The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

Week 13: August 27th

Week 13!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Last week the heirlooms began showing up in your tote; you may have gotten a big pink Brandywine, or a great green Aunt Ruby’s (yes, that green tomato is RIPE!), or a persimmon orange Persimmon, or a sunset-hued Striped German. Bets grows a half dozen or more varieties in her greenhouses, and they are just hitting their peak right now. It’s a heartbreakingly short season (she’ll get a month of real production, and then they peter out), especially compared to some of the hybridized red slicing varieties that ripen sooner, produce longer, and yield more. But year after year, my mom plants her heirlooms, for the love of true tomato flavor and beauty – in spite of the fact that she might make more money by simply growing hybrids.

 

(A botany sidenote here: a hybrid plant is one that has been specifically bred for certain characteristics by crossing two genetically distinct parents. The hybrid that results often has certain desired traits, like better heat or cold tolerance, or crack resistance, or disease resistance, etc. You cannot, however, save seeds from that hybrid because they won’t come “true” – meaning the genetics are not stable and the next generation will likely express myriad traits (maybe some desirable and some not). As a result, you have to buy hybrid seed, as opposed to saving your own. An “heirloom,” or open-pollinated (OP) plant, on the other hand, is a genetically stable plant that usually self-pollinates. You can save the seeds of an heirloom tomato and usually get the same-looking tomato the next year. This distinction between hybrids and OP varieties is important, for both agricultural and political reasons – many advocates of open-pollinated varieties argue that it’s important to grow them in order to maintain genetic diversity in our plant/food world, and to keep public control of seeds and genetic information in the hands of farmers and gardeners, not Monsanto and other huge, private corporations. At Valley Flora, we grow both hybrids and open-pollinated, heirloom varieties. There are some crops, like broccoli, for which there simply is no viable open-pollinated variety available.)

 

But back to tomatoes: Heirlooms come in a rainbow of colors and folksy names (Omar’s Lebanese, Box Car Willie, Cherokee Purple, Golden Ponderosa, Hillbilly, Mortgage Lifter, Amish Paste, Arkansas Traveler, etc.). There are various definitions of “heirloom:” commercial heirlooms are varieties that were introduced before 1940, or that have been in circulation for over 50 years; family heirlooms are seeds that have been passed down within a family for several generations.

 

A general rule of thumb: good tomatoes, just like good strawberries, are usually the ones that have traveled the fewest miles to your mouth. Picking them from your own garden is tops, but if you’re buying them, you’re wise to source them from a farmer nearby. Why? Because the tomatoes that are produced for local, nearby markets are soft, ripe, and grown for flavor – as opposed to fruits that are grown to ship (think of the hard, pink tomatoes you see in the supermarket in the winter, most of which are grown in Florida, picked green by farmworkers, and then gassed with ethylene to turn red).

 

There couldn't be more contrast. While you savor your soft, local, family-grown-and-harvested tomatoes this week, I encourage you to learn more about the sobering reality of Florida’s tomato fields: http://www.ciw-online.org/

 

The pictures speak a thousand words. On the eve of Labor Day, 2012, it’s hard to believe that this reality still exists:

 

 Like textile workers at the turn of the last century, Florida tomato harvesters are still paid by the piece. The average piece rate today is 50 cents for every 32-lbs of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has remained virtually unchanged since 1980. As a result of that stagnation, a worker today must pick more than 2.25 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage in a typical 10-hour workday -- nearly twice the amount a worker had to pick to earn minimum wage thirty years ago, when the rate was 40 cents per bucket. Most farmworkers today earn less than $12,000 a year.

 

In the most extreme conditions, farmworkers are held against their will and forced to work for little or no pay, facing conditions that meet the stringent legal standards for prosecution under modern-day slavery statutes. Federal Civil Rights officials have successfully prosecuted seven slavery operations involving over 1,000 workers in Florida’s fields since 1997, prompting one federal prosecutor to call Florida "ground zero for modern-day slavery." In 2010, federal prosecutors indicted two more forced labor rings operating in Florida.

 

This is the week for Finocchio!

