

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Brussels sprouts: So begins our fall season of the weird, the gnarly, and the Dr. Seussian: Brussels sprouts on the stalk! I imagine there will be some bartering going on at drop sites this week, for Brussels sprouts are one of those iconic love it or hate it foods, right in there with beets. I know for a fact that Valley Flora Brussels sprouts have made converts out of some staunch detesters in the past, so you might think twice before giving them away.

 

There are some great recipes on our website if you need to be convinced:

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/brussels%20sprouts

 

Or do a simply roasting: clean up your sprouts, cut them in half, toss them with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven at 400 until the edges are browned.

 

The reason that some Brussels sprout haters actually like our sprouts probably has to do with the fact that we don’t harvest them until late fall when they’ll have the best flavor. Cold weather, and particularly a frost, will bring up the sugars in all Brassica plants (kale, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.), reducing their bitterness (aka, the “stanky gym sock” flavor). The sugars act like cellular antifreeze to help the plants survive the winter, so as they sense cold temperatures they actually pump out more sugar and sweeten up. We usually hope for our first light frost on the farm at the beginning of November. We got it last week, right on time, so the sweetening is underway out in the field.

 

The vast majority of the Brussels sprouts in the U.S. are grown on the central coast of California where temperatures rarely drop to freezing. As a result, store-bought, out-of-season Brussels sprouts do in fact taste like old gym socks. I wouldn’t eat those things either!

 

Kitchen tip: Brussels sprouts do take a little patience. The lower sprouts usually need to be cleaned up, and they will store the best if you snap all the sprouts off the stalk and keep them in the fridge in a plastic bag. They have a great shelf life – like little cabbages – and will keep for a few weeks at least (longer if they’re cleaned and then stored).

 

Delicata Squash: The number one favorite winter squash, it’s here. You’ll get it two more times this season, so no need to hoard. Their flavor is exquisite, but part of the reason they are so great has to do with how easy they are to prepare: Just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake face down in a pan with a little water until soft (20-30 minutes). I like to eat them with a pat of butter melted in the middle. You can eat the skin as well.

 

Reine des Glaces Head Lettuce: The name aptly translates to “Queen of the Ice.” This is as close to an iceberg lettuce as we grow, but with a spiky, punk rock spin. It has all the juicy crunch of iceberg, and holds up just as well under a bleu cheese dressing. We did it up last night in wedge style, with sliced peppers and a homemade, creamy feta dressing. No need to be ashamed at how much you’ll enjoy it. I mean, hey, if 80s style is back (so soon?), why not iceberg?

 

Reminiscent of Spring: The return of some old friends        

Hakurei turnips, mizuna, and pac choi are all making a showing in your share this week, not seen since early summer. The cool weather of fall is ideal for these crops, so they make a second appearance as reliable bookends to the season.

 

Tamales This Week!

Tamale shares go out this week. Look for your labeled share in the marked blue cooler at your pickup site.

 

Waiting on the Broccoli: Racing Persephone

Our broccoli and Romanesco cauliflower plantings have been excruciatingly slow to mature this fall. The autumn broccoli harvest would normally be over by now, and the Romanesco should have appeared in your totes two weeks ago. But for some reason, they are only just now starting to head up to harvestable size. I wasted some of October worrying that they wouldn’t get there in time, but it’s looking hopeful now.

 

Why the worry? This week we’re entering what’s known as the “Persephone Period,” the winter months when there is less than 10 hours of light each day. That’s the point when plants pretty much stop growing (including the broccoli and Romanesco, so I've been hoping they'll mature before the days get too short). It lasts until the end of January, at which point the days start getting longer and there is a sudden jump in growth again. We have a great visual indicator of the Persephone Period on the farm: our kale plants. We harvest kale all year long. During the spring, summer, and early fall it grows back every week, fully replenishing itself. But from now through the end of the Harvest Basket season, we will be taking money out of the bank, so to speak. The leaves won’t re-grow and by the middle of December our kale plants will look like naked sticks with a small tuft of tiny leaves at the growing tip (you’ll notice in the coming weeks that the kale leaves in your share are smaller and smaller, and they will be packed by the pound instead of by the bunch).

