The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

Week 23: November 7th

Dr. Seuss Food!

November is upon us, and so are some of our favorite Fall foods. For those of you who are experiencing your first ever season of Valley Flora Harvest Basket eating, you’ll probably open your tote this week and wonder, “What in the $%&@ is that?!”

 

Welcome to the season of Dr. Seuss food. Some of the fall vegetables we grow are whimsical or weird-looking, and for many people this might be the first time you’ve ever seen them, much less eaten them.

 

SO, here is a quick primer to some of the more unusual suspects in your tote this week:

  • Brussels Sprouts:If you’ve ever bought these in the store, they are usually sold off the stalk, like little green golf balls. We harvest ours on the stalk and leave it to you to pluck off the sprouts, for a couple of reasons:
  1. The Dr. Seuss factor: they look so cool and Seussian on the stalk!
  2. Speed: We can harvest way more Brussels sprouts in way less time if we whack the whole plant down with one big machete swing. It’s a marital arts workout, harvesting these things: first, you make two good karate chop swipes down the plant to strip the leaves off the stalk. Next, you take aim with a big machete and fell the stalk at the base. Finally, you throw the stalk up in the air and with samurai accuracy, cut it exactly in half while it spins slow-mo above your head. Ideally, the two halves fall neatly from the sky directly into place in a harvest bin. Sort of a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon thing…
  •  Giant Storage Kohlrabi: It’ll be hard to miss the hefty green soccer ball in your tote this week. You remember those petite little kohlrabis from the spring? Well, this is a souped up fall version, specifically intended to get big and to store for a month or two. You can use it just like the spring varieties: peel it and either eat it raw or cook it. The  Kohlrabi and Apple Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette on our website has gotten rave reviews from Chef Evan Boley at Barnacle Bistro. Try it, or any of the other recipes we have posted at: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/kohlrabi
  • Hakurei Turnips: They’re back for their fall debut! The bunch of white roots in your tote is NOT a bunch of white radishes; they are that sweet, buttery, eat-‘em-raw turnip you first sampled last spring.
  • Celeriac (also called celery root) : This is the big, hairy, gnarly root in your tote, and it’s one of those vegetables that you should definitely not judge by its looks. Intimidating and gruff on the outside, this baby is tender and delicious on the inside. It’s incredibly versatile, with a mellow, nutty, sweet, celery flavor and tender, smooth texture. I have done ALL of the following with celeriac:
  1. Roast it. Cube it up, toss it with potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, or any other hearty vegetable, douse with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven at 425 until tender and slightly browned.
  2. Steam it. Simple and divine, with a little olive oil or butter and some salt.
  3. Soup it. Adds wonderful depth to any soup, especially potato leek!
  4. Mash it. Boil it up with potatoes and then mash them together.
  5. Hash it. Fry it up with spuds, onions, and spices and serve it alongside eggs.
  6. Sautee it. Thin slices in a frying pan, alone or with other veggies. Ooo la la.
  7. Store it. Celeriac will keep for a long time in your fridge. Like weeks and weeks. That gives you plenty of time to make friends with it, find a recipe you like, consider dating each other, and then maybe take the plunge. HOWEVER, do consider the fact that celeriac is a great ingredient in Thanksgiving foods (think, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.). I mention this because you will be getting a couple more of these alien orbs the week of Thanksgiving. The point of this week’s celeriac is to help you get warmed up so that you’ll be ready to put it to good use for Turkey/Tofurkey/TurDucken Day.

 

Thanksgiving Harvest Basket Details – PLEASE READ!!

Speaking of Thanksgiving, here are some VERY important details about your Thanksgiving Harvest Basket. There are usually three burning questions that I field each year:

  1. Q: WHEN will I get my Thanksgiving basket?

A: Please MARK your calendars, because the week of Thanksgiving will be different. For the week of November 21st, we will be delivering ALL Harvest Baskets on Wednesday, November 23rd to ensure that everyone gets their produce BEFORE Thanksgiving. That means that folks who pick up in Port Orford or Bandon will get their tote on WEDNESDAY the 23rd INSTEAD OF the following FRIDAY (11/25) or SATURDAY (11/26). Please note: Port Orford and Bandon totes for the prior week (week of November 14th) will be delivered on their normal schedule (November 18th for P.O. and November 19th for Bandon).

 

Pickup Hours on Wednesday, November 23rd will be as follows:

·      Coos Bay: Normal hours, Wednesday from 12-3 pm

·      Valley Flora: Normal hours, Wednesday from 9-4 pm

·      Port Orford: WEDNESDAY, starting at 10:30 am (pick up anytime after 10:30 am)

·      Bandon: WEDNESDAY, starting at noon (pick up anytime after 12 pm)

 

Just to reiterate, there will be NO HARVEST BASKET DELIVERY on FRIDAY, November 25th to Port Orford or SATURDAY, November 26th to Bandon. We will be too busy digesting. We will resume our regular delivery schedule the week of November 28th, a few pounds heavier.

 

2.   Q: WHAT will be in my basket, so I can plan my Thanksgiving menu accordingly?

A: You can tentatively expect: 1+ pound of shallots, 2 stalks of Brussels sprouts, 1 pound of carrots, 2 celeriac and/or 4 stalks of celery, one head of escarole or head lettuce, 5 pounds of yellow finn potatoes, and a sunshine winter squash (great for stuffing and baking, or mashing, or making pie).

 

       3.  Q: WHAT IF I can't pick up my basket that week?

A: No problem. Lots of folks are out of town the week of Thanksgiving. If that’s the case for you, you have two options:

  1. We can store your share for you in our walk-in cooler and you can pick it up at the farm upon your return, OR
  2. We can donate your share to a local foodbank.

Either way, PLEASE let us know if you will not be able to pick up your share and we can make arrangements.

 

 

The Last of the Uglies…(except for our very ugly carrots, which will continue to be very ugly until the bitter end)

Also in your totes this week, the last of the yellow onions (sigh, sniff). Eat ‘em quick before they’re doomed for your compost. And the last of the ugly butternuts. Both of these crops were intended to see us through the end of the season in December, so the next five weeks of produce will look a little different than planned. You will be getting lots of leeks in place of the missing onions (remember you can use them JUST LIKE onions, in any recipe) and you’ll be getting some beautiful squash that you normally would have seen sooner, like Delicatas and Sunshines.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Yellow Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Butternut Squash
  • Celeriac
  • Storage Kohlrabi
  • Brussels sprouts

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week

This week’s farm fact is that it’s impossible to come up with a clever farm fact when your 9-and-a-half-month-old baby is destroying your office as you try to finish the newsletter.

Newsletter: 

Farmer Loses Sleep Over Onions

A quick addendum to this week's Beet Box newsletter:

 

I'm a great sleeper at night (that's the beauty of hard manual labor), but this week I've been losing sleep. Not because Cleo is teething, or because the dog is barking at deer outside the window. It's because I discovered this week that our storage onion saga continues: our yellow onions are not keeping the way they should. I encountered a few soft ones while sorting them for your Harvest Baskets this week, and when I cut into a handful of suspects, I found the beginnings of rot at the top of the onions.

 

Not every onion is going bad, but the problem is that it's hard to tell which are fine and which aren't. I gave each and every onion the squeeze test and a visual inspection today, but there's a chance that when you cut into your onions you may find that they are not perfect inside. Most of the damage seems to be at the top of the onion and is easily cut off by taking a wider cut with your knife. But shy of peeling every single onion, there's no way for us to know the ultimate quality of the onions we're giving you. Which drives me absolutely crazy.

 

SO, two things:

1) I am SO sorry if you get a bad onion. We are putting an extra in every tote this week to make up for any icky ones you might encounter.

2) PLEASE let me know if you get a bad one (or three). I'm trying to gauge the extent of the problem, and your feedback will help! Send me an email and describe the state of your onions once you cut into them, if you have a chance.

 

Thanks for your help and your understanding! Now let's see if I can get some sleep!

-Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

Week 22: October 31st

Hi everyone,

The newsletter is coming out a few days early this week, so that we can take the fullest advantage of this small, late window of sunny weather on the farm. Enjoy it while it lasts!

 

Feel the Love: Give Spaghetti Squash a Chance!

Somehow along the way, spaghetti squash has garnered a bad rap. It’s the quintessential hippie squash. The squash with an identity crisis (Am I a vegetable or am I a noodle?). The squash that gets scoffed at. The squash that nobody eats, nobody buys, and everyone makes fun of.

 

OK, truth be told, I was one of the perpetrators of this unfair maligning until just this year. For whatever reason, I had my mind made up about spaghetti squash and I thought it was a waste of chewing. My sister tried to convince me otherwise and grew a couple plants last season (2010), which fruited prolifically. But in my narrow-minded stubborn-ness, I chose Delicata every time I made a trip into our squash storage room.

 

And then, for some reason last winter, I impulsively ordered some spaghetti squash seeds and found room for a half a bed in the crop plan. I had been impressed with how well Abby’s two plants had yielded the summer before, and our 2011 planting did not disappoint. In fact, it overwhelmed. This season, our one hundred feet of spaghetti squash yielded almost 400 big squash (that’s about 4 fruits per vine, compared to some of our other varieties that yield 1-2 squash per plant!). They were vigorous, un-fussy plants, and proved to us that if you’re worried about stocking up for the end of the world, they’re the squash to grow: you get some serious bang for your buck!

 

But then came the moment of reckoning: how did it taste? At a loss for what to make for dinner a few weeks ago, I cut a spaghetti squash in half, stuffed it in the pressure cooker, and proceeded to overcook it with a vengeance. Short on time, I didn’t make a sauce. I just scooped the soggy spaghetti impostor onto plates and rang the dinner bell. It was without a doubt the most unfair taste trial a person could muster.

 

I swallowed a forkful. I couldn’t believe it. It was great. Sitting there enjoying my overcooked, under-dressed squash, I had to rake through my conscience: Had I actually ever tried a spaghetti squash before? Was I guilty of hating on spaghetti squash for no good reason? Had I formed my strong opinion of it based on anything real, on an actual legitimate complaint? What bad thing had spaghetti squash ever done to me or to the world?

 

In a moment of shameful discomfort, I realized that up until that point I had been a spaghetti squash bigot. And that the same kind of uncompromising close-mindedness is what brings about terrible wars and genocide and hate crimes and bullying and general, everyday mean-ness.

 

So this is my plea: open your mind and then open your mouth (if they need opening). Give spaghetti squash a chance. I think you will be happily surprised, even if you overcook it, and the world might just become that much better a place for your efforts.

 

A few eating tips:

  • Many recipes I’ve come across say to cook your spaghetti squash in the microwave. Pierce squash (about an inch deep) all over with a small sharp knife to prevent bursting. Cook in an 800-watt microwave oven on high power (100 percent) for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn squash over and microwave until squash feels slightly soft when pressed, 8 to 10 minutes more. Cool squash for 5 minutes.
  • You can also bake it in your oven. Preheat to 350. Pierce it with a knife as above, put the whole squash in the oven on a tray, and bake for about an hour, or until soft to the touch. You can also halve it, brush the cut sides with butter, and then bake face-down on a cookie sheet until fork-tender, 35 minutes to an hour.
  • Once your squash is cooked fork-tender, cool it for a few minutes and then rake out the stranded “noodly” flesh with a fork into a bowl.
  • Dress it up with anything: marinara sauce, butter and herbs, pesto, cream sauce with chantarelles, or anything else you can invent.

 

Here are a couple recipes I found when I did a quick epicurious.com search:

 

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spaghetti-Squash-with-Parsley-Walnut-Pesto-231199

 

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spaghetti-Squash-with-Moroccan-Spices-106168

 

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Yellow Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Winterbor Kale
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Parsley

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Winterbor Kale

This is the debut of Winterbor kale, the frilliest, puffiest, hardiest kale known to Valley Flora! This is the kale that sees us through the winter, getting sweeter and sweeter as the cold gets deeper. It’s wonderful steamed up, but we also use it raw (finely minced) in kaleslaw, our standby winter salad.

 

Storage: In a plastic bag in the fridge, for at least a week. Or in a vase of water on your counter, so long as your house isn’t too toasty roasty.

 

Farm Fact of the Week*

If you took an iron to all of the winterbor kale leaves growing at Valley Flora, flattened them out, and then stitched them together into a kale quilt, they would cover the entire surface area of the Northern hemisphere. It wouldn’t be a very warm quilt, but it would be a big quilt.

 

*This week’s farm fact is pure B.S. We have no idea what we are talking about, except to say that Winterbor is one mighty frizzy kale.

Newsletter: 

Week 21: October 24th

Ugly Butternuts!

By now some of you have opened up this week’s tote to encounter some beets, carrots, leeks, lettuce, celery, broccoli, a psychedelic head of romanesco, and yes, some very ugly butternut squash. For some mysterious reason this year, most of our butternut squash developed a bizarre skin blemish while they were curing in the barn. It appears as dark brown splotches, some with concentric rings that are reminiscent of a topographic map. We often see this blemish on a small percentage of our butternuts at harvest, and we carefully sort out the ugly ones for our own consumption. All the pretty, perfect squash are saved for you.

 

But I was shocked to discover last week that after 10 days of curing in our barn, all of the pretty, perfect squash were no longer so pretty. It would be absolutely heartbreaking if all those butternuts were destined for stores or restaurants (we couldn’t sell something that looked like that!), BUT I quickly realized that if the eating quality of the squash was  good, we could still put the butternuts in your shares this week and explain the problem to all of you in this newsletter. One more reason to extoll the virtues of community supported agriculture: it gives us the chance to communicate with you about farm realities and surprises like this one. And hopefully convince you that this week’s squash is not too ugly to eat!

