The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

Week 5: July 2nd

Week 5!

Pesto and Jam!

As of this week, we’ve started to turn the corner on the farm (at last!): the strawberries are coming on strong, and the basil crop has bushed out. That means it’s time for making pesto, freezing strawberries, and making jam!

 

Bulk basil and flats of strawberries will be available by special order

  • Basil is $14 per pound, sold in one-pound increments. We pick only the primo tops (no stem), so it’s a lot of basil bang for your buck!
  • Strawberriesare $35 per flat (12 heaping pint baskets per flat).

 

We can deliver to your pickup site, or you can pick up at the farmstand. We will fill requests in the order we receive them, on a rolling basis. To order, email us your name, phone number, pickup location preference, and the quantity you want.

 

Bulk basil will likely be available through July and into August. Flats of strawberries will be available in July during our peak harvest window (the next few weeks).

 

Let the food preservation begin!

 

Happy Food Independence Day!

Eating locally is one of the most patriotic acts there is, whether you’re buying from a food producer in your area or growing some of your own food. Why? Because eating locally helps strengthen the “foodshed” that you belong to –it supports local farmers and food producers, it puts money into the local economy, and it keeps food miles (the distance food travels from farm to plate) at a minimum (which means less burning of fossil fuels to transport food long distances). The cherry on top is the fact that local food is as fresh as it gets, and the taste can’t be beat.

 

Enjoy this Independence Day with local food produced by Candace, Juana, Seth, and your Valley Flora farmers. Eggs! Bread! Tamales! Salad Greens! Veggies! Berries! And then pat yourself on the back for being instrumental in helping build a stronger local food system here on the southcoast of Oregon! We thank you!

 

In your share this week:

  • Broccoli or Broccolini
  • Spinach
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries (2 pints, hooray!)
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Red Beets

 

On Rotation:

This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.

  • Kohlrabi
  • Radishes

 

Red Beets

A haiku from yours truly, inspired by four years of putting beets into the CSA share:

 

Red earthy beauty,           

so steeped in controversy.

What is not to love?

 

Controversy? I jump for joy at the first beet harvest each year, but there are those who will bemoan the sight of beets in their tote this week. They will open the lid, groan, and quickly try to find someone who wants to trade two pounds of beets for a pint of strawberries, or anything. Anything other than beets.

 

I have tried everything to convince the resolute beet protestors: recipes for chocolate beet cake, roasted beets, beet salad, beet soup, cold beet borscht, steamed beets, grated beets, beet stamps and beet lipstick.

 

I may have won over a few converts over the years, thanks to the natural sweetness and deep flavor of fresh beets not 24 hours out of the ground. I like to think I have, at least.

 

And then there are those of you who are swooning at the mention of the season’s first beets. Because you know that not only are the red roots so good, so many ways, but because the greens are just as delicious (and good for you, too). A big brother to chard, beet greens steam, stir-fry, sautee, soup, and salad themselves up beautifully.

 

I am at peace with the fact that there will be controversy (if nothing else, then to inspire more haiku). I am hopeful that our beets will find their way into many hearts and bellies. I accept that not everyone has to like everything. We are all different.

 

And there might just be someone at a pickup site who would gladly hand over a pint of strawberries for a handful of beets.

 

The universe works in mysterious ways.

 

Beet storage: if you top your beets, the roots will hold up for months in the fridge in a plastic bag. The greens will hold for a week or more.

 

Recipes Galore

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

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

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

Our own collection of recipes that you can contribute to

 

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

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

 

www.epicurious.com

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

 

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

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

Newsletter: 

Week 4: June 25th

Week 4!

 

Raspberry U-pick Opens This Saturday, June 30th!

The berries are starting to hang heavy and ripe in the raspberry patch, and the first few we’ve sampled have been outrageously tasty!

 

Remember, all Harvest Basket members are entitled to 2 pounds of u-pick raspberries at no charge. (Please note this is for Harvest Basket members ONLY). To redeem your credit:

  1. Come to the farm on a Wednesday or Saturday between 9 am and 3 pm (but be aware that the raspberry patch can get picked over by the afternoon).
  2. Check in with Aro, who tends our farmstand. She will have a list with the names of all our Harvest Basket members on it.* If you have brought your own containers, weigh them and record the tare weight (we have tape and pens and a scale for this).
  3. Go picking!
  4. Return to Aro. She’ll weigh your harvest and record your picked poundage on the list. Anything you pick beyond your 2 pound credit, you can simply pay for. You are welcome to come multiple times and get a little each time, or get your 2 pounds all at once.

*If you share a Harvest Basket, the list will only have the name of the primary basket-holder. Tell Aro your share partner’s name if she can’t find you on the list. And please remember that it is 2 pounds per Harvest Basket, not 2 pounds per person! Thanks.

 

If you are not a Harvest Basket member, you are still welcome to come pick, of course! Price per pound is $3.50 for raspberries. Bring your own containers, if possible.

 

The summer raspberry crop usually peaks in the early part of July, and only lasts 3-4 weeks. Come on out while the getting is good!

 

In your share this week:

  • Broccoli or Broccolini
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Rhubarb

 

On Rotation:

This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.

  • Basil
  • Kohlrabi
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Braising Mix

 

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 crunchy 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.

 

Rhubarb

Rhubarb, along with asparagus, is one of the first spring offerings from the garden. It’s actually related to dock, the common weed, but over the course of 4000 years has found a foothold as a unique element in desserts. It’s thought to have originated in China, where it was widely used medicinally. It then found its way to Europe, where it was first cultivated as a decorative garden plant. Not until the 1700s did the English begin their love affair with rhubarb in pies, tarts, compotes and sauces.

 

Its slow launch as a popular food may be because only the stalks of the plant are edible; the leaves are highly toxic due to their extremely high oxalic acid content. Even the stalks are acidic and sour and take a good dose of sweetening to mellow their tartness.

 

Rhubarb is chock full of vitamins A and C, calcium and other minerals, and is a blood purifier and digestive aid. Historically, it was a nutritionally rejuvenating exclamation point to mark the end of a limited seasonal winter diet!

 

Our own rhubarb has outpaced the ripening of our strawberries this month (there is no rhubarb dessert quite so quintessential as strawberry-rhubarb pie, which we had hoped to provide the key ingredients for). Meanwhile, in waiting on the strawberries, the slugs discovered the ruby-red stalks of our rhubarb plants and started to ugly them up. So that does it: we logged the rhubarb yesterday, picked all the berries we had, and found a great recipe that ISN’T pie:

 

Rhubarb Fool: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Rhubarb-Fool-354959

 

There’s 10 ounces of rhubarb in your share this week, so you may want to adjust the recipe accordingly.