You’ve got it all in your tote, so don’t miss the opportunity to do up one of my all-time favorite recipes: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/finocchio

 

There are a pile of other fennel recipes on our website as well: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/fennel

 

…the latest of which was shared with us by a friend in Washington who is a member of a CSA up there. She said this was the best thing she has ever eaten (she is 3 years old): http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/caramelized-fennel-honey-lemon-ze...

 

Strawberries Still Available by the Flat!

The strawberries are booming again (sweeter than ever with all this heat) and we have plenty to fill special orders. If you would like to order a flat (or two), email us your name, pickup location, phone number, and the number of flats you would like. We will deliver to your pickup site. Flats are $35 each, 12 heaping pints to a flat.

 

In your share this week:

  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes – Red Slicers & Heirlooms
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Fennel
  • Potatoes

 

On Rotation:

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

  • Cucumbers

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your Share Next week

Remember, no promises!

  • Red Onions
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes

 

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

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 12: August 20th

Week 12!

Pico de Gallo Week!

What happens when the tomatoes, cilantro, sweet onions, and Serrano peppers are all ready at the same time at Valley Flora? Fresh salsa is what happens! With the exception of fresh limes – which we WISH we could grow – all the ingredients for homemade pico are in your Harvest Basket this week.

 

In Mexican cuisine, pico de gallo (Spanish pronunciation: peeko day guy-yo, literally translated “beak of the rooster”) is also called salsa fresca (fresh sauce), salsa picada (minced or chopped sauce), salsa Mexicana (Mexican sauce), or salsa bandera (flag sauce, because of the colors – red tomatoes, white onions, and green chilis). But no matter what you call it, it’s a fresh, uncooked condiment made from chopped tomato, onion, and chilis (typically jalapeños or serranos). You can add other ingredients, like lime juice or apple cider vinegar, fresh cilantro, cucumber, radish, or fruits such as mango or watermelon.

 

Where does the term “pico de gallo” come from? According to some sources, it’s so named because it was originally eaten with the thumb and forefinger, resembling the actions of a pecking rooster.

 

Which reminds me of a curious factoid: the spice in your hot peppers this week is due to a compound called capsaicin, which is found in all hot peppers (some more than others; for instance, habañeros and Sichuan peppers have a higher concentration of capsaicin than a poblano or a jalapeño; sweet bell peppers actually have none due to a recessive gene). Most of the capsaicin is concentrated in what is called the “placental tissue”: the white “Styrofoam” pith inside the pepper, and not so much in the flesh. This is a useful tidbit to know in the kitchen because if you want to minimize the kick in your fresh salsa, clean the pith out of your Serrano peppers before you dice them up. On the other hand, if you like it hot, chop it all up and toss it in!

 

But here’s where it gets very cool on evolutionary terms: As it turns out, mammals are the only animal family that is affected by capsaicin (and thus experience the mouth-burn of hot peppers). Birds, on the other hand, are not affected by it (so roosters truly can peck at your pico de gallo without catching their weird little tongues on fire). Why? Because evolutionarily, pepper seeds were dispersed by birds. The bright colors of pepper fruits (reds, oranges, purples, yellows!) attract birds, who can painlessly peck into them, eat their seeds, fly away, and poop them out somewhere else. Mammals on the other hand might only get an unpleasant bite or two of a hot pepper before they turn tail and run for a glass of milk (or bread, or rice) to cool their mouths down.

 

I was relieved to learn this after many years of worrying about the seagulls at the South Jetty in Bandon.  When I was a kid, an uncle used to take me down there and play pranks on the seagulls: primarily, dousing Wonder Bread with Tabasco hot sauce and tossing it up in the air to the gulls. He thought it was the funniest thing on earth; I felt sorry for them.

 

Little did we both know that the joke was on us.

 

Here’s a Pico de Gallo recipe. Adjust the heat to suit your mammalian tastebuds.

  • 1 1/2 cups seeded, diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced onion – red or sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon diced serranos
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper

In a bowl combine all ingredients. Enjoy on tacos, with chips, over rice and beans, etc.

 

Strawberries Still Available by the Flat!