 

We’ve cut into dozens of the blemished squash, targeting the worst, and so far it seems like the problem is only skin deep. At least for now. That said, I doubt this crop of butternuts is going to store for very long, so I’d encourage you to cook them sooner than later. Also, if you do get a butternut that is bad inside, PLEASE tell us! Not only do we want to know, but we will replace it for you – either with another butternut, or another kind of squash.

 

As for enjoying your butternuts, they are the go-to squash for soup-making, due to their smooth texture and wonderful flavor. They’re also the easiest to peel and have a small seed cavity – meaning it’s mostly all squash meat in there. Best to peel your squash either with a knife or a sharp, heavy peeler; cube it up; then either roast or steam it. If you’re making soup, you can go ahead and cook it directly in a pot of stock or water. Cooked butternut squash – whether roasted or steamed – is a great thing to put in your freezer. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat your butternuts in the next couple of weeks, I’d suggest you do this. We roasted all the uglies last winter, froze them in ziplocs, and then had roasted butternut puree on hand all year for soup, and more recently, baby food! I froze a bunch of roasted butternut in ice cube trays, then popped them into a freezer bag. We thaw out a couple of cubes every few days for Cleo’s lunch.

 

I am sorry that you’re not getting perfect beautiful, butternuts this year. We have a little mantra on the farm: that everything we do has to be at least 51% art. Aesthetics matter to us, and these butternuts don’t make the grade in our book. But they do taste good.

 

And I suppose after all, real beauty if more than skin deep…

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Romanesco
  • Celery
  • Butternut Squash

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Romanesco

For many CSA members, this is the vegetable they wait all year for. Neon green, spiraled minarets, an amazing example of fractals in nature. It’s basically a cauliflower on acid. It has a wonderful, nutty flavor, great steamed or sautéed or roasted in the oven with olive oil and sea salt. I’ve had people tell me that they never actually ate their romanesco; instead they kept it on the counter and took photographs of it. I’d say, do both!

 

Farm Fact of the Week

Frost! Our lower pasture was nipped with white this morning, right on time! We typically expect the first frost sometime around Halloween and it’s great when it actually comes. A frost works wonders to bring out the sweetness in fall crops like kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and root crops. Freezing temperatures signal these plants to start producing more sugars, which act like antifreeze in the cells of the plant. For the plants it’s a winter survival mechanism. For us, it’s a lovely bonus as we head into the months when kale is our staple green.

Newsletter: 

Week 20: October 17th

Last Week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares

As the daylight hours wane, so too do the salad greens. This is the 20th and final week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares. If you are signed up for a salad share, enjoy your last bag of the season!

 

And for those of you who fear Abby’s Greens Withdrawals, here’s a little insider’s tip: salad greens will most likely still be available at the following outlets:

  • Our farmstand, open on Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm, through Saturday, November 19th, rain or shine.
  • The Langlois Market
  • Seaweed in Port Orford
  • Mothers Natural Grocery in Bandon

 

Winter Squash Season Begins!

This week marks the official start of winter squash season! In the nine remaining weeks of the Harvest Basket season (our last delivery of Harvest Baskets will be the week of December 12th), 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 month or two, 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 for very 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, tasty and versatile. We’ve grown a selection of our all-time favorite varieties and each week I’ll help you out with some 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 neck of the woods, 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 knife, 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 our 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.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Red Shallots
  • Savoy or Green Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Fennel (the last fennel for the year)
  • Acorn Squash
  • Pie Pumpkin

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Acorn Winter Squash

Perhaps the most widely-recognized winter squash, acorns are dark green-black, deeply ribbed, and have yellow-orange flesh. They are probably the hardest-skinned variety we grow, so be extra careful cutting them. The best way to prepare them is to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake them at 350 degrees until very tender, usually about 35-45 minutes. You can either bake them face down in a pan with a little bit of water until the flesh is soft, or bake them face up with butter and maple syrup or brown sugar in the cavity.

 

Because acorns don’t peel easily, and because they have such a perfectly bowl-like seed cavity, they are great stuffed or used as edible bowls. Here are two recipes that take full advantage of this feature:

 

http://valleyflorafarm.com/content/acorn-squash-wild-mushroom-cranberry-stuffing

 

http://valleyflorafarm.com/content/beet-soup-roasted-acorn-squash

 

Pie Pumpkins

Halloween is around the corner, so the pumpkin in your tote (and the kids in your household) might be screaming “jack-o-lantern” at you. But rather than carve this one up, you might consider making a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch: http://valleyflorafarm.com/content/basic-pumpkin-pie

 

Or for an international spin that uses your pumpkin and shallots, I found this recipe on epicurious.com and it looks delicious (if you like Thai food): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Silky-Coconut-Pumpkin-Soup-Keg-Bouad-Mak-Fak-Kham-104372.

 

There are a whole bunch of great pumpkin-inspired recipes on Epicurious, so if you have the time I’d experiment with some of them.

 

Red Shallots

Shallots are a refined cousin to onions and garlic (most closely related to garlic), and used often in French cuisine. They have a wonderful flavor cooked or raw, but take a little more work to peel than your standard onion. You see them as a common ingredient in vinaigrette, and are especially flavorful caramelized. They have an incredible shelf life, lasting up to a year under ideal storage conditions (cool, dark, dry). You can use them interchangeably with onions and leeks, but if you have a recipe that calls for shallots and you have the shallots on hand, use them! They are special, and the price you pay for them in the grocery store reflects that. They are often upwards of $5/pound. Part of the reason they command top dollar is that they yield half as much as onions do. I grow them in spite of their lower yields because I love that they keep all winter long, it's great to have a diversity of different alliums in the kitchen, and their flavor is lovely.

 

Storage: on the counter, or somewhere cool, dry and dark. Should keep for months.

 

Farm Fact of the Week

Time for cover crops! During the past week of good weather, we have been scurrying to get as much of the farm seeded into cover crop as we possibly can. Mid-October is prime time for seeding clover, vetch, Austrian winter peas, cereal rye, and oats, which should germinate with the next rains and grow through the winter. We cover crop every inch of the farm that we can (even the little strips between the rows of raspberries) for a number of reasons:

  1. Cover crops provide our soil with protection from wind, rain and erosion during the winter months.
  2. Cover crops contribute organic matter to our soil, which improves our overall soil tilth and health.
  3. Leguminous cover crops like clover, peas and vetch have a symbiotic relationship with a special bacteria that can actually fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it plant-available in the soil. Which means that when we turn our leguminous cover crops under next spring, they will release nitrogen to help feed our subsequent summer cash crops.
  4. Winter peas provide spring pea tendrils that we can eat and add to salads!
  5. Cover crops can help break cycles of disease and pests in the soil.
  6. Cover crops are beautiful! Much of the farm is in bare ground right now, on the heels of our big harvests of winter squash, corn, potatoes, onions, etc. But as soon as we get our next good rain, all of that ground will sprout green like a second spring.
  7. Cover cropping is great work for the horses! I use Maude, my Belgian mare, to roll in all of the cover crop seed we plant. She drags our big heavy cultipacker over the fields to ensure we have good soil-to-seed contact, which makes a big difference in improving germination rates.

Newsletter: 

Week 19: October 10th

Broccoli is Back!

We’re back in broccoli business! The fall variety you’re receiving is called Marathon, and it’s aptly named: last year we were still harvesting broccoli sideshoots for our own dinners until March! The onset of fall broccoli also marks the beginning of other fall Brassica harvests. In the coming weeks you can look forward to Romanesco (the lime green spiraled minaret cauliflower that so many of you love), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, giant kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, and pac choi. Fall food is here!

 

Bread!

Seth will be at the Coos Bay, Bandon and Port Orford pickup sites this week to sample and sell bread. For folks who pick up at the farm, Seth can’t be at the Coos Bay site and the farm site at the same time, so he’ll catch you next week – or come to the farmstand on Saturday. He’ll be there.

 

Red Onion Upset, Winter Squash Breakthrough

Storage crops like onions and squash can be tricky. They mature at the onset of Fall, right when the weather starts to get iffy. The problem is that they need good stretches of warm, dry weather to cure properly – usually in late September and early October. Some years we get lucky and the sun shines for us right when we need it to. This year has been a different story, with ample rain the past few weeks literally dampening our efforts to get critical storage crops out of the field. It can be a stressful time, with so much invested in thousands of feet of winter squash and onions.

 

A week ago it became very clear that the weather was not going to cooperate for squash harvest, so we improvised. Fortunately, I had purchased 200 stacking harvest bins from a winery earlier in the summer, which turned out to be the perfect container for indoor curing of squash (as opposed to curing them in the field). The sun broke through last Monday, and again on Thursday, enabling us to harvest three of our seven winter squash varieties. We loaded them into the totes, drove them to town, and unloaded them in tall stacks into the insulated shop at our house. I plugged in an oil heater and we suddenly had the 80 degree, dry conditions that we needed to properly cure the squash. Who knows what our electric bill is going to be this month, but hopefully it’ll be a small price to pay for a winter’s worth of squash for everyone. It was a relief to realize that we had back-up options, for those years when the weather doesn’t do our bidding.

 

The red onions are not such a happy story. They like to dry for up to 3 weeks with their tops and roots on before getting cleaned. We don’t have enough covered space to keep them, so we usually spread the harvest out on pallets in the shade of one of our big myrtle trees. This season they only got a week of curing time before we cleaned them, due to a threatening forecast. As a result, they didn’t dry 100% and we’re now seeing extensive mold and rot at the base and tops of the onions. We’ve been sorting them for the past two weeks and donating boxloads of them to the foodbank. I fear they won’t last many more weeks. This is why you’re seeing red onions again this week, instead of yellow onions or shallots (both of which seem to be storing better than the reds). I decided it was better to give out the red onions quickly and then switch to the better-keeping varieties later in the fall.

 

The long-term solution to our onion challenge is going to take the form of stacking drying racks. Once I replace my stolen tools, we’re going to build a bunch so that next season we can cure the onions under cover, in vertical stacks that won’t take up as much of a footprint in our limited shed space. Losing a whole crop like this is motivation to invest in a drying system that will help stave off future storage crop disappointments.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Red Onions
  • Parsley
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Lacinato Kale
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

 

Lacinato Kale

A beauty of a kale, and the most beloved in Italy, lacinato kale carries many different names: dinosaur kale, cavalo nero, black tuscan kale, and more. But what's in a name? That which we call lacinato kale by any other name would taste as sweet.

 

And sweet this kale can be, especially after a frost. It hasn’t gotten cold enough yet for the sugars to fully develop in the kales, but the flavor is excellent nevertheless. One of my favorite combos using lacinato is this: sautee onion or leek in butter or olive oil until soft and caramelized; add chanterelles (or other mushrooms) and slices of beets and cook until soft; then add sliced red peppers and ribbons of lacinato. Sautee until everything is tender. It’s simple and exquisite. Great on pasta, or with rice, or as a spread on Seth’s bread. Or all on it’s own.

 

Storage: in a plastic bag in the fridge. Will hold for a week or two. Or, put it in a vase of water and let your kale do double duty as décor and dinner.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 18: October 3rd

Out of the Creek and into the Kitchen

We experience an odd sense of relief on the farm when the weather turns south and the rain drives us indoors after a long, busy, sunny summer. We suddenly find ourselves home, indoors, by 6 pm instead of 8:30 pm. The daily challenge of making dinner is less of a panicked scramble to eat before 10 pm, and more of a creative pleasure. I open cookbooks again, make soup, steam kale. It is a bittersweet time: the end of swimming season and long beautiful evenings on the farm (bitter); lighting our first cozy fire in the woodstove (sweet).

 

Usually the turn of the seasons is timed perfectly, arriving right about when I begin to feel Produce Fatigue – Must I really pick another strawberry? Turn that stiff, stubborn irrigation valve on and off again? Improvise some kind of last minute supper after a 12 hour day? And then, overnight, it rains an inch, the strawberries turn to mush and nothing needs to be irrigated. We abandon the chilly swimming hole to the beaver, otter and salmon (whose upstream arrival is imminent) and find new inspiration in the kitchen.

 

Tonight it will be roasted butternut squash soup (using last year’s frozen butternut squash, plus fresh celery, leeks, maybe some sweet peppers…), accompanied by some of the best artisan brick oven bread I’ve ever eaten, made by our local friend Seth Biersner who has recently started up Seth’s Brick Oven Bakery in Bandon. Curious? Read on…

 

Brick Oven Breads from Bandon!

Last week while we were having a mad-dash lunch at the farm, our friend Seth appeared on the porch with four loaves of fresh-baked artisan bread. He has recently completed construction of a wood-fired brick oven and certified kitchen in his backyard in Bandon and has started producing incredible loaves of artisan bread and foccacia. We were duly impressed by the flavor and texture of the bread (the verdict amongst my mom, sister and I was that his bread is leagues better than any bread we had in Italy last year, and on par with the best of France’s baking!).

 

Seth is beginning to sell his bread locally, and because we are so thrilled to have quality, artisan bread in the local food lineup now, we’ll be offering it at our Saturday farmstand from now on. Also, Seth will likely be at your pickup site next week with samples of his bread. He’s going to offer weekly Bread Shares to any of our farm members who are interested. He’ll provide you with more details, but the gist of it is that you’ll be able to sign up with him for a weekly share of bread and/or focaccia delivered to your pickup site for the remainder of the season.

 

Three cheers for more locally crafted good food! Keep an eye out for Seth next week at your pickup site.