 

Or go the simple route: simply dice up your rhubarb into 1 inch chunks and cook it in a small amount of water with the sweetener of your choice (no need to peel it). When the fibrous stalks become mushy, it’s done. Use as jam, pour over vanilla ice cream or cake, or chill it and eat it straight up.

 

Storage: will last for weeks and weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 

Recipes Galore

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

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

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

Our own collection of recipes that you can contribute to

 

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

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

 

www.epicurious.com

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

 

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

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

Newsletter: 

Week 3: June 18th

Week 3!

 

The Secret Life of Asparagus

Asparagus is in your share again this week, for one last time. This week marks the end of our 2012 harvest , which began this year on April 20th.

Asparagus is one of those mysterious vegetables that spends most of its life either underground, or in its “fern” form, which is unrecognizable to most people. The spears that you buy in the store and are receiving in your tote this week represent a small fraction of the asparagus life cycle. So, in honor of our last 2012 asparagus harvest this week, and in the spirit of heightened vegetable literacy, here is a host of fascinating asparagus factoids:

  • Asparagus is a long-lived perennial. An asparagus crown, or root, can live for 25 years or longer. Our asparagus crowns are 5 years old.
  • There are male and female asparagus plants. Commercial growers like us choose all-male hybrid varieties (ours is called Jersey Knight). Why? The male plants produce more spears, while the female plants produce fewer spears and little, green-turning-to-red fruits (they look like tiny cherry tomatoes) full of asparagus seed.
  • You can start asparagus from seed, but most people buy “crowns,” or roots to plant.
  • Fat spears are the most tender, contrary to popular belief. All the fiber and toughness is in the outer skin of the spear. Fatter spears have a higher flesh to skin ratio, compared to skinny spears, which are more skin and less tender flesh. (By the way, skinny asparagus is not “baby” – it’s just skinny). Spears that grow more quickly (in warmer weather) will be more tender.
  • Asparagus can grow 6 to 12 inches in one day, when conditions are right! They grow the most quickly at temperatures around 70 degrees.
  • Growing asparagus is an exercise in delayed gratification. You shouldn’t harvest any spears until the second year if you plant crowns, and the third year if you plant from seed. And even then, you can only harvest for a couple weeks. Not until the third year that your crowns are in the ground can you enjoy a full 8-10 week harvest window.
  • Why is asparagus – especially organic asparagus – so expensive? Because it costs a lot to produce it. We value our asparagus at $5/pound, and that barely covers our cost of production.
    1. First off, asparagus takes up space all year, but you only get to harvest it for 8 weeks. That means that you can’t grown anything else on that land, so the asparagus has to earn enough money to justify taking up the space.
    2. Second, weeds! In organic asparagus production systems like ours, we have to do all of our weeding by hand (we can’t and wouldn’t want to use herbicides to kill weeds). For eight months of the year, the ground is practically bare in an asparagus field, which creates all kinds of opportunities for weeds to encroach. It’s a lot of labor and time to keep the weeds at bay. That adds to the pricetag of a pound of asparagus.
    3. Third, you have to harvest asparagus daily to cut them at the optimum stage, but you only get a little bit at each harvest – which means lots of trips up and down the rows for not a lot of poundage, every day. More labor time.
    4. Finally, you have to wait three years before you can really harvest your crop, which is a huge investment in land, labor, and crowns before you see any cash return.
  • This week we will stop harvesting our asparagus spears, but the plants will keep growing. The crowns will continue to send up spears, which will reach a height of five to six feet and leaf out into a lacey, green, fern-like canopy within a couple of weeks. This canopy will do the hard work of photosynthesis all summer long, storing food in the crown for next spring’s growth. In November, once the ferns have all died back and turned yellow, we will mow them down. In February, we’ll cover the whole asparagus patch with black plastic to help kill winter weeds. When the plastic starts to “tent” up in late March, we’ll pull it off to reveal our once-a-year harvest of white asparagus (blanched by the plastic). So begins our asparagus season all over again, powered by all the sun’s stored energy from the summer before...

 

Enjoy your last bite of brave, unique, tender, delicious, Valley Flora asparagus. Until 2013!

 

U-Pick Strawberries Galore!

Our new “we-pick” planting of strawberries has been slow to come on this season, but the u-pick side of the field is pumping! There’s heaps of new red fruit every day. The first flush of berries was badly damaged by our last rain, and we have been trying to clean out the spoiled fruit every chance we get – but nevertheless, more and more big, beautiful, red berries keep ripening. It’s a great time to fill your freezer or pick for jam!

 

If you are planning to come pick, we encourage you to bring your own containers. We often have small containers and boxes available, but not always.

 

U-Pick & Farmstand Hours:Every Wednesday & Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm!

 

U-Pick Raspberries Coming Soon!

The summer raspberries are just beginning to blush, which means there will probably be ripe fruit within the next couple of weeks. We’ve learned over the years that we don’t have enough hands or time in the week to pick raspberries for the Harvest Baskets, so instead we offer all of our Harvest Basket members a certain u-pick poundage at no charge.

 

This season, all Harvest Basket members are entitled to 2 pounds of u-pick raspberries at no charge. (Please note this is for Harvest Basket members ONLY).

 

Your “share” of the harvest is unfortunately smaller this year because the winter flood seems to have wiped out our fall-bearing raspberry crop (we have two varieties: the “summer” variety ripens in late June/early July; the “fall” variety ripens in September). Raspberry canes don’t like to be inundated for more than a few hours. Our fall variety was under water for 24 hours during the January flood, and as a result the plants are sickly and the fruiting canes are few and far between.

That means that if you want to cash in on your raspberry u-pick credit, you’ll want to come pick once the summer crop ripens in the next few weeks. I’ll keep you posted as to when the raspberry u-pick is officially open. Stay tuned.

 

In your share this week:

  • Asparagus
  • Butterhead lettuce
  • Braising Mix
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Strawberries
  • Purple Kohlrabi

 

(No rhubarb this week; still waiting on the strawberries to kick into high gear…)

 

On Rotation:

This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.

  • Basil
  • Broccolini

 

 

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). You’re getting a purple variety this week (you’ll see a white variety in the near future). 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 salt 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.

 

Recipes Galore

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

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

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

Our own collection of recipes that you can contribute to

 

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

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

 

www.epicurious.com

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

 

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

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

Newsletter: 

Week 2: June 11th

 

Meet Your Farmers & the Supporting Cast at Valley Flora!

 

This is the core crew at the farm: Zoë, Abby, Bets, and Roberto, with lots of “help” from Pippin (Abby’s 2 year old son) and Cleo (Zoë’s 1 year old daughter).

 

A number of other very important people round out the cast at Valley Flora. We couldn’t pull it off without these folks:

 

John, Betsy’s husband, who delivers to Port Orford for us on Fridays and serenades us with tunes from time to time.

 

Tom, our Farm Angel, who does everything from pinch-hit babysitting, to irrigation repair, to mowing with his trusty old blue Ford tractor.