The strawberries are booming again (sweeter than ever with all this heat) and we have plenty to fill special orders. If you would like to order a flat (or two), email us your name, pickup location, phone number, and the number of flats you would like. We will deliver to your pickup site. Flats are $35 each, 12 heaping pints to a flat.

 

In your share this week:

  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Cilantro
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes – Red Slicers & Heirlooms
  • Hot Peppers

On Rotation:

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

  • Cucumbers

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your Share Next week

Remember, no promises!

  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Fennel
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes

 

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

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 11: August 13th

Week 11!

BREAKING NEWS: TOMATOES!!!!

Need I say more?

 

Except that this is the sooner-than-anticipated kickoff of tomato season. For the next month+ you’ll be getting an assortment of tomatoes, including red slicers, heirlooms, and red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes. All of them are vine-ripened in my mom’s greenhouses, with the exception of the cherry tomatoes, which we grow outdoors.

 

Tomatoes tie with onions for crops that we nurture the longest. We seeded them in our propagation greenhouse way back in the cold, wet days of March. The young plants spent a couple months in the greenhouse growing tall and bushy, then were transplanted into the field and the greenhouses in May and June. Since then, we’ve been watering, weeding, pruning, and tying them up every week (we use a system of sisal twine and metal stakes to support their unruly growth).

 

Now the heavy work of harvest begins for my mom, Bets, who manages the greenhouses. She’ll be picking hundreds of pounds of tomatoes each week to fill Harvest Baskets, restaurant and store orders, and to stock the farmstand. By the time tomato harvest is over in the Fall - once our pantries are lined with jars of sauce and our freezers are full of sun-dried tomatoes – we will breathe a familial sigh of relief to see the harvest end. Backs sore and hands cracked from the acidic harvest, there comes a natural turning point on the farm when we don’t care to see another tomato for awhile.

 

But for now, as we slice into the first ripe tomatoes of the season, we are relishing every bite of red, round, juicy heft. We hope you do, too.

 

A tip: when you get your tomatoes this week, DON’T PUT THEM IN THE FRIDGE! That’s one of the keys to maintaining that unbeatable flavor and texture of homegrown tomatoes. Store them on your counter at room temperature.

 

In your share this week:

  • Purplette Onions
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Green Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Yellow & Green Zucchini
  • Dill
  • Broccoli
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Tomatoes

On Rotation:

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

  • Spinach

 

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

A number of Harvest Basket members have implored me to start posting a list of what vegetables MIGHT be in your share next week so that they could shop and menu-plan accordingly. I emphasize the “MIGHT” because we never know for sure what will be going in the totes until the beginning of each week, and I hate to set expectations and then have plans change. Nevertheless, this list of possible produce will give you a general idea of what might be coming your way the week of August 20th. Remember, no promises!

  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Fennel?
  • Hot Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes

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

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Food Class at Valley Flora



Introduction to Food Energetics
 A thought-provoking philosophy into food and cooking

 

Join us at

Valley Flora Farm

to start your journey in creating healing meals

Saturday, August 25th, 2012
10am to 11:30am

 

$15 prepaid
 $20 day of event


presented by

Polly Maliongas, LAc, Qigong Master Teacher
Moongate Chinese Medicine
Oregon City, OR 97045



As we become more aware of our food choices, where our food comes from, and eating seasonally, we now add energetics into our understanding.  Each food we consume carries a certain energetic quality that effects our energetic vibration.  This vibration is also guided to a specific organ to promote optimal functioning.  The energetics of food are found within the healing modalities of Chinese Medicine.  Using the principles of Yin and Yang theory along with the concepts of energetic thermal nature, flavors and cooking methods we learn to create a meal that truly nourishes the body.  

 

This class will:

  • Provide an introduction into the energetic views of food and our body
  • Provide you handouts, some recipes and suggested reading list  


To pre-register, please contact: Juanell Lemon, LMT #OR13439
at 541.290.1948

Please confirm your attendance so we can provide enough handouts.
 