 

Bulk Sweet Peppers Still Available

You can still order:

Roasters (the kind you've been getting in your tote the past few weeks):

·      5 pound minimum order (that's about 20 peppers)

·      Cost is $20

·      Primarily red in color

 

OR, get a color mix - red, yellow, orange, purple, white, green:

·      5 pound minimum order

·      Cost is $20

 

Reply to this email with your name, phone number and pickup location if you'd like to order. We'll deliver to your pick-up site.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Cilantro
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Hot Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Sweet Corn

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

 

Napa Cabbage

Among the more delicate of cabbages, Napa makes a lovely Fall slaw. It’s also the cabbage of choice for homemade kimchee, if you have a bent for fermented foods!

 

With the contents of this week’s share, you have just about all the ingredients you need to make this Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw with Cilantro Dressing.

 

Storage: in a plastic bag in the fridge. Will hold for a week or two.

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

Some people ask us how we get through wet, cold, downpourish days on the farm? It’s all about the wardrobe. Here’s what we wear to survive foul weather work days, with a smile:

 

Head: Wool or fleece hat, covered by a rainjacket hood

Torso: Wool long underwear if it’s cold, fleece and wool layers, down vests, rain jacket

Legs: Same as the torso, but we wear rubber rain bibs to keep the water out when we’re kneeling in the mud bunching kale or washing carrots in the barn.

Feet: Wool Socks & Muck Boots

Hands: usually bare, but when it gets really cold we bust out the neoprene or rubber gloves.

 

Newsletter: 

New Fall Farmstand Hours!

A heads up to all of our farm members:

 

As of this week we have switched to new Fall Farmstand hours: Saturdays ONLY from 10 am to 2 pm.

 

We anticipate that the farmstand will be open on Saturdays through the entire month of October, and possibly until Thanksgiving. There is abundant and beautiful produce right now - everything from baby bunch carrots to sweet peppers, potatoes to winter squash, spinach to onions. Come on out to the farm and stock up !

 

U-pick strawberries and raspberries are also still available, for those who are willing to work a little harder for their berries!

 

Directions to the farm

 

Newsletter: 

Week 17: September 26th

Rain!

This week’s storm delivered a full inch of precipitation to the farm along with some fierce wind. It’s the first rainfall we’ve had since July 14th and it was enough to allow us to turn off all our irrigation for the week (a lovely reprieve from the usual schedule). The wind snapped branches, knocked over dahlia plants, and sent our floating row cover flying – but it was worth it: the sun rose over a sparkly-clean farm this morning. It was high time for a good, soaking rain.

 

We paid a small price in the form of some ruined berries and split cherry tomatoes, but the damage wasn’t terrible. If you come to u-pick at the farm this week, you’ll want to be selective in your raspberry harvest; there is still lots of good fruit, but the ripest berries got a beating in the storm. Same goes for the strawberries: beware of water damage, especially where the berries are in contact with the ground. The strawberries and cherry tomatoes in your share this week were picked carefully, but nonetheless you may want to eat them quickly – or sort through them - in case they have a shorter shelf life.

 

We are grateful for a little rain, but of course are now hoping that it stays sunny for a spell – at least long enough that we can get our winter squash harvested and cured in the field! Ideally we need about a week of dry, 70 degree weather to pull it off perfectly.

 

Not-So-Pretty Carrots

This was a sad week of reckoning in the carrot field. We encountered our first damaged carrots of the season, due to a difficult pest called carrot rust fly. We’ve battled carrot rust fly in years past, mostly in the fall. The damage looks like little rust-colored tunnels just under the surface of the carrot skin. The tunnels are caused by the larvae of the carrot rust fly, which feede on the carrot taproot before pupating and hatching into a fly. Usually the larva do only localized damage to a carrot, so it’s easy enough to cut around the imperfections. But the cosmetic blemish they leave makes it difficult to commercially market the carrots. That means that when we bunch carrots for the farmstand or local stores we have to painstakingly pull all the carrots, lug them to the farm road, rinse them off with the hose, check each and every one for damage, and then make our bunches (versus simply pulling carrots and bunching them on the spot in the field). At least half of our harvest finds its way into a “cull” bucket, destined either for the horses’ trough or the compost.

 

There are ways to prevent carrot rust fly infestations, and in fact, last year we did. We carefully covered every single carrot bed with floating row cover. It prevented the flies from laying their eggs in the soil near the carrots, and as a result we had mostly clean carrots all fall. So why didn’t we do it again this year? The primary reason was weed control. Unfortunately, the row cover has a certain psychological effect on a farmer: if you can’t see what’s under it, then everything must be fine! The reality, however, is that the weeds grow like crazy under the row cover. Which means that to grow a weed-free bed of carrots under row cover, we have to take the row cover off of each bed every week, hand and tractor cultivate it, and then put the row cover back on, adding hours of extra work to what is otherwise a relatively quick weekly zip-zip with the tractor and a hoe.

 

So, we hoped that maybe the flies wouldn’t find us this summer – since we didn’t have any last summer - and we left the carrots uncovered. In July it seemed like the only way to keep our crop weed-free. Of course now that it’s nearly October and our carrots are coming up ugly, I wish we had covered them. Next year I’m sure we will. I’m always learning. Always.

 

The long and short of it is that there are some not-so-perfect carrots in your totes this week. I am grateful that the bulk of our farming efforts are on behalf of you, our Harvest Basketeers, because I can explain issues like carrot rust fly damage and hope that you won’t mind cutting around those ugly tunnels in your carrots. I also did a quick assay of all the upcoming carrot beds still to be harvested and didn’t find much damage – yet. There are multiple hatches of larva throughout the summer, so we most likely will see more rust fly damage even if it’s not apparent right now. That said, I haven’t given up on this year’s crop; I’m doing a little detective work today to figure out if it’s still worth covering our youngest beds of carrots. The carrots represent a huge investment of time and money, so if we still have a chance we’ll try to outsmart the rust fly yet.

 

Bulk Sweet Peppers Available!

They just keep coming!

Roasters (the kind you've been getting in your tote the past few weeks):

·      5 pound minimum order (that's about 20 peppers)

·      Cost is $20

·      Primarily red in color

 

OR, get a color mix - red, yellow, orange, purple, white, green:

·      5 pound minimum order

·      Cost is $20

 

Reply to this email with your name, phone number and pickup location if you'd like to order. We'll deliver to your pick-up site.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Red Onions
  • Dill
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Celery

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Celery

Last year we asked all of you this simple question: would you rather receive a big head of celery once in the season, or a handful of celery stalks multiple times throughout the Fall? The response was overwhelmingly in favor of stalks. So stalks it is, just in time for the onset of Soup Season!

 

Our celery this year seems to be especially pumped up: it’s big, juicy, sweet and tender - worthy of a snack of “ants on a log” or a slather of cream cheese, if you opt to eat it fresh instead of as a seasoning for soups or sautees. You might get a stalk or two that have some scars on the rib. It appears that the celery has been playing host to some resident garden slugs who have done some opportunistic nibbling in a few places. Just cut around the defects if you encounter any.

 

Storage: in a plastic bag in the fridge. Will hold for a week or two.

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

In our little world, food preservation madness has begun. We don’t do a lot of canning in the summer (aka “swimming season”), but once the weather turns towards autumn and the creek is chilly we start to spend a lot of Sundays in the kitchen shoving food into jars. Dilly beans, tomatoes, salsa, applesauce, canned pears, dried plums, frozen berries, jam, hot sauce, pickles. We use up all the culls and seconds – the split tomatoes and deformed peppers and blemished berries – in what is an ongoing, breathless obsession to make all the food disappear. This past Sunday was a marathon of salsa-making at my house. Twenty-four pints and 10 hours later, there is a part of me that asks, “is it really worth it?” My mom spent her entire Sunday picking, packing and pickling to make a case of dilly beans. She emerged from the kitchen with this to say: “Damn country living!!”

 

It’s a lot to be the farmer and the food preserver (and it’s why my mom, sister and I all wish we had wives). But come January when the nights are long and the woodstove is warm we’ll crack into a jar of homegrown tomatoes and be assured that yes, without a doubt, it was worth it.

Newsletter: 

September 19: Week 16

Fall Equinox this Week

This Friday, September 23rd, the autumn equinox will occur at 2:04 am Pacific time. That means that if you want to balance your raw egg on end and be the first to officially welcome Fall, you’d better set an alarm!

 

But why the 23rd? Isn’t the equinox always on the 21st every year? The answer is no, and here’s why, according to www.timeanddate.com:

 

While the September equinox occurs on September 22 in 2008 and 2009, it occurs on September 23 in 2010 and 2011 (UTC). The September equinox has also occurred on September 24(UTC), with the last occurrence on that date being 1931. The next time a September 24 equinox occurs will be in the year 2303. Moreover, a September 21 equinox will occur in 2092.

 

There are a few explanations on why the equinox dates differ in the Gregorian calendar. The varying dates of the equinox are mainly due to the calendar system – most western countries use the Gregorian calendar, which has 365 days in a year, or 366 days in a leap year. According to the National Maritime Museum, the equinoxes generally occur about six hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years. An extra day is added in a leap year to minimize a gradual drift of the equinox date through the seasons.

 

On the farm, the onset of autumn means the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and things aren’t growing as quickly. We are starting to irrigate less (even though these past few days have been some of the hottest all summer), and we have begun to prep ground for our fall and winter cover crops. The harvest is heavy, the shadows are long, and the crickets are loud.

 

Your Feedback

Last week we asked you to weigh in and tell us how it’s going for you. A handful of you wrote back with your two cents. It sounds like the carrots are mostly very popular, and folks would love more spuds (which is good, because we have them this year!). Fennel, as ever, is controversial. Here are a few snippets from your emails:

Quantity is great - and so is variety.  I struggled to use everything for the first year or two, but this year is no struggle.  Credit goes lots of ways.  The variety helps, as does skipping a week or two after a generous amount of an item is in the basket.  I also give credit to myself for cooking more imaginatively with multiple veggies in the same dish - which probably would not take place without having to use up veggies. 

****************

I've been very happy with  the selction.   Can never get enough tomatoes and the peppers are wonderful.   Would love to get some eggplant and am looking forward to the celeriac.  Can do without the chard.   Thanks for the goodies.

****************

I haven't figured out what to do with this quantity of carrots, so I would say there are a few too many.  Your corn was the best ever!  I understand the challenges this year, but can't wait for more.  Would love more of the herbs...basil, cilantro and some chives would be fun.  Loving the potatoes, peppers and onions.  Will there by shallots this year?  This weeks basket is just about perfect, I know I will be able to use it all before it goes bad.  Would love some dark leafy greens, love the chard and kale.

 

Bulk Sweet Peppers Available

We sent out a special email earlier this week to alert you of a special sweet pepper deal from the farm. In case you are worried you missed out, you didn’t! The peppers will be going for awhile, so there is still time to stock your freezer or stuff your belly. Here are the details again:

 

The sweet peppers are at their peak! Now's your chance to get a bulk quantity, either to indulge in fresh like candy apples or to preserve for later. They're easy and quick to put up. Simply:

  • Dice up and freeze in a ziploc. Add them to winter dishes for some bright confetti color and flavor!
  • Put in salsa and can for later.
  • Make sweet pepper relish or sweet pepper jelly.
  • Roast, peel, freeze on a cookie sheet, and then store frozen in ziplocs. These slabs thaw quickly for sandwiches, pizza, pasta, or any dish.

Here's the scoop if you want to order:

Roasters (the kind you've been getting in your tote the past few weeks):

  • 5 pound minimum order (that's about 20 peppers)
  • Cost is $20
  • Primarily red in color

OR, get a color mix - red, yellow, orange, purple, white, green:

  • 5 pound minimum order
  • Cost is $20

 

Reply to this email with your name, phone number and pickup location if you'd like to order. We'll deliver to your pick-up site.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Summer Squash
  • Yellow Onions
  • Pac Choi
  • Parsley
  • Hot Peppers
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Corn (LOTS!)

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Yellow Onions

This is your first taste of the yellow storage onions we have recently pulled out of the field, cured, and cleaned. This week’s share is a new experimental variety (Patterson) that we grew this year because it’s sadly rumored the our long-keeping, favorite, standby storage onion – Copra – is going to be discontinued next year. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly as impressed with Patterson as I have been with Copra. They seem to be more prone to bottom rot and our percentage of “keepers” is much lower than with the Copras. Sigh. We will hope that Copra continues to be available to us long enough that we can find another replacement variety.

 

Even though these are technically storage onions, I’m not sure what their shelf-life really is (given that I’ve never grown and stored them before). Best to use them before 2012, just to be sure they don’t rot!

 

Storage: on the counter, or in a cool dark place. Will keep a few weeks to a few months, depending on storage conditions.

 

Cherry Tomatoes

You’ve been getting these for a few weeks now, and most people have no problem figuring out what to do with them. They’re a great candy snack, but they also make awesome, colorful salads and salsa. We like to dry them for winter as well – sliced in half, dried in the food dehydrator for 24 hours at 135 degrees, and then stored in the freezer in Ziplocs. We add them to tomato sauce, pizzas, risotto, and quiche all winter long.

 

Storage: on your kitchen counter, NOT in the fridge. They will continue to ripen and sweeten on your counter. If you see fruit flies swarming, it’s probably because one of the cherry tomatoes has a split. Dig out the split one to preserve the lifespan of all the others.

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

We love our dogs. There are four farm dogs at Valley Flora: Sula (my pup), Opal and Milly (my mom’s dogs), and Finnegan (honorary farm dog belonging to Megan & Tom the Farm Angel). Opal and Milly love carrots. Opal and Sula love raspberries. Finnegan loves rocks. A lot. With an obsession. Sula loves to hunt mice (and is actually pretty good at it). They all love to swim at the creek, sleep in the shade, and lick the kids.