 

Monica, our smiling delivery driver who takes all of our produce to northern locales (Bandon and Coos Bay). We don’t have a picture of her yet, cuz she just started last week!

 

Aro, who tends the farmstand and welcomes u-pickers on Wednesdays & Saturdays.

 

Teal & Meara, who tend the kiddos during our big Tuesday & Friday harvests – at Wilderland School in Langlois, and at the farm.

 

It takes a village to feed a village…

 

 

Farmstand & U-Pick Open this Week!

Today, Wednesday, June 13th, is opening day at the Valley Flora farmstand and u-pick!

 

NEW HOURS:Every Wednesday & Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm!

 

The farmstand is stocked with tons of garden plants this year, in addition to the produce. We also have a few special items for sale: Valley Flora baseball hats, the Greenhornsbook, and Cranky Baby Hot Sauce.

 

Also available on a regular basis: Seth’s Bread, Candace’s Eggs, and Lee’s Bees Honey!

 

Directions to the Farm

 

 

In your share this week:

  • Red Ursa Kale
  • Red & Green Romaine Lettuce (it’s Caesar time!)
  • Radishes
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Strawberries

 

On Rotation:

This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.

  • Spinach
  • Mizuna
  • Arugula
  • Broccolini

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

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

Our own collection of recipes that you can contribute to

 

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

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

 

www.epicurious.com

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

 

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

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

Red Ursa Kale

I had hoped that the weather would cooperate enough to bring on a big flush of strawberries this week – enough to merit harvesting our rhubarb to go with them. Alas, the rain returned and we were only able to get a single pint for each of you again. I’m hopeful with all of the sunshine in the forecast that NEXT week you’ll be getting 2 pints of berries and enjoying strawberry-rhubarb-something!

 

In the meantime, how ‘bout some kale! Red Ursa is the peacock-feather-looking variety in your tote this week. It’s an heirloom variety that hands-down wins the workhorse prize on the farm. We plant it in early April and we’ll still be eating from it NEXT April.

 

The ways we like to eat kale:

  • Steamed until tender and then doused with good olive oil, sea salt, and a vinegar of your choice (balsamic, apple cider, ume plum…)
  • Stir-fried, with a simple sauce of sesame oil, rice vinegar, tamari (soy sauce), sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, a little sugar
  • Steamed, then added to eggs & omelettes
  • Sauteed, then added to lasagna in place of spinach
  • In risotto
  • As a raw salad (we call it kaleslaw)
  • Kale chips (really, really good - eaten like chips or crumbled on popcorn...)

 

It will store for at least a week in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 

Romaine Lettuce

You’re get a red and a green head of romaine this week, with Caesar salad in mind! Here’s our favorite Caesar dressing recipe. Make some homemade croutons with Seth’s Bread, and chop up some hakurei turnips for an unusual twist on a standby salad!

 

Radish Greens

A veteran Harvest Basket member emailed me on the heels of last week’s newsletter to offer up this great tip:

 

“Zoë, you might want to tell folks that radish greens are good eating, too, in soups, etc.  They also make a mean and beautiful pesto that is delicious on whole wheat crackers or some of Seth's bread.”

 

Please, if you have tips like this, share them with us and/or post them to the Recipe Exchange! Thanks Betty!

 

Have a great week everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 1: June 4th

 The First Week!

Note: Our first Beet Box is always a little longer than usual, in an effort to get you well-oriented to the farm food you’re getting from us.

 

In your share this week:

  • Asparagus
  • Pac Choi (the dark green, vase-shaped heads)
  • Head Lettuce
  • Radishes (the red roots)
  • Hakurei Turnips (the white roots)
  • One little pint of rain-battered strawberries L
  • Cherry tomato plant

 

On Rotation:

This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.

  • Arugula
  • Mizuna
  • Broccolini

 

Spring is the time for greens! You’ll be getting a wide array of leafy vegetables from us in these first few weeks, such as: kale, chard, spinach, pac choi, and more. If you’re unaccustomed to eating lots of greens, it might feel overwhelming at first. Here are a couple of tips to help you relish your greens, rather than feel burdened by them:

  • Cook them down! Greens cook down to almost nothing, so if there’s a pile-up happening in your fridge, turn up the heat and toss them in a pan with some butter and garlic!
  • Take the “Half Your Plate” Challenge: fill up half your plate with veggies and green things. You’ll burn through that head lettuce in no time, and feel good.
  • Make awesome salads. Chop up whatever is in the fridge and toss it together with some good dressing. Add nuts, dried cranberries, some cheese. Presto lunch!
  • Add them to everything. Put some greens in your scrambled eggs in the morning. Add them to pasta sauce. They disappear into anything.

 

Kitchen Tips

Each week I’ll give you a quick orientation to any new vegetables in your Harvest Basket, including tips for prepping, storing, and eating your produce. I do my best to throw in a few recipes (usually from epicurious.com), and there are many more to be found on our website: visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a recipe you’d like to post and 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.

 

Ugly Strawberries

This week’s strawberries are not up to snuff in our book, but we figured you’d rather have some ugly berries than no berries at all. They were looking lovely all last week, ripening up just as we’d hoped, until Sunday/Monday when we got 2 inches of rain in 24 hours. Hard rain makes a mess of the strawberry patch, so our first few weeks of June harvest are always a crapshoot (I find myself wishing that we could put a huge temporary umbrella over the strawberries in May & June when the weather is so capricious).

 

Eat ‘em quick before they rot! As the weather improves, so will the strawberries. FYI, they are a fruit that will continue to ripen and sweeten after being picked (not so much in your fridge, but definitely on the countertop). I wouldn’t suggest further “ripening” this week’s berries on your counter – unless you want to grow some mold – but in the future you may want to leave them out if you want to ripen them more. They won’t last as long as they do in the fridge, but the flavor is fantastic. There should be strawberries in your tote from now through September. They are a Valley Flora Harvest Basket staple!

 

Mizuna & Arugula

You’ll either be getting 8 oz. of arugula or mizuna in your share this week, in a plastic Ziploc bag. Both are ingredients in Abby’s salad mix. The arugula is a tender, mildly spicy green that can be eaten straight as a salad (great with candied nuts, goat cheese or feta, and a dried fruit such as cranberries). You can also make pesto with it, or lightly sautee it. The mizuna has a serrated leaf with a mild, nutty flavor. It makes a wonderful salad (for a delicious example of a mizuna salad, go out for a special dinner at The Loft of Bandon – they know how to do it up!).

 

Here’s an easy recipe that uses both your mizuna (or arugula) and your pac choi: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Stir-Fried-Bok-Choy-and-Mizuna-with-Tofu-362936

 

And if you’re getting a Bread Share from Seth, this might be a great use of your arugula and bread: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Wild-Arugula-Salad-with-Gar...

