- Brussels Sprouts
- Rose Finn Fingerling Potatoes
- Celery Root
Well, as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” That certainly applies here. It’s the last week of the 2016 Summer CSA. We have had a remarkable season here at the farm. Over the course of the last 26 weeks, we feel like our farm has gone through what at the beginning of the year seemed like an unimaginable success, considering the daunting nature of what we had to accomplish.
As all of you probably know by now, early this year we moved our farm from our previous location in West Salem out to where we are now in Willamina. Since February, we have managed to successfully build our propagation house, our barn, run electrical and water in both, and set up numerous pieces of infrastructure that make our daily work much more feasible.
All the growth that we have seen in our farm over the past year would not have been possible without all of you investing yourselves in this farm. Dedicating not just your dollars, but more importantly your diet to eating seasonally and locally here in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Creating a resilient community while committing to protect the soil, water, and air that sustains us.
Thank you for being a part of this community of eaters. Don’t worry we will be back again in a month to bring food and nourishment to your table. We look forward to seeing you all back next year to enjoy the bountiful harvests of the Winter and Summer CSA.
- Pie Pumpkins or Butternut Squash
- Brussels Sprouts
- Leaf Lettuce Mix
- Red Onions
The harvest continues…. This week we put another load of cabbages and kohlrabi into the cooler. The huge piles (hundreds of each) make our new, much larger cooler look small. And today, another thousand pounds of carrots got washed and stowed away for winter munching.
The fieldhouse that we build earlier this fall is glistening with the radiant greens and yellows of brassica seedlings. Carpets of young plants, rolled out just in time to fill our Winter plates with bright, tender salad greens. The mustard greens: Mizuna, Ruby Streaks, Komatsuna, Tokyou Bekana, and Tatsoi will make fantastically flavorful salad greens, especially mixed with the Arugula and Spinach that are just now taking hold in the warm, protected soil of the fieldhouse.
We are very excited for winter vegetables this year. We’ve had the biggest and most successful fall harvest in the history of our farm, despite the record-breaking wet weather we’ve had.
It feels good to see all the winter squash, onions, garlic, resting safely in the dry storage.; to open the door to the cooler and see it packed with vegetables like beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbages, kohlrabi, and soon: celery root, turnips, and rutabaga; to walk out into the field and see the huge plots of lush kale, collards, chicories, leeks, parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli and overwintering cauliflower. A familiar word comes to mind: Abundance. We are all fortunate to live in a land of such winter abundance.
- Savoy Cabbage
- Leaf Lettuce Mix
- Lacinato Kale
- Yellow Onions
- Jalapeno and Yellow Sarit Gat Hot Peppers
All of us at the farm had a nervous week, waiting for the results from that thing that has been on all of our minds, lately. It’s hard to believe the situation that we’ve been put in. To us, the choice that we’re expected to make is an obvious one, but unfortunately to a great extent, dependent on forces outside of our control. Afraid of what this would mean for the future, we waited uneasily with many sleepless nights.
When the results came in, we were stunned. We stood, looking over our fields in complete disbelief trying to process what this means. It actually happened: The garlic got planted!
It was the good news of the week. After the wettest October on record, we were seriously starting to wonder if we were going to be able to get our garlic planted. Many farmers in the valley this year have been wondering the same thing. Where we are, there’s about a month-long window to get your garlic planted. From mid-October to mid-November. If you don’t get it planted in that timeframe, your garlic crop will not yield very well. This year we barely made it.
Fortunately the soil type in the garlic field is a silt loam—one of the lightest soils—which enabled us to work the garlic ground at a moisture level that would have left most farm fields in a compacted, cloddy mess. On Thursday of this week, with the break in the weather over the previous few days, we decided to go for it and successfully got the ground prepared for planting. Over the weekend we planted around five-thousand cloves of garlic which will in turn produce five-thousand heads of garlic by next summer. What great results!
- Collard Greens
- Cauliflower or Romanesco
- Peppers- varieties TBD
- German Butterball Potatoes
- Sugarloaf Chicories
- Leaf Lettuce Mix
This week we are continuing with our survey responses. Thanks for all the feedback.
One of the questions we asked on the survey was what produce you would like to see more or less of during the season. This is one of the most helpful questions for us as it helps us to get to know our member’s preferences.
Some of you mentioned that you want to see more exotics and others wanted to see less. We try our best to find a balance , which can be tricky. While we like to provide the basic staples we also are here to help you eat seasonally, which does mean branching out and trying new things! CSA’s are all about supporting and eating a diversity of locally grown foods. Don’t be afraid to ask us what to do with something new, because before you know it these less familiar vegetables will become a regular staple of your diet that you look forward to eating each week. If you did want more exotics, please let us know what vegetables or varieties you are looking for or if you just want to see them more frequently.
This year was a cool, wet year, so some things were in less abundance especially compared to last season, which was the hottest summer on record here in the valley. Melons and sweet peppers like the warmth and were less prolific this year, but cool loving crops like broccoli, cauliflower, and snap peas were abundant thanks to the milder weather. As CSA members, you are taking part in what each season brings, which is largely dependent upon weather. We try our best to work within the confines of the weather to provide you with the greatest diversity possible, but we too are dependent on what the seasons bring.