 

Newsletter: 

Bulk Sweet Peppers Available!

The sweet peppers are at their peak! Now's your chance to get a bulk quantity, either to indulge in fresh like candy apples or to preserve for later. They're easy and quick to put up. Simply:

  • Dice up and freeze in a ziploc. Add them to winter dishes for some bright confetti color and flavor!
  • Put in salsa and can for later.
  • Make sweet pepper relish or sweet pepper jelly.
  • Roast, peel, freeze on a cookie sheet, and then store frozen in ziplocs. These slabs thaw quickly for sandwiches, pizza, pasta, or any dish.

Here's the scoop if you want to order:

Roasters (the kind you've been getting in your tote the past few weeks):

  • 5 pound minimum order (that's about 20 peppers)
  • Cost is $20
  • Primarily red in color

 

OR, get a color mix - red, yellow, orange, purple, white, green:

  • 5 pound minimum order
  • Cost is $20

 

Reply to this email if you'd like to order. We'll deliver to your pick-up site.

Yum. :)

Newsletter: 

Week 15: September 12th

Beets Bigger than Baby’s Head!

It appears that this is the Year of Giant Root Crops at Valley Flora. Last week it was spuds; this week it’s beets. We took the time to thin our beets this season, and the results are astounding, if not somewhat overwhelming. Some of the beets we harvested this week were true monsters, so if normal-looking beets intimidate you, then brace yourself.

 

But honestly, there isn’t much to be afraid of. The big beets are just as tender and tasty as the smaller ones, and they’ll store for weeks if not months in your fridge. We decided to go ahead and put a few in your share (even though a single beet might have done the trick), with the thought that some of you might want to have enough on hand to make a batch of borscht, or a big beet salad, or a mighty root roast, or to simply carve off a few slices every few days until they’re gone.

 

Remember that you can eat the beet greens. They cook up just like Swiss chard, and are chock-full of nutrients.

 

Half-Way!

We’ve officially crossed the halfway point in our 28-week Harvest Basket season and we’re curious how it’s going for you. Too many carrots? Want more potatoes? Craving kale? Loving the tomatoes?

 

Drop us a line at valleyflora@valleyflorafarm.com and let us know how you’re feeling about the quantity and variety of produce we’ve been giving you each week. We guarantee we’ll never be able to make 100% of our members 100% happy 100% of the time, but if you share your 2 cents with us we’ll do our best to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of eaters as often as possible!

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Leeks           
  • Carrots
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers

 

On Rotation:

  • Sweet Corn

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Leeks

Leeks are a member of the Allium family (along with onions, scallions, garlic, shallots, etc.). They have a relatively mild, delicate flavor compared with onions, and are most commonly paired with potatoes to make potato leek soup. You can use them anyway that you would use onions, to deepen the flavor of any dish.

 

Leeks typically size up by the end of August and are harvested deep into the winter. We grow two varieties – one that is earlier but less frost hardy; the other is slower to fatten up but will survive the cold, wet weather of winter.

 

Storage: in the fridge, in a plastic bag. Will hold up for at least a week, if not two.

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

Assuming average germination, a single carrot bed has 5,280 carrots in it, or about 700 pounds of carrots. That seems to be a magic number for Fall crop yields this year. One bed of red onions yielded 700 pounds, and one bed of red potatoes yielded 700 pounds.

Newsletter: 

Week 14 - September 5th

Potato the size of Baby’s Head!

The headline reads something like that, and no, it isn’t a story from the tabloids. This is unbiased, verifiable news from the fields of Valley Flora where Roberto, Cleo and I spent part of Monday digging potatoes for your shares. We pulled over 700 pounds of potatoes from one bed in less than an hour and a half (breaking all records). A number of the spuds were as big as Cleo’s 7-month old head and weighed in at upwards of 2 pounds apiece (also breaking all records)!

 

The potato yield has been unbelievable so far this year, averaging over 3 pounds per bed foot. To give you some context: last year (which was a horrible potato year for us) we got about 0.5 pounds per bed foot. A normal year might be 1.5 pounds per bed food. This year it’s 3 pounds. I’ve never seen anything like it.

 

I’m not entirely sure why we’re seeing such extraordinary yields, especially because we accidentally under-fertilized the spuds this spring. But if I were to wager a guess, I’d say it has to do with two main things: 1) an overall lovely growing season since we planted our seed potatoes in mid-May, and 2) routine hilling with our electric cultivating tractor. Until this year, we’d never had the capacity to hill a half-mile of potatoes. But with a new set of hilling discs mounted on Allis the tractor, Roberto was able to hill and cultivate the potato patch every week until the plants were too bushy and tall to pass through. The job took a quick 20 minutes each week, the spud patch stayed 100% weed-free, the hills grew to be almost knee-high, and the plants thrived. As a result, we’re seeing little-to-no greening of the potatoes (because they were happily covered with soil and shaded by robust plant growth instead of popping through the surface and getting exposed to light). It is, hands-down, the healthiest, happiest potato patch we’ve ever grown.

 

It means that your potato share this week is extra hefty, with everyone receiving a pound more than we had forecasted. This variety is called Desiree. I’d suggest keeping them in the fridge, as some of the potatoes are still “new,” meaning their skin hasn’t totally cured yet. If you leave them in the fridge for a few weeks you’ll notice that they get remarkably sweeter. As it turns out, in cold storage potatoes actually convert their starches to sugars so spuds get sweeter after a stint in the fridge.

 

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Red Storage Onions           
  • Carrots
  • Summer Squash
  • Dill
  • Tomatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Hot Peppers

 

On Rotation:

  • Sweet Corn

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Red Storage Onions

I am thrilled to report that I think I’ve discovered a red onion variety that is well-suited to our not-so-hot growing season! It’s called Cabernet and it matures at least two weeks earlier than the others I’ve grown. Last year’s red onions never fully ripened or cured (a wonderful but late variety called Redwing that requires 120 days, at least - too long for our climate). Cabernet, however, has sized up and cured in a timely fashion and the flavor is great: mild and tasty.

 

Storage: These onions have already cured, so you can leave them on the counter or in a cool dry place. They should keep for a month or two.

 

Sweet Corn

Where there is success (potatoes!) in any given farm season, there is also failure (corn). This year, every possible thing that could have gone wrong with the corn, did. It’s been a sad saga, especially since it began with such youthful optimism. I was especially excited about corn this year, given last year’s unlikely success (a bumper crop in spite of our cold, wet spring and slow growing season). This spring was gentler, and June proffered forth four perfect weeks of weather for four successive corn plantings – one block to be seeded each week, with the hope of harvesting more corn than ever come August and September.

 

Well, the long and short of it is that of the four intended blocks, only two are likely to yield. Why? You name it, it happened: Birds ate the sowed seed. I re-seeded. Nothing came up. A new seeder I bought this year malfunctioned and didn’t drop enough seed. I started over and re-seeded. The planting germinated beautifully (ah, victory!)) and then crows came back and overnight plucked all the freshly germinated corn seedlings from the ground. I re-seeded again, covered the beds with row cover to protect from birds. Mysteriously nothing ever germinated. An irrigation valve malfunctioned and unbeknownst to me one block of newly-seeded corn irrigated non-stop for a full week. A lot of the seed rotted in the ground. The plants that did survive were consumed by a crazy grass that looks identical to corn but isn’t. We weeded our hearts out and saved the planting, but too much water might mean we don’t get many ears. It goes on and on, the setbacks. Eventually, June was over and it was too late in the summer to seed any more corn. Honestly, it was kind of a relief to have to give up trying, to turn the page on the calendar and leave June, the month of Corn Seeding Wars, behind. 

 

All things considered, then, I was amazed this week to pull over 200 ears of corn off of the few corn plants that survived in our first planting: enough to put corn in all the totes destined for Coos Bay and the Farm. I tried not to dwell on how huge the harvest MIGHT have been, if only….

 

Bandon and Port Orford members will have to wait until our next planting is ready, but should see corn in a week or so. It won’t be a huge harvest this year, but hopefully scarcity will make it all the sweeter.

 

Storage: Unlike potatoes, corn turns it’s sugars into starches over time. Best to refrigerate your corn to slow the process down, or better yet, eat it right away for the best flavor and sweetness!

 

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

September is the month of squirreling away. It’s when we begin to bring in most of our storage crops: onions, shallots, winter squash, potatoes, etc. We cut off the water to these crops and cross our fingers for clear, dry days so they’ll cure properly in the field. September also marks the beginning of awkward heavy lifting (everything suddenly seems to be a 30 pound bin of something…), and we do our best not to hurt our backs (with varying degrees of success). This season, it’s just nice not to be pregnant - negotiating a basket-ball belly and a full bin of potatoes had its challenges! This year, Cleo is riding on my back instead – heavier for sure, and also a whole lot of fun…

Newsletter: 

Week 13: August 29th

Caprese, Finocchio….Cibo d’Italia!

Last week’s share was all about south of the border salsa. This week it’s all about the flavors of Italia! Basil, a bounty of tomatoes, fennel, Italian peppers…you might just find yourself lapsing into rapturous Italian at the dinner table: Mangia! Mangia! Mama Mia!

 

Or something like that….

 

No matter what, we suggest doing two things with your produce this week:

  1. Make caprese.
  2. Make finocchio.

 

Recipes below….

 

Strawberries Available by the Flat

The strawberries are making their usual late summer comeback and we’re starting to have extra flats again, $35 each. There’s still time to make some jam or stock your freezer! If you’d like to order, email us: your name, pick-up location, and the number of flats you’d like. We can deliver to your pick-up site, or you can pick up at the farmstand on Wednesday or Saturday.

 

Raspberries have begun…

They are big. They are sweet. Not quite peaking yet, but ramping up. It’s fun out there.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions           
  • Carrots
  • Summer Squash
  • Basil
  • Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Fennel

 

On Rotation:

  • Cherry Tomatoes

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Featured Recipes of the Week:

Our favorite fennel recipe, Finocchio: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/finocchio

A wow-your-dinner-guests recipe, Caprese: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/caprese

 

Heirloom Tomatoes

You’ll find a few more unusual-looking tomatoes in your tote this week: some small orange “Juan Flamme” tomatoes, perhaps a big green “Aunt Ruby,” or a jumbo sunset-colored “Striped German.” These are all heirlooms, meaning they are open-pollinated (not hybrids, so we can save our own seed year after year). Heirlooms are typically handed down over the generations and maintained as unique varieties. They tend to yield less and later than many of the hybrid varieties out there, but their special flavor and color make up for that!

 

Bets grows a number of heirlooms in her greenhouses, and they have come on early this year. If you got a green one in your tote, rest assured it’s not an unripe tomato. On the contrary, it’s ripe and ready to be sliced up next to those red and orange tomatoes for a gorgeous plate of caprese.

 

Storage: on the counter, at room temperature. If at all possible, DO NOT refrigerate ANY of your tomatoes. It often makes the texture mealy and reduces their flavor.

 

Sweet Peppers

Sweet, sweet peppers! The harvest has begun from the pepper greenhouse, and holy moly, it looks like it’s going to be quite a year! They are coming out of there by the bucketload in all manner of color, shape and size! This week’s are a variety called Stocky Red Roaster, another open-pollinated variety from our favorite local seed company, Wild Garden Seeds, in Philomouth, Oregon. Great roasted, as their name implies, but also sautéed or raw. I eat them like apples every chance I get (pepper season is the pinnacle of food happiness for me).

 

My mom is always trialing new varieties and this year is no exception. She managed to bring some seeds home from our trip to Italy last fall and recently harvested a giant 2-pound red pepper the size of Cleo’s head! There’s always an array of those experimental varieties for sale at the farmstand if you are as much a pepper lover as I am.

 

Storage: On the counter if you plan to use them within a couple days, or in the fridge in a bag to hold for at least a week.

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 12: August 22

Do the Salsa!

What do you get when you put tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro and onions in the same Rubbermaid tote? A really good reason to make homemade pico de gallo! Chop it all up, add some salt, a squeeze of lime, and get yourself some tortillas chips! Salsa season is here!

 

Strawberries Available by the Flat

The strawberries are making their usual late summer comeback and we’re starting to have extra flats again, $35 each. There’s still time to make some jam or stock your freezer! If you’d like to order, email us: your name, pick-up location, and the number of flats you’d like. We can deliver to your pick-up site, or you can pick up at the farmstand on Wednesday or Saturday.

 

Raspberries about to go BOOM!

The fall-bearing raspberries are heading towards happy ripe-titude! I walked through yesterday, and while the fruit is still mostly green, there are some red berries coming on. My experience in years past is that the patch goes from zero to sixty almost overnight, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the picking starts to get good next week. Definitely by the first week of September.

 

If you haven’t cashed in on your 4 free u-pick pounds yet, this will be a fun time to do it. The fall-bearers are usually easy picking, with most of the fruit visible and big! The only glitch on our end is that the sheet that had a record of everyone’s already-picked poundage got stolen with our farmstand scale last week. Which means we have no idea who has picked what towards their 4 pound credit. We ask, as a result, that you please abide by the honor system – if you know you’ve already met your 4-pound quota, please pay for any other berries that you pick. If you’re not sure how much you’ve picked, but know that you’ve gotten some, just use your best judgement. We will trust your word, and I’ll tell Aro at the farmstand to do the same. We will have a new list at the farmstand so that your raspberry harvest can be recorded there. Just give Aro your name, or your share partner’s name so she can write down your harvest

 

Thanks for your cooperation on this one!