 

Pac Choi

Also spelled Bok Choy and Bok Choi, this is a heavy heading green with succulent ribs and dark leaves. Use the entire plant by cutting off the bottom, stripping and washing the heavy leaves (dirt and slugs often collect at the base of each leaf stem), and then cutting them up. Pac Choi is most commonly used in stir fries, but is a great addition to salads, steamed veggies, soups, eggs or quiche, or pasta.

 

Store in the fridge in a plastic bag. Will keep for a week or more.

 

Radishes

There are two bunches of round roots in your tote. The red ones are the radishes! It’s a variety called Crunchy Royale, which has been a favorite of our CSA members for years now. They are super crunchy and tender, and not too spicy. They kick off our radish line-up for the season; in the coming weeks you’ll see two other varieties, one pink and one purple.

 

Radish roots will keep longer if you cut the tops off. Store in the fridge in a plastic bag. Without tops they’ll keep for weeks (if not months).

 

Hakurei Turnips

The other white bunch of round roots in your tote are a special variety of spring turnips called Hakureis. They’re a variety from Japan. If you’ve never tried a Hakurei, you’re in for a treat: tender, juicy, buttery and sweet! Not the sort of adjectives you might expect to see in front of the word “turnip,” but taste 'em for yourself. I like to eat Hakureis raw – like apples – but they also cook up nicely in a stir-fry, or steamed.

 

The turnip greens can be eaten just like mustard greens, so don’t be too quick to toss them! Here’s a simple recipe that uses both the greens and the roots:

 

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Glazed-Hakurei-Turnips-368274

 

Like radishes, turnips will keep longer in the fridge if you top them. They’ll last for weeks.

 

Hot Tip of the Week: How to Plant your Cherry Tomato

This week you get to take home your very own cherry tomato plant! 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 in our coastal climate. There are three varieties to choose from: Sungold (orange and tropical-sweet), Suncherry (red and prolific), and Yellow Mini (yellow and lemony-sweet).

 

Please limit to one per Harvest Basket.

 

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, so don't overdo it!
  • 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!

 

Enjoy your first week of food!

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

Farm Food Next Week!

Thanks to all the sunshine this month, we will be kicking off the season on schedule this year!

 

Your first delivery of food will be next week, the week of June 4th!

 

We will be delivering:

  • Valley Flora Harvest Baskets
  • Abby's Greens Salad Shares
  • Egg Shares
  • Bread Shares
  • Tamale Shares (once per month, the first week of the month)

 

PLEASE familiarize yourself with WHERE, WHEN and HOW to pick up your food next week:

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/valley-flora-pick-locations-protocol

 

This web page has the answers to all of your burning questions:

  • directions to your pickup location,
  • instructions for claiming your food,
  • day and time of your pickup, and more....

 

PLEASE READ IT! Our pickup sites are mostly unattended, which means we rely on YOU, our members, to know the drill so that things go smoothly. It's a bummer when someone doesn't get their salad share because someone else mistakenly took it home. So, even if you are a returning member, please read the info; there are a few new aspects to your pickup location this year - like eggs and bread.

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/valley-flora-pick-locations-protocol

 

The most important thing when picking up your food is to ONLY TAKE WHAT YOU HAVE PAID FOR! Next week at your pickup site, you're going to see blue or red rubbermaid totes (Harvest Baskets), red coolers (salad shares), blue coolers (tamale shares), white styrofoam coolers (egg shares), and bread. It's a lot! To avoid any mishaps, know what you paid for, and only take what you paid for.

 

VERY IMPORTANT: In our experience thus far, most of the SNAFUs at our pickup sites happen when someone has a friend (or even spouse) pick up for them. If you are sending someone else to pick up your food, please give them a thorough orientation to our pickup site system and be sure that your proxy knows exactly what they are picking up for you (1 harvest basket, 1 dozen eggs, and a half pound salad share, for instance....). S-P-E-L-L it out for them!

 

Also, we have added a new feature to our website: a monthly calendar. You'll see it on the left sidebar. It's a great way to stay abreast of when your tamale shares are scheduled for delivery, or what time your pickup is each week.

 

If you have any questions, please be in touch via email. You can also call, but please know it might take a couple of days before I can get back to you by phone. Things are hopping in the field right now and we're out there late every day.

 

And finally, the real reason you signed up for all of this: the food! Here's a sneak preview of what might be in your Harvest Basket next week!

  • Asparagus
  • Pac Choi
  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Radishes
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Strawberries, if the sun shines warmly this week...
  • A cherry tomato plant (your choice of variety)

 

We're excited for the first harvest, at long last! Thanks for being part of our 2012 season!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

Spring Updates from the Farm

First off, a quick note about this newsletter! This is the primary way we communicate with all of our farm members throughout the season. Anyone who has been a farm member - past or current - is subscribed. If you are NOT a member this year and prefer NOT to receive the Beet Box, you can unsubscribe yourself with one click at the bottom of this page. We will not be offended! We understand that you get far too many emails already!

 

If you ARE a member this season, we strongly suggest that you stay subscribed! Why? Because the Beet Box is how you will find out about all the important things we have to tell you throughout the year, for instance:

  1. When & where you will get your first delivery of produce (see below!)
  2. What in the world to do with kohlrabi (forthcoming in a future newsletter!)
  3. How to plant & care for the cherry tomato you'll be receiving from us in June
  4. When there's bulk basil/strawberries/tomatoes/etc. for sale in case you want to put up pesto/jam/sauce/etc.
  5. And more...

We try to limit our Beet Box dispatches to once per week from June through December. Occasionally you'll receive more than one if there's something really worth telling.

 

For now, the following are the things we've deemed REALLY WORTH TELLING:

 

1.  Your First Produce Delivery:

Many of you have been inquiring about when you'll receive your first delivery of produce from us.

 

The plan is to begin deliveries the week of June 4th, weather dependent.

 

If cold and wet define the month of May, then we might have to postpone until the week of June 11th. We will keep you posted! In the meantime, you can familiarize yourself with the when-and-where details of your pickup location on our website: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/valley-flora-pick-locations-protocol

 

2.  Feed the Body, Feed the Mind!

You'll be getting food to fill your belly pretty soon from us, but in the meantime we are excited to mention two ways you can feed your mind on the topic of sustainable family farming:

 

First:

Read Greenhorns ! For the past two years, I've been working on a book project in the quieter months of winter. As of April it is hot off the press! Greenhorns is a collection of 50 essays by beginning farmers around the country who write about the agony and the ecstasy inherent in starting up a farm. They are stories from the field, capturing a wide range of perspectives. Funny and sad, serious and light-hearted, these essays touch on everything from financing and machinery to family, community building, and social change. You can order a copy online at: http://storey.com/book_detail.php?isbn=9781603427722&cat=Animals

 

Hopefully copies will also be available at WinterRiver Books in Bandon in the near future. I will be doing a public reading from the book at the Langlois Library on June 8th at 7 pm, and copies will be available there.

