Valley Flora is nestled on the banks of Floras Creek near Langlois, Oregon. We're a diversified family farm producing over 100 varieties of vegetables, berries and fruit for local restaurants, grocery stores, foodbanks, our farmstand & u-pick, and a community-supported agriculture program. As a mother-and-two-daughter trio deeply committed to ecological farming practices, our passion is growing good food with an eye toward the artful. Our love of land, place, fertile loam, and the next generation inspires us to use cover crops, compost and crop rotations instead of synthetic fertilizers and sprays, and to do most of our work by hand - with the occasional help of a couple of tractors and a draft horse. We adhere to all organic practices, principles and regulations, but we are not third-party certified organic. Whether you're biting into a crimson strawberry, savoring a vine ripe tomato, or heaping your plate high with Abby's Greens, you'll know you're getting the freshest local produce a person can find in this neck of the woods. We love what we do - so much you can taste it.
The Valley Flora u-pick and farmstand are open for the season!
SUMMER HOURS: Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm.
Directions to the farm.
We are sold out of Harvest Baskets for this season, but there are other ways to enjoy Valley Flora produce!
Thanks for supporting local food and family farmers!
In your share this week:
· Braising Mix
· Head Lettuce
· Rainbow Chard
This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
· Snap peas
New Veggies of the Week…
A quick note, especially to our new members, about the Harvest Baskets right now. June is a month when the baskets are heavier on the greens – spinach, chard, kale, lettuce, etc. This is because these are quick-growing things that mature by early summer and are ready for harvest right now. Carrots, zucchini, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, corn and all the other well-loved veggies that you may be pining for start to show up later in the season, after they’ve had enough warm days to mature.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the greens in your share, remember this: if you cook them, they will shrink down to almost nothing! Really. It may look like an insurmountable amount of greenery when you open up your tote, but put them in a pan or a steamer or a blender and you won’t be so intimidated by the volume. Also, consider shifting your habits to incorporate the greens every chance you get. Scrambled eggs for breakfast? Throw some chopped chard in there, too!
And also know that as our mild, early summer weather shifts into mid-summer heat, you’ll start to see less of the greens and more of the other hearty veggies that are growing happily in our fields right now. Just like raising kids, this phase doesn’t last forever, so try to make the most of it while it’s here!
There's an unspoken rule around the farm, inspired by a saying of my mom's: that "Everything we do has to be at least 51% art." If ever there was a crop that abides by this mantra, it's rainbow chard. With stems aflame in hues of pink, red, orange, yellow, and white, it's as much eye candy as it is good eating. Chard grows year-round here, but it loves early summer the best; it's leaves are big, heavy and succulent right now, and it’s a joy to harvest and bunch.
Chard is a leafy parent to beets and can be used anywhere you would normally use spinach. It’s actually nutritionally superior to spinach because it doesn’t contain oxalic acid – the thing in spinach that sometimes makes your teeth feel coated and funny. Oxalic acid binds minerals and makes them unavailable during digestion, so all the vitamins (A, E, and C) and minerals (iron, calcium) in chard are more readily absorbed by your body.
When we eat chard, we use the whole leave, stem and all. The stems take a little longer to cook, so we strip the leaves from them, chop up the stems, and start them cooking a little before we add the leaves. I also throw whole chard leaves into my berry smoothie in the morning.
Here’s a menagerie of recipes off our website to help get you started if this is your first time out with chard:
Storage: in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag. Will last more than a week.
Oregano is one of the perennial herbs we planted a year ago, with the hope of being able to provide fresh herbs to our members in the early part of the season before annual herbs like dill, cilantro, basil and parsley are ready on the farm. The plan seems to be working; our oregano patch is knee high and perhaps too well established at this point (it’s in the mint family and likes to spread….). Herbs are supposedly the most flavorful and pungent just before flowering, so we harvested it this week for you just before the flower spikes have begun to open. The flowers and leaves are both edible.