 

Farm Theft Update

In the wake of last week’s burglary, the response from our farm members has been amazing; I am awed by the care and concern so many of you have shown. Your kind emails and letters have meant the world as we try to make sense of it.

 

I’ve spent the past week taking stock of what’s missing from the barn, as well as replacing the critical things that we can’t farm without right now: scales, harvest knives, the battery charger for the electric tractor, etc. We’re looking into the possibility of an insurance settlement and have just begun what might be a long process. A number of you have generously offered to lend tools, start a tool-replacement fund drive, and even write checks. I have been stunned by your thoughtfulness. For now, I’d like to see what comes of the insurance process before accepting your offers of help. We can get by without many of our hand and power tools for now while we are so absorbed with harvest, and hopefully we’ll have an insurance settlement before Fall when we begin to need our quiver of hand and power tools for off-season farm improvement projects.

 

I will certainly keep you all posted as things unfold. In the meantime, an enormous thank you for bringing to life the “community-supported” aspect of community supported agriculture (CSA). I am deeply grateful.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions           
  • Carrots
  • Summer Squash
  • Cilantro
  • Tomatoes
  • Hot peppers

 

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Walla Walla Sweet Onions

No need to grab a hanky when you go to cut these onions up – they are sweet and tear-free! A special summer treat, Walla Wallas are the juiciest, mildest, and biggest onion we grow. Some of them get bigger than softballs. No matter the size, the Walla Walla harvest inevitably gets me salivating about one thing: onion rings. They are the perfect onion for the job: big and sweet with thick rings. Our favorite batter is simple: 1 part beer to 1 part flour. Mix it up. Cut your onions into full, fat rings. Dredge though the batter and drop into a pot of hot oil. Fry until golden brown, a few minutes. Pull out the cooked rings with a pair of tongs, sprinkle with salt, and let them drain on a paper towel or paper bag. You know how to finish the job.

 

Also great in salsa or carmelized (slow-sauteed in a pan until they are golden brown and greatly reduced in volume). These are fresh onions, not suited for long-term storage. They’ll keep in your fridge for a few weeks in a plastic bag, but don’t try to store them on the countertop like cured onions.

 

Hot Peppers

The little green peppers in your tote are either jalapeños or serranos this week, depending on which pick-up site you go to. Either way, they’ve got some kick to spice up your homemade salsa. The seeds in a hot pepper are always the spiciest part, so if you want to tone it down, de-seed your peppers before chopping them into a dish. If you like it hot – some do – chop up your peppers, seeds and all.

 

Storage: in the fridge in a bag, will hold for at least a week.

 

Farm Fact of the Week

Our main harvest days – Tuesday and Friday - are like a choreographed dance on the farm. We hustle to get lettuce and leafy greens out of the field before it heats up in the morning, then move on to roots and onions, and finally berries. We try to have all the produce in the barn by lunchtime (anywhere between noon and 3 pm), at which point we start washing and packing out everything. We create an assembly-line to pack your harvest baskets by setting up a horseshoe of folding tables. We station the heaviest stuff at the head (potatoes, cabbage, carrots, etc) and light and delicate things at the end (herbs, lettuce, tomatoes). We count out the right number of totes and lids for each pick-up site, turn up some good music, and start packing! We slide the totes along the table, putting the same quantity of each item in every tote: a pound of that, 2 pints of this, 3 of that, 1 each of this….until every tote is full and in the cooler!

Newsletter: 

Anyone Going to Eugene or Portland?

Hi everyone,

 

A quick query to see if anyone is driving to Eugene or Portland this Friday or Saturday. We are looking for a ride for our dearest pal, Marisa (aka the Farm Saviour), who comes from Hawaii to help us on the farm for a few weeks each summer. She flies back to Hilo on Sunday out of Portland (sniff) and we are hoping to help her avoid the 3-bus marathon journey from Langlois.

 

Send a quick email if you, or anyone you know, is headed north.

 

Thanks so much!

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

Week 11: August 15th

Tomatoes!

Jump for joy, tomato season is early this year!!! We didn’t anticipate having enough tomatoes to put into your totes until the last week of August, but they have come on strong – 2 weeks earlier than expected. My mom, Betsy, is the tomato queen and she cultivates a myriad of varieties in her greenhouses. You can expect to see plenty of red slicers in the coming weeks, as well as an assortment of heirlooms later on (they usually peak in the first half of September).

 

The Sad Demise of the Cucumbers…

Our excitement about the early arrival of the tomatoes is partly tempered by the untimely croaking of the cucumbers. They are another greenhouse crop. Sadly this year the moles have done them in by tunneling under the plants. Moles love to burrow under drip-irrigated crops because the ground is moist and soft – making it easy digging for them. The moles themselves are carnivorous, feeding largely on worms and other insects underground. But their subterranean swimming habit creates hollows in the ground; when plant roots hit these hollows tunnels, they can’t grow beyond or through them, which means they can’t take up water or nutrients. Sometimes no amount of stomping down tunnels or trapping actual moles can beat ‘em. This year the moles seem to have won. We had hoped cucumbers would see us into September, but it looks like they are pretty much over. Hopefully early tomatoes will help make up for it!

 

Bulk Basil Available

There is still plenty of basil available if you want to place a bulk order and make some pesto! $14 a pound for luscious tops - all leaf, no stem. Send us an email with your name, phone number, pickup location, and the amount you want in one pound increments.

 

Farm Burglarized on Tuesday Night

On Wednesday morning we were shocked to discover that our barn had been burglarized overnight. Sadly, it was a pretty clean sweep: all of my hand tools, power tools, harvest tools and knives, scales, handtrucks, carts, walkie-talkies, coolers, deep-cycle battery chargers for the electric tractor, and more. We are trying to regroup today and figure how to at least get through the rest of the week without our usual quiver of tools. I am scrambling to immediately replace the things we can’t live without at the peak of harvest – specialty harvest knives, scales, etc. I imagine that many of the other tools will take some time to replace, as we can afford them or if an insurance settlement can be worked out. We will cross our fingers.

 

In all the 36 years that my mom has owned the farm, we’ve never had an incident like this, which is reason to be grateful. It’s hard times for so many folks; I can only hope that whoever stole these things needed them more than us right now.

 

Please forgive the brevity of the newsletter this week; I have to get back to the farm to try to put things back in order for tomorrow’s harvest.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Purplette Onions           
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Green Cabbage
  • Parsley – Italian or Curley
  • Tomatoes
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Newsletter: 

Week 10: August 8th

Orange Food

The carrots are here! Orange, sweet, and so unlike grocery store carrots. Every year I look forward to them with a special anticipation, and once they have finally fattened up to a harvestable size, a sense of calm relief comes over me. They mark a turn in our farming season, towards heavier, more substantial foods. More roots; more heft in your tote each week; more color to offset all the green; a reliable, universally-appreciated crop that sees us all the way through December and beyond.

 

Most likely there will be carrots in your share from now until you get your last Harvest Basket. For me, it’s great to have a staple vegetable that I can count on like that – and one that few people tire of.  The task of deciding what should go into your Harvest Baskets each week is somewhat of a juggling act: I do a fieldwalk to decide what to harvest for your share, and hopefully what’s ready on the farm will come together in the totes with a reasonable balance of greens, roots, berries, herbs, and seasonal showcase veggies like tomatoes (in a few weeks), or this week’s neon cauliflower. In the first six weeks of the season, the share is always heavier on the greens, which mature more quickly than slow-growing roots. Beets are one of the root crops that come on fairly early, but I’ve learned over the years that I can’t give those out every week unless I want to incite a veggie revolt. So, we wait patiently for carrots.

 

Each spring I optimistically sow them outdoors in the field, starting in April and planting a new bed every two weeks. And each spring, despite elaborate attempts to cover them with row cover and nurse them along, all of my early plantings fail completely due to a combo of cold soil temperatures and voracious slugs. It’s not until about mid-may when finally the soil temperature is warm enough to get good germination, and perhaps by then the slugs are distracted by all the other crops in the ground. For four years now, I have hoped for mid-July carrots, but it seems we never really have them until early August. But once we have them, we have them in spades, week after week. They become a base note in the Harvest Basket, attended by other ever-changing produce that comes and goes on the farm throughout the year.

 

I hope you enjoy your inaugural carrot share. There will be plenty more to come.

 

New Recipes

A couple CSA members have sent me some of their tried and true recipes over the past week, which I’ve posted on the recipe exchange: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

 

yum!

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Purplette Onions           
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini

 

On Rotation:

  • Very Colorful Cauliflower!

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Purplette Onions

You got these last week, and hopefully you figured out how to eat them in the absence of any newsletter pointers. They are a wonderful, pretty, spring onion. We harvest them fresh with still-green tops, before they have cured. Normally when you buy onions, they are not in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle, they don’t have green tops, and they have a papery skin. That’s a “cured” onion, meaning it will store for quite awhile unrefrigerated. The purplettes, on the other hand, need refrigeration. They are mild and juicy and you can use the green top like a green onion. Use the bulb raw in salads, or sautéed in any dish.

 

Storage: Plastic bag, fridge. The bulb will hold longer than the green tops – many weeks – so top them and store separately if you don’t use them within a week.

 

Cauliflower, with Pizazz

Last year I trialed three cauliflowers: a white, a purple, and an orange. Usually the fancy-pants varieties (i.e. the purple and orange) don’t do as well as your good ol’ reliable plain jane varieties. But not so with these cauliflowers. The orange and purple (named Cheddar and Graffiti, respectively), outperformed the white (ironically named “Amazing”). As a result, there’s no white cauliflower on the farm this year; only 80’s neon colors. You should get one or the other in the next couple of weeks as they mature.

 

The flavor is much the same as regular cauliflower. If you get a Cheddar head, the orange color becomes even brighter when lightly cooked. The purple will also hold its color when cooked, but is bolder when raw. Makes a lovely splash on a platter of raw veggies and dip.

 

Storage: Will last a week or more in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

All of the food you are enjoying now is the product of a full month of in-depth wintertime planning. I spend almost all of January in front of my computer, tweaking a huge complex of excel spreadsheets in order to craft a crop plan that will deliver cauliflower on the week of August 8th (right on time this year!), potatoes every 3 weeks starting in July, and enough broccoli to feed an army (or in this case 106 Harvest Basket members) in the summer and fall. By the end of January, I have multiple spreadsheets that constitute the blueprint for the season – one for greenhouse seeding; one for field tillage; one for direct seeding and transplanting; one for the projected CSA share; and a slew of field maps. From that point on, we use them to make up our weekly to-do lists. It’s a huge help to do most of the thinking and planning in the quiet winter months, so that once the frenzy of the growing season is upon us we can mostly “do” instead of stopping to figure out what we should do.

Newsletter: 

Important Updates from the Farm

We want to alert you to a few unexpected changes for the coming week of August 1. Tragically, Roberto's younger brother died on Thursday in an electrical accident in Washington. Roberto will be gone all week in Wenatchee with his family. Without his invaluable help on the farm in the coming days, a couple of things will be different this week:

 

  1. There will be NO BEET BOX NEWSLETTER this week. You can expect to seem some or all of the following items in your Harvest Baskets: Purplette onions, strawberries, lettuce, basil, zucchini, beets, green cabbage, kale, cucumbers, possibly broccoli, possibly carrots (they are nearly ready for harvest, at last!).
  2. TAMALE SHARES WILL NOT BE GOING OUT THIS WEEK. We are postponing the scheduled tamale delivery until the week of August 8th. Juana is also with the family in Wenatchee, making it a challenge to get all of the tamales made and to the farm for delivery this week. Our apologies for any inconvenience this might cause you. Please look for your tamale shares NEXT WEEK - the week of August 8th - at your pickup site instead.

Thanks for your understanding. Our thoughts are with Roberto, his sister Juana, and the entire Sierra family.

 

Zoë

Newsletter: 

Week 8: July 25th

Local Abundance

Pasture-raised eggs and broilers. Grass-finished beef. Raw honey. Fresh produce. Heritage turkeys. Organic blueberries.

 

You name it, and these days Langlois has it. The turn towards eating locally has enabled a cluster of local food businesses and farms to gain a beloved foothold in our tiny town. It means that on any given night, we often look at our plates and can count the number of “food miles” that our dinner traveled on one, maybe two, hands. Here’s a run-down of some of the farmers who fill the corner of our plate that isn’t heaped with veggies:

 

Joe Pestana, Oregon Grassfed

Joe raises grass-finished, dry-aged beef on his family’s ranch on the Sixes River. It’s an incredible product – flavorful, tender, and as healthy as beef gets. You can buy just about any cut, plus ground beef, at the Langlois Market or at any Ray’s Food Place from Bandon to Brookings. Joe is also often at the Port Orford Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

http://www.oregongrassfed.com/

 

Candace Carnahan, Carnahan Livestock

Candace is raising pastured eggs and broilers on Floras Creek, just downstream from Valley Flora. Her flock of layers has just started producing the most delicious, orange-yolked eggs you’ll ever eat. You can buy eggs by the dozen at our farmstand most Wednesdays and Saturdays, and at the Port Orford Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Her broilers are available by special order; let us know if you'd like her email.