 

Second:

Sign up for the Community Supported Agriculture Workshop, offered through Southwestern Oregon Community College. I taught this workshop two years ago and it's back this year. The workshop delves into the principles and practices of community supported agriculture, and includes a field trip to the farm. Lecture on Friday, May 18th from 6 pm to 8:30 pm in Port Orford. Field trip to Valley Flora on Saturday, May 19th, from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Course code WKPL*9033. CALL 541-332-3023 for more info and to sign up.

 

3.  Our Gratitude

Every spring as Harvest Basket payments come in, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of you, the community of local eaters and family farm enthusiasts who make our livelihood possible. Your financial investment in the farm at this time of the year is especially appreciated because spring is a lean time for us farmers. A lot of money is going out to buy seeds, pay for fertilizer and insurance premiums, and to afford Roberto's invaluable labor. Your checks keep us afloat through this period, before the first crops are ready for harvest. Thank you for your support, both moral and financial. Our little farm is here because of you, and we are deeply grateful for that. We look forward to feeding you soon!

 

More to come soon, and enjoy the sun that's headed our way!

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

Salad, Eggs, Bread & Tamales Still Available!

Our Harvest Baskets are sold out BUT you can still sign up for other goodies from the farm this season, including:

  • Abby's Greens Salad Shares
  • Candace's Pastured Egg Shares
  • Seth's Bread Shares
  • Juana's Tamale Shares


To sign up, visit our website: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/catalog/7

 

If you have already signed up with us this season and would like to add something to your order, no problem. Just follow the link above and place another order for the additional items you want.

 

Signing up for any of these products this season guarantees you a Harvest Basket next season, should you want one.

 

If you are not a member of the farm this year and DO NOT WANT TO RECEIVE EMAILS FROM US, please click the unsubscribe link below! Our apologies for any unwanted communication!

Newsletter: 

Payment Reminder

A friendly reminder that our May 1st payment deadline is drawing near.

If you have already paid, THANK YOU! If not, please read on!

 

To reserve your farm membership for the season, we must receive FULL payment for the following items by May 1st:

  • Paid in Full Harvest Baskets ($760)
  • Abby's Greens Salad Shares ($95 half lb; $180 full lb)
  • Candace's Pastured Egg Shares ($110)
  • Seth's Bread Shares ($ varies by flavor)
  • Juana's Tamale Shares ($125)

 

If you have opted for a Monthly Pay Plan Harvest Basket ($785), the $185 deposit is due by May 1st. All subsequent $100 monthly payments are due by the first of each month, June through November (no payment due in December). Don't worry, we'll send out monthly reminders to help you out!

 

We accept check, cash, and Oregon Trail cards only (we're not plumbed for regular credit cards). If you would like to use your Oregon Trail card to pay, please be in touch with us.

 

Please make checks payable to Valley Flora and mail by May 1st to:

Valley Flora
PO Box 91
Langlois, OR 97450

 

If you are not sure what you owe, you can check your order details by logging into our website. Or contact us and we'll help you sort it out.

 

Thanks so much for your support this season! Your food is growing, in spite of all the rain - so hopefully you'll be eating well from the farm by early June! We'll keep you posted.

 

Stay tuned for more updates from us, including details about your first June delivery of produce.

Cheers, Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

Sign-Up Reminder

REMEMBER, the priority sign-up period is underway for the 2012 season!

Sign up before March 23rd to secure your Harvest Basket!

 

Instructions to sign up are included below. If you have trouble with the sign-up process, please read our "simple shopping helper" tips: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/simple-shopping-helper

 

Sign-Up Instructions:

To "shop" for the food you want this season, please go directly to our online "store" at: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/catalog
PLEASE NOTE: This page is NOT viewable to the general public, nor is there a link to it on our homepage. Use THIS link provided to navigate there: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/catalog

IF you are signing up for a Harvest Basket this season, you will be prompted for a password when you select that "product" from the catalog. The password is: veggies2012

Please do not share this password, to ensure that our sign-up process is fair to all of the people on our waiting list.

You are welcome to sign up for products in any combination (for instance, just a Salad Share, or just a Harvest Basket, or just an Egg Share...or all of them together!)

ALSO, please note that this email entitles you to priority sign-up with us. This priority sign-up period will last until MARCH 23rd, at which point we will begin inviting wait-listers to sign up.

As for payment, we accept check and cash only (we're not plumbed for credit cards). To reserve your spot, we must receive FULL payment for ALL items by May 1st, with the exception of Monthly Pay Plan Harvest Baskets, for which only the $185 deposit is due by May 1st.

 

Thanks so much!

Newsletter: 

OCEAN to TABLE! Fresh, local fish from Port Orford Sustainable Seafood!

An exciting new development in our local food scene! Read on, and if you are interested in signing up for a seafood share, contact Stephanie Webb at stephanie@oceanresourceteam.org, or call 541.332.0627.

 

FRESH, LOCAL, SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD FROM PORT ORFORD FISHING BOATS to YOUR TABLE!

Port Orford Sustainable Seafood (POSS) is starting a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) for the residents of Oregon’s south coast. Similar to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in which customers purchase shares of fresh, local, seasonal produce, a CSF provides communities with fresh, local, sustainably-harvested seafood. 

 

You make a commitment to the fishing season by pre-paying upfront, and then reap the rewards every other Wednesday! We offer CSA-style bi-monthly shares of fresh, local, sustainable seafood to our members. Our seafood is straight from our boats to your table, leaving no question about where your fish is from and more importantly, how it was caught. We are currently accepting new members! To sign up for the CSF please email stephanie@oceanresourceteam.org or call 541.332.0627 to get your first share on March 7th, 2012!

  • POSS believes that HEALTHY SEAFOOD comes from healthy oceans and healthy communities.
  • We recognize that investment in both conservation and the LOCAL FISHING ECONOMY supports sustainable fisheries.

BENEFITS to joining include:

  • knowing your fishermen and supporting the LOCAL ECONOMY
  • FRESHER SEAFOOD, the closest thing to catching the fish yourself
  • local RECIPES AND TIPS on preparation

OUR SEAFOOD includes Pacific Halibut, Lingcod, Blackcod, Cabazon, Chinook Salmon, Pacific Albacore Tuna & 20 varieties of rockfish

HOW are we SUSTAINABLE?

  • Our seafood is harvested using sustain­able methods, hook and line gear.
  • We provide you with traceability of fish products from point of capture to your plate.
  • Our producers are family-owned fishing vessels less than 40 feet in length.

Newsletter: 

2012 Sign Ups!

Hello current and past members of the farm!

