The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

Week 5: July 4th

The Reality and Reward of Eating Seasonally

 

Radishes again?!?!!!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In your share this week:

Arugula or Braising Mix

Broccoli

Red Ursa Kale

Head Lettuce

Strawberries

Amethyst Radishes

Hakurei turnips

 

On Rotation:

Kohlrabi

Raspberries

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Amethyst Radishes

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

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Strawberries Available by the Flat!

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

 

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

 

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

Newsletter: 

Week 4: June 27th

Raspberries, Lovely Raspberries!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Free Raspberry U-Pick for Harvest Basket Members!

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

In your share this week:

Spinach

Broccoli

Rainbow Chard

Head Lettuce

Strawberries

Radishes

Spring turnips

 

On Rotation:

Kohlrabi

Raspberries

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Rainbow Chard

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

 

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

 

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

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Week 3: June 20th

Farm Notes

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

In your share this week:

 

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

 

On Rotation:

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

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Braising Mix

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

 

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

 

Kohlrabi

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Couscous with Kohlrabi and Chermoula Dressing

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

1-2 tsp minced garlic

2 Tbs. minced cilantro

2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. cumin

salt

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

3 Tbs. olive oil

2-3 cooked couscous, cooled to warm temperature

2 cups peeled, diced kohlrabi

½ cup diced radishes and/or spring turnips

16 kalamata or oil-cured black olives

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

 

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

 

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Week 2: June 13th

Farm Notes

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

In your share this week:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries

 

On Rotation:

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

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Kale

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Rhubarb

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

 

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

 

‘Nuf said.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

Week 1: June 6th

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

 

In your share this week:

 

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

 

On Rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Spring turnips
  • Broccoli

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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

 

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

 

Artichokes

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

 

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

 

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

 

Asparagus

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

 

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

 

Storage: in the fridge, in a plastic bag

 

Arugula

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

 

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

 

Pac Choi

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Head Lettuce

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

 

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

 

Radish & Turnips – On rotation

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Broccoli – On rotation

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

 

Storage: fridge, plastic bag, a week or so

 

Strawberries

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

 

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

 

Cherry Tomato Plant

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

Please choose one.

 

Planting Tips:

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

 

 

We leave you with this Farm Fact of the Week:

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

Newsletter: 

May on the Farm

Me-oh-my-oh-May!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Zoë

Newsletter: 

tester newsletter

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

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

 
Coming Soon!

  • Hakurei turnips
  • Kale & Chard
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spinach

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

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

 
Artichokes

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

 
Arugula

 
Pac Choi

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

 
Strawberries

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Aprovecho!
 

 

 
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