Week 1 of the 2024 CSA Season!

In your first share this week:

  • Red Spring Onions - a labor of Allium love, planted last fall and finally ready for harvest this week!
  • Purple Radishes - juicy with a little kick; if you like it less spicy, peel them!
  • Bunched Arugula - a mildly spicy green, wonderful in salads or alongside a slab of fish
  • Bunched Tatsoi - a dark green, spoon-shaped leafy green with white ribs, great sauteed or stir-fried
  • Head Lettuce - red butter, red oakleaf or redleaf plus a mini romaine
  • A SunOrange Cherry Tomato Plant - see below for planting tips!

On Rotation:*

  • Hakurei Turnips - our favorite salad turnip, buttery-sweet and good enough to eat like an apple
  • Zucchini - the first tender harvest out of our field tunnels
  • Strawberries - starting to come on strong in the field! We'll try to get you as many pints of these over the summer as we can! :)
  • Cilantro 

*These are crops that we don't have enough of all at once to put in every CSA tote in the same week, usually because they are just coming into production and aren't yielding fully yet. Some pickup sites will receive them this week, others in a future week - we keep track so it's even-steven all year :)

Hello CSA Members and Welcome to our 2024 Season!

We're tickled that you all have decided to embark on this 28-week seasonal eating adventure with us! The CSA is the biggest ever this year, thanks to a tsunami of unprecedented interest, so THANK YOU for being a core part of it! We are especially delighted that we have more SNAP members participating than ever before, thanks to the Double Up Food Bucks Program, which covers half the cost of the CSA for folks with SNAP/Oregon Trail benefits. Our CSA membership is the backbone of our farm economy and community (some of our members have been with us for 15 years!) and we make you our absolute first priority, ahead of our other sales channels (wholesale and farmstand). Some CSA's are managed the other way around: sell everything you can to other outlets first and then dump the leftovers on your CSA. Not at Valley Flora. Our commitment to our CSA is what drives the crop diversity at Valley Flora - we want to keep those totes interesting and abundant for you every week! - which has a beautiful ecological ripple effect on the farm: hundreds of different crops and varieties growing in coloful, organic polyculture, and supporting all kinds of vibrant life (other than the vegetables themselves), like this baby Pacific tree frog that greeted me in the lettuce yesterday:

For  those of you who are new to the Valley Flora CSA, an extra special welcome. It takes a certain adventurous spirit to commit to 7 months of the unknown, but we promise to do our very best to keep you stoked and stocked with peak-of-season, fresh-harvested produce every single week from now through December. As returning members can attest, it can be a lot of food! We hope it motivates you to eat more plants, and I, Zoë, will also do my best to offer tips, recipes, and backstory for all that produce in this here weekly "Beet Box" newsletter. These days the internet is rife with great recipes - easily searchable by ingredient - so I trust that many of you can find inspiration online or in your own collection of cookbooks. That said, I'll try to do some extra coaching when we throw something more unusual your way. There is also a collection of recipes on our website organized by vegetable: check out our Recipe Wizard, and feel free to contribute your own favorite recipes there! If you make something that knocks your socks off, share it with me and I'll pass it along to the rest of the CSA membership in the next newsletter.

A little housekeeping: if you haven't already familiarized yourself with our Pickup Instructions and Protocol, PLEASE DO THAT BEFORE YOU PICK UP YOUR FIRST CSA SHARE this week! Our CSA sites are all essentially unstaffed, which means they are run by YOU! Help us avoid SNAFUs and mix-ups by brushing up on how things run, and make sure that anyone else in your circle who might pick up your CSA is briefed as well. We thank you, and so do your fellow CSA members!

Also remember that Abby's Greens Salad Shares start NEXT WEEK. There is no salad this week.

Finally, be sure you grab a SunOrange cherry tomato plant this week at your pickup site. There is one per Harvest Basket and they will be in bright yellow bins. We don't grow cherry tomatoes for the CSA, but we provide you with our all-time favorite variety, SunOrange, to grow in your own garden or pot. It's an improved Sungold the produces tons of tangerine-orange fruits from August through the fall (Abby was still picking tomatoes off of a plant in her greenhouse in February!). The flavor is exquisite - tropical/tangy/sweet. For best results, plant your tomato as deep as possible in a warm, protected location (it's good to bury the stem and some of the bottom leaves; the plant will sprout new roots underground and add to it's root mass). If you're planting it in a pot, use at least a 5 gallon container and put it in a warm, sunny, wind-protected location. Give it a balanced organic fertilizer and water deeply. You'll need to provide some kind of trellis or support because this variety is an indeterminate, which means it'll climb, and climb, and climb. Prune excess leaves as it grows, leaving all fruiting/flowering stems and suckers. With a litte TLC it should be yielding fruit for you by August. These little cherry bombs are fantastic snackers, are awesome sliced up in salads, and also make the best dried tomatoes I've ever eaten - like little candies.

Thanks again for being a part of this beautiful thing called community supported agriculture. 

P.S. In addition to cute little tree frogs, the farm also supports other wildlife, such as invasive garden slugs. Because we don't use any chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, etc), you might say we're an equal opportunity habitat haven. Despite our best efforts, you might find one of these in your head lettuce this week, and I'll let you decide what you want to do with it when it plops into your sink. Me, I know I'll be getting reincarnated as a slug in my next life, and in that life an organic farmer will come along on a lovely May morning and cut me in half or stomp me flat, which is what I deserve after 20+ years of slug-slaying (never Banana slugs though, they eat nothing but detritus and are a wonderful native species!). If nothing else, the slugs that might be lurking in your head lettuce are good motivation to wash your produce well (we "field rinse" everything, but you should wash it at home before eating it).