At long last, this is your invitation to sign-up with Valley Flora for the 2012 season!

This year, in addition to Harvest Baskets and Abby's Greens Salad Shares, we are also offering:

  • Pastured, local eggs from Candace Carnahan on Floras Creek
  • Artisan sourdough bread from Seth's Brick Oven Bakery in Bandon
  • Homemade tamales from Juana Ferrer in Coquille

To "shop" for the food you want this season, please go directly to our online "store" at: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/catalog
Please note, this page is not viewable to the general public, nor is there a link to it on our homepage. Use the link provided to navigate there: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/catalog

IF you are signing up for a Harvest Basket this season, you will be prompted for a password. The password is: veggies2012

Please do not share this password, to ensure that our sign-up process is fair to all of the people on our waiting list.

You are welcome to sign up for products in any combination (for instance, just a Salad Share, or just a Harvest Basket, or just an Egg Share...or all of them together!)

ALSO, please note that this email entitles you to priority sign-up with us. This priority sign-up period will last until MARCH 23rd, at which point we will begin inviting wait-listers to sign up.

As for payment, we accept check and cash only (we're not plumbed for credit cards). To reserve your spot, we must receive FULL payment for all items by May 1st, with the exception of Monthly Pay Plan Harvest Baskets, for which only the $185 deposit is due by May 1st.

Okeedoke. I think that's it. Thanks in advance for being part of the farm in 2012. We wouldn't be here without you!
Don't hesitate to be in touch if you have questions. Email is always the best way to get me.
Cheers,
Zoë

Newsletter: 

Free Dahlia Tubers!

That's right, Valley Flora is giving away FREE DAHLIA TUBERS!

 

The only catch is that if you want some, you have to help us dig them! Read on for details!

 

The Great Dahlia Dig-a-thon of 2012!

Come one, come all:

This Saturday, February 4th, 1 pm until ???

At Valley Flora (directions)

BYOSBB (Bring your own shovel, boxes and bags)

 

We are downsizing our dahlia patch to make room for perennial herbs and would love to share our diverse dahlia collection with all of you! Please come, dig up some tubers, and take them home to your garden! It's supposed to be a beautiful sunny day on Saturday!

 

Newsletter: 

Week 28: December 12th

The Last Week!

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

 

And though it’s the last trusty-dusty Rubbermaid we will pack for you this year, the farm will continue to feed its farmers and farm-babies through the winter with greens, leftover storage crops, leeks, and even broccoli. We continue to glean for our own table, enjoying the sweetest of kale, Brussels sprouts, and roots. I can’t encourage you enough: if you have the slightest inclination to grow some of your own food, we live in the perfect place to have a winter garden. For those of you who dread the Valley Flora off-season, you could fill at least some of the January-thru-May produce gap with your own homegrown veggies. It’s too late to plant a winter garden for this year, but you might think about carving out a corner for at least a few kale plants next July when it’s time to plant for winter.

 

In the meantime, hopefully we’ve loaded you up with enough squash, spuds and roots – all of which have a great storage life – to see you into the New Year. 

 

From all of us at the farm, a hearty THANK YOU for your support this year!

Happy Holidays! Feast well with those you love!

 

Take Two (minutes): Please Fill Out the End-of-Season Survey!!!

Every year we ask our Harvest Basket members to fill out a short survey so we can get some structured feedback about the season. It’s short and quick, so please, if you’d be so kind: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/2011-harvest-basket-member-survey

 

The Year in Review!

In order to help jog your memory about what we grew for you this year, here’s a crop-by-crop recap that summarizes what we projected we would put in your Harvest Basket, what we actually put in your Harvest Basket, and the total actual value of your Harvest Basket for the year, based on our farmstand prices. Green highlighting indicates crops that we gave significantly more of than planned. Yellow highlighting indicates crops that we came up significantly short on. A sneak peak: the total value of all the food we put in your Harvest Basket this season was equal to $810.70. You paid $760 for that food, for a bonus of $50.70 in extra produce this year, equal to a 6% discount.

 

CROP                            Projected Quantity         Actual Quantity

Leeks                               12 count                        14 count

Red Onion                        6 count                          6 count           

Scallions                        2 bunches                        1 bunch

Shallots                        4.5 pounds                        3 pounds

Purplettes                        3 pounds                        4.5 pounds

Walla Wallas                     6 count                          4 count

Yellow Onion                      8 count                         8 count

Artichokes                        2 pounds                        1.75 pounds

Asparagus                        1 pound                         2 pounds

Beets                            7.5 pounds                       12.75 pounds

Broccoli                        15 pounds                        15 pounds

Brussels sprouts               3 stalks                        3 stalks

Red Cabbage                   2 heads                        2 heads

Green Cabbage                1 head                          2 heads

Napa Cabbage                 1 head                           1 head

Savoy Cabbage                1 head                           1 head

Carrots                            23 pounds                      19 pounds

Cauliflower                       1 head                            1-2 heads

Romanesco                        1 head                          1 head

Celeriac                             5 bulbs                            4-5 bulbs

Celery                               12 stalks                        14 stalks

Corn                                  16 ears                           17 ears

Cucumbers                        12 count                        4-5 count

Escarole                        2 heads                              1 head

Fennel                                 6 bulbs                         6 bulbs

Arugula                               1 pound                        1 pound

Braising Mix                     0.5 pound                        0.5 pound

Chard                               5 bunches                        3 bunches

Kale                                  7 bunches                        7 bunches

Pac Choi                              6 heads                        5 heads

Spinach                             2 pounds                        2 pounds

Basil                                    5 ounces                        4 ounces

Cilantro                             3 bunches                        3 bunches

Dill                                    3 bunches                        3 bunches

Parsley                             3 bunches                        5 bunches

Kohlrabi                             5 bulbs                            5 bulbs           

Head Lettuce                     34 heads                        33 heads

Parsnips                             4 pounds                        7 pounds

Peas                                    3 pounds                        3 pounds

Hot Peppers                        12 count                        8 count

Sweet Peppers                   16 count                        22 count

Potatoes                           21 pounds                        43.75 pounds

Radishes                           5 bunches                        5 bunches

Raspberries                     4 pounds u-pick           

Rhubarb                               2 stalks                        2 stalks

Strawberries                        26 pints                        24 pints

Summer Squash                7.25 pounds                  6 pounds

Hakurei Turnips                  5 bunches                     5 bunches

Scarlet Queen Turnip        2 pounds                        1.75 pounds

Cherry Tomatoes               6 x ½ pint                        10 x ½ pint

Heirloom Tomatoes           3 pounds                        3 pounds

Red Tomatoes                  10 pounds                        10 pounds

Cherry Tomato Plant            1                                    1

Acorn Squash                      4 count                           3 count

Confection Squash              1 count                            1 count

Butternut Squash                 4 count                            4 count

Delicata Squash                   8 count                            7 count

Sunshine Squash                 2 count                            1 count

Spaghetti Squash                1 count                              2-3 count

Pie Pumpkin                        1 coun                               1 count

Total Value                        $784.85                              $810.70

 

Maybe this recap will inspire you to fill out the survey!  http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/2011-harvest-basket-member-survey

 

Thanks in advance for your always-valuable feedback!