Logistics:

  • You MUST park on the south side of the bridge (Valley Flora side of the bridge)
  • The class will be held by the south end of the shed away from the farmstand
  • We will be in the shade of a big myrtle tree but be prepared with sunscreen and a hat
  • Please bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating
  • Please no pets, no smoking, there's no potable water
  • Port potty is available

Newsletter: 

Week 10: August 6th

Week 10!

Going Topless

No, I don’t mean us. I mean your carrots. (Although the mercury did nudge towards eighty on Saturday, which was temptation aplenty to shed the shirt – were it not for the steady flow of rock truck drivers hauling on Floras Creek Road…).

 

From here on out you’ll be getting your carrots without their tops. Two main reasons why:

  1. It’s a much quicker harvest to mow down the tops and then fork out the carrots, rather than painstakingly pulling and bunching. At this point in the season when there is so much food to harvest, we need all the time-saving tricks we can muster.
  2. In some of our more densely planted beds of carrots, the tops become weak and floppy, which makes bunching tricky and slow.

 

If your guinea pig was really digging the carrot tops, we apologize.

 

Oh No, Blight!: Our Uncertain Potato Plight

Last year - as some of you will remember - was a banner year for potatoes on the farm. The combination of good spud-growing weather and careful selection of varieties, combined with aggressive hilling using our new electric cultivating tractor, yielded the best potato crop we’ve ever had.

 

It looked like we were on track for a repeat performance this season, until the very sudden and very terrible appearance of what we think is early blight in a section of the potato field. In the span of one short week, a third of the field went from vibrant bushy green, to a sea of skeletonized brown stalks. Oddly enough, it hasn’t spread much beyond that initial area – and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn’t.

 

Early blight is caused by a fungus known as Alternaria solani, which is fairly ubiquitous in the soil wherever solanaceous crops (potatoes & tomatoes) are grown. We work to avoid blight by rotating our crops carefully (not planting potatoes where potatoes grew the previous three years), but that’s not always enough. The fungus has reared its head this season (most likely due to the long spells of grey weather we’ve had). We are doing our best to control it by: carefully monitoring irrigation in the potato patch (water can help spread it quickly); being careful not to spread the blight by walking through the healthy potato plants; and digging up all the affected tubers/plants as quickly as possible.

 

Unfortunately, blight can have a drastic impact on yields and do cosmetic damage to the tubers; the potatoes you are receiving this week are smaller than they should be, and many of them are scabby or scarred up. They’re going to take a little extra work to clean up, but they should still be good eating.

 

We are hopeful that the other 2/3 of the field will maintain its vigor and size up some lovely spuds on par with last year’s harvest. In the meantime, you may have to tolerate one or two distributions of ugly taters as we work through the blighted section of the field first.

 

So get out your peeler, and cross your fingers that the fungus among us doesn’t travel down the row any farther.

 

In your share this week:

  • Purplette Onions
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes
  • Oregano & Summer Savory
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli

 

On Rotation:

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

  • Spinach

 

Oregano & Summer Savory

You’ll find a few stalks of summer savory and oregano in your tote this week, freshly harvested from the new perennial herb patch. The oregano is the dark green, bushy-leaved one. The summer savory is the lacier, long-stemmed variety. Both have distinct flavors; the savory is closely related to mint with a peppery-thyme-like flavor. Here’s a recipe that calls for summer savory. You have most of the ingredients in your harvest basket this week, minus the green beans.

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/warm-green-bean-and-potato-salad-...

 

 

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

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 9: July 30th

Week 9!

The Summer Crunch

Cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots – kerrrrrrrunch! That’s the sound of summer. Hefty foods that require molars to enjoy - once you see them in your tote, you know we’ve arrived into the heart of summer. Festive salads are a breeze to invent at this time of year when the produce line-up is so colorful and substantial.

 

And hearty salads are exactly what we farmers survive on at this point in the year, because we are experiencing our own kind of summer crunch: a peak-season workload that keeps us moving all hours, most days. More and more of our time is dedicated to harvest each week, but we are still also trying to keep pace with weeds, irrigation, direct seeding and transplanting (we plant outdoors in the field until mid-September).