Quite a few of you joined us midseason and missed some of the early and mid summer crops. Green onions, garlic scapes, and snap peas grow best in early summer when the weather is cooler. We have loads of basil and green beans through July and August. We hope you join us for the full Summer season to catch these veggies! Next season we will be growing more potatoes. Last year we doubled the size of our potato planting and will continue to increase it next year as we gain new members. More early season varieties will be there for you potato lovers in early August through September.
The only vegetable that someone mentioned wanting to see less of was summer squash. Summer squash and cucumbers are unique crops that must be picked at least twice a week to keep them producing well. During the main summer season we bring them almost weekly, so that the plants stay healthy and productive. Since we bring them almost every week along with tomatoes, we usually bump the number of items we bring to 10-12 rather than the normal 8-10 . This gives the opportunity for you to have ample choice if you don’t want to take these particular items. The beauty of the market style is that you are not stuck with anything. You choose what you take home each week!
- Yakina Savoy
- Green Chile or Poblano Peppers
- Russian Banana Potatoes
- Brussels Sprouts
Thanks to all of you who took our survey; we appreciate all of the thoughtful feedback that we received. We were elated to see how overwhelmingly positive your feedback about your CSA experience is. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be responding to all of your comments in the newsletter, especially addressing any critical feedback that we received (feedback that we really appreciate!).
This season we moved our pick-up location to the Broadway Commons, which has ample space and parking for us to run both our Summer and Winter pick-ups in the same location. For us, it has worked better than all our previous locations especially as the CSA expands. We plan to keep this as a permanent location as long as the opportunity is available. The major challenge for the “market style” CSA is to find a spot that works for everyone in a larger city with traffic issues. The CSA is grows we will consider adding additional pick-ups to make the CSA more convenient for people who do not live near downtown. A second pick-up in South Salem would probably be our first addition. As we add more pick-up locations we will try our best to find locations that are easily accessible by bus or bike as many of you use alternative transportation. Thank you for the reminder!
The survey showed that the majority of you were happy with the quantity, quality, diversity and price of share. As first generation farmers it is incredibly encouraging to us to have a community of people who support us as we learn to navigate the many challenges of growing vegetables. When your career depends upon the dynamics of the natural environment it is a huge challenge to provide a high quality, consistent product. There are a multitude of factors that determine quality and we try our best to provide as much diversity and the best quality that we can. We are thankful to have a group of people that understand this challenge and are willing to communally support us as we learn the intricacies of soil, seeds, pests, and weather. We try to be our own harshest critic, and every year we feel more confident in our ability to grow!
There were only a couple of you that expressed dissatisfaction with the quality, quantity or diversity of the selection. We would love to hear more details from you about how we can improve in providing better quality or what vegetables you felt like you would have liked to see more of. If there were any specific quality issues that you can recall, please let us know so we can make sure that you are getting the value that you are paying for. This sort of feedback is really important to us! We want our members to feel comfortable telling us if something they took home did not meet our quality standards right away so we can address it. If we don’t know about it we cannot address the issue, whether it is on the growing end (disease, pest, weather stresses, etc.) or on the processing end (how we wash, pack, store or deliver).
Concerning the cost of the share, the vast majority responded as “very satisfied,” but some expressed being only somewhat satisfied. We would like to remind and reassure those folks that compared to the farmer’s market and the store-bought organic alternative, you are getting a much better deal and higher quality by being a part of the CSA. As farmers, we are constantly trying to fight an uphill battle to provide ourselves and future employees with fair wages as we work in one of the most strenuous and underpaid industries. We hope to write more about this issue in upcoming newsletters to help people understand why we charge what we do.
Thanks for your feedback! We will continue with survey feedback next week.
- Yellow Wax Beans
- Rainbow Lacinato Kale
- Sweet Peppers
- Summer Squash and Eggplant
- Salad Mix
- Red Potatoes
And we’re back with the newsletter after an intense two weeks of preparations for the rains. Last week we enjoyed the seemingly final week of sun as we hastily finished the greenhouse, harvested all the potatoes and winter squash, and started to build our fortress around the winter and fall crops to protect them from the deer and elk. We finished putting up the greenhouse frame and plastic. With the help of Chloe’s dad we got it up and secured before the heavy rainfall and winds. This was important, so we could keep the soil dry enough to sow our overwintering greens in it soon. We are excited to learn all about winter growing in greenhouses for the first time this year.
The potatoes and squash made it out of the field last week. We luckily were able to get a dry enough window to use our new potato digger to finish up pulling the other half of the potatoes from the field. We worked till dark on Wednesday to get as many out before the deluge, but didn’t quite finish; the yields were better than expected! So the next day despite the multiple inches of rain we went back out and slopped through the mud picking up the last of them. Then we moved onto the winter squash getting it all out of the field by the end of the day and put away, securely in our dry storage. The wettest day that we have ever had to work through, but well worth it as we are now half way through the fall harvests.
In the upcoming weeks we will continue to prepare for Winter by completing the remaining big storage crop harvests before the cold weather hits which will include beets, carrots, celery root, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, and cabbage. This fall is proving to be a challenge for harvesting as it doesn’t look like we will be catching much of a break from the weather anytime soon, but we will keep on trudging through the knee deep mud and get it done!
Now that we are catching up from our marathon of building and harvesting we will start responding to the CSA surveys in next Tuesday’s newsletters. Thanks for all your feedback; we look forward to answering your questions and responding to your helpful criticism.