 

Lee & Jack Lawrence, Lee’s Bees

Jack and Lee have become famous for their array of raw, unfiltered honeys. Lee has hives locally and throughout Oregon. She hand-harvests artisan batches of honey including Local Wildflower, Blueberry, Fireweed, and the out-of-this-world Meadowfoam (tastes like a combo of root beer and marshmallows). Her honey is available at many businesses in Langlois (B&B Farm Supply, LaLaBelle’s, Langlois Market, Valley Flora farmstand), as well as the Port Orford Farmers Market, Well Within Acupuncture Clinic in Bandon, and online.

http://www.leesbeeshoney.com

 

Warren & Andrea Bowden, Common Ground Farm Blueberries; John & Nancy Jensen, Jensen Organic Blueberries; Charlie Valentine

Blueberry season is almost upon us, and in my opinion there is nothing better than picking your own. We usually put upwards of 40 pounds of blueberries in our freezer each year, so fortunately for us there are no less than three u-pick blueberry farms in and near Langlois. Common Ground is just north of town: 94319 Bono Road, 541-348-2179. Jensen’s is a few miles south at mile post 291: 46760 Highway 101 South, 541-348-2473. Charlie Valentine has a young 7-acre field of berries that has just started producing this season: Look for the sign at Sydnam Lane, about 3 miles north of Langlois.

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Scallions
  • Snap peas
  • Fennel
  • Cilantro

 

On Rotation:

  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Scallions

This is the first time I’ve grown scallions for the CSA. I was motivated by a desire to have an early allium – some kind of onion that would come on sooner in the season than the Purplettes (that mild, purple fresh onion that so many of you love). I seeded these scallions back in April at the same time we were transplanting all of our onions into the field from the greenhouse. As it turns out, the scallions have matured almost neck-and-neck with the Purplettes, which you’ll be seeing in your tote next week. So much for an earlier allium, but at least it’s something new and different in the line-up.

 

These scallions are more green top than they are white stalk (I suppose next year we ought to hill them to blanch those stems!), but there is still plenty of flavor there.

 

Last weekend I stopped in for our ritual libation at LaLaBelle’s (Langlois’ very own coffee and variety shoppe, open weekends 8-3…where most of us descend on Saturday mornings for the best homemade cinnamon rolls on earth!). Dawn, the owner and chef extraordinaire, had made a fresh pea soup with mint, crème fraiche, and scallions. She wouldn’t share her secret recipe, but all I can say is this: it was the best soup I have eaten in a long, long time. Maybe ever even. Dawn is a Harvest Basket member and had used some Valley Flora snap peas in the soup. Unfortunately she is on vacation this week, so she won’t be able to make it again with Valley Flora peas AND scallions, but I’d encourage you to plumb the depths of your recipe books and the internet to see if you can come up with a recipe that might yield such a smooth, bright green, mouth-watering soup. And if you find one, will you send it to me? Me oh my oh yumminess.

 

Storage: Plastic bag, fridge, up to a week before the greens start to get slimy.

 

Baby Fennel

In the first couple years of Harvest Baskets, I was on a crusade to turn as many people as I could into fennel appreciators. I myself love fennel. What I learned is that lots of folks like fennel, but just as many don’t – and never will. And no matter how many times I put it in your totes in a season, they fennel-haters aren’t going to change their mind. They are just going to keep feeding it to their cows, or their compost bins.

 

I wouldn’t say I’ve given up on converting people into adoring fennel-ites, but I have perhaps become more realistic in my expectations. Instead of five fennel plantings, there are only three this year, and this first one is rather petite. If it’s your first encounter with fennel, you can expect a mildly licorice-like flavor and a celery-like texture. You can eat fennel raw, sliced thinly into salads, or you can cook it. Steaming it is the simplest way, but it’s also great chopped into pasta sauce, added to soup, or braised and served alongside fish. The Italians love this stuff; it's as common in their grocery stores as iceberg lettuce is in ours.

 

Cut it lengthwise, then cut it into slices cross-wise. Work around the woody core that resembles a cabbage core. Enjoy the lacy tops as a dill substitute for a little added herbal flavor.

 

Storage: Top the bulbs and they will last in a plastic bag in the fridge for weeks. The greens will last up to a week in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 7: July 18th

Summer is Back!

The recent drizzle made it hard not to feel like we were being robbed a week of precious summer. After all, there are only so many sunny days that inspire you to jump into the creek each year (!!) and to lose five in the middle of July – unheard of!!! Nevertheless, it looks like summer has returned – which means we have a hot date with a swimming hole on Floras Creek this evening!

 

The rain was good and bad for the farm, but mostly good. Things grew by leaps and bounds over the weekend. We’ve noticed that plants seem to love real rain from the sky; they know the difference between natural irrigation and the kind we pipe in for them. The strawberries suffered a little from all the precip, but not horribly. I’d suggest you eat or freeze them sooner than later this week because the rain often shortens their shelf life. We tried our best to sort out any imperfect ones as we picked on Tuesday, but I apologize if you encounter a berry that’s trying to rot. Sometimes, unfortunately, we miss them.

 

The weeds have loved the moist weather, so we are tackling ever corner of the farm with hoes, hands, horses, and Allis the electric tractor. Today is carrot liberation day; tomorrow, the corn.

 

Cukes and zukesare coming on, and there are new potatoesin your totes this week!

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Snap peas
  • New Potatoes
  • Fresh Dill
  • Cucumbers

 

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

New Potatoes

We have a farmer friend in Vermont who always relishes the tandem arrival of new potatoes and peas. This week we harvested both, along with the first crop of dill, which makes for a lovely trio: Herbed New Potatoes and Peas.

 

What is a new potato? It’s a potato dug early, before the plant has died back and the skin has cured. You know it’s time to check for new potatoes when your potato plants begin to flower; typically the plant is setting tubers at the same time it’s blooming. In your garden, you can rob a few new potatoes from each plant and they will still continue to develop full-size spuds for a later harvest. In our case, we dug a whole row and took everything for this week’s distribution.

 

You get a significantly lower yield when you harvest for new potatoes because the tubers aren’t full size yet, but it’s worth it: new potatoes are petite and exceptionally juicy; have a thin fragile skin; boast smooth, delicate texture; and have a sweet flavor. These new potatoes have only been out of the ground for a day, so the flavor should be even better.

 

Not to count our chicks before they hatch, BUT…..based on this first harvest and on the health of our potato field this year, it’s looking like it’s going to be a whopper of a potato year! We took a cue from the results of last year’s potato survey and opted to plant only our two favorite, reliable, high-yielding varieties: yellow finn (a buttery yellow spud) and desiree (the tender red variety you’re getting this week). If all goes well, you should be seeing potatoes on a regular basis from now until December!

 

Storage: New potatoes aren’t cured, so keep them in the fridge, in a plastic bag; they’ll store for a long time, but the flavor is best sooner.

 

Cukes & Zukes

Here they come, the cucurbit cousins! Once they start producing in the greenhouse (cukes) and outside (zukes), there’s no stopping them! My mom is in charge of these crops – or more accurately, they are in charge of her. She has to harvest every day of the week when cucumbers and zucchini are on – or else they blow up into full-size blimps within a couple of days. Most of the time she manages to harvest the zukes as adolescents when they are at their tenderest.

 

As for enjoying them: Thinly sliced cucumber salad with a little rice vinegar, sea salt, and fresh dill…..quick, easy, delicious.

 

And the zukes: we had them grilled last night. It might well be the best way to turn a plain old zucchini into something as savory as sirloin.

 

Storage:In a plastic bag in the fridge. Will keep for up to a week.

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

In our microclimate on Floras Creek, the farm produces food year round. The Valley Flora farmers, however, like to have a rest, so we usually only sell produce eleven months out of the year - every month but January.

Newsletter: 

Bulk Basil Available!

The basil crop is coming on strong and we finally have enough to offer it in bulk to those of you who love it! There's nothing better than thawing out some homemade pesto in the middle of winter!

 

Bulk Basil Details:

  • $14/pound - primo tops only, no stem!
  • Available in 1 pound increments only. We will fill orders as the basil is available and will contact you when your order is ready.
  • We will deliver your order to your pickup site in a marked bag.

 

To Order, email us:

  • Your name
  • Your pickup location
  • Your phone number
  • The quantity of basil you would like, in one pound increments.

 

Payment:

  • We will be in touch with payment details once your order has been filled.

 

We will likely have basil all summer, but there may be some lulls in production here and there. We'll do our best to fill your order as quickly as possible.

Newsletter: 

Week 6: July 11th

New Foods, New Flavors!

Peas, beets and cabbage, hooray! The Harvest Baskets took a marked turn this week with a cast of new characters jammed in there. Read up on Kitchen Tips, below, for eating and storage ideas.

 

Strawberries are still available by the flat. If you’d like to order some to freeze, jam, or eat fresh, send us an email with your name, pickup location, and the number of flats you’d like. Flats are $35 each (12 dry pints to a flat).

 

U-pick Raspberries are at their peak. Now would be a great time to cash in on your 4 pound u-pick credit with us, if you haven’t already done so. The berries will go for another couple of weeks, and then there will be a lull in raspberries until mid-late August when our fall-bearing variety comes on. The best berries are hidden within the plants; you’ll find some huge ones if you get down on your knees and push the canes aside. As my mom says, “Think like a goat!”

 

U-pick Strawberries are recovering after a hard couple of weeks of picking! There are always berries if you want to fill a pint, but if you’re hoping to stock your freezer for winter they are not easy picking right now! The berries typically have a lull starting in the second half of July into early August. By mid-August they kick into high gear again….so never fear: if you missed the first big flush of berries, there will be more later in the summer!  Next year, we’re excited to offer u-pick Marionberries as well. They are in the ground and growing, so 2012 should be their first fruiting year.

 

In your share this week:

  • Broccoli
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Snap peas
  • Beets
  • Basil
  • Cabbage

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Snap Peas

Snap peas are like raspberries: it’s hard to find a person who doesn’t love ‘em. And like raspberries, it seems that we can never pick enough of them to satiate your every snap pea craving. But we try, at least for a few weeks each year. You’ll find a full pound of peas in your tote this week.

 

Like sweet corn, the sugars in snap peas convert to starch over time, so it’s best to enjoy them sooner than later. It’s hard to beat the flavor and crunch of a raw snap pea, but if you decide to cook them I’d suggest keeping it simple so their flavor shines through. Steamed lightly, they’re divine.

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; will store about a week, but the flavor is best sooner.

 

Beets

Many of you are receiving an experimental variety of beet this week: Forono, also known as Cylindra. They are long and tubular like a fat carrot, as opposed to round. This is the first year we’ve grown them and I’ve been pleasantly surprised: the flavor is sweet and mild, and they are easy to work with in the kitchen if you want to cut them into even-sized rounds.

 

Beets are closely related to Swiss chard; you can see the family resemblance in the leaves. Eat your beet greens just as you would chard, spinach, or kale and get more bang for your beet buck!

 

Beets are incredibly versatile: think beet soup (borscht), beet salad, roasted beets, chocolate beet cake (seriously, it’s delicious), pickled beets, beet burgers and more (here are some of our favorite beet recipes). Even if you’re on the fence about beets, give them a try! And if it’s your first time eating them, be forewarned that they often come out the other end a shocking red…not to seem scatological, but I’d rather you had fair warning than call 911!

 

Storage: Plastic bag in the fridge. Topped, your beet roots will store for months. The greens will hold for up to a week typically.

 

Cabbage

Our first spring cabbage planting had a rough go of it this year. The starts nearly drowned with all the rain we got and then they got hit by cabbage maggot. Even once it finally warmed up, they never quite achieved lift-off. As a result, you are receiving some rather petite cabbages this week.

 

Or, instead of offering honest disclosure of what I feel was a crop semi-failure, I could instead tell you that these are specialty mini-cabbages highly acclaimed in Europe!

 

Whichever story you prefer, rest assured that there will be more cabbage down the road this season! You can eat this one up as quickly as you want, but if you choose the slow road, remember that cabbage keeps for weeks and even months. If the cut edge turns brown on you, simply shave off the discolored edge next time you go to cut some up.

 

Storage: Plastic bag in the fridge. Will keep for months!

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

Valley Flora is what we call a “mixed power” farm. To get our work done, we use a combination of horsepower (the 4-legged kind), a diesel tractor, an electric tractor, and human powered hand tools.

Newsletter: 

Week 5: July 4th

The Reality and Reward of Eating Seasonally

 

Radishes again?!?!!!

 

I kept imagining that refrain as you opened up your totes this week, to once more find kale, broccoli, hakurei turnips, lettuce, radishes, and strawberries in there – which by now, are familiar friends (or foes) in your weekly Harvest Basket. Usually at this point in the season, there are some folks who have reached their “fed up” point – enough with the greens and spicy roots already! Bring on the summer food!

 

Well, the good news is that the summer food is coming: cukes, zukes, snap peas, new potatoes, beets, and more (and yes, this is the LAST week of radishes until fall!). Most likely you’ll see a few of those new summery crops in your tote next week, thanks to the recent blast of sunshine and heat.

 

But we hope you don’t say goodbye to the past month of greens-heavy Harvest Baskets with disgust. If nothing else, the food you’ve been receiving for the past few weeks is exactly what grows – and grows well – at this point in the year (not to mention the fact that nutrient-dense greens are considered the perfect thing to cleanse and fortify the body after a long fresh-veggie-deprived winter). And that’s part of what CSA – community supported agriculture - is all about: experiencing what it means to eat locally and seasonally.

 

I suppose we could put cherry tomatoes in your totes in June, if we wanted to import them from Mexico, but that would negate much of what we’re trying to achieve on our family farm: reducing the number of miles from farm to fork; helping our eaters understand what kind of food grows on the southcoast of Oregon, and when; and making sure that whatever you get from the farm was picked at its peak of flavor and freshness.

 

As a result, when you sign up with Valley Flora you’re signing up for an experience marked both by abundance and, yes, limitation (how un-American!). We aren’t a supermarket that offers every kind of fruit and vegetable every week of the year; we’re a physical farm, tended by real people, within the constraints of a specific climate, weather, latitude, ecosystem, soil, and water supply. It means that most of the time you can’t have it all: tomatoes in February or radishes in August. There are limitations on our farm, and on our local food supply.