 

Salad is our fast food. Heaped high, maybe decorated with some hard-boiled eggs or local canned tuna, a quick chop of whatever other veggies are lying around, and some homemade salad dressing.

 

It keeps the farmers ticking, so you can keep on licking (your plates).

 

In your share this week:

  • Purplette Onions
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Red Ursa Kale
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Beets

On Rotation:

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

  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower

 

Purplette Onions

These early onions tend to be a favorite among CSA members, beloved for their pretty purple color and sweet-spicy flavor. They are a fresh onion (not cured), so keep them in your fridge. You can use your purplette any way you would use a regular onion, but many people seem to especially enjoy them raw in salads. They aren’t as pungent than storage onions, with less of that oniony bite. You can also use the green tops like green onions.

 

You’ll be getting them in your tote for the next couple of weeks, which will hopefully give you just enough time to have a true love affair with this member of the onion family. Purplettes always kick off our Allium season, with many other varieties to follow in their wake: walla walla sweets, red long torpedoes, red and yellow storage, red and gold shallots, and leeks.

 

Storage: In a plastic bag in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

 

Cilantro

Most folks don’t need tips on how to use cilantro, but here’s a recipe that I LOVE, thanks to Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/zucchini-fresh-herb-fritters

 

Storage: Either in the fridge in a bag (will last for up to a week), or in a cup/vase of water in the fridge, covered with a plastic bag (will last even longer….)

 

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

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 8: July 23rd

Week 8!

It’s Thyme!

The little bunch of herbs in your tote this week is fresh thyme, the first harvest from our new perennial herb patch. I decided to invest in perennial herbs after a number of Harvest Basket members expressed a desire for a wider diversity of herbs in their share. We sacrificed two of our three beds of dahlias and turned the space over to thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, chives, summer savory, and sweet marjoram.

 

After a couple months of tending the slow-growing seedlings in the greenhouse this spring, we planted out thousands of new starts and have been nurturing them into bushiness all summer. The thyme has been the first to offer itself up for harvest. You’ll probably also see oregano, summer savory, and sage this season; the rosemary and chives will take another year before they’re ready to be cut.

 

The bundle of thyme in your tote may be too much to use up fresh, but don’t let it go to waste. All herbs – including the dill you got last week – dry beautifully for later use. Simply hang them upside down in a dark, dry place until they are dry. OR, if you have a food dehydrator, you can dry them quickly on the low heat setting. Once dry, strip or crumble the leaves off the stem and store in an airtight container.

 

More Broccoli!

It looks like we may get a momentary reprieve in the broccoli onslaught next week (our next planting is a new variety that is maturing more slowly), but there is plenty to go around this week. If you are overwhelmed by it, consider freezing some for later. To freeze:

  1. Trim your broccoli heads into neat florets, whatever size you like to eat.
  2. Bring a pot of salter water to boil.
  3. Prepare a big bowl of ice water and have ready in the sink.
  4. Drop your broccoli into the boiling water and blanch for 3 minutes (don’t overcook it!).
  5. Immediately drain and dunk broccoli into the ice water for at least 3 minutes.
  6. Lay broccoli on a cookie sheet and freeze.
  7. Once frozen, put florets in a Ziploc and store in the freezer.

 

Basil Bonanza!

The basil plants are bushing up fast and furious, so now’s the time to order if you want to make pesto, or dry it, or stuff your pillow with it and revel in the smell of peak summertime! It’s available by the pound, $14/pound. To order, email us your name, pickup location, the quantity you want, and your phone number.

 

Strawberry Slow-Down

It seems like our berry patch just got cranking, but the end-of-july slowdown is already upon us. Our variety, Seascape, will bear fruit all season but it has a marked decline in production for a few weeks at the end of July and the beginning of August. We seem to be headed into that berry lull right now. There should be plenty (we hope) to put a pint in your tote each week, but we might be hard-pressed to fill special orders for full flats for the time being.

 

The good news is that the berries usually have a strong comeback in late August and September, so if you haven’t filled your freezer yet there will be more opportunities later in the summer.

 

Marionberry U-pick!