 

The plants will stand naked through January like this, and then suddenly at the start of February they will send up new leaves, size up old leaves, and be bushy once again. We’ll emerge from the Persephone Period, kale leaves a-blazing, and start having to mow our lawn again.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Shallots
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Winter Sweet Winter 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: 

Week 22: October 28th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Butternut Squash
  • Phatty - Fat Leeks!

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Rainbow Beets
  • Head Lettuce
  • Winterbor Kale
  • Radishes
  • Butternut Squash
  • Arugula

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Butternut Squash: Everyone goes nuts for butternuts – they’re probably tied with Delicata for number one favorite winter squash. And for good reason: they are almost pure meat (very small seed cavity); they’re easy to peel; they have a thin skin (no death-defying, ninja, knife battles); they make a stellar, creamy squash soup; and they roast up beautifully.

 

But never was there a squash so finicky; they are somewhat difficult to grow, not very productive, and even harder to successfully store. We’ve had bad luck with butternuts rotting in storage and developing weird skin blemishes (only skin deep, but ugly nonetheless) - to the point that we’ve questioned whether we should even bother growing them.

 

But the demad is insatiable, so we tried again this year with a new organic variety called Nutterbutter. It’s quicker to mature than many varieties (which is helpful in our temperate climate), and it’s supposed to have great flavor. It also turns out that it produces smaller squash, for better or for worse. As a result, you’re going to see two or three butternuts in your tote this week – enough for a really big pot of soup, or a handful of other dishes. The squash are mostly blemish-free this year, but there are a few with some of those brown skin spots. As in year’s past, we’ve only found them to be skin-deep, so don’t worry if you get one with a birthmark. It’s nothing a vegetable peeler won’t take care of, lickety-split.

 

This is the one and only time you’ll be getting butternuts this year, so enjoy them. They should last on your counter, in case you want to drag the pleasure out for awhile.

 

Phatty – Fat Leeks!

Another experiment this season: a couple of new leek varieties. This one is aptly called Megaton (you’ll see the other variety at the very end of the season). They are by far the fattest, heaviest leeks we have ever grown, and they are much faster to harvest and clean – all good things to a production farmer. But the true test is flavor. This week I’m going to do a side-by-side leek taste trial, and you can, too, if you have any leeks leftover from two weeks ago. The last leeks you got from us were King Richard, an old-time favorite of many farmers that we’ve always grown. Their only drawback is that they tend to be much less uniform and skinnier, which makes harvest more of a chore.

 

I’m going to cook up some King Richards and some Megatons in separate pans, done the blindfold, and see if Megaton also wins out on flavor, or not. If it does, I dare say it’s worth spending three and a half times more on the seed.

 

Let me know what you think. Do you like big, fat leeks? Or do you prefer a handful of skinny leeks? What about the flavor? Would love to hear your opinion on it all.

 

Fall Farmstand Hours

We have switched to our fall schedule and the farmstand is now open on Wednesdays ONLY from 10 am to 2 pm. There is still the stray tomato to be had at the stand and the last of the summer peppers, but autumn food is taking over – winter squash, parsnips, potatoes, bunched greens, radishes, broccoli, and much more.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts?
  • Romanesco Cauliflower?
  • Pac Choi
  • Thyme?
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Hakurei Turnips?
  • Delicata 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: 

Week 21: October 21st

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Spaghetti Squash
  • Cover Crops and Strawberry Crowns
  • Remember, No More Abby’s Greens Salad Shares
  • Fall Farmstand Hours

 

In your share this week:

  • Yellow Onions
  • Carrots
  • Braising Mix
  • Parsley
  • Head Lettuce
  • Red Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Spaghetti Squash

