The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

Week 13: August 29th

Caprese, Finocchio….Cibo d’Italia!

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

 

Or something like that….

 

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

  1. Make caprese.
  2. Make finocchio.

 

Recipes below….

 

Strawberries Available by the Flat

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

 

Raspberries have begun…

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

 

In your share this week:

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

 

On Rotation:

  • Cherry Tomatoes

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Featured Recipes of the Week:

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

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

 

Heirloom Tomatoes

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sweet Peppers

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 12: August 22

Do the Salsa!

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

 

Strawberries Available by the Flat

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

 

Raspberries about to go BOOM!

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

 

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

 

Thanks for your cooperation on this one!

 

Farm Theft Update

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

 

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

 

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

 

In your share this week:

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

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Walla Walla Sweet Onions

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

 

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

 

Hot Peppers

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

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week

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

Newsletter: 

Anyone Going to Eugene or Portland?

Hi everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

Thanks so much!

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

Week 11: August 15th

Tomatoes!

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

 

The Sad Demise of the Cucumbers…

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

 

Bulk Basil Available

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

 

Farm Burglarized on Tuesday Night

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

 

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

 

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

 

In your share this week:

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

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Newsletter: 

Week 10: August 8th

Orange Food

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

New Recipes

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

 

yum!

 

In your share this week:

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

 

On Rotation:

  • Very Colorful Cauliflower!

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Purplette Onions

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

 

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

 

Cauliflower, with Pizazz

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

 

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

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Important Updates from the Farm

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

 

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

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

 

Zoë

Newsletter: 

Week 8: July 25th

Local Abundance

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

 

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

 

Joe Pestana, Oregon Grassfed

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

http://www.oregongrassfed.com/

 

Candace Carnahan, Carnahan Livestock

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

 

Lee & Jack Lawrence, Lee’s Bees

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

http://www.leesbeeshoney.com

 

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

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

 

In your share this week:

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

 

On Rotation:

  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Scallions

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Baby Fennel

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 7: July 18th

Summer is Back!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In your share this week:

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

 

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

New Potatoes

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Cukes & Zukes

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Bulk Basil Available!

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

 

Bulk Basil Details:

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

 

To Order, email us:

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

 

Payment:

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

 

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

Newsletter: 

Week 6: July 11th

New Foods, New Flavors!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In your share this week:

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

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Snap Peas

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

 

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

 

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

 

Beets

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Cabbage

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Week 5: July 4th

The Reality and Reward of Eating Seasonally

 

Radishes again?!?!!!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In your share this week:

Arugula or Braising Mix

Broccoli

Red Ursa Kale

Head Lettuce

Strawberries

Amethyst Radishes

Hakurei turnips

 

On Rotation:

Kohlrabi

Raspberries

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Amethyst Radishes

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

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Strawberries Available by the Flat!

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

 

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

 

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

Newsletter: 

Week 4: June 27th

Raspberries, Lovely Raspberries!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Free Raspberry U-Pick for Harvest Basket Members!

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

In your share this week:

Spinach

Broccoli

Rainbow Chard

Head Lettuce

Strawberries

Radishes

Spring turnips

 

On Rotation:

Kohlrabi

Raspberries

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Rainbow Chard

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

 

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

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Week 3: June 20th

Farm Notes

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

In your share this week:

 

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

 

On Rotation:

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

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Braising Mix

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

 

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

 

Kohlrabi

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Couscous with Kohlrabi and Chermoula Dressing

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

1-2 tsp minced garlic

2 Tbs. minced cilantro

2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. cumin

salt

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

3 Tbs. olive oil

2-3 cooked couscous, cooled to warm temperature

2 cups peeled, diced kohlrabi

½ cup diced radishes and/or spring turnips

16 kalamata or oil-cured black olives

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

 

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

 

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Week 2: June 13th

Farm Notes

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

In your share this week:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries

 

On Rotation:

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

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Kale

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Rhubarb

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

 

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

 

‘Nuf said.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Week 1: June 6th

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

 

In your share this week:

 

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

 

On Rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Spring turnips
  • Broccoli

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Artichokes

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

 

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

 

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

 

Asparagus

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

 

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

 

Storage: in the fridge, in a plastic bag

 

Arugula

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

 

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

 

Pac Choi

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Head Lettuce

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

 

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

 

Radish & Turnips – On rotation

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Broccoli – On rotation

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

 

Storage: fridge, plastic bag, a week or so

 

Strawberries

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

 

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

 

Cherry Tomato Plant

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

Please choose one.

 

Planting Tips:

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

 

 

We leave you with this Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

May on the Farm

Me-oh-my-oh-May!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Zoë

Newsletter: 

tester newsletter

Week 1
June 1-6, 2009
 
What's In Your Basket?

  • Tillamook and/or Seascape Strawberries
  • Sylvesta Green Butterhead Lettuce
  • Crunchy Royale Radishes
  • Green Globe Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Genovese Basil
  • Black Summer Pac Choi

 
Coming Soon!

  • Hakurei turnips
  • Kale & Chard
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spinach

 
We're thrilled to be able to include some of our favorite tastes of summer in the very first Harvest Basket of the season - among them, basil and strawberries. June will be a month to savor these early treats, as well as some of Spring's signature crops: kale, chard, spinach, and the sweet, buttery hakurei turnip (coming soon!).
 
Also remember that these early Harvest Baskets will be leaner than those that come later in the season. We strive for an average value of $25 of produce each week, which means that as the season progresses the baskets will get heavier (literally!) with summer's bounty. Enjoy the first harvest!
 
And finally, we recommend that you wash your produce before eating it. Technically, we only "field-rinse" the produce, so it is not legally considered to be "washed."
 
 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Radishes

  • Some people love the spicy bite of a spring radish, but if you want a less sassy mouthful, peel your radishes. All of the heat is in that red skin; the meat of the radish is tender, juicy and sweet!
  • Also, radish tops are great in stir-fy (they belong to the same family as mustard greens). Don't toss 'em - chop them up with your Pac Choi and sautee with a little rice vinegar, tamari or any other seasonings!
  • If you want your radishes to last longer in the fridge, cut the tops off and store the roots in a ziploc in the crisper.

 
Artichokes

  • We are choke addicts here at Valley Flora. We usually prepare them the simple old-fashioned way in a steamer basket. It usually takes 30-45 minutes in a regular steamer basket with plenty of water, depending on size, or 8-14 minutes in a pressure cooker. The bigger the choke, the longer it takes. Check for done-ness by plucking an outside leaf. The chokes are ready when a leaf plucks off easily. Dig in and eat your - its - heart out.
  • Check out our easy ailoi recipe and turn your artichokes into a great vehicle for mayo, balsamic and capers.

 
Arugula

 
Pac Choi

  • Great sauteed, stir-fried, or eaten raw, this succulent green keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 
Strawberries

  • In the unlikely event that any of your berries are still left by the time you get home, folks say that their berries store best in an airtight container in the fridge with a damp paper towl lining the bottom.
  • Whipped cream anyone?

 

 

On the Farm....
Now that the soil temperatures have warmed up and the nights are hovering near 50 degrees, we are putting lots of summer and fall crops in the ground this week: pepper plants galore, as well as an entire block of winter squash (for your eating pleasure come October...). We are also prepping fallow ground for some summer cover crop plantings of buckwheat and sudan grass. In the greenhouse, we're already seeding fall crops like chard, kale and cabbage, which will be planted in early July. Farming is one of those things where you are living 6 months in the future and every day in the moment - all at once....

 

As for the present moment, don't forget to visit the
Recipe Exchange
to check out the new recipes this week, and to share your own recipes with other farmsters.

 

Aprovecho!
 

 

 
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