 

Happy News re: Farm Theft

I just learned yesterday that our insurance company is coming through to partially cover the loss of our stolen tools from earlier this summer. Hooray! Just in time for project season! Our hugest thanks to all of you for your concern and support through that mid-summer challenge!

 

All about 2012 Harvest Basket Signups

Lots of you have been asking about next season and wondering if there’s anything you need to do to reserve your spot in the Harvest Basket program. The answer is no. Not to worry, all current Harvest Basket members get priority sign-up for 2012. We’ll probably begin the sign-up process in January or February, at which point you’ll receive an email from us inviting you to sign up. Once you’ve had first dibs, we’ll open it up to our waiting list. If your email address changes in the next couple of months, be sure to let us know so that we can update our database and make sure you get in on the first wave of sign-ups!

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Green Cabbage
  • Celeriace
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Celery
  • Confection Winter 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.

 

Confection Winter Squash

This is a new winter squash variety for us, and I confess, I hadn’t tasted it until last night. I’m delighted to report that it’s a winner, truly! On the drier, flakier side – like a Sunshine squash – and SWEET! All I did was cut one in half, scoop out the seeds, and then cut the halves into crescent-shaped slices about a ½ inch thick at the widest part. I tossed them liberally with olive oil and salt, put them on baking sheet, and cooked them at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, until soft and slightly browned. DEE-LISH!

 

Farm Fact of the Week

This is our last week of harvest for 2011, which grants us a temporary reprieve from our day-in-day-out produce-wrangling schedule. But it doesn’t mean the work stops. Winter is certainly the slower, calmer side of our year, but it inevitably fills up with all kinds of tasks: crop planning, seed ordering, pruning, trellising, fencing, construction, and general improvement projects galore! I’m always amazed, year after year, at how busy we stay. And then, in early February, we fire up the propagation greenhouse, start planting seeds, and the madness starts all over again!

Newsletter: 

Week 27: December 5th

Frost-a-licious!

Thanks to this recent string of cold clear nights, the kale has never tasted so good at Valley Flora. Freezing temperatures inspire all of the Brassicas – kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc. – to pump out some extra sugars. At a cellular level, this sugar serves as antifreeze for the plant. At a gastronomic level, it’s often the magic ingredient that can turn a lifelong skeptic into a Brussels sprouts aficionado. We’re lovin’ it.

 

2012 Harvest Basket Sign-Ups

Lots of you have been asking about next season and wondering if there’s anything you need to do to reserve your spot in the Harvest Basket program. The answer is no. Not to worry, all current Harvest Basket members get priority sign-up for 2012. We’ll probably begin the sign-up process in January or February, at which point you’ll receive an email from us inviting you to sign up. Once you’ve had first dibs, we’ll open it up to our waiting list. If your email address changes in the next couple of months, be sure to let us know so that we can update our database and make sure you get in on the first wave of sign-ups!

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Winterbor kale
  • Parsnips
  • Desiree Potatoes
  • Scarlet Queen turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Delicata Winter 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.

 

Farm Fact of the Week

Ankle high field peas, oats, red clover, and rye! The cover crops we planted at the end of October are loving this blast of late-season sun. They are growing beautifully, carpeting the farm in a new vibrant green that holds the promise of healthy soils and good fertility for seasons to come!

Newsletter: 

Week 26: November 28th

Three More Weeks of Food!

In years past, we have always ended our Harvest Basket season the week of Thanksgiving, and then offered optional December Shares to people who wanted to continue for another few weeks of produce. This year, by popular demand, we decided to extend the entire Harvest Basket season into December (an overwhelming majority of you said YES, feed us a few weeks longer, in our end-of-season survey last year).

 

As a result, there are THREE more weeks of produce coming your way: this week (11/28), next week (12/5), and the week after that (12/12). The LAST Harvest Basket delivery will be the week of December 12th: 12/14 for the Farm and Coos Bay, 12/16 for Port Orford, and 12/17 for Bandon.

 

Please mark your calendars and enjoy the last few weeks of seasonal, hearty food!

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Escarole
  • Pac Choi
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Beets
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spaghetti 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.

 

Escarole

The frilly lettuce-like head in your tote this week is escarole, a member of the chicory family (think radicchio, frisee, dandelions, etc.). They are a hardy green, but unfortunately took quite a beating in last week’s hail and rain. We have harvested the best of the lot for you this week, but you may have to trim off some leaves that are less lovely.

 

How to enjoy it? I like to use it just like lettuce, but be forewarned that it is slightly tougher and a bit more bitter than lettuce. Last night I made a salad with a head of escarole (washed and spun dry), fresh sliced pears, grated pecorino cheese, and a maple syrup vinaigrette. The semi-sweet of the pears and the dressing are a great compliment to the flavor of the escarole. Here’s my dressing recipe:

 

Into a blender:

½ cup olive oil

2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

1 heaping tsp. Dijon mustard

1 ½ Tbs. maple syrup

 

Blend until creamy and emulsified, then dress your escarole salad up. It’s fine to dress it 10 minutes in advance of dinner….the dressing helps soften the escarole to perfection.

 

Farm Fact of the Week

Strawberries might be the farthest thing from your mind right now, but they are forefront for us. This week we started planting the 4,000+ strawberry crowns that will be producing fruit for you by June of next year. We plant Seascapes, a variety that bears fruit all summer long, and unlike most berry growers in Oregon, we plant our new crowns in November/December (California-style!). I’ve found that our winters are mild enough that the new plants can get established during our winter and will start producing at least a month sooner, compared to spring-planted crowns. We are putting in another 9 beds of strawberries, which means there will be ample fruit in your Harvest Basket next year, and for U-pick and for special orders.

 

We are infinitely grateful for the week of sun that is coming our way; it will make the planting a whole lot easier and less muddy!

Newsletter: 

Week 25: November 21st - Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving!

So it is that Thanksgiving week brings with it a tempest. Wild winds to scatter the last of the Fall colors; pounding rain to swell the rivers and invite in the spawning salmon; and mud, glorious mud, to weigh down the slogging farmers as they excavate yard-long parsnips out of the ground.

 

What a week it’s been, and we’re only two days deep. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, our usual 6-day week of harvest and delivery gets compressed into three days – which means that the past 48 hours have seen Roberto and I suited up head-to-toe in our raingear, heaving a couple thousand pounds of food out of the field, into the barn, onto the wash table, and into totes. Cleo even made some guest appearances, weathering some of the storm on my back in her Muddy Buddy rainsuit while I hosed off parsnips in the field. (She wasn’t crazy about the situation and ultimately opted to nap for 2 hours in the pickup instead. Smart girl.)