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Spaghetti Squash: Probably the most-maligned of all the winter squash (hippy food, sneer!), spaghetti squash deserves a chance in your kitchen. In this day and age of widespread gluten-intolerance, perhaps its day to shine has finally come. It’s different from all the other winter squash in that it does truly resemble spaghetti inside once it’s cooked. You can bake or steam it (some people like to poke it full of holes with a knife or fork and then bake it whole until soft). Once it’s cooked, you can scoop out the “spaghetti” inside and dress it up with good old fashioned tomato sauce, or cream sauce (especially good with chantarelles and herbs), or anything else to suit your taste.

 

Cover Crops and Strawberry Crowns

You’d think we’d be done planting by this point in the season, but there is one last flurry of seeding and transplanting going on right now. Over the past two weeks we’ve been broadcasting hundreds of pounds of cover crop seed – a mix of rye, oats, red clover, vetch, and field peas – which will grow through the winter and provide erosion control, beneficial habitat, and a lot of nutrients for our soil. Next spring, we’ll till all that biomass back into the field, providing nitrogen and rich organic matter for next year’s cash crops. Our over-wintered cover crops usually grow to 6 feet in height and provide spring forage for bees and other beneficial insects.

 

We’re also in the midst of our fall strawberry planting. This time every year we plant new strawberry crowns that we order from a nursery in Northern California. We get them established in the fall, which gives the plants a head start and encourages them to begin fruiting more quickly in the spring. In addition to our beloved standby, Seascape, we’re planting two new trial varieties this year that are supposed to be more disease resistant and better tasting than Seascape: Albion and Sweeet Ann. It’s hard to imagine beating the flavor of a Seascape strawberry, but we'll let you be the judge of that next year.

 

Remember: No More Abby’s Greens Salad Shares

Last week was the 20th and final week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares. There will continue to be Abby’s Greens for sale at our farmstand each Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm. You can also find Abby’s Greens at the Langlois Market, Mother’s Natural Grocery, Coos Head Food Store, and probably at the soon-to-open Port Orford Community Co-op (grand opening November 1st from 10 am to 5 pm).

 

New Fall Farmstand Hours

We have switched to our fall schedule and the farmstand is now open on Wednesdays ONLY from 10 am to 2 pm. There is still the stray tomato to be had at the stand and the last of the summer peppers, but autumn food is taking over – winter squash, parsnips, potatoes, bunched greens, radishes, broccoli, and much more.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Thyme?
  • Radishes?
  • Butternut 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: 

Week 20: October 14th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Leeks, Savoy Cabbage, Acorn Squash & Pie Pumpkins
  • Winter Squash Kickoff!
  • Last Week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares
  • New Fall Farmstand Hours

 

In your share this week:

  • Yellow Onions
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Fennel
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Rosemary
  • Head Lettuce
  • Hot Peppers
  • Acorn Squash
  • Pie Pumpkins

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Leeks: Long and lovely, mild-mannered and deeply flavorful, leeks are like a gateway drug to onions. They rank on the mellower side of the allium spectrum and can be cooked up in any recipe where you would normally use onions. They are most famously paired with potatoes in potato leek soup, but don’t stop there. The possibilities are endless and delicious.

 

Prep tip: Sometimes dirt gets caught within the inner rings of the leek. Cut the leek up the center the long way and then slice the leek crosswise, discarding the root and leaf ends. Rinse the sliced leek in a colander to wash off any dirt and then cook.  Will store for a few weeks in the fridge in a plastic bag. If the outer layers get funky, just strip them off to reveal pristine leek below (like cabbage).

 

Savoy Cabbage: A curly-headed cousin to regular smooth cabbages, savoy cabbage is light and tender. It can be used in all the same ways.