We planted a couple rows of marionberries last year and they are just now coming into their first fruit. We will most likely be opening them up to u-pick starting this SATURDAY. No ironclad guarantees, but that’s what it’s looking like right now…

 

Here’s some interesting marionberry factoids, courtesy of oregonencyclopedia.org:

The blackberry cultivar, Marion, often called "marionberry" by consumers and marketers, is the most widely planted trailing blackberry in the world. More than 90 percent of the worldwide acreage of Marion is located in Oregon. In 2007, almost 30 million pounds were harvested from 4,500 acres in the state, with farm sales over $11 million.

 

Originally bred by George Waldo, USDA-ARS plant breeder, Marion was released in 1956 through the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. The name Marion was chosen in recognition of Marion County, where it was tested extensively. The largest share of acreage today is still in Marion County, where the climate and soils of the Willamette Valley are ideal.

 

The pedigree of Marion is rather complex. It contains 44 percent Rubus ursinus (the only truly native blackberry in Oregon, characterized by its outstanding flavor), 25 percent R. armeniacus (the Himalaya, a weed introduced from Europe in the late 1800s), and 6 percent R. idaeus (the red raspberry). In 1948, Waldo selected Marion from a cross of the cultivars Chehalem and Olallie.

 

Marion is a vigorous, thorny plant that is typically trained to a two-wire trellis. The plants are sensitive to winter cold, and production may vary from year to year depending on the severity of the weather. Marion is usually harvested in July by machines that gently shake ripe fruit off the plants. Over 95 percent of Marion is processed as frozen fruit, puree, and juice. Jams, ice cream, and other products made with marionberries are popular in Oregon and are sold throughout North America.

 

In your share this week:

  • Broccoli
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Fennel
  • Thyme
  • Cauliflower
  • Baby Carrots
  • Zucchini

On Rotation:

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

  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers

 

Fennel

Introducing another of the controversial vegetables we grow…Foeniculum vulgaris, or fennel.

 

In the first couple years of Harvest Baskets, I was on a crusade to turn as many people as I could into fennel aficionados. I myself love fennel. What I learned, however, 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, we only do three, and instead of getting two bulbs this week, you’re only getting one (ok, maybe two if they’re small…).

 

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 and it’s one of the cheapest veggies on the shelf over there (compared to here where I recently saw it for $5.99 a pound in the store!).

 

Here’s a simple soup that calls for both fennel and zucchini: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fennel-and-Zucchini-Soup-wi...

 

To prepare: 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 zest.

 

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.

 

Cucumbers

When I was a kid, cucumbers were my favorite food. Hands down. So when my mom’s greenhouses start pumping out the cukes, it’s as if I am a kid again and the farm is my candystore (if only she didn’t sell them all before I could get my hands on one!). Hopefully we’ll have better luck in the cucumber department this year than we did last year (most of the crop was wiped out by moles and disease). To help ensure that, Bets has planted both an indoor and outdoor crop. Not only will the cucumber season go longer (we hope), she might just outsmart some of those pesky rodents and pathogens that took their toll last year.

 

Storage: up to a week in the fridge in a bag.

 

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

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 7: July 16th

Week 7!

The Big Broccoli Bang

When it rains it pours, at least in the broccoli patch this year. For the past month we’ve been eeking out enough broccoli and broccolini to put some in your totes each week – but not a lot. To blame was the wet spring, which flooded a couple of our early broccoli plantings and killed them. We replanted, but that event set our big harvests back a couple weeks.

 

Until last Friday, when I made my usual foray through the broccoli field. Instead of hauling out a few backpacks-worth of florets and heads, I lugged out load after load of heavy broccoli heads, totaling over 250 pounds (and stuffed all of it into my husband’s station wagon; he had the pickup truck that day…).

 

(We harvest broccoli into a specialty produce backpack that we can wear on our backs. We cut the heads with a sharp knife and then toss them over a shoulder into the backpack. When the backpack is full, we heft it to the end of the row and dump it into a harvest bin in the shade. A full backpack weighs about 30 pounds).