In the kitchen, it has a spicy taste with a bit of a bite – most commonly used in tomato sauces and Italian cooking. But you can also add it to salad dressing, tuck it under the skin of roasting chickens or into the cavity of baking fish. You can infuse vinegar with it by putting a sprig or two into a bottle of vinegar, or add it to Greek salad.
Or, DRY IT! Because we harvested sizeable bunches for you and it’s pretty potent stuff, you might want to dry some of it for later use. Simply hang it upside down, ideally in a dry, dark place (but somewhere in your kitchen will work fine, too) until it’s crispy-dry. If you have a food dehydrator you can make of layer of sprigs in it and run it on a low setting until crispy. Then strip off the dry leaves over a plate or bowl, crumble them up between your fingers, and store in a jar. You can do this with many of the herbs you’ll be getting throughout the season (thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, dill, and mint).
To store it for fresh use, you can either keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge or put it in a glass of water (like a bouquet) and keep it on the counter. Will hold for a week or so.
The bag of greens in your tote this week is braising mix. It’s a semi-spicy mix of baby kale, tatsoi, mizuna and mustard greens – great for eating raw as salad-with-a-kick, or cooked (steamed, stir-fried, etc.). Use it any way that you’d eat kale, spinach, chard or other leafy greens. I like it steamed up next to a pile of beans and cornbread, with hot sauce – for a southern twist.
Stores for at least a week in the fridge.
U-pick and Farmstand are OPEN!
I think I forgot to mention this in previous newsletters:
Our farmstand and u-pick are open every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. There is produce for purchase at the farmstand, in case you want to round out your Harvest Basket with something extra. AND, the u-pick is ramping up with strawberries, RASPBERRIES, fresh herbs and flowers!
The strawberry u-pick goes all summer, until the fall rains come. The raspberry season is more fleeting and will probably only go through the early part of July. You might want to come sooner than later, since Pippin and Cleo have figured out how to pilfer the raspberry patch efficiently this year.
Please bring your own containers for u-pick and your own bags for farmstand produce (in the interest of keeping more plastic out of the landfill).
Spring Strawberry Victory!
Every year, we struggle through the months of May and June in the strawberry patch. It seems that just as they are really beginning ripen, we get another rainstorm that mushes up the berries and sets us back a couple of weeks. So, this year we decided to experiment with some low tunnels - like portable mini-greenhouses - of our own design. We set these things up over our new strawberry planting, in hopes of being able to keep them dry during rainy spells, but with the option of raising the plastic during warm, dry spells (to keep it from getting too hot in there, and to let the bees, wind and other pollinators in).
We watched them get blown apart during the Memorial Day storm (we clocked 40+ mph windds at the farm), so we had to make some design changes to help them withstand strong winds. It seems to be working so far. We dropped the plastic down for this week's rain, so the strawberries have stayed warm and dry through every downpour. What a relief.
The other unforeseen consequence of the tunnels is that the berries seem to be super-sized so far this season. They are much bigger than usual, and there's less damage from marauding birds and toddlers.
The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share next week…
No promises, but your tote might include some of the following NEXT week:
· Head lettuce
· Fresh herbs
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:
Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites
Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient
A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients
A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient
For the past two years, I've been working on a book project in the quieter months of winter. As of April it's hot off the press! Greenhorns is a collection of 50 essays by beginning farmers from around the country who write about the agony and 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 pick up a copy at our farmstand, or order a copy online at: http://storey.com/book_detail.php?isbn=9781603427722&cat=Animals
We are pleased to offer our very own CRANKY BABY HOT SAUCE!
Handcrafted with homegrown hot peppers that are vine-ripened to a sassy red in our greenhouses. This hot sauce strikes the perfect balance between hot, sweet and tangy.
(Even if you don't like spicy stuff, it's worth 5 bucks for the label alone. That's our very own Pippin in the highchair, with a little help from PhotoShop...)
Approved for farm-direct sale by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.