 

Acorn Squash: Acorns have dark green to black skin, with deep ribs. They often have a bright orange spot on one side, where they were in contact with the ground. This is one tough-skinned squash, so be extra-careful when you cut into it. Acorns are among the more ubiquitous squash varieties in the supermarket and are maybe a little less intimidating to some folks. There are a couple of recipes on our website that I really like if you want to do it up fancy-ish, or turn them into a main dish:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/acorn%20squash

 

But if you’re in a hurry or more inclined towards the simple, I suggest simply halving your acorns, scooping out the seeds, and placing them face down on a baking tray with a little water in the tray. Bake in the oven at 400 until you can pierce the skin with a fork and the flesh is soft, about 30 minutes or so. We eat them with a pat of butter melting inside, and I have been known to put a splash of maple syrup or a sprinkle of brown sugar on them.

 

They also make great lunch food if you bake them the night before and then pack them for the next day. The hollow cavity begs to be stuffed with something – feta, rice, nuts, salad, sautéed onions, or all of the above.

 

Like all the winter squash you’re getting, Acorns will store for a couple months at room temperature, so no need to stress about eating them right away if you have a perishable produce pile-up right now.

 

Pie Pumpkins: These cute little pumpkins can double as Halloween/Thanksgiving décor and/or the key ingredient in a homemade pumpkin pie. They will store for a couple months on the counter – like all the squash varieties – so if you want to save yours for Thanksgiving you can. (We also have all the winter squash varieties for sale at our farmstand on Wednesdays if you want to stock up in a big way for winter eating!)

 

My sister is the queen of homemade pumpkin pie. I know, I know: what a wholly un-modern thing to bake the pumpkin, make the filling, craft the crust, and see it through to steaming completion. But once you’ve had the real thing, with a dollop of whipped cream on top, there’s no going back. So be forewarned if you have a stash of canned pumpkin pie filling in your pantry: you’d better be ready to put it up for adoption after you try the real thing. Here are a few variations on the theme:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/pie%20pumpkin

 

Winter Squash Kickoff

This week marks the official start of winter squash season! In the nine remaining weeks of the Harvest Basket season (the last week of the CSA will be the week of December 9th), you are going to meet an array of different winter squash. All of them are cured and ready to eat, but will also store for another few months, either on your countertop or in a cool, dry, dark place. There is no need to refrigerate winter squash; in fact their preferred storage temperature is around 50 degrees. Even though they look tough, handle them gently. Bruised winter squash won't store as long.

 

Many people are new to winter squash and often relate to them more as seasonal décor than food. We’re here to encourage you to EAT them, because they are fantastically sweet, delicious and versatile. We’ve grown a selection of our all-time favorite varieties and each week I’ll give you tips, suggestions and recipes that will help you enjoy them. Don’t be intimidated by their tough skins, large size, or funky shapes. Winter squash is one of the highlights of seasonal eating in our climate, and lucky for all of us it was a good year for squash on the farm!

 

A word about kitchen safety and winter squash: Their skin is often tough as nails, so be very careful cutting into them. If you’re cutting a squash in half or into slices, you’ll want to use a large, heavy-bladed, sharp-tipped knife (not a thin-bladed, paring, or delicate ceramic knife). We once broke the blade of our best knife while trying to hack open a winter squash, so now we only use a heavy-duty stainless steel chef knife for the job. It’s best to insert the tip of the knife into the squash first and then work the blade down and through the flesh of the squash. Be careful that the squash doesn’t spin out of your grip, or that the knife slips. Always be strategic about where your hands are and where the knife is headed. If you have a microwave, some people suggest nuking the squash for a couple minutes to pre-soften it before attempting to cut into it.

 

Enjoy the parade of squash coming your way. They are a seasonal delight, and not particularly perishable – in case you need some time to warm up to them.

 

Last Week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares

This is the 20th and final week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares. If you’ve been getting a salad share all season, enjoy this last bag of greens. There will probably continue to be Abby’s Greens for sale at our farmstand each Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm. You can also find Abby’s Greens at the Langlois Market, Mother’s Natural Grocery, and Coos Head Food Store (depending on supply).