 

This Tuesday, I cut another 200 pounds, with no end in sight. There are four more plantings of broccoli still to mature, so you’ll probably be getting it in your share well into August this year. This is great news for the broccoli-lovers among you, ‘cuz you’re getting a full 2 pounds of it this week! Our fresh-cut broccoli tends to last for up to two weeks in the fridge, if not longer, but you might be well-advised to eat it along the way so you don’t get a mass pile-up in your fridge. Here’s another farm website that has a great recipe search engine, and some yummy broccoli-inspired dishes: http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

 

New Potatoes, New Veggies!

Baby spuds, zucchini, baby carrots, cauliflower! Some of you will see all of these things in your totes this week, as we round the corner into full-fledged summer food. Yeehaw!

 

The new potatoes are a special treat - and kind of a sacrificial harvest. Once a potato plant begins to flower, that’s our cue that the tubers are setting and starting to size up. At this stage, the potatoes are incredibly tender. The tradeoff is that one bed of potatoes dug now, when they are “new,” yields only 150 lbs of spuds. Compare that to a bed of fully mature potatoes dug in August, which will yield over 600 pounds. As a result, it’s a relatively small share of potatoes in your harvest basket, but something worth savoring. Be careful not to overcook them, and consider using that bunch of dill to spice them up! Here’s a recipe link to inspire:

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

 

In your share this week:

  • Broccoli
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Dill
  • New Potatoes
  • Baby Carrots

 

On Rotation:

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

  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Cauliflower

 

Cauliflower

Some of you will see cauliflower in your totes this week, as our first planting slowly begins to come on. We grow three varieties: a white, an orange, and a purple. The colored heads are a shocking neon when eaten raw, and make quite a splash on a platter of crudités.

 

Storage: in the fridge in a plastic bag; will hold for a couple of weeks.

 

Carrots

For me, carrots signify the true arrival of summertime eating. You would think it would be tomatoes, or peppers, or corn – but for us here on the coast, all of those crops come on at the end of summer, at the melancholy cusp of autumn. Carrots show up at the happy zenith of summer, marking a true end to the June root fare of turnips and radishes. They are long-awaited, because once you have eaten a sweet garden-grown carrot it’s hard to ever return to store-bought carrots again.

 

I look forward to them with an anticipation so keen it sends me out to that part of the field on regular basis, hoping that the green top I tug on will reveal more than a white thread of root. Something orange. Something perhaps at least the size of my pinky. And this week we were in luck: lots of carrots the size of my pinky, and some even as large as a forefinger!

 

It’s a small bunch of carrots in your share this week, but a promise of great carrot abundance to come. We are taking special pains with our carrot production this year, after losing much of our crop to carrot rust fly last season. The rust fly is attracted to the carrots and lays its eggs among them. The eggs then hatch into larva, which feed on the carrots, leaving ugly tunnels in the roots. The damage gets worse as the season goes on (the rust fly can have 3 generations in one summer), so by fall it can be impossible to find a clean carrot in the field.

 

Last year our CSA members were extremely tolerant of our ugly carrots in the fall, but we were determined not to have it happen again. So this winter I invested in a piece of floating row cover as big as a football field, which we are covering our carrot block with. That’s all it takes to keep the rust fly at bay. It’s more work, because we have to take the row cover off every time we cultivate, weed, and harvest, but hopefully it will prove to be well worth it come October when we still have beautiful carrots.

 

Storage: your carrots will keep the longest if you cut the tops off and store the roots in a plastic bag in the fridge. The tops are edible – and not just by bunnies and hampsters and horses. Carrot top soup, anyone?

 

Zucchini

The onset of summer squash! Zucchini will be a reliable companion throughout the next couple of months. It stores in the fridge OK, but can get slimy in a plastic bag after a week. So eat up!

 

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

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 6: July 9th

Week 6!

 

Poor Peas!

If you are a returning Harvest Basket member, you have surely started to wonder where the sugar snap peas are. Usually you see them in your tote by the first week of July, but I have some sad news to break to you all: this year’s pea crop was a complete and utter failure.

 

Heartbreaking, I know. I normally do three seedings (planting three lines of peas into a bed that’s 220 feet long, which equals a lot of peas). That was the plan this year, but week after week I met with failure. All told I did five seedings this spring (each one increasingly desperate), and dumped over 30 pounds of seed (more than a hundred dollar's worth) into the ground.