 

But what you can have is exactly whatever is in its prime and at its peak here on Floras Creek. And if you like to preserve food by canning, freezing, or drying, you’ll be able to enjoy summertime tomatoes next winter after all.

 

We’ve found after years of growing and eating our own food year-round, our bodies crave exactly what is in season at any given point of the year. We eat kale and winter squash for 3 months straight through the winter, and for some reason never tire of it. By August we are salivating for a fresh tomato; but come November we’re kinda over them and ready for hearty winter food again. The fact that we can’t have it all, all the time, reminds us to savor and celebrate the fresh food that is in season – because before we know it, it’s gone again.

 

Hopefully you can taste the difference that fresh, local and seasonal makes - and hopefully that flavor is enough to convince you that some things are worth waiting for, and other things are worth putting up with…:)

 

On that note, enjoy your last little spicy pile of amethyst radishes this week!

 

Reminder: Tamale Shares are going out this week! Tamales will be delivered to pick-up sites in marked coolers. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE TAMALES unless you have signed up for them and your name is on the list on the cooler!

 

In your share this week:

Arugula or Braising Mix

Broccoli

Red Ursa Kale

Head Lettuce

Strawberries

Amethyst Radishes

Hakurei turnips

 

On Rotation:

Kohlrabi

Raspberries

 

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Amethyst Radishes

I had to grow these this year, for the color alone. They are a spicy radish, which is partly the variety itself and partly the fact that they have grown through some warm weather. Heat brings up the heat in a radish root. Remember, you can always tone down the picante factor by peeling them; all the spice is in the pretty skin.

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; greens will store a few days to a week; the roots, if topped, will store for weeks.

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

All combined, the farm drinks up about 100,000 gallons of water per week to irrigate all our crops. Vegetables and berries are mostly water! We draw our water from Floras Creek, via a state water right. We use drip irrigation on more than half of our acreage in order to make the most efficient use of this precious resource, and to leave as much water as possible in the creek for fish, otters, and other aquatic critters.

Newsletter: 

Strawberries Available by the Flat!

The strawberries are in their prime right now: huge, sweet, red and abundant!

 

We are offering them by the flat to our farm members at our wholesale price of $35 per flat, by special order. 

 

If you would like to get a flat - or two, or three - to freeze, jam, or eat fresh, send us an email. We can deliver them to your pickup site.

Newsletter: 

Week 4: June 27th

Raspberries, Lovely Raspberries!

The raspberries are here – those long-awaited, sweet and tangy, red and plump drupes of succulence! But of course, like most things in farming, their arrival into ripe-ti-tude was a bit of a saga.

 

It was just a handful of days ago that I took a walk through our June-bearing variety, hoping to gauge when the raspberries would be ripe and ready for picking. There was ample green fruit, much of it still small, so I figured it might be a week, maybe two. Then, suddenly, summer arrived for two fleeting days last weekend and, like magic, turned green to red! The canes were suddenly sagging under the weight of their soft fruit, bending towards the ground as if commanded by a different gravitational pull. It happened overnight. There was fruit, abundant fruit! I walked down the rows and stuffed ripe berries into my maw, relishing them.

 

They’re my favorite. It so happens, they are also almost everyone else’s favorite, too. Perhaps because their season is fleeting (a short month from late June to mid-July, then again in September). Perhaps because they are so lusciously perishable. Perhaps because they are so divinely tasty. We seem to love raspberries, collectively and unanimously.

 

But alas, by Monday afternoon summer had turned its back on us and we were scrambling to pick all of our strawberries a day early in hopes of saving them from the coming rain. There was no chance we could get all the newly-ripened raspberries picked, too, before the storm. They are our slowest, most painstaking crop to harvest, hands down. We would have to cross our fingers for soft, gentle raindrops – the kind that don’t smash ripe razzies into pulp.

 

It rained a half an inch on Monday night (plenty), leaving the farm soggy by Tuesday morning, a harvest day. We tromped around in our steamy raingear all morning, bunching chard, cutting lettuce, pulling roots. The raspberries were still wet by the time we had to head into the barn to pack the Harvest Baskets, so we left them behind, unpicked, in the field. Wet raspberries, once picked, are prone to growing mold – which would be such a nasty tease for you.

 

We packed all the totes, cleaned up the barn, and called it a day. Roberto went home. By then, there was blue on the horizon and I decided to take a walk into the field with Cleo. I was feeling tormented by the thought that maybe, just maybe, we could have put some raspberries into your totes after all – if only it had dried out a little sooner. We pushed our way through the raspberry rows – so much fruit! – and happily discovered that much of it had survived the rain. I looked at my watch; it was only a little past five and the sun was breaking through. Cleo was starting to doze. I couldn’t help myself.

 

I ran for pint baskets and flats and set upon the raspberries, possessed. I knew I could get at least 15 half pints filled – enough for our members who pick up at the farm. The evening light streamed in from under the clouds; the wild turkeys gobble-gobbled their evening gossip session from across the creek; the swallows dipped and dived for bugs; the bees hummed blossom to blossom; Cleo slept. An evening as sweet as the berries that inspired it.

 

The long and short of it is that raspberries are officially on rotation; I hope they taste sublime.

 

Free Raspberry U-Pick for Harvest Basket Members!

Because there is not enough time in our week to pick all the raspberries that we know you want, we are trying something new this year. We are offering 4 pounds of free u-pick raspberries for each Harvest Basket!  If you share a basket, please split the 4 pounds of u-pick amongst yourselves.
 

The credit is good at the farm all season. Feel free to use it a little at a time, or all at once. There will likely be raspberries from now until mid-July, and then again in late August and September.

 

There will be a list of Harvest Basket members at our farmstand, which is now staffed part-time by our friend, Aro, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Please let her know that you are a Harvest Basket member (tell her your name, or share partner's name) so she can apply your u-pick credit. If she is not present, please honor our honor system and note your harvest on our clipboard.

 

Of course, our ulterior motive is to get you to come out and enjoy the farm, but it’s also a way for you to get more raspberries into your bellies and freezers, at no extra cost. Enjoy!

 

In your share this week:

Spinach

Broccoli

Rainbow Chard

Head Lettuce

Strawberries

Radishes

Spring turnips

 

On Rotation:

Kohlrabi

Raspberries

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Rainbow Chard

The oo-la-la-iest of all the bunched greens, rainbow chard is like an edible bouquet - an electric array of pink, orange, yellow, white, and red stems topped by dark leaves. When people are puzzled by what to do with chard, I always tell them to use it any way they would use spinach. It cooks up wonderfully: steamed, sautéed, in soup, in lasagna, in spanikopita, in omelettes, quiche, etc.

 

Chard is the evolutionary grandparent of beets; you’ll notice a similarity in their leaves. The stems are entirely edible and will brighten up any dish with their colorful confetti. It’s super high in vitamins A, E and C, as well as iron and calcium. Don’t let this one end up in your compost!

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; stores up to a week.

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

During our largest planting week of the year this spring, I was sick with bronchitis. As a result, Roberto singlehandedly transplanted 17,506 seedlings into the field, including onions, shallots, lettuce, and broccoli. You have him to thank when those big Walla Walla Sweet onions show up in your totes this summer!

Newsletter: 

Week 3: June 20th

Farm Notes

 

An apology for any newsletter confusion last week…our website was down for a few days due a problem with the server, which meant that many of you did not receive the Beet Box until this Monday (eek!). Hopefully you figured out what to do with your kale and rhubarb in the absence of any pointers!

 

We’re excited about potatoes this season! BECAUSE…we rigged our new-very-old-electric-retrofitted cultivating tractor, Allis, with hilling discs – which means we can now easily and swiftly hill up our rows of potatoes to encourage them to set more tubers. So far, it’s the best-looking potato planting we’ve ever had. Barring any outbreak of blight, or attack by nefarious field mice, we might be in for a big harvest this year.

 

Visit the farm! In years past we have organized a spring tour for farm members, with mixed success. There is never a date that works for everyone, and there is often only a small showing. SO, this year we are going with the no-plan, zero-organization approach (which works really well for me right now in my current state; the headline should read “Uh-oh: new nursing mother charges headlong into crazy farm season”…). We’re encouraging you all to come out to the farm any Wednesday or Saturday, 9-5, for a visit. The u-pick and farmstand are open those days, and you can get a glimpse of all the food growing in the fields that’s destined eventually for your belly - unless you’re one of those Harvest Basket members who prefers to feed her share of fennel to her cow….:). Most likely, we will still organize a harvest party later in the season – maybe to dig all those spuds we’re hoping for!

 

Recipes and resources: If you’re looking for great background info, recipes, and tips for your produce, there is a wonderful book out there: From Asparagus to Zucchini: A guide to cooking farm-fresh seasonal produce. It’s organized alphabetically by vegetable and gives you historical background, cooking and storage tips, and an eclectic array of recipes for each vegetable. The recipes tend to be simple and quick, very seasonal, and tasty. You can order it online.

 

 

In your share this week:

 

  • Braising Mix or Arugula
  • Kohlrabi
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries

 

On Rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Spring turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Basil
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus

 

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a killer recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Braising Mix

This is a colorful, spicy mix of mustard greens, mizuna, tatsoi, and mixed kale. It’s great chopped up into a salad to add a little kick, or cooked down if you want to tame both the spice and the volume of greens in your life right now. Steamed or sautéed, braising mix is the perfect side to complement a good ol’ southern meal of cornbread and beans. Don’t forget the hot sauce!

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; stores up to a week.

 

Kohlrabi

This is one of the three most alien-looking vegetables we grow (the other two are romanesco cauliflower and celeriac, both of which appear in the fall). Depending on your pickup site, you’re either getting a purple variety or a white variety this week (you’ll see the other variety in next week’s tote). Both have a peacock plume of edible leaves, similar in texture and flavor to a hearty, toothsome kale leaf.

 

The flavor and texture of the kohlrabi bulb (really a modified swollen stem) is best likened to broccoli stems. Broccoli stems!? you’re thinking….that’s the part we toss out! But if you’ve ever peeled a broccoli stem and tried it, you know it’s a tender, juicy, crunchy surprise. Same with kohlrabi. Peel it and you’ll see.

 

We usually eat our kohlrabi raw: grated into a salad, or cut into crudités and dipped into something yummy like yogurt dill dip, or doused with lime and chili powder for a south of the border snack. It also cooks up beautifully, steamed, sautéed, or souped.

 

Storage: Cut the leaves off and store separately from the bulb. The leaves will keep a week or so in a plastic bag in the fridge; the bulb will store up to a month in a plastic bag.

 

Here’s a zingy recipe for a great summer salad:

 

Couscous with Kohlrabi and Chermoula Dressing

Borrowed from From Asparagus to Zucchini: A guide to cooking farm-fresh seasonal produce.

1-2 tsp minced garlic

2 Tbs. minced cilantro

2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. cumin

salt

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

3 Tbs. olive oil

2-3 cooked couscous, cooled to warm temperature

2 cups peeled, diced kohlrabi

½ cup diced radishes and/or spring turnips

16 kalamata or oil-cured black olives

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

 

Mix garlic, cilantro, parsley, paprika, cumin and alt to taste. Stir in lemon juice and olive oil. toss this mixture with couscous. Bring to room temperature. Gently toss with kohlrabi, radishes/turnips, and olives. Sprinkle with feta. Serves 6.

 

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

Long before Valley Flora hung out a shingle, in the days of bonafide truck farms, years before Abby and I were born, the land we now own and farm was used to grow commercial orchard fruit (apples, pears and plums) and strawberries. The legacy of our little reach of bottomland seems to have come full circle!

Newsletter: 

Week 2: June 13th

Farm Notes

  • Our farmstand and u-pick are now open for the season - every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 to 5. Strawberries are in season for u-pick right now, and the raspberries should be ripening up in the next few weeks. The farmstand is typically stocked with all kinds of goodies that you see in your share, plus garden starts.

 

 

  • Last week we got all of the winter squash planted, with the extra help of Pippin and Cleo. It may seem odd to be thinking about winter when summer hasn’t even begun yet, but it’s true: we are already seeding and planting out our fall and winter crops on the farm. The winter squash will grow and ripen through the summer for harvest in October, at which point you’ll start seeing them in your share each week….all the way through December. We just heaved the last of our 2010 Delicata winter squash into the compost this week, after 6 months of good eating. This Fall you can look forward to Delicatas, Butternuts, Kabochas, Spaghetti squash, Pie Pumpkins, and more! This is how much fun it is to plant winter squash all day....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Homemade tamales! Roberto’s sister, Juana, makes some of the best tamales we’ve ever tried. She creates them from scratch in her certified kitchen in Coquille, and this season you can enjoy them, too! We’ve ironed out the details with her and are going to be offering tamale shares this year, starting in July. Details to come in a follow-up email. Yum!

In your share this week:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries

 

On Rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Spring turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Basil
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus

 

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a killer recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Kale

This is an heirloom variety called Red Ursa. Of all the things we grow on the farm, the Red Ursa takes the prize for longevity, hardiness and yield. We plant it the first week of April, it grows and produces all summer long, weathers all those nasty winter storms, and come next April it will still be yielding delicious kale. Now THAT’s the kind of plant that deserves some respect!

 

Kale packs quite the punch nutritionally, with the highest protein content of ALL cultivated vegetables and a high dose of Vitamins A, C, B and calcium. It’s the oldest member of the cabbage family and was a favorite vegetable in ancient Rome. It hasn’t gained the prestige it deserves in the U.S.; ironically the largest buyer of kale in this country is Pizza Hut – for garnish on their salad bars!