 

New Fall Farmstand Hours

We have switched to our fall schedule and the farmstand is now open on Wednesdays ONLY from 10 am to 2 pm. There is still the stray tomato to be had at the stand and the last of the summer peppers, but autumn food is taking over – winter squash, parsnips, potatoes, bunched greens, radishes, broccoli, and much more. We anticipate being open each Wednesday through mid-December.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Braising Mix
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Red Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Spaghetti 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: 

Week 19: October 7

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Escarole
  • Produce Smugglers and Roadkill Tomatoes: A Delivery Escapade

 

In your share this week:

  • Yellow Onions
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Escarole
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Rainbow chard

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Escarole: It looks like lettuce, but it’s actually a member of the chicory family (lumped in there with radicchio, endive, friseé, dandelions, and other such bitter greens). And yes, unadulterated, it is mildly bitter, which will probably please some of you more than others. But if you are suspicious of bitter foods, don’t toss your escarole out just yet. It’s a versatile green and there are lots of ways to prepare it that won’t make you pucker up. Here are some good options:

 

Salads: Wash your escarole well (it tends to collect dirt more than lettuce), cut it into ribbons, and then let it soak for 10 minutes in water. This tends to leach out any trace of the bitterness. You can then use it raw just like lettuce. I like to pair escarole in salads with sweet ingredients like dried cranberries, diced apple, pomegranate seeds, and candied nuts. Add some goat cheese or parmesean and you have a gourmet salad. It’s also good with avocado and citrus. I usually make up a honeyed-lemony vinaigrette of some sort to go with it.

 

Cooked: Escarole is more durable than lettuce and it holds up well to cooking. Check out this long list of escarole recipes on epicurious.com: http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searchresults?search=escarole&x=0&y=0

 

Your escarole will store for a week or so in the fridge in a plastic bag. Note that last week’s rain did some damage to the heads, causing some exterior leaf rot. I tried to clean them up as much as possible, but you might encounter a small amount of rot on some of the outer leaf margins. Just cut or tear those sections out; the majority of the head should be perfectly fine. But you might want to eat it sooner than later. Thanks for understanding!

 

Produce Smugglers and Roadkill Tomatoes: A Delivery Escapade

Last week I was sitting here at my desk, working away at the newsletter, when the phone range. It was Roxy, our delivery driver, and she was on the side of the road on Beaver Hill with some bad news. Frank (our white delivery van) was acting up: the oil light was on and the oil pressure gauge was bobbing wildly, in spite of the fact that I had just topped off the oil the day before. Frank was, as he always is on a Wednesday morning, packed to the gills with the Coos Bay Harvest Baskets, coolers, and boxes of produce for Coos Head. All of us on the farm had already-impossibly full days ahead of us, between office work, fieldwork and juggling our kids.

 

The dilemma: keep driving the van and hope it didn’t blow up (the Coos Bay CSA pickup was scheduled to start in 45 minutes), or go to Roxy’s rescue. My mechanic is currently out of town for 6 months, so we decided to err on the side of caution. I told Roxy to stay put and we mobilized. Better to sacrifice a day than have to buy a new van.

 

My mom and I raced north in the little green farm pickup and her old Volvo station wagon. When we reached Roxy, she told us that a cop had been there. He wanted to know what she was up to. She explained that she delivered for Valley Flora, but he insisted on searching the van. She opened the back doors for him and showed him the tower of Harvest Baskets.

 

“What’s in the totes?” he asked suspiciously.

“Vegetables.”

“I need you to open one up for me, ma’am.”

It dawned on Roxy at that moment that he thought she was smuggling drugs.

“Now mmmmm-mm, doesn’t that look good?” Roxy said with just the tiniest trace of sass as she popped the lid off a tote and brandished a full October Harvest Basket.