 

Why the rotten pea luck? Let me count the ways:

  1. Rain. The first seeding in early April literally rotted in the ground as it endured day after day of sopping rain and cold weather.
  2. Slugs. The second seeding emerged bravely, but a few days later was razed by a voracious pack of slugs who left their slime trails as evidence all down the bed.
  3. Birds. I decided not to cover the third seeding with the floating row cover I usually use for early spring crops, in hopes of reducing the cozy habitat the slugs were enjoying. The birds caught on to me and pecked every single (and I mean EVERY SINGLE) seed out of the soil a few days later.
  4. Mice. With my first three original seedings a total flop, I doubled back, tilled up the first bed again, and seeded once more (we farmers can be a heroically, er foolishly, optimistic lot!). I covered the bed this time and checked on my little peas every day. One day they germinated (hallelujah). And the next day they were gone. All that was left was little piles of pea seed hulls, and lots of holes in my floating row cover. The mice were on to me! They had chewed through the row cover, mined out the pea seeds, and feasted mightily.
  5. Mice again. In one last desperate act at the end of May, I attempted to seed peas once more. See number 4 above for outcome. (I imagine there are some very fat mice waddling around in the clover these days. My mouse-hunting dog, Sula, has been fired for sleeping on the job).

 

So finally, I gave up. Sometimes, it turns out, that’s the smartest thing a person can do.

 

Lessons learned? Oh yes. This year’s designated pea beds were on the edge of the field, bordering our marionberries and a patch of perennial roadway clover. The clover is wonderful habitat for: a) slugs, and b) mice. The wire trellis supporting the berries is a fantastic perch for: a) birds. In regards to the suitability of this particular location for direct seeding peas, it has been deemed: a) terrible, b) awful, c) pea-cidal, and finally, d) never to be used again (even if the crop rotation dictates it).

 

Is there any silver lining to this story, some kind of happy ending?

 

Well, no promises, but we did decide to plant an extra batch of sweet corn where the peas were supposed to be (no, we were not so foolish as to direct seed a bunch of tasty little corn seed morsels into that ground, for fear of starting an obesity epidemic within the nearby mouse population). Today while I write this newsletter, Roberto is painstakingly transplanting a thousand baby corn seedlings into those beds. We started them in the greenhouse last week, and if all goes well (it might be a big “if”), you’ll be getting an extra load of sweet corn in your tote this fall.

 

Hopefully that will make up for the pile of despair that a pea-less year might bring about in some circles. And to take your mind off of it in the here and now, how about some RED CABBAGE!?! Read on!

 

In your share this week:

  • Broccoli or Broccolini
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Red Cabbage
  • Basil
  • Red Ursa Kale

 

On Rotation:

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

  • Spinach

 

Red Cabbage

Here comes some of the heftier food, at last! If you are tired of greens and hakurei turnips, well, I won’t blame you. The good news is that carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and some of the other summer crops are starting to size up. (The sun helps). I guarantee that you won’t be eating lettuce and kale forever, and in a couple months when you are swimming in peppers and tomatoes and fennel and carrots and beets and potatoes and cauliflower all at once, you probably won’t even remember this (possibly challenging for some) first month of Harvest Basket eating. Some of you greens lovers might even miss it….

 

As for your red cabbage, one of the best things about it is that there’s no pressure to eat it right away. It will keep in your fridge for a long time – a month, or even longer. But like most things, it’s best fresh out of the ground. Enjoy a summer slaw (ribbon up some of that red ursa kale, slice some of your hakureis, and toss in some chopped basil for a wonderful twist on an old-fashioned staple). There’s a recipe for kimchee on  our website, as well as many other recipes, or you can steam it and douse it with some good olive oil, salt and vinegar for a quick and simple preparation.

 

This week’s red cabbage kicks off the march of the cabbages: you’ll see a different kind of cabbage in your harvest basket each month from here on out: green, savoy, napa, and other varieties are still to come.

 

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 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: 

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