 

So be a trend-setter and eat more kale! It’s great steamed, sautéed, tossed in soup, or used interchangeably with other dark greens like spinach: put it in lasagna, in omelettes/egg dishes, as an accent in risotto, with pasta, or to liven up a casserole. You should also try making kale chips. You might roast them with toasted sesame oil and salt as an alternative to olive oil.

 

A note about greens: Often folks are overwhelmed by all the greens you receive from us in the spring, but remember this: all of it cooks down to practically nothing (at least by our skewed veggie-addict standards!). That raw, frilly bunch of greens in your fridge is no big deal – just cook it if you’re overwhelmed, and add it to everything you can think of. Your body will thank you!

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; stores up to a week.

 

Rhubarb

This is our very first harvest ever of our two-year-old rhubarb plants! I planted them last spring for a very specific reason: strawberry rhubarb pie!

 

Alas, the harvest wasn’t big enough for you to all make a pie this year (maybe next year!), but you might consider dicing up your two stalks, putting them in a small saucepan wit some water, adding a sweetener of your choice to taste and cooking them down into a mushy compote. Then fill a bowl with vanilla ice cream and cover it with fresh strawberries and rhubarb sauce.

 

‘Nuf said.

 

Raw rhubarb will make you pucker up it’s so tart (lots of vitamin A & C), and the leaves (which we’ve removed) are toxic due to their super high oxalic acid content. This is one of those seasonal spring treats that really is a great excuse to do it up with some sugar (or agave, or honey, or whatever).

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; stores for awhile!

 

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

Last year we weighed the Harvest Baskets each week during packout. The total weight of a Harvest Basket for the entire season was 322.5 pounds (an average of 12.4 lbs each week for 26 weeks). We packed 92 Harvest Baskets each week, for a total of 29,647 pounds of food packed and delivered. The early baskets weighed about 10 lbs each; the late-season baskets weighed about 18 lbs each (the subtext here is that you have heavy roots, squash, potatoes, and tomatoes in your future!).

Newsletter: 

Week 1: June 6th

The much-anticipated harvest is upon us! In addition to harvest this week, we are planting squash, seeding corn, setting up irrigation, and tackling weeds!

 

In your share this week:

 

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Arugula
  • Pac Choi
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • A Cherry Tomato plant of your choosing

 

On Rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Spring turnips
  • Broccoli

 

 

Kitchen Tips

Here’s some background info about the produce in your share this week, with tips for preparation and storage. Looking for a recipe? Visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a killer recipe you’d like to share with everyone!

 

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

 

Artichokes

This is an heirloom variety that we’ve propagated at the farm for over 30 years (long before Valley Flora proper existed). Our first plants came from a friend who lived on the jetty in Bandon, so they are well-acclimated to our coastal clime. We’ve been dividing them ever since, and enjoying their chokes every spring. The easiest way to eat them is to steam them until the outer leaves pluck off easily and then dip them into your choice of condiments – butter, mayo, or our favorite: a homemade aioli. Combine a few dollops of mayo with a splash of balsamic vinegar, some capers, and black pepper. Dip away. Don’t forget to relish the “heart” at the end – the meaty bottom of the artichoke.

 

You may be wondering, what’s with the small artichokes? Well, here’s your first farm fact for the season: Artichokes are actually a domesticated thistle. The plants tend to produce only a few “king” chokes – the big artichoke that grows from the center of the plant. They also produce a whole bunch of side-branching chokes, which tend to be smaller. In the supermarket world, you see the king chokes in the produce aisle for $3.99 each and you find the baby chokes a few aisles away in jars - in the form of marinated and canned artichoke hearts. A little known secret is that the baby chokes actually make wonderful fresh eating because they lack the hairy “choke” that you encounter in the center of a big artichoke. You can eat pretty much the entire thing, from the bottom up!

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag. They’ll hold for a week or two.

 

Asparagus

We are celebrating the fact that this year, for the first time ever, we have asparagus for the first week of Harvest Basket deliveries. Usually the harvest is over by early June, but this year’s cold spring temps slowed production down enough that we are able to give everyone a full pound of spears. These are a supreme, seasonal treat for us; we hope you enjoy them!

 

The quickest way to eat asparagus is raw – yes, you can just bite into them. The next easiest is to steam them lightly until tender, but not limp. Dip into any of the condiments we suggested for artichokes, or drizzle them with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. You can also roast asparagus in the oven with olive oil and salt at 400+ degrees. Or, grill them. Or make soup. Or stir-fry. They really aren’t picky, so long as you don’t overcook them!

 

Storage: in the fridge, in a plastic bag

 

Arugula

A little spicy, a little nutty. Eat it raw as a salad, or put it under filet of fish. There’s an arugula pesto recipe on the Recipe Wizard if you want to get creative.

 

Storage: in the fridge, will hold for a week or so

 

Pac Choi

A classic Asian stir-fry ingredient, pac choi (also spelled bok choy and bok choi) is a succulent green with meaty, crunchy ribs. Turns out, it’s also a favorite of our resident slug population at Valley Flora. If your pac choi has a few holes in it, or a tattered leaf, slugs are the culprit. More likely than not, there’s also a slug hiding inside your pac choi heads. Our apologies, but even a good dunk in the wash tub doesn’t dislodge them. I’d recommend washing each leaf before you get all crazy with the cleaver. You might end up with a slug in your stir-fry otherwise.

 

Fortunately, the slugs only hit hard in the early spring when the ground is wet and our cover crops aren’t completely broken down yet.

 

Enjoy pac choi raw, steamed, or stir-fried. We did it up last night lightly sautéed with a dressing of rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, olive oil, sesame seeds, salt, red pepper flakes and maple syrup.

 

Storage: in the fridge in a plastic bag, will hold for a week or so.

 

Head Lettuce

Slugs love green butterhead lettuce, so the outer leaves of your butterhead look a little ragged as well this week. Fortunately, the slugs don’t venture into the creamy, buttery, blanched heart, so the best part of the lettuce should be good as gold. Heap your head lettuce high with the other veggies in your share for salad galore!

 

Storage: in the fridge in a plastic bag, will hold for up to a week or so

 

Radish & Turnips – On rotation

Some sites are getting radishes this week, others are getting turnips. Whichever you get, you’ll receive the other next week. Sometimes we do this when a crop hasn’t matured fully enough to dole it out to everyone. Never fear, when crops are “on rotation” we keep track of who got what to ensure that everyone gets everything eventually!

 

If you are a radish site, you’ll be getting Crunchy Royale red radishes. They get rave reviews every year for being the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. All the kick is in the skin, so if you don’t like picante, you can peel them for a milder experience.

 

If you are a turnip site, you’ll be getting Tokyo Cross turnips. Usually we grow a variety called Hakurei, which is famous for it’s sweet, buttery flavor and texture. Unfortunately this year there was a seed crop failure and we couldn’t source seed anywhere. Tokyo Cross is supposed to be an almost identical replacement; we’ll leave that up to our veteran Harvest Basket members who know and love the Hakureis. Tell us what you think!

 

Both radishes and turnips are wonderful raw, in salads, or munched like a little apple. You can also eat the greens. They are similar to mustard greens, but are best lightly steamed or sautéed to tame their bristles.

 

Storage: frige, plastic bag, a week or two. The roots will keep longer if you cut the tops off.

 

Broccoli – On rotation

Our first broccoli harvest is just starting to come in. For early June, we grow a sprouting broccoli that doesn’t form full heads; instead it makes lots of florettes over the span of a few weeks. By the end of June, we should be harvesting full heads from our next plantings, but for now it’s the little guys. We plant broccoli every other week throughout the spring, for a total of 8 plantings. This means you should see broccoli in your share through July. We take a break for August and September when there is so much other food to eat(!), and then you’ll typically see it again throughout the Fall.

 

Storage: fridge, plastic bag, a week or so

 

Strawberries

They’re not the prettiest berries ever, but they are berries nonetheless! We had our first harvest of strawberries this week and with a little more sun they should be pumping from the field, red and sweet. Strawberries will be a regular in your share throughout the season. Might be time to stock up on some whipped cream for the fridge!

 

Storage: fridge or countertop, depending on how fast you eat them! In the fridge, a lidded tupperware helps keep them perky...Will last a couple days.

 

Cherry Tomato Plant

This week you get to take home your very own cherry tomato plant and grow some of your own food this summer! We’ll still be providing you with baskets of cherry tomatoes come September, but if you have a warm spot – be it in the ground, or in a pot on a deck – we encourage you to try your hand at growing your own cherry tomatoes this year! They are easy to grow and the surest-ripening of all the tomatoes. There are three varieties to choose from: Sungold (orange and tropical-sweet), Sweet Millions (red and prolific), and Yellow Mini (yellow and lemony-sweet).

Please choose one.

 

Planting Tips:

  • Plant your tomato as deeply as possible. It will grow roots out of its stem if buried (a unique trait called adventitious rooting) and create a bigger root zone.
  • Feed your tomato a balanced organic compost or fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will make a huge leafy plant – with no fruit!
  • Water according to need. If your tomato is in a pot, it will need water more frequently. Try not to get the leaves wet when watering.
  • Make sure you put your tomato in a sunny, warm spot.
  • If growing in a container, the bigger the pot the better. A small pot will require more frequent watering and fertilizing.
  • Provide support to your tomato in the form of a string trellis, a bamboo stake, or a wire cage.
  • If all goes well you should see some fruit by August or September!

 

 

We leave you with this Farm Fact of the Week:

Measured end to end, we grow over 15 miles of crops at Valley Flora.

Newsletter: 

May on the Farm

Me-oh-my-oh-May!

 

We’ve been getting inquiries about when the Harvest Basket season will start, which was a good reminder that it’s high time to send everyone an update from the farm!

 

At this point, we’re hoping the first week of Harvest Basket and Salad Share deliveries will begin the week of May 30th. Specific dates for your pick-up location, whether it be Port Orford, the Farm, Bandon or Coos Bay, are posted on our website at: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/valley-flora-pick-locations-protocol

 

We will keep everyone posted as the week of May 30th draws near. Last year we had to postpone the first delivery by a week, due to the cold wet spring we endured, but this year it looks more hopeful. It’s been a chilly spring thus far (our weather records boasted only three days in April that were 60 degrees or warmer, compared to years past when more than half of April was 60….and even 70 degrees!). But fortunately, April and May haven’t been as brutally wet and grey as last year, which means that we’ve been able to stay on track with weekly outdoor plantings and tillage in the field. Your veggies are growing, and your strawberries are flowering, so keep your fingers crossed that you’ll be eating Valley Flora produce within a couple weeks!

 

We’re lucky to have well-drained ground; even a day or two of sun right now will dry the soil out enough that we can get in to work up beds for transplanting. And miracle of all miracles, we’ve had good luck so far with direct-seeded crops like beets, carrots, peas, turnips and radishes (compared to last season when we didn’t get a successful carrot germination until early June….ach!). Brave little seedlings that they are, we have most of our crops covered with floating row cover right now – to give them a few degrees of extra warmth, plus protection from pests, hail and frost.

 

Currently in the ground outdoors: lettuce, leeks, onions, shallots, kale, chard, broccoli, turnips, radishes, pac choi, kohlrabi, carrots, beets, parsnips, peas, potatoes….plus all the perennials that we tend: raspberries, strawberries, marionberries, artichokes, asparagus, orchard trees, and more. In the greenhouse, the tomatoes and peppers are getting planted, as well as some early summer squash and cukes. Yum.

 

It’s hard to believe that we’re barreling into the produce madness of summertime once again. This year promises to be even more of an adventure, with Abby’s 16-month-old Pippin toddling around the farm (and taking great interest in all things mechanized, particularly Wilma, the Kubota tractor…), and Cleo, my 4-month old, riding around in the front pack. Farming is always a juggling act - a bit of a dance - but now more than ever as we try to do it all with the kids in tow. Just last week, Abby and I were racing to get a batch of salad greens seeded in the field between rainsqualls. Pippin was on her back, Cleo was on my chest, and in the end we all got soaked – but at least the salad got planted. At this very moment, Cleo is squirming on my lap as she awakens from a nap. My one-handed typing skills are getting better and better….:)

 

Fortunately, we are so lucky to have the help of Roberto Sierra, who has worked with us since last summer. He has kept the farm ship-shape in the months since Cleo was born and is an incredible part of our farm team. And of course we couldn’t do it without the help of our mom, Betsy, who is busy farming herself but who always makes time for her two grandkids - so that her two daughters can get some work done in the fields! To top it off, we've had the invaluable help of Tom Lynch this year. Tom was a founding CSA member and has put his incredible quiver of skills to work at the farm, maintaining equipment, improving our irrigation system, helping us build the new greenhouse addition, and getting the new electric tractor tricked out with cultivating and seeding set-ups. Turns out, it takes a village to grow a farm!

 

So here we go – the big farm adventure of 2011! We’re glad you’ll be part of it, and look forward to bringing you all the good food we can grow!

 

Starting the week of May 30th – or whenever our first harvest and delivery is – we’ll be sending out a Beet Box newsletter on a weekly basis to tell you what’s in your basket and what’s up on the farm. And of course, don’t hesitate to be in touch with us anytime. We plan to host a farm tour for all of you in late June so that we can meet face-to-face (we’ll be sending out info on that soon), but in the meantime we have posted a bunch of new photos on the website where you can get a glimpse of the Valley Flora universe in spring!

 

Thanks so much for your support and your choice to eat locally!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - The Valley Flora Beetbox