 

By the time we reached Roxy, we were overdue at the Coos Bay CSA site by almost an hour. We hustled all the CSA totes into the pickup, tied them down hastily, and crammed the rest of the Coos Head boxes into the Volvo. I sped off up Beaver Hill, the speedometer reading 70, and looked in the mirror just in time to see my mom pulling a U-ey in the middle of 101. I pulled the pickup over and got out. A lid had blown off one of the Harvest Baskets, but all of the produce was still there. A few minutes later my mom pulled up with the lid, we re-tied the ropes and added a bungey net in hopes of keeping everything in place. My stomach was strung tight with urgency. It was already 1 o’clock.

 

Off we went again at break-neck speed, but it was only moments before I saw a flash in the mirror and watched in horror as, slow motion, a red lid followed by a red tote cartwheeled through the air and crashed onto the highway, catapulting produce in every direction. Ripe tomatoes exploded, purple beets skidded, lettuce shredded, brittle carrots snapped, and a bunch of parsley bounced twice before coming to rest on the white line. I’m pretty sure I said something that looked like this: #@$%@!! And then my mom and I started laughing. Was this really happening? The very thing that I have hoped for six years would never happen?

 

If there was a scenario-meter to measure situations from best to worst, I quickly realized that although we were rapidly plummeting towards “worst,” we weren’t there yet. Jolene, the site host in Coos Bay, is not only an awesome human being, she is also a CSA member (those two things seem to go hand in hand) and I quickly realized that I could bring her a replacement tote the next day. So long as we didn’t lose another harvest basket off the back of the truck, we might still be able to pull this mission off. We re-tied the load yet again and set off at a mild-mannered 50mph.

 

Over an hour late and belching white exhaust (the green farm pickup has some issues right now, too…oi vei!), we arrived at the CSA site and off-loaded all the totes, with a promise to Jolene that we’d bring her a new one the next day. (A big thank you to all the Coos Bay members for their patience, and to Paul, the CSA site organizer, for his help!).

 

As for Frank, the long and short of it is that we’re pretty sure now that his problem is nothing but a faulty oil gauge. Which means that the entirety of last week’s escapade was a fire drill, no more. That, and fodder for some newsletter story-telling. Roxy and Frank made it home from Coos Bay today without a hitch, and hopefully the oil gauge will only be dancing for another week. The mechanic made room for us next Monday.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Winter squash
  • Fennel

 

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 18: September 30

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce: Priscilla Apples
  • Is it November?

 

In your share this week:

  • Red Onions
  • Beets
  • Baby Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Head Lettuce
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Priscilla Apples: They may look like a boring Red Delicious, but they don’t taste like one. Another treat from the orchard this magnificent fruit year!

 

Is it November?

In all the many, many years that we have dwelled up Floras Creek, we’ve never experienced a storm like that at this time of year. Six inches of rain in a weekend. Sixty mph winds. Heavily laden apple trees blown over. Corn stalks flattened. Parts of the field under water. It’s one thing when it comes in November or December when the majority of things are dormant. It’s a whole other thing at the end of September when we are still mid-swing in peak harvest.

 

All things considered, we fared OK. You might notice certain little details this week in your share (the particularly small heads of oakleaf lettuce, which I had to trim mercilessly due to extensive rain rot in the outer leaves; the fact that broccoli is on rotation instead of going full throttle, due to rain rot on the newly-formed crowns; the still-small carrots, which haven’t seen much sun to ripen further).

 

The good news is that the rain seems to have cleared up the powdery mildew that always affects our rainbow chard at this time of year, so hopefully you’ll be seeing chard in your share again soon! Our newly-seeded cover crops also got a thorough watering-in (hopefully not too thorough) and I'm looking forward to a trillion little green shoots popping up all over in the field: oats, rye, field peas, clover, and vetch to feed our soils through the winter.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Red Onions
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli?
  • Savoy cabbage?
  • Lettuce
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes?

 

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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