 

There have been moments during the past two days when I doubted we were going to pull it off: racing the early dark to get the harvest in, fighting achey vertebrate, and negotiating our first whopper of a storm with a 10-month baby on my back. It took a village: my family helped enormously with childcare; Tom lent an invaluable pair of hands in the field and during pack-out in the barn; Roberto came early and worked late. And by this evening, our cooler was stuffed to the gills with 105 bulging totes of a heavy Thanksgiving harvest.

 

I am sitting by the woodstove now, nearly 11 pm on Tuesday night, with a baby asleep on my lap and the storm still hurtling itself at our windows. I am tired, and infinitely grateful. For a good harvest. For loamy soil. For abundant water (especially this week…). And for all of you who have chosen to eat locally, from our farm. Thank you for enabling us this livelihood: for making it possible for us to live here, raise our kids here, and call this place home. It is the greatest gift of all.

 

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. And remember. Eat your parsnips.

 

Gnarly Food Inspires Poetry

Francis Quinn, a Bandon Harvest Basket member, was so inspired by a recent tote of produce he received from us that he took up the pen and inked this poem. I am happy to publish it here:

 

Vengeful Veggies Strike Back

 

Run, run, oh little one,

run, and don't look back!

Rudely uprooted, stems hacked,

Raging veggies are striking back!

 

Ick! Gack! leading the pack

is, oh, ugh, hairy celeriac!

There's none scarier than that!

Oh none!  Run, run, little one!

 

Next, big, bulbous, and all knobby,

rolls in mean, green kohlrabi

bowling over and mauling everybody,          

bashing all about, sparing no one!              

 

Oh, run, run, little one!

lest, caught in the final rout,

you're savaged by a brussel sprout.           

So ghastly a fate!  Rush!!  Get out!!  

 

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce (the last of it for 2011!)
  • Carrots (still ugly!)
  • Shallots (I hope they’re not rotten like the onions!)
  • Brussels sprouts (green, but they take some time to clean)
  • Celeriac (big and furry!)
  • Sunshine Squash (orange and hefty)
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes (please mash me!)
  • Parsnips (4 whopping pounds of ‘em!)
  • Parsley (I am such a hardy little herb!)

 

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.

 

Parsnips

Introducing yet another less-than-common food on the American dinner plate: parsnips. These are the white, carrot-like roots in your tote this week. Some people love them, others loathe them, but if ever there was an opportunity to give them a chance, this is it. We dug these yesterday in the driving rain, battling gale force winds and knee-deep mud, and then washed them in the dark by the glow of my headlights – so if nothing else, please humor us by cooking some up and trying them. If you’re skeptical, choose one of the recipes that has lots of butter and maple syrup in it.

 

We have a handful of recipes on our website: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/parsnips

 

And on Epicurious.com: http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searchresults?search=parsnips

 

Sunshine Winter Squash

My next favorite squash, after Delicata. Almost tropical in flavor, incredibly sweet, with a dry flaky flesh. Great for making pie, mashing like a potato, turning into soup, filling raviolis, or stuffing like a turkey.

 

Here’s a fantastic recipe that uses your Sunshine and some parsnips to boot! Would be a great accompaniment to turkey and all the other fixins:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Winter-Squash-and-P...

 

Farm Fact of the Week

This week’s Thanksgiving totes average about 23 pounds each, which means that we will be delivering about 2,500 pounds of food on Wednesday to all of our Harvest Basket members. May your Thanksgiving feast be resplendently seasonal, local, and delicious!

Newsletter: 

Week 24: November 14th

Thanksgiving Harvest Basket Details – PLEASE READ!!

Here are the VERY important details about next week’s Thanksgiving Harvest Basket, once again:

 

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 or SATURDAY. 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 11 am (pick up anytime after 11 am)
  • Bandon: WEDNESDAY, starting at 12 pm (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 resume our regular delivery schedule the week of November 28th, a few pounds heavier. Our last and final Harvest Basket delivery will be the week of December 12th, so there are still 3 weeks of food coming your way AFTER Thanksgiving!

 

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, a few pounds of parsnips, one head of lettuce, 5 pounds of yellow finn potatoes, and a sunshine winter squash (great for stuffing and baking, or mashing, or making pie).

 

Q: WHAT IF I won’t be able to 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, PLEASE let us know so your food doesn’t go to waste. 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 Farmstand of the Year, This Saturday!

What a season it’s been at the Valley Flora Farmstand! From quiet little farm entrance to bustling hub frequented faithfully by local produce enthusiasts - we are so grateful for everyone’s patronage! This Saturday, November 19th, will be the final farmstand of the year. We’ll be open 10 am to 2 pm, and will do our best to stock the stand mightily to ensure that everyone can take home all the goodies they want – especially storage crops like winter squash, potatoes, beets, carrots, and other roots. Seth will be there with his bread, and there will be eggs as well.

 

A very special THANK YOU to Aro, who has tended the stand all season, through sun and rain. And a huge THANK YOU to all of our loyal customers who have made the pilgrimage up Floras Creek each week to get their produce. Our heartfelt thanks!

 

In your share this week:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Pink Beauty radishes
  • Red Ursa Kale
  • Delicata Squash
  • Red Cabbage
  • Red 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.

 

Delicata Winter Sqash

This is our all-time favorite winter squash, the one I will reach for again and again without fail. We love Delicatas above all for a few reasons:

  1. They are perhaps the sweetest squash of all with a smooth, creamy texture.
  2. They are the easiest to cook: cut ‘em in half, put them face down on a pan with a little water to steam, and bake at 375 until soft - about 30 minutes depending on the size of your squash.
  3. They are the easiest to eat. Skin and all, every part of this squash goes down easily. Naked, or with a little butter. (You really can eat the skin!)
  4. They are great stuffed. I sautéed up some local Oregon Grassfed hamburger the other night, mixed it with sautéed fennel, red pepper, chanterelles, and onion, heaped it onto baked Delicata halves, grated some pecorino cheese on top, and broiled them. So easy and so good!

 

Farm Fact of the Week

This is the third year of the Harvest Basket program, and each year the season has gotten longer. We started by offering 25 weeks of produce and are now offering 28. Every year we’ve figured out how to eek more food out of the tial end of the growing season, through a combination of storage crops and by choosing varieties that tolerate wet, cold conditions in the field. For instance, I’ve figured out which lettuce varieties will grow late into the fall, thanks to their disease resistance and cold hardiness, and have learned that we can push the autumn broccoli season into November. Little things like that add up to Harvest Basket abundance all the way into December!

Newsletter: 

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. 

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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.

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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: 

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